Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Uncle Al", Joseph Albert Rivet, would be 94 years old on December 5th, 2013

Al Rivet in family backyard, Cohoes, NY. He is about 18 years old in this photo.

Albert Rivet in US Army Corps of Engineers, World War II

Maybe he was your father, grandfather, godfather, brother, uncle, friend, coworker, church deacon, refrigeration repairman or maybe you never new him at all.  He was Joseph Albert Rivet, son of  Joseph Paul Emile Rivet and Marie Louise LaCasse, brother of Claire and Raymond Rivet.  Although his parents were born in Québec, he was born in Cohoes, NY in 1919 and died in California in 2002.

He easily soothed babies

Uncle Al never minded cooking supper and doing the cleanup too!

Uncle Al showing patience at Bennington, Vermont!

Uncle Al the Catholic deacon in California

Visiting his daughter, the cadet at West Point

Here's some things you may not know about Joseph Al Rivet's early life from notes I took when he told me about his experiences growing up in Cohoes and in the US Army and some stories from his sister, my Aunt Claire.

  • He suffered from diphtheria when a young school boy and the local doctor thought he would not survive. His stepmother, Malvina Hamel, probably thought there was nothing left to try so on someone's advice she gave him sips of turpentine.  He recovered and his recovery ever after was attributed to the turpentine.
  • Although his father did not want him to finish high school, he did and he "loved" it.
  • He spent 2 years at Keveny Academy and 1 year at Cohoes High School.
  • He passed the New York State Regents Exam in French.
  • He studied 2 years of Latin.
  • While going to school, he worked as a barber with his father cutting hair on Friday night and all day Saturday.
  • His first job (other than working in his father's barber shop) was in Strasbourg (?) shirt factory where his sister Claire was already working.
  • He switched jobs to another shirt factory, Barbery(?) and doubled his salary
  • Then he got a job at General Electric Company in Schenectady and car pooled with a fellow named Norman
  • He partied and drank, especially at the Polish Club on Van Schiak Island where he saw a special young lady named Rose.
  • Sunday mornings, after a night of fun at the Polish Club, his sister would make certain he woke up to attend the French Catholic mass at Sacred Heart.  
  • He was drafted into the army and World War II.
  • He trained in Louisiana for three months 
  • He was in the 346th Corps of Army Engineers
  • He was sent to southern Wales in Britain and helped build landing sites for B-17 bombers. The landing sites were originally thin concrete that would crack when heavy planes landed. The corp poured ten plus inches of concrete to help withstand the weight.
  • During that time in Wales, he and his fellow soldiers slept in tents and it was cold- especially compared to what they got use to in Louisiana.  He wore all the clothes he had, all of the time, because he was always cold.
  • Local people wouldn't talk to you because they were afraid you were a German in a US soldier uniform "spying" on them.
  • He continued with the corps doing this  "all over England" for three years.
  • Ate a lot of mutton and drank a lot of cocoa while in England.
  • He remembered someone got a ham mailed from the states and it was shared among buddies.  He always remembered the wonderful taste of that slice of salted meat on that day.
  • He loved living in California. He didn't miss shoveling snow in upstate New York winters.
  • and he never had regrets because he lived a life where he never needed to have any - ever!

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