|'down the Plains'
If Not a Yankee By Birth
If The River Behaves
A Seat at the Table
Interesting Discussions Were Had Upon Various Topics
Something That Will Cure
And Yet The Sun Continues To Rise
An Attractive Exhibition
A Match Game
To Those Who Know Something About The Matter
Delayed a Little By Operations
One In His Boot And The Other In A Hole
The Pine Grove Cemetery
Fluent and Pungent
Other Means of Fire
‘Pears To Me
On The Road Between
Far At A Time
WANTED A Girl
An Ordinary Freshet
The Challenge Will Probably Be Accepted
The Bridge Passable
A Good Fisherman
“Whatever Is Given Him”
A Second Heat on the Same Track
The Frenchmen’s Recipe
The French People Were Also Comforted For A While
Exert a Controlling Influence
Not Only By Penal Enactment
Not Quite Finished, Is Open For Travel—
If Women Were As Particular In The Choosing
It Would Not Have Been So Strange
Having Several Years To Run
Lost On The Plains
In Making Their Bridge Free
A Double Tenement
Such As Clothes Pins
Their Enterprise On The Plains
Ont Été Lancés dans l’Éternité
D’une bonne réputation...
À la condition sociale de la classe ouvrière
Une partie de nos chantres se proposent d’aller chanter
Collette et manchettes, 2 cents
About the author
This is a book about a female growing up, living in, trying to
leave her cultural self behind, and then returning to the Franco-American
cultural group which exists in the Northeast, and more specifically in
Waterville, Maine. The book addresses what has been asked of me in
order to be present to this cultural group of people. As a girl/woman
who or how have I been asked to be? What has been asked of me?
The book is written from the perspective of a contemporary woman who is
also an historical person. The book is also as much about the conditions
in which the Franco-American group exists as well as the writing about
what it means to be Franco-American and female. This is a book about
how we are our historical self while we are in the present.
I am more of my past—than I am of the present moment—when it is in the
present moment that I now exist. What is, or is not, reflected in
my reality and the reality of other Franco-Americans? This book is
about the female self and her formation through the many individuals and
institutions around her. Through story and cultural filters, the
book illustrates family, friends, religion, health, alcoholism, superstitions,
art & craft, beliefs, values, song, recipe, story, coming-of-age, generations,
motherhood, language, bilingualism, denials, sexuality and what constitutes
a cultural individual in a society that will not always allow that person
full access or realization to who she is. But she does it anyway.
This book restores the chapters taken from this book to create the
book, Wednesday’s Child, which won the Maine Chapbook Award. ‘down
the Plains’ represents the complete story of the journey to self.
A woman has been admitted to the Typographical Union of Washington—and
yet the sun continues to rise and set as before.
—The Waterville Mail, Vol. XXIV, No. 13, September 23, 1870
And Yet The Sun Continues To Rise
I’m pregnant. I’m having a book. Women from my culture
rarely have books born out of them. This is one woman who wants very
badly to have this book.
Like the Virgin of window sills, I want an impregnation of mythical
proportions. A new myth to set me free. Mostly from myself.
My self-hatred. I am a Wednesday’s child. You know the rhyme?
Wednesday’s child is full of woe. That’s me. Except, I don’t
know it or I never did or if I did, it didn’t matter. It was more
fun running the lines. Skirting the edges. In the cemetery
with my brother and Jerry, Ron and Ricky. One of them is dead now
and I can never remember which. Died in a car accident. Blown
off the road in a Volkswagen beetle. I can’t bring my childhood friend
back, though I wish I could. It did not seem possible one of the
perpetually young could die like that.
We sit around in the sandbox and make towns; new towns every
day, visit each other, step on someone’s house by accident—kill the whole
family inside. Have to make a new house. One of them eats bugs,
The sand box is at Jerry-Ron-and-Ricky’s house under some kind
of spring flowering tree. I, and my three friends, stand at my house
to have our picture taken when I am four by the newly planted lilac bush.
We are forever there beside the bush, measuring our mutual growth over
the years. Except the lilac grew much taller than any of us ever
dreamed it would and left us all behind to scatter to the four winds.
We can’t all be Wednesday’s child. Some of us have to be born on
the rest of the days of the week.
My own children are a Friday’s child, a Sunday’s child and a
Tuesday’s child. Those are good days. Wednesday’s children
have a long row to hoe. Or many seeds to plant. When I was
four, maybe three, my job was to put the corn seed in the ground after
my father had formed the row. Being low to the ground, I would then
cover the seed; I would rather be playing. Or running around with
Jerry-Ron-and-Ricky. Play in the sandbox, make towns, crush people,
have floods, accidents, visit the sand people’s homes, eat mud-pie pies
make-believe. Leave mad when I couldn’t get my way. Throw sand
ball bombs. Get sick at the sight of Ricky eating bugs. I could
not eat onions for years remembering Ricky chewing on the bugs he’d find
and crunch. The feel of the onion under my teeth sounded a lot like
the crunch of the bugs Ricky chewed. It’s awful. I can’t ever
remember which of my childhood daily companions died in a car accident.
I wonder if he was a Wednesday’s child, too?
It was reasonable to suppose that the death of the young man in the
lock-up, last week would suggest to the proper authorities the propriety
of taking immediate measures to put that filthy place in condition for
uses for which it is designed...It was not only unsafe on account of fire—as
the death of young Roderick has proved...most of the persons thrust in
there are drunk...and once before a man...kicked over the stove and set
the straw on fire. Now there is no stove or other means of fire;
and it was inhuman to put a drunken man in such a place, to lie from Saturday
till Monday. “But what else can I do?” was the reply of officer Edwards.
—The Waterville Mail, Vol. XXIV, No. 20, November 11, 1870
Other Means of Fire
Being born last in a family is like walking into a movie that
has already begun. The action has been going on for quite some time
and you walk into the theater where everything is dark, everyone else is
sitting and eating their popcorn, candy or drinking their sodas, you have
to find a seat for yourself and find a way to catch up to what the story
is about. You have to understand the main plot, the clues, the theme,
tempo, musical score, heroes, stars, action shots, caution: danger, mud
puddles of happiness, saloons’ backroom games, beauty parlors, dance halls,
feel out the other hombres so you won’t get your face smashed in too hard
or get pounded out for not knowing the plot well enough. And, since
you were born late in the show, the plot thickens. It is a lot like
being caught in a gun fight at sunset and you forgot to bring your guns.