Monday December 09, 2013 | 10:32 AM
Santons are literally “little saints”.
They’re figurines that visit many traditional French Nativity displays. As a matter of fact, it makes sense for us to add santons to our home Nativity, as well.
A few years ago, my husband and I enjoyed visiting Les Baux, in Provence, France. This charming medieval town invites visitors on walking tours through its ancient streets to experience how people lived centuries ago.
Friday December 06, 2013 | 09:14 AM
Twenty-one year old Army Corporal Bertrand Dutil, of Lewiston, was among those invited with the high ranking government officials and senior officers who attended the initial signing of the Korean War Military Armistice Agreement at Munsan-ni, South Korea, in July 1953. He was invited to witness the ceremony because he speaks French.
Dutil, 81, is a Lewiston native. His story is included in a tribute to Franco-American veterans of World War I (1914-1918) World War II (1939-1945) and the Korean War (1950-53) currently on exhibit at The Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston Auburn College (USM LAC), in Lewiston.
Monday December 02, 2013 | 10:56 AM
Among Brunswick, Maine’s scenic points of interest along Route 1, is a lovely structural expanse called the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge. It’s architecturally handsome, functional and historic for Franco-Americans.
As a matter of fact, le pont (the bridge) has been in continuous use for over 120 years. It’s a peaceful place to stroll and enjoy nature. As time goes by, people who visit the bridge are likely to forget why it was built. In fact, the bridge is part of Mid Coast Maine’s Franco-American immigration history.
The Androscoggin Swinging Bridge spans a particularly scenic section of the Androscoggin River, where it flows between two Maine towns in separate counties. This historic pedestrian bridge connects Brunswick, in Cumberland County, with Topsham, in Sagadahoc County. It was built to assist French-Canadians, and Franco-Americans who lived on the Topsham Island side of the river to commute to shopping, and attending schools and church in Brunswick. Now the bridge is a beautiful relic of Brunswick’s past industrial era, when the Cabot Mill employed many people who lived in the Mid Coast communities. Most mill workers were French-Canadians and Franco-Americans.
Today the bridge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. An engraved plaque donated by the Rotary Club of Brunswick is visible in the small park landscaped on the Route 1 side of the bridge. It reads: “Originally designed and built in 1892, by John A. Roebling’s Sons Co. for mill workers to cross the river from new housing in Topsham to the Cabot Mill in Brunswick. The bridge has served generations of citizens of all ages between Brunswick and Topsham.”
Friday November 29, 2013 | 08:26 AM
There’s a culinary mystery around the source of the name of a popular layered French-Canadian and Franco-American casserole call “pâté chinois”.
Some people believe the name was invented in Maine. It's one theory put forth by culinary writer Jean-Pierre Lemasson in his gastronomic investigation titled, “Le mystere insondable du pâté chinois”. Lemasson says the name might have been invented in China, Maine.
Franco-Americans know pâté chinois as a traditional “shepherd’s pie”. There’s no one reason why the French Canadians and Franco-Americans re-named shepherd’s pie.
Monday November 25, 2013 | 11:44 AM
A French conversation group sparked the idea for writer and musician Alison Johnson of Topsham to bring together an oral history discussion with three people who were in Europe during World War II. Fifty people attended the November 24, Sunday afternoon program hosted at the Highland Green Community Room, in Topsham. They heard first person experiences from American pianist Frank Glazer, who was in Germany when Hitler rose to power. He shared his experiences with photo journalist Robert Freson, who is a French speaking Belgian-American from Harpswell, who lived in France and Belgium during the German occupation. German-American Rolf Oesterlin, is a chemist who lives in Topsham. He grew up in Germany during the war.
“It’s an honor to hear simultaneous histories from an American, a Belgian and a German at the same time,” said Johnson.
Johnson also read a written account of living in France during World War II by Francoise Inchardi, who came to the States as a French war bride shortly after the war and taught French at MorseHigh School in Bath, for many years.
Johnson’s idea to host the discussion came through her networks with French speaking friends. For the past 47 years, Johnson has coordinated French speaking friends and neighbors for bi-monthly lunches held in their homes. Their purpose is "parler le français seulement” (to speak only French). Sunday’s panel was conducted in English.