FALL RIVER HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Women at Work: An Oral History of
in Fall River, Massachusetts
Interview with Marie Eva Rochefort, née Gagnon
Interviewer: (AS) Ann Rockett-Sperling
Interviewee: (ER) Mrs. Rene Joseph Arsene Rochefort, née Marie Eva Gagnon
Additional Commentary: (JR) Joyce B. Rodrigues, Fall River Historical Society
(DT) Doris Eva (Rochefort) Bernier Thibault, Eva’s daughter
Date of Interview: July 29, 2015
Location: Rochefort residence, Fall River, Massachusetts
Transcriber: Deborah Mello
Marie Eva (Gagnon) Rochefort was born in Fall River on March 25, 1916.
Her parents, of French-Canadian descent, were born in Fall River and met and married in 1915 at the Notre Dame de Lourdes Church. Eva’s paternal and maternal grandparents, the Gagnons and Turgeons, immigrated to the United States from Quebec, Canada in the 1880s, met in Fall River, and were also married at the Notre Dame de Lourdes Church.
Notre Dame was established in 1874 to serve the growing French-Canadian population located in the city’s east end — “the Flint Village.” At its peak, the parish served a population of over 10,000. In 1900, 40 percent of Fall River’s population of over 100,000 claimed French-Canadian ancestry.
Throughout the New England states, French-Canadian immigrants developed their own churches, schools, newspapers, cultural and political organizations, and social clubs. In Fall River, entire sections of the city were French-speaking. The Flint neighborhood, in particular, was a stronghold of French culture.
There were four children in the Gagnon family. Eva was the oldest, followed by a younger brother and two sisters.
Eva started working in 1931 at the age of fifteen at the Charlton Mill, a historic textile mill, built in 1911 with Earl P. Charlton as president. Charlton was a successful businessman who had established a chain of 53 five-and-dime stores and in 1912 became a co-founder of the F.W. Woolworth Company.
The Charlton Mill was the last granite mill constructed in Fall River.
Eva met her husband at the Charlton Mill. They married in 1936 and lived in the south end of Fall River in former mill housing originally owned by the King Philip Mills. They had one daughter.
Eva’s career took her to factories in Fall River: Charlton Mill, Shelburne Shirt Company, Made Rite Potato Chip Company, Bonnie Products Corporation, Elbe File and Binder Company, Inc., and Gorin’s, Inc (department store).
Eva’s story begins during the French-Canadian cultural ascendancy in Fall River and continues through the boom and bust years of the textile industry, the Great Depression, the rise and fall of Fall River’s garment, manufacturing, and wartime industries, and the striking social and technological changes that followed.
In this interview, Eva said the best thing about her life is her family. Her family was close and even as it grew, remained close. In March 2016, Eva celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family, friends, grandchildren, step-grand-children, great- and great-great grandchildren, and received well wishes from the City of Fall River, the State of Massachusetts, and the White House.
Note: This interview is unedited and transcribed verbatim from the original recording.
JR: Okay, we are all set.
ER: All set, Go. Shut up, Eva.
AS: Is it on?
JR: Yes, it’s on.
AS: Today is July 19th, 2015. My name is Anne Rocket-Sperling, and I will be interviewing Eva Rochefort; she is age ninety-nine. Eva will turn one hundred in March of 2016. And her daughter is Doris Thibault, who is a member of the Fall River Historical Society. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. So, could you tell us, Eva, when and where you were born?
ER: Well, I was born on Barnes Street, but I don’t remember anything after that. I was busy taking care of that one.
AS: Were you born in the house?
ER: Oh yeah, I was born in the house. I had her in the house, too. In those days that is what, no hospitals. And in my days I had her home. On Kilburn Street.
AS: So what did your parents do for a living?
ER: My father was, he done a couple, but he was selling insurance, but he had a wagon and a horse, and he delivered some milk, you know, bottles of milk. He had a place across from, umm, the pizza there.
DT: Charlmor Furniture.
ER: Is that where it was? Charlmor Furniture? I was thinking they would know that.
AS: Is that Stafford Square?
JR: Pleasant Street. That’s on Pleasant Street, Charlmor?
DT: Eastern Avenue?
AS: Eastern Avenue?
JR: Oh, Atlas.
ER: Atlas, I was trying to get that.
DT: I like that pizza.
ER: I used to live around there. And my uncle had a little store there, too. But we lived on Eastern Avenue. Not Pleasant.
AS: So, what school did you go to? Did you go to the Coughlin School or Watson?
ER: I don’t remember; it was on Eastern Avenue.
AS: Oh, the Watson, maybe.
ER: Okay, well the Watson is further up, I think. That was when I was older. But younger, I was on Eastern Avenue. This is where the pizza thing there you know?
JR: I thinking that maybe that school isn’t there anymore.
ER: No, it’s not there. That was when I was like a young kid. After that I went to Notre Dame. I lived around there. Notre Dame Church and school.
AS: Did your parents, did they work in the mills?
ER: My mother did, just for a little while, not that much, you know? Because she had two kids. I was the oldest one. But, she had some time off, and then she knew, you know, someone to take care of us. And she went to work. But not that long.
AS: What did you have for brothers and sisters? You were the oldest, who else did you have?
ER: I had another sister. She was eight years younger than me. I had a brother, so I was the first one. Then I had another sister, then a boy, and my sister died two years ago. She was the youngest. So we were four.
JR: Were your parents from Canada, maybe?
ER: Yes, some of the parents were. But my were more around here.
AS: So your grandparents were from Canada. So your parents were from Fall River.
AS: Canada. That was said, it was Cana-daw.
JR: But your mother and father were from Fall River?
AS: Now, how about the house where you grew up, what was that like? Do you remember? What the house was like?
ER: On Eastern Avenue, across from Atlas. The house is still there.
AS: So, what floor did you live on?
ER: The second floor.
AS: Do you remember anything about it? Did you have like a stove?
ER: We had a big belly stove, you know? We must have burned some wood. And coal.
AS: I had a space heater when I lived there.
ER: I had it later on, but this is at first.
AS: When you were young, did you have to do anything in the house? Or did …
AS: Your parents did everything?
ER: That’s why I’m okay, I didn’t do no work.
JR: You mean you didn’t cook with your mother? You didn’t try to cook?
ER: No, in our days, they didn’t do that. But later on, I made up for it.
AS: How about your family, did you do things together, like on a weekend when your parents weren’t working?
ER: Not much.
AS: You just hung out.
ER: Not much, you know, yeah. We stick around the house.
AS: Did you play outside?
ER: Yah, and I used to play baseball with my niece, and Loretta, is that my cousin, my niece? And we used to play ball in the yard. And this was my bat. You see? They throw the ball, that is all they had. Back then they had nothing.
AS: Right, you didn’t play marbles or any of that?
ER: Oh yeah, I would win sometimes, some kids I would lose. I go home with a bag full, the next day it was empty, you know?
JR: How about hopscotch?
ER: I done all that. I jumped rope. I was doing it over here with her kids. I jumped rope with them.
AS: And you have to teach the kids how to do that now. Because they don’t do that.
ER: They learn something else.
AS: Now how about on the holidays like Thanksgiving. Was it just your family? Or did other people…
ER: In our days it was just the family, and then as we got older, we went to the in-laws and all that. I was still young, but good enough to go to them.
AS: You went to visit relatives?
DT: And Aunt Chris too, the same thing?
ER: That was what it was like. Maybe his mother. Let me see, my husband, I don’t remember that.
DT: You were grown up.
ER: Mémère was gone, yeah.
AS: So, on Christmas, did you hang up stockings or did you not do that?
ER: We had nothing.
AS: Not like the other kids?
ER: No, we had nothing.
AS: But you must have gotten some little presents for Christmas.
ER: Yeah, we moved around.
AS: You were happy with what you got, I’m sure.
JR: Can I jump back a little? Did you speak French in your house?
ER: All the time. And when we went to Notre Dame, they went English. You know? But, I was better at French than English, but it didn’t take me long to get back at it.
AS: But you still speak French, I’m sure. Can you read French also? Can you read it? Or just speak it.
ER: I can read better than speak it.
ER: I still know my French, I look at that and ‘di-di-di-di-di.’ I’m slow though. But I am better than, yes.
JR: The nuns? You had the nuns at Notre Dame? Your grandparents, were they in Fall River?
ER: They were in my house.
AS: They all lived in the same?
ER: Eastern Avenue, Pleasant Street. Yah.
AS: Like now, it’s like now. Sort of.
ER: They were around. Yeah.
AS: And so, like your family, what did you do for fun? Like, if you had, did you do anything? Did you go anywhere? Did you go to the beach, or not really?
ER: Not that much, because, uhh, I am going to bring my uncle in there. I am in a, he had the buggy, what do you call the horse and buggy, and I get the picture of that. I am sitting next to my uncle. See, that’s all. And then as for, we played, in the yard, and there was, um, a hill, two or three houses from us, and then we go down there when there was snow, we go down there. Very simple. Very simple.
AS: Life was simpler then, wasn’t it? So much simpler.
ER: Yeah, it was. I feel as though I’m rich now. You know?
AS: Because you have a beautiful home, with relatives. How about school? You said you went to …
ER: Notre Dame.
AS: Notre Dame, and you remember anything about it?
ER: Notre Dame? Um. No, let me see. No, Notre Dame was all right. Then I went to, and I had to change when I moved, to Watson School.
AS: Oh, you went to the Watson school?
ER: Yeah, and um, I went, um, what is the name of that one?
AS: Davis, did you go to Davis?
ER: No, it was like a high school. Which one was it, I don’t know? It was a high school, and I didn’t like the gang that was there. They used to hang in the corner. Today is different. They do that, you don’t know. But, so I didn’t like the place, so, I stayed home.
AS: So you didn’t go to Durfee?
AS: No. You stayed home?
ER: No, I left Durfee and came home. And I didn’t go back. So the truant officer in those days come and get me. One man comes over and says, ‘Why you aren’t in school?’ He was nice though, you know? I told him, ‘Well, my mother is sick,’ you know. ‘She is super sick,’ and I says, ‘that is why I stayed home for her.’
AS: Was that true?
ER: Yeah, I mean, you know, that was it for him. That was for him.
AS: Oh, for him?
ER: So, he must have seen my mother, and she looked oayk. He looks at me and says, ‘I think you should go back to school.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ So my uncle had, he was a first, what is that? The mill? Charlton Mill. And he was working there, my uncle. He says, ‘You want a job?’ I says, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Go get your school card.’ So I went to get my school card and I started to work.
AS: How old were you?
ER: I was fifteen or sixteen. So he gave me a job. And then I met my boyfriend. After so many years of working there.
AS: And is that who you married?
AS: Was that your husband?
AS: Oh, so you met him when you were young.
ER: Yeah, well, see in those days, you know, I know college. So you either worked or you don’t work, or you just hang around or you go work in a store. But today, they all go to college.
AS: It’s different.
ER: So, it’s a different age.
AS: Right, and times are different. But I’m sure in those days, all your friends worked.
ER: And they had no money. They couldn’t, you know.
JR: How about your clothes in those days. Did you make your own clothes?
ER: No, my mother bought that. And a man would come around the house, $1.00 each time he come. And we bought some of that. But, no, I just had enough.
ER: A cotton dress, and this and that.
AS: And how about in the mill. Did you bring your own lunch? Did you bring your lunch when you worked there?
ER: No, because I was working from six in the morning to noontime. So I go and come back home. And the week after, I was working at noontime to six. Six to twelve, and the other one was noontime to six.
JR: So you had different shifts.
ER: Two shifts.
AS: So you didn’t have to take a lunch, because you would be home for lunch. Now how about your friends? Do you remember any of your friends when you were young? Or?
ER: Well, we didn’t go out, we didn’t do anything, but we had neighbors.
AS: In the neighborhood.
ER: Across the street, so we made friends there. And so I, I was there until I got married and moved away from there.
JR: How did you get to the mill? How did you, did you walk to the mill?
ER: No, we started with the choo-choo train, the choo-choo train on Eastern Avenue, downtown, get out downtown. Get one going to the south end. Because that was pretty far. Yeah. And then the next week we would be twelve to six. See six in the morning. So I used to get up early in the morning. And now, when I see them do that, I say, ‘Oh my God you get up early!’ Then I think, you did the same thing! You know? So a friend of theirs. They do it.
DT: That is what has kept you the way you are.
ER: I don’t know, I kept going.
AS: Now your husband worked in the same mill eventually?
ER: Yeah, that’s where he met me. He was lucky.
AS: He was very lucky. Now what did you do on dates? Did you go and sit in the house or did you go?
ER: We went to the movies. Capitol Show downtown. Yeah. I went there. And then we would go and eat. And I was so bashful, you wouldn’t think so today. I was so bashful, and he looks at me and says, ‘Aren’t you going to eat?’ So I am bashful, I think we had ordered pie and ice-cream. So I say, he says you know, look at me. He said, ‘All you do is take a bite.’ And that’s all you have to do, you know? After I was married, I woke up.
AS: Before you married, you don’t want them to think you eat too much.
ER: Everybody is so surprised. ‘You were bashful?’ And then they see me now, they say ‘YOU?’ I says, ‘Yes.’
AS: How old were you when you got married?
ER: Almost nineteen.
AS: So you were young.
ER: I was in those days.
AS: And so were you married at the church or at the house?
ER: Notre Dame.
JR: In the old Notre Dame? The one that burned down?
ER: Yeah, I was at the Stop and Shop down on Pleasant Street and I could see a lot of smoke. Someone come in and I says, ‘Wow, there must be a big fire over there.’ She says, ‘Notre Dame is all on fire.’ I looked at her and I says, ‘Not the church?’ I was angry. It was the church. It was the church.
AS: After you got married, did you go on a honeymoon? Or did you just…
ER: Yes, we went on a big trip; we went to Boston.
AS: In those days that was a big trip.
ER: And then he used to get some money, the work he was doing. And he says, ‘You want to call up?’ And he says, um, ‘We can stay maybe a week longer, you know? I says, ‘No, we can go home. We will be okay.’ So we didn’t stay there. We come home and the money he bought a chair with it. A rocker.
AS: He bought a rocking chair. That came in handy when Doris was born I’m sure.
JR: What did you do in Boston? What kind of fun did you have in Boston?
ER: We had some, um, it’s not the movies, and it was the real people.
AS: Like a play?
ER: Yes, we see quite a few of those. We went shopping at Woolworth’s. And I bought some earrings. And a little boy, when we come home, he says to his mother, he says, ‘What she got there?’ They didn’t even know I had the earrings. You know? So he looks at me, so I says, ‘Hey, that’s it. I bought some earrings.’
AS: So did you stay there a few days?
ER: Yeah, I think maybe a week.
JR: Now, how did you get there? How did you get to Boston?
ER: His brother had a car and brought us to downtown.
JR: And you had to stay in a hotel?
ER: Yeah. Yeah.
JR: Was that the first time you were in a hotel?
ER: The first time for everything, yeah.
AS: We are not going to go there Eva.
ER: No, but what I, I knew. I knew way up not that long ago, where it was. And uh, I think it was $11 or something like that. Anyways, I forgot that one.
DT: You had your reception at the Eagle downtown.
AS: Oh, you had the reception at the Eagle? Your wedding reception was at the Eagle?
AS: That must have been nice.
ER: It was nice.
JR: I think that was the place to go in those days.
ER: That’s it, yeah, yeah. That is all, he is the one that you know.
JR: That was pretty classy.
ER: They did that.
AS: So, after you were married did you go back to work in the mill while you were waiting before Doris was born?
ER: Yeah, I worked on Main Street. I was working with the chip man. Potato chip. I was filling those up. I worked downtown at Gorin’s store. And there was a knick- knack store, and I wanted more hours and they couldn’t give me that, so I let go. And I, people come in and they wanted certain things. That was me. I says, ‘I will go check in the back, see if there is something there.’ Some people said, ‘That’s all I’ve got because I’ve been there.’ So I went in the back, and I would tell them, ‘I am sorry,’ you know, I couldn’t give it to them. So I had that, a knick-knack, and Woolworth and Gorin. Yeah. I was busy.
AS: You didn’t work in one of the fabric mills.
JR: Jump back a little bit, Eva. When you were at the Charlton Mill, what kind of work did you do in the Charlton Mill?
ER: That’s a funny one. They bring me a little container, they had a bobbin, wooden bobbin, and you put it in that machine, press a button, and you turn it. And it fills it up. When it’s full, they take it off. Put it in that container. When that is full, someone picks it up. So that is what I was doing.
AS: So, you filled bobbins all day. All different colored threads like black and brown.
ER: Yeah, and my husband was working in the other room. He was making, putting the thread on a big roll, you know? And that went on another machine. So that is how he knew me. Yeah. He was lucky he met me.
AS: He was lucky he met you.
JR: So, what did the Charlton Mill make? What kind of?
ER: It was all cotton stuff.
JR: Cotton Cord?
ER: And when I was living across the street after I was married. I was living, you hear those machines make a lot of noise, you know? That is what they used to do, pick and fill up big ones like that and they shove them out. Yeah, the people picked them up.
AS: So, they didn’t make dresses or coats. They made the cloth.
ER: Yeah, the bobbins and the big one, you know?
AS: So, when did you stop working there?
AS: When Doris was born?
ER: No, before that. Because that is when I wasn’t going to school, remember? My uncle says, ‘You want a job?’ I says, ‘Yeah,’ so he gave me a job. I went to work. Yeah. That was my job. Now I got a better job.
AS: So, when you married, you and your husband, and you cooked every night. I’m sure different things for dinner.
ER: Oh, everything. I take a recipe and, you know, then one time we had turkey, just the family, and I went and check and it wasn’t ready, so I come in the living room and said, ‘We will have to wait a little longer. It’s not quite cooked.’ And all that. But we had a turkey with all the trimmings, you know?
JR: And did your mother and father like your husband?
ER: I guess so, but in those days, they didn’t talk like that, you know? They don’t make such big things.
JR: Did they know each other? They know the families?
ER: No, they met them when we, you know. I had a nice beautiful mother-in-law.
AS: Oh, that’s nice.
ER: A lot of people, you hear them, ‘Oh my god, my mother-in-law, blah, blah, blah,’ and I listen to that and I couldn’t that that because I didn’t have that.
AS: Where did he live when he was younger?
ER: On Kilburn Street. And they were living in the house near the water. Then there was another house over here and it belonged to them. So we moved in. We got, they gave us a third floor. Because there was someone in the first and the second. So that is where we lived. Until we come next door.
JR: I think, not to jump ahead, I think on Kilburn Street, the houses there, I think the houses were owned by the mill. The Berkshire.
JR: The Berkshire mill?
ER: Yeah, yeah.
JR: So, you were living in Berkshire property?
ER: My husband’s father lived there.
JR: In the Berkshire?
ER: Yeah. My husband then, he was a carpenter, so he was all over. He had a truck, and he was, you know, that was his work.
AS: Did you have a radio when you were younger? When you were first married?
ER: That’s all we had.
AS: No TV.
AS: But you were happy?
ER: Yeah, hey, that’s all we had. And then when it come in with a TV. Oh, and the colors, and you know me. So my husband knew a man that was working with him. And he says, ‘Color, it’s no better than that black-and-white.’ You know? You know what, it didn’t take him long, and he got a color one. Then we went to a color. And we bought that on a… What was that?
AS: You still have the first TV? Doris said you still have your first TV? Your son has it. Or your grandson.
ER: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
JR: Nine inch. Wow. And it was probably round. Its screen was probably round.
ER: We have been around a long time. We have seen a lot of things.
AS: So, how about in the mill, do you remember like, did it smell of anything? Or was it just? Was it noisy?
ER: We went to work, it was fine.
AS: Was it noisy?
ER: Yeah, well further up, you hear ‘boom, boom, boom.’
AS: How about the men that were in charge? Were they all nice?
ER: It was just my uncle for that part of the place.
AS: So, you worked for a relative?
ER: He was good.
AS: He was good to you, because you …
ER: He married my mother’s sister.
AS: Right, so you were lucky that you worked with someone you knew.
ER: I was lucky all the way.
AS: How about safety? They were careful about making sure you weren’t hurt?
ER: No, it was an easy thing. You just put the thing over there. And turned it. Nothing hard. No. Oh, then I worked with the powder puffs. What is that stop, that place we eat?
DT: McGovern’s on Shove Street.
JR: Oh, yeah, okay.
ER: I worked in those there. You take the puff, it comes in, because one girl makes that. She sews. We have to turn the puff to put on the right side. And we put, and we have a pick, but it’s pretty well, it’s not pointed. You put that in there and there is a lining in there. You know, the powder puff?
AS: A powder puff like makeup?
ER: You put that in there. I worked in there.
AS: They had a whole mill that made powder puffs? Oh my goodness.
ER: And I worked across the street, with the…
AS: Was it Salvo?
ER: Yup, I was trying to forget him. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I worked there.
AS: They used to come to the houses and bring tins of chips.
ER: That I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t go.
AS: So, you worked there.
JR: Where was that chip place?
ER: South Main Street.
JR: South Main Street.
ER: Yes, before Charles Street.
JR: I know where that is.
ER: And one time, I get my check, you know, they had a check then for my pay. And I looked at that, and says, ‘Oh. Something wrong here, there is too much,’ you know? But there was a girl watching me all the time, because I knew later on. She must have said she works hard, she is she did that, and told the boss. The boss gave me a little bit extra.
AS: That was nice.
ER: So, I went to him, and I said to him, I says, ‘I made on purpose to go.’ I says, ‘You gave me too much.’ I says,’ You know.’ I think it’s about three times. I said it. You know? ‘You gave me too much.’ He looks at me and says, ‘Have you got enough?’ Then I woke up, and says to myself, ‘You know he wants me to,’ I says, ‘Yeah.’ So he looks at me, so I thanked him. Five cents an hour more. Five cents. Big deal.
AS: So, do you remember what you made a week?
AS: $15 every week, and you went every day? Five days?
ER: Yeah, yeah.
JR: Now, how about the rents in those days? Did you go back to your mother and father, and then to your married life? What kind of rents did you pay? Or did you only, or did you own your own home or did you pay rent?
ER: No, we paid rent, because his mother and father owned it.
AS: So, you paid it to them.
ER: And then they had the two, first floor, second floor and my husband’s second floor was his sister. So, it was the mother, the sister and then upstairs it had rooms where they put different things so they cleared that all up and my husband was a carpenter, too. So they cleaned it all up on the third floor that’s where they put me. On the third floor. So I was there. His sister and his mother.
AS: So, that was nice, it was all family in the house.
AS: So, when you worked at the potato chip factory and the powder puff, did you take your lunch then? Did you take a lunch pail or did you eat at home?
AS: Or did you buy it there?
ER: No, we didn’t buy things. We had no money you know? I don’t remember. I guess it was the hours were different. That is why I started at six to twelve, I go home at twelve, so I didn’t have to bring a lunch.
AS: So, you could eat at home.
ER: And then the other one, the other one started earlier, but I guess I ate before I left.
AS: And you would have a sandwich or soup?
ER: Yeah, yeah, I would eat at home
AS: No pizza or anything.
ER: None of that, no. No chocolate either or things like that. No ice cream. Well, you see what is today. You know?
JR: Fast food, everything is fast.
ER: Yeah. Yup, there was all, you know.
JR: What I don’t like is the Portuguese background that I’m from, they made a big pan of soup on Sunday and that would give for the week.
ER: I kind of, yeah.
JR: Did you do a lot of cooking like that? Did you make meals in advance?
ER: Me? I only had her, so.
AS: You probably made gorton. Did you make gorton?
ER: Oh, yeah. Gorton. Yeah. She makes good gorton, too. I bought some from the store. They did sell some. But …
AS: Takes a long time to make that.
ER: I had it though.
AS: My father loved that. And meat pie. Did you make meat pie?
JR: The French meat pie. Beautiful.
ER: No, I wasn’t good at pies.
AS: But Doris was good at pies?
ER: Yes. But cakes, I was always making cakes. For this one, that one, and then when my husband’s brother come out of the army, I made him a cake and I decorated it with little flags and this and that. But then when I met her husband, he had a bakery. So I didn’t make no more cakes. I used his cakes.
AS: So your son in law had a bakery? Oh wow, how nice is that?
ER: So I used to take his. I didn’t make no more.
AS: So you stopped working when you were ready to have Doris? Is that when you stopped working at the mills?
AS: And then you didn’t go back.
ER: I went on the, I was doing, folding. I think it was the shirts. I was folding. What is that street?
AS: Shelburne Shirts?
ER: Yeah, I was working there I had to fold that. Size, you know?
JR: My mother worked at the Shelburne.
ER: See? Yeah.
JR: But she lasted a long time. You know? She lasted, she was there for forty years.
ER: She owned the place.
JR: She did, and she started when the owner came from New York and came to Fall River to set up the business. She was one of the first employees there. So she started day one. Yeah. That was a factory that had a lot of women, a lot of women there. And men, too.
AS: So, that is what you did at Shelburne? You folded the shirts to put into the bag?
ER: Yeah, we had to fold that a certain size, you know and all that. Some of their, it was a long. If I had known I was going to have this, I would have wrote it down in a book.
AS: You are doing great.
JR: But along this period of time though, along came Social Security. Before that, you know, you didn’t have that. Franklin Roosevelt came along with Social Security. Do you remember Social Security coming in? 1935, I think. And you had to put your money into the Social Security Fund.
ER: I must have. That I don’t remember. I can’t say, because I don’t remember.
JR: So, then you got a pension when you retired? Did you get a pension?
DT: No. She didn’t work long enough.
AS: So, where was Doris born? At Charlton? St. Anne’s? In the house?
ER: In the house.
ER: In the house. They didn’t have hospitals for that then. But you know, later on, then they do it at the hospitals. But not in my time.
AS: So then you stayed home with your baby.
JR: Did you have a nurse there? Was your mother with you?
ER: Yeah, I had a nurse. When I was having her, I was on Kilburn Street, third floor. She done all the work. So, she calls the doctor, it’s about, you know she is doing this – ‘blah, blah, blah, blah’ – so after she gets through with him, he told her, ‘Well it’s not time yet. A little bit.’ You know? So he waited. She done all the work. Then he gets paid. And she got all the work. You can’t win with them. So, she was on the third floor. It was hot! Someone was there. They opened the window. I had no air-condition there.
JR: Oh yeah, the third floors are hot.
AS: So, do you remember the Depression?
ER: I was in it.
ER: I used to go to the store, get some, I had to go and get some butter, but you had to stand in line. It was very rare that the butter and the coffee, and this and that. I stayed in line to get it. You know? I go, I think it was, it starts with an ‘F.’ It was on Main Street.
DT: First National?
ER: Yeah. That is where I went, because it was on Kilburn Street. And I went and see. The girl said, ‘Go see the man in the back.’ So when I went in, he says, ‘Um. You are going to work?’ You going to start at Stop and Shop? He said are you going to shop? I says, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘When you are all done shopping,’ he said, ‘come over.’ When I came over, he had a pound of butter in a bag. So I went ,and I had the cash.
AS: That was nice. So you had to stand in line for all that?
ER: And then I went and I bought, you never know, I bought some horse meat. But I took the best part of the horse. I didn’t know how good everything was, but I did. I had to. You know?
AS: If that was all you had, then …
ER: When my mother had it, oh my God, that was so good. And when I said what it was, oh my God. Yuck. I said, ‘Yeah, but I took the best part of the horse.’ You know? I’ll tell you.
JR: How many times did you do that? You buy horse meat?
ER: That was the only time with the horse. I let go of the horse.
AS: Your mother didn’t want you buying horse meat.
JR: I heard that. I heard that. And um, I heard that about horse meat from someone else. And then, they said, it was in my grandmother’s house. And it was a relative from Providence. And she came to Fall River, and they served her horse meat. But when she went back to Providence, she ended up having twins.
ER: Oh, my!
AS: You were lucky!
ER: I’m lucky I just had one. Oh, what a life, you know? When you talk about all those things from way, way back, you know? And people today and the kids are so smart today. But, compared to us, we had nothing. We didn’t go nowhere.
AS: You are smart.
ER: I guess so, because look at what I wound up doing here.
AS: You are here in this beautiful house.
ER: Yeah, but the kids, they have these, they go on bus. The have these things.
AS: IPad and Computers.
ER: And they go here and go there. They are going on trips sometimes. We never did.
AS: But you were happy.
ER: I never complained, you know.
AS: How about when you were young. Did any of your siblings, did anyone get sick or was anyone?
ER: No, not like today. Not like today, no. And my grandparents, they died seventy-two, they all died young. Tonight look at this.
DT: Your great grandmother was ninety-two. Mémère.
ER: Yeah, that one.
JR: They were all dying in their seventies?
ER: Yeah, more or less. My father was sixty-three.
AS: That’s young.
ER: My mother was in her seventies.
AS: How about the hurricane? Do you remember the hurricane of 1938? Or do you remember any of the hurricanes from when you were younger?
ER: Yes, that’s the one with the camp, right?
DT: No, the one on Kilburn where Papa was walking home during the hurricane, remember?
ER: I thought that was when he went the way he walked.
DT: That wasn’t after? That was an earlier one.
JR: Thirty-eight, 1938.
DT: You were on Kilburn.
ER: Yeah, I would have to be there. 1938. Yeah. And then Papa had to, uh, put some on …
DT: He had to walk home during that storm. Because they walked.
ER: Everything, yeah. And they had to put something in the window, you know, so it wouldn’t break. Because we were in front of that mill. What that building across?
JR: Berkshire on Kilburn, Berkshire-Hathaway.
ER: No, that wasn’t it. Hathaway?
ER: That sounds better than Hathaway.
DT: There was a box on the roof that flies.
JR: The bricks were flying from the chimneys? Must have been the chimneys falling down.
DT: From the roof.
ER: I know it was. We were here for the big storm. 1978 there. We had way back. We were next door. Yeah. And my husband crossed the street, he brought some coffee. There was a truck parked there. Had a name on it. He was bringing something someplace I guess, delivery or something. He went and bring him a cup of coffee across the street.
AS: Right, the blizzard of ‘78. That was nice to be home in your own house when that happened.
JR: I am going to jump back a little bit to the Twenties, to the Depression. Were, was everyone working in your house during the Depression? Was there a lot of unemployment?
ER: I know my husband was, I don’t know if the others were, too. Yeah. Because that’s a long time ago.
DT: Was your father working in the Twenties? You weren’t married then.
ER: I don’t remember that, that is way back.
JR: Yeah, it is. And the mills were starting to close.
ER: Yeah, because my father was selling, when you want to buy, not a ticket.
DT: You said insurance?
ER: Yeah, I think that was what it was. He was selling insurance for a while. Then he went with his buggy for the milk. Yeah, that was around that time, yeah. Hey. Then my husband, well they have to have, I don’t know. I am not saying a ticket, but something like, it’s like a ticket, if you wanted gas or something like that. You had to have that. You know? So, people didn’t go out like they do today.
AS: So, do you remember when you got your first car? Do you remember? After you were married, I’m sure.
ER: I was forty-two.
ER: I was forty-two. Not like today, they are seventeen and on the road. And then the first thing you know, they are underneath the road. No, but, um, my husband one time. I never asked for anything. So one day he says, ‘If I buy a car,’ he says, ‘would you learn how to drive?’ I looked at him and I says, ‘Where did that come from?’ I never asked for that. ‘Well,’ I says, ‘Okay.’ So I learned how to drive. And I got a car. He got me a car. It was green and beige. I still remember. So I was driving.
JR: And were you the first one in your family to drive a car?
ER: Yes, because I was the oldest one.
JR: That was pretty interesting. Because not many women were driving cars.
ER: That’s right, today, the young ones do. They are eighteen and run in there.
AS: Sixteen they get their license. Sixteen-and-a-half.
ER: So I was forty-two. And I gave my car away when I was here. I was eighty-nine. See the difference in the time?
AS: So you drove all that time?
ER: Yeah. I drove all that.
AS: There are a lot of cars on the road.
ER: She was leaving, she was living next door. And I am going out, she says, ‘Ma, where are you going?’ I said, ‘I am going to Plymouth Avenue Stop and Shop.’ ‘I’ll bring you.’ Another time, again. ‘Where you going?’ ‘I am going to blah, blah, blah.’ She says, ‘I will take you.’ Then I said, ‘There are too many cars in the driveway over here.’ They had cars. You know? So I said, ‘what am going to do with a car?’ So I gave it away. But I never missed it.
AS: You didn’t need it because you had Doris.
ER: Yeah, she was my chauffer and still is.
AS: That’s good. I’m sure she doesn’t mind it.
ER: She has to renew her license.
AS: I’m sure she will be able to renew it.
JR: She must have passed the test.
ER: Yeah, my car was, ah, I had bought one. Her daughter Terry, she was going to get rid of that one. It was red and beige. And I love red. I bought it from her. So then, I had my husband did, it was green and the beige. We had quite a few you know. Yeah. And his brother was going to sell that car, my husband bought it. So we had different cars.
AS: Do you remember anything about the war? Do you have any memories about that?
ER: No, not that we didn’t have no this or that.
AS: Just that you had to stand in line.
ER: We had some that went in the war, though. There was, uh, not my brother.
DT: Papa’s brother. Your brother-in-law. Your brother-in-law.
ER: That is what I was looking for. His name. My brother-in-law, he went. And when he came back, he was all done. You know, the war was done. I baked him a cake. And I decorated it with flags. Different things, different things, and that was for him. But, after I met her husband, he had Pleasant Street, you know. I am not going to decorate no more. I will buy his cakes.
JR: What was the bakery?
DT: The Poirier’s.
JR: Oh, the Poirier’s Bakery. That’s well known.
ER: That’s the best one.
JR: You better believe it. When you said the Poirier’s Bakery. That was the best.
AS: We used to get meat pie from there.
ER: So, I buy the cakes from there, fixed up from him. I didn’t fix it up anymore. You know?
AS: So did you work in the bakery? No? Doris didn’t?
ER: I didn’t either.
DT: No, because I was at the cemetery.
AS: Oh, you had a job.
DT: I helped out sometimes at Christmas.
AS: When they were busy.
AS: So, you were lucky. You had a son-in-law who had a bakery.
ER: I’m telling you. I was lucky all over.
JR: You were.
ER: All around the calendar. You know? Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
DT: She hosted every weekend, year round, the family.
AS: Oh, they came to her house to eat?
DT: Always, summer and winter.
JR: Every Sunday? Sunday dinner? You had a Sunday dinner?
DT: It was small.
ER: All the time. Not that they are doing it for me.
AS: They should.
JR: I remember those Sunday dinners, what did you cook?
AS: You said about the turkey.
ER: Well, it’s not really always. We had two dishes that the family, his mother and my mother; one made something, the other one made something. That is what I used to do. When I went with my husband, my boyfriend, my mother gave him that, spaghetti and cheese. So I had him coming home, I says to him, ‘Did you like that?’ He says, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Enough for me to do it?’ He says, ‘Yeah.’ So that was a family from the start. It’s funny when you say spaghetti and cheese. Because you got meat, potatoes, spaghetti, and the cheese that goes on top. The meat, the potatoes, the celery.
AS: So, it was more than spaghetti. You added things to it.
ER: Yeah, when you say spaghetti, and then when you cut it, you got a chunk like a piece of pie, okay? And you have all that cheese and everything in there, you know?
AS: So, everyone liked it?
ER: Yeah, enough for me to make it? He says, ‘Yeah, sure.’ That was our favorite dinner. Everyone has their own.
AS: People have their own recipes. People have their own things; they cook all the time.
ER: But I had recipes and I just follow them. And I was busy. But not anymore. I just eat it now.
JR: Do you remember when the day that Pearl Harbor happened? A lot of people remember that day. They listened to it on the radio. Do you remember when the Japanese?
ER: I must have. Because my husband must have put that. So yeah, I must have. But not enough for me to say they said that. You know?
AS: You were probably busy.
DT: We went out in the truck. The streets were busy. We went around town. Everyone was celebrating.
ER: We were in the truck then?
DT: That was the end of the war.
AS: Oh, the end of the war.
DT: Yes, the end of the war. Everyone was celebrating. Everyone was out.
JR: The end of the war, everyone was happy. Everyone was celebrating. This is great.
ER: I’m telling you, every Sunday, we go down the hill. There was a little, when you pass on South Main Street there, there is a, what is that street?
DT: Sandy Beach probably.
ER: Yes, but the street we cross there.
DT: South Main? Charles?
ER: Charles Street was where we went over. But after that. But anyways, the street there, we go down the hill, there was a beach there.
AS: Oh, Bay Street maybe.
ER: Yeah, I would fix up a basket and we would go down the hill. That was our big thing.
AS: A big basket, you would take?
ER: So, we went in the water, and we had our lunch down there. And we bring my mother and his mother, and I sit in the back, because I was young, you know? But, we had a good time. Every Sunday.
JR: Do you remember the Fall River Line? The boats that used to leave Fall River and go to New York?
ER: Go to New York?
JR: Yes. The boats that would come and go from Fall River to New York. And they had steamboats. The beautiful steamboats that would go right down the Taunton River. A lot of people remember seeing that.
ER: That is okay if they are wet, but I never seen it down there.
AS: You have provided us with such wonderful memories. This is great.
ER: It’s way back, you know? Yeah.
JR: Now, Doris said your husband built this house?
ER: He was smart. He is lucky he got me. He was very smart. He didn’t like school. And his mother would go to the fence, and talk to him at recess. Then she would go back home. But he made himself, he went to night school and this and that. I said she is smart, just like her father. Yeah.
AS: Where did he go to school?
ER: Well, honest, in the South End.
DT: Benjamin Street, there was a school there.
JR: Benjamin Street?
ER: Yeah. It was on a side street.
DT: There may be houses there.
AS: Near the Slade School. I never knew what that school was.
ER: So, at noon time, he didn’t like school. So, at noon time, his mother used to go to the fence, you know? And talk to him a little bit and then she would go home but later on, he made himself, you know?
DT: Look at how well he did.
JR: So he worked in the mill, and then he changed jobs. He went into carpentry. And then, after the war, he built this house?
DT: He built a lot of houses.
ER: The other side. Yeah.
AS: Did he work for a contractor?
DT: No he was Rochefort Brothers and Sons.
ER: He was the boss.
JR: He was the contractor?
ER: He and his brother.
AS: I took my car …
ER: When I moved there, someone called up, they thought it was the gasoline station. I says, oh no, that is not it. I told them where it was, you know? Yeah. But he is still there, I think. The sign is still there.
AS: So, your father built a lot of houses in this area, or all over?
ER: Oh, yeah.
DT: Mine and the one after me belonged to Venus de Milo.
AS: Monte Ferris?
DT: He built some out back, some up in the Highlands.
ER: He built a lot.
AS: He was smart. He was a smart man.
JR: Maybe he knew the Beauregard’s. Because, where I live on Chavenson Street, all that property was built by the Beauregard family.
ER: No, he had another one. I don’t know it. I think I remember Broadway. He had another. No, that wasn’t it, I don’t think. No.
JR: So, he was a well-known business man. That’s wonderful.
ER: I know because, you know, you tell somebody about a certain thing. Word of mouth, okay? And a lot of people, they done a job. So the people said, they say, ‘who does it? Who does it?’ So, they get that job. And they get that job. Word of mouth. Yeah. He done alright.
AS: I’m sure he did good work. This house is beautiful.
ER: That is my grandson that made this part. The other side, is …
AS: So, he is handy, also?
DT: My son built a lot of …
AS: Did he go to Diman?
JR: Good for him.
DT: He is in the hall of fame at Diman.
ER: He was the first one, first place every year. He’s done ok. Yeah.
AS: That’s wonderful.
ER: And when I say Bernice, her name is Bernice. I says, you know, this is good. Remember that? She says it’s all in the wall, she figured because I lived there. The stuff. She said it’s still in the wall.
JR: So, Doris, you are an only child?
JR: And then you have a daughter?
DT: I have five children.
JR: Oh. She beat you!
ER: I know, I said, ‘Where the other seven are?’ She wanted twelve. I said, ‘Where the other seven is?’
DT: Sixteen grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. And stepchildren and step-grandchildren.
AS: That is wonderful.
JR: You have to keep a list of everyone!
AS: So, it must be fun now at Christmas time, now and the holidays.
ER: Yeah, you meet. And there are so many now, they don’t know where they are going to go. You know, if they have so many there, you have to place them somewhere, you know? They do okay.
JR: This is great.
ER: I used to. Are you putting that in?
JR: Yeah, I have it all down, and I will let you hear it later.
ER: And I can erase what I want?
ER: She’s not sure!
AS: Anything you don’t want, you don’t have to have.
ER: None of it’s bad.
AS: But you have given us wonderful information.
JR: I am going to go back a little bit, and go back to things that came about during all of these years. The radio. When did you get your first radio?
ER: We were on Kilburn Street. That’s a long time ago.
JR: So, you were married already? You didn’t have a radio growing up?
ER: We had one of these, you know, these …
ER: Yeah, phonographs. We had one of those.
JR: And you had to crank it?
ER: That is why they go like this. That is what we had. And then after that, TV came. He bought one that was Mason’s.
JR: Furniture? Wow.
ER: And it was black-and-white and it was only about this big. That little picture. That big. That wasn’t big. And then, when the other come out, we still went to Mason’s and I, he got a colored one.
JR: How about the telephone?
JR: When did the telephone come in?
ER: I don’t know, but we were four on it.
AS: Four families on it?
ER: At least three or four.
AS: That’s a real party line.
ER: My husband, they had his business and then, in the morning, he wanted to call for some material. That woman was always on the phone. He says, ‘Every time I take it I can never get it. She is always there.’ She wasn’t going to work, so she should have been in bed. But, anyways. So when we got more, you know, four of them. So that’s a long time, huh?
JR: So, you had to, you were already married, to get a telephone. And then you were married when you got the car.
ER: Oh yeah, forty-two years old. I don’t know why I remember that. Forty-two years old. Yeah.
AS: You have a wonderful memory.
JR: Who taught you to drive?
ER: My hubby. No, he showed me a little bit. I had somebody show me. I had to have a driver. So, it was a man. Then another time it was a woman.
AS: Like an instructor, a driving instructor.
ER: Then my husband would help me. At that camp there. That street.
DT: Sanford Road?
ER: Sanford Road? Not Stafford. Sanford Road.
AS: In Westport?
ER: He would take me to a different spot, where you could go in and there is a different space you can go in, and then you see from the road. He would say, ‘Turn around,’ you know? So he would bring me sometimes, my husband.
AS: To practice.
ER: But he had, yeah, to practice.
AS: We all practiced in the cemetery.
ER: Yeah? Oh, yeah.
AS: This has been great. This has been wonderful.
ER: I’m still going.
AS: You are still doing wonderfully.
JR: And you are in wonderful health.
JR: And you are back in the East end. You are back in the East end. You grew up near Eastern Ave. You went to Kilburn Street. And then back to the East end.
JR: And back to the parish, back to Notre Dame.
JR: Now when you were in the Kilburn Street area. Did you go to St. Anne’s, maybe? St. Anne’s Church? Because there wasn’t any …
ER: No, we had one over here. There was a small street there.
DT: No, no. Not here. When you were on Kilburn Street. You went to where? Do you remember where you went? Blessed Sacrament?
ER: Yes, Blessed Sacrament.
JR: Blessed Sacrament.
ER: There was another big one there. It was, um.
AS: St. Patrick’s?
ER: No, it was where they had the grocery store across the street.
DT: No, we belonged to Blessed Sacrament.
ER: Oh no, we didn’t go to St. Patrick’s. That was what I was trying to say.
JR: And they came back to the east end and back to … uh.
ER: Notre Dame.
JR: Back to Notre Dame.
ER: Now I have two pastors. I go to one, one week. Then go to another, another week.
DT: Our pastor, Father Maddock is helping out at Notre Dame. He is my pastor at Holy Name. He is very nice.
ER: That is worth something, you know? When they … yeah.
DT: They need to that. There are not enough priests.
ER: Not there. No.
JR: So, you …
AS: So you sang in the choir? Doris said you sang in the choir.
ER: Is that what they call it?
DT: It’s not what you call it.
ER: No, I used to sing in the ‘chaw-riss.’
AS: The ‘chaw-riss?’
ER: Yeah, I used to sing in the choir. Yeah.
AS: At church?
ER: Yeah. I did a lot of things. I modeled a coat one time. And it was pink. And after the program was done, I bought it. It was something. I bought that pink thing. Then, what we had, we walked down the aisle at, uh. I was Lydia and Doris was the Blessed Mother.
ER: So, we went down the aisle. So I says, when they told me, ‘You are going to be in it?’ I says, ‘Can I smile? They says, ‘Yeah,’ I can smile. I used to have that purple material. I had it and I smiled there. He said, ‘Yeah, otherwise we wouldn’t give you the job.’ You see, it’s just a little thing. I could never make it as the Blessed Mother. I was, would laugh too much. She is more serious than I am. I am cuckoo. So, they gave me the other one.
AS: Seems like you had a lot of fun.
ER: All the time.
AS: That is what keeps you young.
JR: Did you go on a lot of vacations with your family? Did you take vacations?
ER: Not that much. No, not that much. When I was married, we would go for a few days, you know?
AS: Where would you go?
ER: Wherever they were going. They would forget all that. Wherever they were going. Like they gone for three or four days. And one time I said, ‘This one is five days.’ He says, ‘You want to take that one?’ He says. We were married then. He says, ‘Can you live for that?’ Imagine that. Four or five days. We took a five day.
AS: That’s a long time.
ER: So, they just go to those places where they go, and they stop.
AS: The tours, you mean? You go on the trip.
DT: But earlier, Ma, you went to the Cape and would take the two Mémères there. You would go fishing. You did a lot of that.
ER: Oh yeah, up the Cape. With them. Yeah. I was young. They were young. Now I’m old.
JR: Doris, you were born on Kilburn Street?
DT: They should put a plaque up.
JR: And what school was that?
DT: Blessed Sacrament.
JR: Blessed Sacrament School. There you go. And from there to?
DT: Mount St. Mary’s.
ER: She was good there.
DT: It was nice.
JR: This is great. Do you have any advice for us, Eva, that you can give us that is going to keep us as beautiful when we are ninety-nine years old?
AS: As happy as you; as pleasant as you?
ER: I wish you all of that.
AS: Thank you. Thank you very much.
JR: Thank you so much.
ER: I like your company.
JR: Well if you like our company so much, maybe we will come back. Okay?
AS: This has been wonderful. You have got a wonderful memory.
ER: Not all of it. But some of it.
JR: We will come back and see you and talk again, if we have any questions. You come up with any ideas, we will come back.
ER: Let me know ahead of time. So I can tell my boyfriend, so he won’t be here.
JR: You want him to slip out the back door?
JR: So, nobody knows.
AS: We will give you a heads up.
JR: Thank you very much today.
ER: Is this it?
JR: This is going to be it. But we will come back, if we have some more questions.
AS: This is wonderful, we really appreciate it.
JR: If you come up with anything, anything you want to tell us, we will come back.
ER: Well, I got to get a lot more. I have a lot of boyfriends, but I don’t know which one to pick.
DT: My son owns Kathy’s Coffee Shop. And he was in Assonet and he recently moved over here.
AS: Oh, nice.
DT: So, of course, every Sunday we go there after church. A lot of family members meet there.
JR: Coffee shop?
AS: It’s past LePage’s.
JR: Oh, all right.
DT: So, she goes in there. She brings down all her men. She says to me, I can do that and get away with it. She knows I can’t do that right? But I can’t do that. And they all fall over her. And every time they see her, they come out and get her and they bring her in.
JR: That is wonderful.
AS: That is wonderful. You deserve that!
ER: I don’t know about that.
DT: It charges her up for the week.
AS: And you are beautiful so you deserve that. That’s wonderful.
ER: That is why I have to put my perfume in the morning.
DT: I am going to get the perfume that you have.
JR: Okay, I am just going to close. I thank you again.
ER: Thank you, that wasn’t bad.
AS: Thank you so much, this is wonderful.