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jimbo rambles: January 2006

Sunday, January 01, 2006


I was recently back at the old homestead and came upon the memoirs that my parents had written of their lives. I thought it might be interesting to put these up in stages here. I'll start out with this excerpt of the writings of my father, Robert A. Bouchard. He was born and raised in Clayton, New York, a small resort town on the St. Lawrence River which makes up the border between Canada and The United States, the area known as The Thousand Islands.

"I was born October 18. 1919, the second son of Albert Allen and Elizabeth Maude Yott Bouchard. I have five sisters, two of them, Helen and Veronica are older than my brother Joseph Albert as they were born before the end of World War I in Clayton. My dad was drafted for the war and took a barge trip to New York City for his physical to enter the service but the authorities there told him that, since he had three small children, he should go home as his family needed him more than Uncle Sam did. There were three more sisters born after me and their names are Elizabeth, Virginia and Patricia.

Public census records show that Alexander and Mary Yott, my mother's parents were originally from Clayton but had a rooming house in Eastwood, near Syracuse, where they took in boarders many of whom were French-speaking. When they did not want their children to understand what they were saying, their conversation was in French. Though they were fluent in the language, they never bothered to teach it to their children. The same is true on my dad's side of the family in that his father was raised by French Canadian parents and his father was born near Montreal. My great grandfather, Joseph Bouchard, immigrated to Red Creek, a little settlement about halfway between Ogdensburg and Waddington, New York where he set up a blacksmith shop along the Saint Lawrence River. We looked in the property records in Canton and the County Historian Mary Biondi located some interesting facts about our great grandfather Bouchard. He must have prospered there as at his death at age 56 in his will he left a house, various tools, a horse and wagon. He had two children by Sarah Scanott, a boy named Joseph who went on to enlist in the Civil War at Oswego, NY and a daughter named Mary Diana whom we have so far been unable to locate. After grandfather Bouchard received a medical discharge from the service for injuries received in Georgia, he met my grandmother Mary (nee Tubbs) and settled in Canestota, NY where they raised their family. My father was the last born of several children.

My dad was a house painter and carpenter when he and Mom first moved to Clayton from Syracuse. He used to tell the story about when he worked in a factory on an assembly line in or near Syracuse and did not care for the job. He Once said that he had three different jobs in one day in different factories. In one he sat at a machine stamping out parts and quit when he found himself dozing and almost put his and under the stamper. One day my mother baked some biscuits for his lunch bucket. He would tease Mom and say that they were so hard he threw them against the window and they broke the glass."