The prompt this week at 52 Ancestors is Sisters, so I’ve decided to share a few of the memories I have of my maternal grandmother’s sister Mary Ann L’Oiseau.
Maime was born in Kingston Ontario on October 8, 1897. She was baptised Mary Ann L’Oiseau in St Mary’s Cathedral on October 27th. Maime was a younger sister to my maternal grandmother Alice L’Oiseau. Maime died in Kingston on Sept 10, 1973
Maime lived at 142 Pine Street near the corner of Division with her second husband Frank Teney. She had lived at this address for many years, sharing the home with her first husband Sanford Rawley who died in 1945. The residence, a small duplex appears to be still standing.
When I was very young my parents moved into 144 Pine Street, the other side of the duplex. We didn’t live there for long, (I believe we moved out when I was around the age of six). Although I was young, I have fond memories of Aunt Maime. Our time together was short but thinking about her and the “trouble” we got up to always makes me smile.
Maime gave me my first glimpse into the French side of my family. She taught me my first French words and I can remember trying out my newly learned vocabulary on my mother. Despite my enthusiasm to demonstrate my abilities, my mother was not impressed. It wasn’t until years later that I learned the meanings of the words I was parroting. Although nothing too shocking, probably not the most appropriate words for a child.
Despite the colourful vocabulary, Maime was quite religious. She attended church at St John The Apostle. I remember a statue of the Virgin Mary that she had in her bedroom at the top of the stairs. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I remember thinking it was very pretty.
There were two stores on opposite corners of Division and Pine. McBride’s, I believe was the name of the one that was across the street from the duplex. Maime almost always shopped at McBride’s. She would always have a chat with the butcher, and I would get a couple of the penny candies from behind the counter. We would occasionally go to the other shop, but she never got me candy from there because she said their candy was stale. On one of our rare trips to the other shop, I was offered a piece of candy and I told them what Maime had told me – their candy was stale. Maime was horrified and I don’t think we ever went back.
I don’t remember if we had our dog Mickey when we were living there. I suppose we probably did as there are pictures of me taken with her when I was quite young. I do however remember having a pet turtle named Myrtle. Its house was a little terrarium style container, with plastic palm trees. It was quite low and apparently, the turtle escaped. Maime and I looked for it everywhere without success. She told me not to worry and promised me it would come home. Not long after, Myrtle made a miraculous return. Maime insisted that she had found her sleeping under the sofa. I suspect Maime had discovered poor old Myrtle had died and made up the story so she would have time to find a replacement. Whatever the truth, I was happy to have my turtle back.
One of the most vivid memories I have is of Maime and I making things using old bits of broken jewellery. She would cover a jar or bottle with putty – the stuff that was used to seal up window frames and then we would sit for hours pressing the bits of broken jewellery into the putty. They were the ugliest things, but back then I thought they were beautiful.
We eventually moved away from Pine Street, but we didn’t go far, moving just around the corner to Chatham Street. Of course, I missed Maime so it wasn’t long before I ran away from home and straight back to Maime. I made my way back to Pine Street, taking the little girl across the street with me. Maime rang dad to let him know we were there, and when he arrived, we were in the back-garden picking rhubarb.
That’s my last memory of Maime. Not long after that, I remember getting home from school and finding Uncle Frank sitting at the kitchen table with my mother. Mum was upset and when he left, she told me Maime had died. She gave me a little box that contained Maime’s pearls. They were a gift from her first husband Sanford, and she wanted me have them. I still have the pearls, which I later discovered were really mother of pearl. The string is broken but I will eventually have them repaired. I was not quite seven when Maime died, but she certainly left a lasting impression on me. I never got to meet my grandmother, but I feel very privileged to have known her sister.