A blast from the past

9 months ago

To the editor:

345 miles to Ft. Kent and no Interstate 95 from Lewiston. Back in the 50s, and no GPS. My grandparents, Honore and Sophie Theriault Voisine, lived on N. Perley Brook Road. My parents had moved to Lewiston to seek work. My father was a mill worker at Bates Manufacturing. When possible my parents would attempt to make the long journey in a ‘56 Mercury Montclair. Two adults, seven kids in a four-door car. Have you ever opened a can of sardines? That’s how tightly seated we were. Of course, we were all fighting for the window side. 

The journey started midafternoon on Friday, the minute our father came home from work. The new ‘56 Mercury Montclair two-tone in red and black was ready to go. Our mother had made sandwiches and Kool-Aid. She also insisted that we do our “toiletries,” whether we had to or not. Off we went, route 100 and eventually route 11. 

We were just getting into Waterville, when we asked, “Aren’t we there yet?” My mother would say, “Try to get some sleep.” 

Trying to stretch in a sardine-packed car was quite the task. A few hours later we arrived in Lincoln, a sulfur mill to say the least. Guess what? We all took turns vomiting. Once again, our mother would say, “We’re almost there, go to sleep. We won’t be much longer on route 11 and before you realize it, we will be at Memere and Pepere.”   

Twelve hours later at approximately 2 a.m., our grandparents greeted us with open arms. Once again our mother would say, “Before you go to bed do your toiletries, for there are no bathrooms in the house. Pepere has an outhouse but at your convenience we have a couple of bedpans.”

Good night, or as they would say in the St. John Valley, “Bon soir!”

Joe Voisine
N. Monmouth, ME