Title: 'Franco-Americans of Maine' Author Dyke Hendrickson captures their 'great passion for life'
Author: David A. Sargent
Publisher: The Sun Journal
"Much more than millworkers" is the concise and heartfelt description Dyke Hendrickson uses when he talks about Franco-American families who shaped many Maine communities.
His new book, "Franco-Americans of Maine," is a picture-packed treasure chest of historical images, and a recent book signing at the Franco-American Heritage Center confirmed his observations about the area's strong ties to the past.
Hendrickson talked with many Lewiston-Auburn residents who added their memories to the information he includes in his book.
There is a 1916 photo of tiny 3-month-old Carroll Poulin in his father's tuba. The father, Joseph Poulin, was a violinist in the Portland Symphony Orchestra and founder of St. Peter's Choir; the son founded a well-known L-A music store.
"They had taken lessons and purchased instruments at Carroll's School and Music Center and knew Carroll Poulin as an adult," Hendrickson said.
He also said people fondly remember Madeleine Giguere, whose picture is in the book. She helped organize the Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn campus.
One person pointed out that Giguere grew up in a prosperous family, Hendrickson said.
"Many Franco-Americans were professionals and lived well," he was told.
Hendrickson wrote his first account of the state's Franco-Americans in 1980. His own Dutch ancestry roots are from a Long Island potato farm and his New Jersey boyhood, but his fascination with the Franco-American culture blossomed during employment at the Biddeford-Saco Journal and the Portland Press Herald. As a Portland reporter, he wrote a prize-winning series highlighting first-person stories of Franco-Americans. That led to publication of a book, "Quiet Presence: Stories of Franco-Americans in New England."
Hendrickson moved away from Maine, but the influence of the Franco-American culture stayed with him.
"It kind of followed me," he said. "I didn't feel their story had been told. They had a great passion for life. There was a lot more joy and feeling of accomplishment in their lives."
The new book, "Franco-Americans of Maine," which is from Acadia Publishing's "Images of America" series, has about 200 photos and informative captions that show many sides of the Franco-American immigrant experience throughout Maine. Dozens of photos are of Twin Cities families and scenes, including the cover photo of a 1957 Dufour-Gosselin family wedding party on the steps of SS. Peter and Paul Church in Lewiston. Inside is a scene of the large gathering for the 1897 marriage of Marie Philippon and Alfred Tancrel at 24 River St., Lewiston.
Hendrickson also noted that the immigrant experience of Franco-Americans from farms in Quebec differed significantly from families coming to America from Ireland and many European countries.
"There was a lot of back and forth travel going on," he said.
Hendrickson divided his book into several sections that cover work, family, religious life, community, sports and recreation, arts and entertainment, education and Franco-American pride. He also has a section about Acadians and their influence along the St. John River Valley.
"It's photographic evidence of what went before us," Hendrickson said.
The making of bricks took energy -- and muscle. Alphee Grenier poses at the Bergeron Brickyard of Lewiston in 1940. He was born in Lac Megantic, Quebec, in 1907 and spent much of his life making bricks. However, each fall he went to work in the lumber industry, as did many Franco-American men.
Title: Les Franco Americains: Photo essay tells Franco-Americans' tale
Publisher: The Portalnd Press Herald
Maine's Franco-Americans are the focus of a new book by Dyke Hendrickson.
"Images of America: Franco-Americans of Maine" is a photographic essay with historic narrative describing the Franco-American experience during the 20th century, published by Arcadia Press.
Many of the book's 1,000 photographs have never before been published.
For Hendrickson, the book is a logical extension of his interest in the Franco-American culture. In 1980, he wrote a descriptive history with first-person interviews of Maine's Francos, "Quiet Presence: The True Stories of Franco-Americans in New England," published by Guy Gannett Publishing Co. of Portland.
"Franco-Americans of Maine" is an informative and sometimes bittersweet pictorial history. Each black-and-white photograph is a quality reprint, with captions including the names of those depicted and the dates and places where the photographs were taken. Photographs are from nearly every town in Maine where Franco-Americans lived and worked.
Franco-Americans love parades. Among the many parades pictured is one with Le Club Passe-Temps Drum and Bugle Corps, photographed marching in the snow in a 1948 parade in Lewiston's Kennedy Park. (Of course, the vintage cars photographed in the parades were not antiques when the pictures were taken.)
Photographs are plentiful of hard-working Franco-American men and women in the mills where they provided badly needed labor during Maine's 20th-century industrial expansion.
A rare look at the oppressed immigrant experience is included. Two pictures commissioned by the U.S. Congressional Committee on Child Labor and Farm Labor reflect the dark side of the Franco-American working experience, says Hendrickson.
Hendrickson sections the book into Franco-American family life, work history and culture. Franco-Americans and Acadians in the St. John Valley are showcased.
"I wanted to produce a record that shows varied dimensions, such as joy and pride," says Hendrickson. "I hope the book depicts numerous dimensions of Franco-American life, and demonstrates how many educated and prosperous Franco-Americans live in Maine communities."
Two large Maine Franco families are pictured on the book's cover in a church steps portrait of the Dufour and Gosselin wedding. This portrait is a panoramic photograph of the beaming bride and groom surrounded by their multigenerational family members.
The Dufour-Gosselin wedding photo is a reproduction of a perfectly preserved photograph taken in 1957,on the steps of Lewiston's Sts. Peter and Paul Church.
Wedding fashion is an interesting focus in the cover photograph. Each of the bride's attendants and the adorable flower girl are wearing classic ruffled gowns flowing to the ground over stylish hoops. Each gown complements the style of the bride's formal wedding dress.
This wedding was obviously a grand opportunity for the Dufour and Gosselin families to enjoy a magnificent reunion as well as attend a joyous nuptial ceremony.
Franco-American family photographs often include relatives who were members of religious vocations such as brothers, priests and nuns. Indeed, the various pictures of the religious nuns dressed in their old veiled habits are precious.
One fascinating action picture was once published in Life magazine. It was taken in 1948 and depicts two Franco-American boys named Norman Goulet and Raymond Cote while they were jumping into the Barker Mill Dam in Auburn. Raymond Philbrick was the photographer.
Another photograph, taken in 1935, pictures the construction of Sts. Peter and Paul Church, surrounded by scaffolding.
Hendrickson's work collecting these vintage photographs and the detailed documentation of each picture create a cultural archive that is certain to become more precious over time.