Becoming American–why not?

From We Were Not Spoiled, the memoir of Lucille Verreault Ledoux
as told to Denis Ledoux.

My father had not come to the US to stay but that’s what happened. Working here to support his family and buying an apartment building that was his family’s home, it must have seemed obvious to him that this is where he would spend the rest of his life. So,

My Father, Joseph Verreault

My Father, Joseph Verreault

why not become a citizen? Sometime in the mid-1920s, he did just that. Now, he could not be deported and put his family at risk. My mother did not join him in becoming a citizen, but remained here as a resident alien. My father could make himself understood in English, but my mother did not know much beyond what she had learned in her waitressing days in Thetford. She felt this lack of English would stop her from passing the examinations for citizenship. My father was a now citizen, and so they perhaps felt that would save her from deportation, Besides, she did not work outside the home and so was not taking a job away from a citizen.

Although he was now naturalized, my father didn’t understand that he had the same privileges as native-born people—except he could not become President! He was still afraid that the process could be reversed and he could be sent back to Canada. Living in Thetford again with its asbestos dust was out of the question and, if he settled some place else, there would be no one to help him there. No job, no home, no family or friends. Both of my parents, believing they could be sent way (which was true for my mother as she was not a citizen), kept telling us to stay out of trouble. Some part of them never felt at home here.

My Mother, Yvonne Lessard

My Mother, Yvonne Lessard

My father tended to be a worrier, and generally my mother let the worrying be his! Being deported was one of his worries not hers. She herself had a practical nature and spent her energy thinking about more pressing things—like what to cook for supper for her growing children.

Lucille Ledoux raised six children and worked for many years in clothing stores. She is a resident of d’Youville Manor in Lewiston. She has always taken her duties as a citizen seriously.

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About Denis Ledoux

Denis Ledoux began helping people to turn their memories into memoirs in 1988. Denis was named Lifewriting Professional of the Year by the Association of Personal Historians in 1996. Today, Denis is a writer, educator, teacher, autobiography co-author, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network, an international group of memoir professionals who use his method and materials to help people write lifestories. Denis also offers writing tele-classes and leads memoir writing tele-groups.
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One Response to Becoming American–why not?

  1. A good reminder that our immigration issues go way back. I too have Canadian ancestors and I wonder how they handled it. Family rumor is that my great grandfather claimed to have been born in Canada, but a cousin recently found this was not so; he was born in the US. Thanks for the post, Mr. Ledoux.

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