“I was born in 1914, in Rimons. My parents worked at Monsieur Ouvrard’s mansion as domestics, and then as farm labourers, for Monsieur Bignon. The owners lived in Caumont. They had a daughter who was the same age as me. When they came to help my parents at work, I used to play with their daughter. We played with dolls.
When I was small, we used to walk to Castelmoron to buy our provisions. There we went to the grocery and the bakery. I bought my espadrilles in the grocer’s, who had everything; slippers, wool, cotton, and cheese under a cloche. Later they had a grocery in Rimons and sellers passed regularly. A baker came twice a week, a fishmonger from Castillon, and a grocer who came from Castelmoron in a van once a week.
I was married in 1933. My husband worked with his father, who was a council worker in Rimons. We lived in St. Ferme for the first year where his mother had a farm.
Later, we rented a small farm in the hamlet of Fougirard. We had a vineyard, agricultural land and pastures. We had three cows who worked and one cow for milk. In our hamlet there were five or six families who also rented farms. One man worked at the bakery in St. Ferme. Our landlord sold his farm to his cousin and so we moved to another farm. We found a good place in St. Ferme, but it was too big for me to manage when my husband went to fight in Algeria. So I returned to my parents.
When my husband was demobilised we found another farm in Galeteau. We grew wine grape, tabacco, wheat and had four cattle. We had ducks, geese and pigs. We made confit, foie gras and cooked the pigs to feed our family.”
“I went to school in Rimons until I was thirteen years old, in 1927, then I worked on the land with my parents. There was only one mixed class. The teacher was called Mademoiselle Burtaut. The school was in the village. It was two and a half kilometres from my home so I walked there with clogs in winter and espadrilles in good weather. There was no canteen, so I ate with my grandparents who lived in the village. If I was ill I used to sleep at their place. At this time I helped my parents and did duties in the evening. Sometimes it was difficult so my mother would help me, my father less. He was a ‘Pupille de la Nation’ and had to start work very young. My children went to the same school as me. During the war refugees used to come to the class from time to time.”
‘Pupille de la Nation’
Children who lost their father or parents in war, whether in battle, in resistance or as victims of war, were adopted by the Nation. It meant that the government supported them financially, in education and health. Work was offered to many in councils, from roadside to office work, thus ensuring their employment and financial security for all their lives. This status exists today and now includes non military services, as well as Jew and non Jew deported persons.
NB. Watercolour portraits by the children of Monsegur Primary School.
Thanks to Clem, ‘Temps mêlés memoire vivante’ website. I read these narrations a while ago. I was particularly interested because Rimons is where I live now. I translated to share with you.
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