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Sunday, July 29

Potato dish

My great grandmother's potato dish.
I love visiting with my oldest sister. Not only do I go home sore from laughter, my heart is always overflowing. A small story from her childhood (we're 15 years apart) has helped me build stories into my family tree more than any research possibly could.

This is exactly what happened on a quick Friday night visit when she asked me if I'd like a chipped, broken handled dish. It may seem odd to anyone else but she knows me well ... the older, the better. Missing parts, yep, broken handles, of course. She didn't recall how it had ended up in her basement but knew it was from Mom. As a genealogist I feel kinship with anything that can tell a story and I knew this dish had one to tell.  Sold.

It sat on my dining room table with a handful of other foraged items she'd gifted me for about a week before I cleaned it up, very carefully, hoping to make it shine. On the bottom of the dish was a note written by my Meme, "Noella wants this she was her Godmother" and on the lid, "potato dish". My Meme, was my Moms mom and had passed away when i was 6 years old. My memories are few but something that has always stuck with me is that when she passed, most every item in her small home had a similar sticker. She had decided who of her five children would get what including this potato dish.

I hadn't yet located my Moms baptism record from Quebec so now I was on a mission. I wanted to know who decided this random shaped dish was a 'potato dish' and more importantly, who was my Mom's godmother? I began to search with different spellings on the names, then by last town listed on a census. I paged thru every sheet scanning for a similar spelling to Noella. Two weeks later  there it was. D-O-E-L-L was baptized on Christmas Day 1926, the same day she was born.

The mystery was solved. This dish belonged to my Meme's mother and my great grandmother, Marie Louise Boulerice who died years before i was born in 1954 at the age of 81. I like to think they were over for Christmas dinner, labor began, my Mom was born and they went to Christmas mass for the baptism. Nothing like nowadays when a production is made of every life event we have, right?

My new potato dish has taken a special place in my dining room. Its the oldest piece of family history I have and I treasure it. I may actually sneak it on the table around the holidays. I'm sure my great grandmother would like that and hope she's smiling when she sees it, overflowing with potatoes, and surrounded by those we love.


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