She is a beautiful 95 year old soul, who lived in France during World War II. The moment I heard about her and her little dog Titu, I knew I had to meet her. There is an entire generation of stories, waiting to be heard before they are gone. I want to be there to hear them. Jacqueline allowed me to take a few photos of her at home. Afterward we just sat and talked for awhile. She’s lived a full life and she’s also had her share of sadness. I could listen to her talk all day. I left there hugging this wonderful, sweet woman thankful to have these moments with her and looking forward to our next visit.
“It was Christmas Eve in 1944 and we had nothing left, nothing in our cupboards. There was nothing. No more coupons to buy food or anything. It was Christmas and there was nothing. On Christmas day, it was a miracle because railroad people were always on strike. On Christmas morning we heard them ring the doorbell and somebody came with a wooden case. And in that thing, there was everything we had not seen for ages. Butter, potatoes, chestnuts, apples, eggs, chicken , ham… and cheese! My mother and father had a cousin in the farm country, near Roquefort, that’s where my mother’s family came from, and they had sent this package to us. It was a miracle. We fell to our knees, you know, and thanked God and we cried.”
“I came here to the United States in 1949. I worked in a little dress shop in Westchester for two years. Then I wanted to work in an office so, there is a street in Westchester, have you heard of it? Florence Avenue? I went on foot, you know? And every company I asked ‘Will you please give me a job? I mean, I’m a good worker. I know I have an accent but…’. ‘No, we don’t need anybody.’ But finally there was a place that made couches especially for Sears and Montgomery Ward. I said ‘Look, you don’t have anything to lose. How much do you pay?’ He said ‘$40 a week.’ ‘Okay, you pay me $37.50′ which was a big difference, $2.50 because I’m talking about the 1950’s, you know? I had to pay $10 a week for my lodging and to pay the bus to go to work. And I still wanted to put money aside. I never went a day without putting one or two dollars in the bank. So the guy said ‘Alright, alright.’ So I worked there and I loved it! It was bookkeeping and I had the machine that I never saw before but Oh! that machine! You type the name of the company, and you put the money, you put the tax and everything. Marvelous machine, I loved it! So I stayed there three months and I asked ‘So, do you like my work? Are you ready to make me level with the others?’ He said ‘Oh, well, hmmm, okay fine.'”
“I married my first husband when I was 51 and the second one when I was 75. I must have been put on earth to make old men happy!” As she chuckled to herself I asked her if she just didn’t want to get married or if she was just waiting for the right one to come along. She said “Well, first you have to be asked! The guy who wanted to marry me, I wouldn’t spend half a day with him and the one I wanted didn’t ask. So, that’s the reason why. And so it is sad that I didn’t have any children because now I am 95 and I don’t have any family. The children of my first husband adopted my second husband, so we spent all of our holidays with them. But they live very far away so it is very hard to see them as much now. They want me to move there with them but I’ve been here since 1971 and everyone here knows me. The people at the market know me and say hello, my doctors and dentist are here, so I cannot leave. This is home.”