Friday, December 13, 2013

tante doy

The following is a transcript of a conversation that took place on October 2013 between me, my mother Sue, her sister Sis, her sister Liz, her brother Phillip and my sister Monique. The subject of the conversation is Dorian Doiron, also known as Tante Doy, my grandfather’s aunt. Gampy (Etienne Doiron) was my grandfather. Mit (Regina Doiron) was Gampy’s mother. Tante Doy (Dorcian Doiron) was Mit’s sister. Tante Doy gave birth to a child out of wedlock, Gampy’s first cousin, and was forced to give her up for adoption. I was always curious about this, especially because Gampy was himself conceived out of wedlock, and wasn't given up for adoption. One sister kept her child, and the other didn’t.

Me: Tante Doy had an illegitimate child that was put up for adoption. Mit also had an illegitimate child, who was Gampy. Why did one sister have to put her baby up for adoption and the other sister did not?

Sis: Because Mit fought for her baby. Tante Doy was younger. She was the baby of the family. She had her baby in 1927, the year of the flood. Gampy was born in 1909. He would have been a teenager by the time Tante Doy had her baby. He remembered going with Tante Mim on the train to bring the child to New Orleans.

Me: Knowing that he could have had that same fate.

Sis: Yes. Mit used to work with the other sisters. They would sew. They would make wedding dresses, and she would bring Gampy with her to work at the house, and he would have to sit outside. They wouldn’t let him in the house.

Me: Because he was illegitimate?

Sis: Because of that. And then he ended up taking care of the whole darn bunch!

Me: So what happened to Gampy’s father? Was Gampy’s father around?

Sis: He was in Port Arthur raising his family. He never interacted with Gampy.

Liz: That we know of.

Me: So here’s this woman raising her son, and everybody knows he’s illegitimate because there’s no husband around.

Phillip: That’s a good question. How old was Mit when she got remarried? She married a Potier.

Sis: And when she married the Potier, Gampy was in school at the time. He went to live with Tante Mim in Rayne, because they didn’t want him around. He lived with Tante Mim and he worked at the church. He would ring the bell, and he was so small that when he pulled down he would go up with the rope.

Me: Why wasn’t he living with his mother?

Sis: Because they didn’t want him in the house with Potier after his mother remarried.

Me: So he was banished?

Phillip: Banished.

Me: So her mother could either have her son or her husband in the household, but not both?

Phillip: And the husband didn’t last long.

Sis: The husband didn’t live long. He died not long after they were married.

Me: So you were saying that Mit fought harder to keep her child than Tante Doy.

Sis: Yes. Well, Tante Doy had no choice. They took this child away from her. Ms. Moon would tell me when this baby girl was born, Tante Doy’s mother was still alive, and she had like a mental breakdown. She’d be running around in the pasture she was so upset.

Me: Because her daughter was having an illegitimate child?

Sis: Because she got pregnant with this child, and this child was for the Moutons. Mr. Mouton paid support to the orphanage in New Orleans to keep records, but when he married Ms. Den, she insisted that he stop, so he stopped paying and the records were terminated.

Me: So back to Tante Doy. She didn’t have a choice to keep her child or not keep her child, but her sister Mit had a choice.

Phillip: Tante Doy didn’t fight enough.

Me: She wasn’t as strong-willed?

Sis: They beat her down. I mean...

Me: Brainwashed her?

Sis: Yeah. She never had a life after the birth of this child. And before this child was born she was the belle of the ball. She loved to go dancing. She had this old graphophone. 

Me: They broke her?

Sis: They broke her. She became their slave.

Monique: When she died, how old was she?

Liz: She died in ’75 at the age of 75.

Sis: She would do their cooking. Whatever needed to be done, she did.

Monique: I was ten when she died. I remember going to her house, because she’d sit in the corner.

Sis: She would sit in the corner. She wasn’t allowed to . . . 

Phillip: No, she couldn’t interact with people.

Sis: She couldn’t interact with people.

Monique: Was she mentally unstable?

Sis: No, she was a very intelligent person.

Monique: She died when I was ten years old. I remember she was always sitting alone.

Sis: Well, by that damn time she was beaten down.