Yes! I join the family#atozchallenge2024

Sepia Saturday 725. Y is for Yes! I join the family. No. 25 of 26 posts in the April 2024 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme, My Life: The Prequel (in Snapshots) — adding my parents’ story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

This series about my parents Norm and Peg (Laurence) Charboneau wouldn’t be a prequel without the key event — my arrival as the first of their five children.

My parents were living in a second-floor walk-up apartment in Passaic, N.J., when I came on the scene in early 1950 — to the accolades of their family, friends, and even the Mayor of Passaic, who actually sent a congratulatory letter!

Mom and Dad wanted a family and they were very happy to get started. After I was born, my mom’s younger sister Aunt Rita came to stay for a bit to help out — and she wasn’t the only helper.

That’s me, a few months old, with my parents Norm and Peg (Laurence) Charboneau. My folks look pretty relaxed, considering they had both left their jobs and were still working out the next phase of their life plan. Me? I was along for the ride! Scan by Molly Charboneau

Enter the godparents

Mom wanted to have me baptized right away, so she asked one of her Potsdam sorority sisters Sophia (Constantikes) Guidi (aka Connie) to be my godmother. Connie’s husband, Raymond A.A. Guidi, had graduated from Clarkson with Dad — so he became my godfather. On a visit to Aunt Connie in 2014, I asked her how it came about.

“Ray and I were living in Philadelphia at the time, so we were the closest to New Jersey,” she said, and of course they were thrilled to accept. In fact their jocular telegram of congratulations, below, was one of the first messages Mom and Dad received!

So off we all went to St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church on a cold February day for my baptismal ceremony.

A new life plan takes shape

Shortly after that, my parents — who had left their jobs — moved with me to Mom’s Gloversville, N.Y., hometown and in with her parents, Tony and Liz (Stoutner) Laurence.

“I can hardly believe it now,” Dad told me years later. “There I was, twenty-six with a wife and a baby, and I was essentially unemployed.” But there had been some discussion about how to proceed — and a plan began to take shape.

“We were going to look for a house big enough for our family and your grandparents, so we could start a family business,” Dad said. “We didn’t really know what kind of business, just something we could earn money at.”

Dad was an electrical engineer, my grandfather was an auto mechanic and machinist, my grandmother was an experienced tole painter with teaching experience, and Mom was a music educator — surely they could come up with something.

And that’s how we all ended up moving into Whispering Chimneys, the 1850s farmhouse in Altamont, Albany Co., N.Y., that would become my first childhood home.

Up next, Z is for Zipping off to Altamont: My first childhood home. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the other intrepid weekly bloggers over at Sepia Saturday.

© 2024 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

16 thoughts on “Yes! I join the family#atozchallenge2024”

  1. How wonderful to have such stories linked to your birth. I was born during the war and don’t even know if my father was at home then. The questions I failed to ask about when I could have!

    1. Some of this info I was able to glean from research, so it’s possible you may yet find answers to the questions you didn’t ask.

  2. There’s something special about having a telegram announcing or celebrating one’s arrival in the world. My grandparents in Maryland saved the one my parents sent from France for me, as in those days a transatlantic phone call was too difficult and expensive to make. The internet or smart phone may make it faster and easier to communicate a message like this in 2024, but a thin piece of Western Union paper with the strips of teletype looks much more official and impressive.

    1. I heartily agree! I’m grateful to my mom for creating a scrapbook filled with congratulations cards — and among them was this telegram. It certainly has more artistic character than an online message 🙂

  3. How exciting to read about your entrance to the story, your godparents, and your family dealt with finding a new home when you were a baby.

    1. Thanks, Susan. Since this series was a “My Life: The Prequel” I figured I’d better show up eventually 🙂

  4. I’ll be waiting to hear what four people with those backgrounds came up with! 🙂 Your stories about you family are always interesting!

    1. Thanks,Jennifer! I, too, was surprised by the letter from the Mayor when I found it in one of my mom’s scrapbooks. It was a different time.

    1. I’m thinking Passaic’s population was smaller then than it is now, so the Mayor looked to the personal touch to reach out to constituents.

  5. My parents also did a round of unemployment shortly after my birth. They ended up having to move across the continent from CA to NJ in pursuit of a new job. Our parents were so much braver than we ever imagined as children, and they were our heroes then.

    1. So true! I was certainly surprised by my parents’ daring move, as I am sure you were about your folks cross country relocation. Brave souls indeed.

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