Tag Archives: Owen Albert Charboneau

Charboneau childhood: My dad’s early years #atozchallenge2024

C is for Charboneau childhood. Third of 26 posts in the April 2024 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: My Life: The Prequel (in Snapshots) adding my parents’ stories to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

My dad, Norman James Charboneau, was born on July 10, 1924, in Dolgeville, Herkimer, N.Y., on the cusp of the Great Depression.

In 1929, at age 5, he moved with his four older bothers — Owen, Frannie, Hubert and Fred — to Otter Lake, Forestport, N.Y., where their parents Wm. Ray and Mary (Owen) Charboneau ran the Otter Lake Hotel. (More on Otter Lake in the Letter O post.)

Dad as a youngster in Otter Lake, N.Y. Dad was born in July, so the balloons may have been for his birthday party. The unidentified girl could be a neighbor or the child of hotel guests or a female cousin on a summer visit. Graphic by Molly Charboneau.

Dad’s home town anchored him

Dad lived many places in his adult life, yet his Charboneau childhood in Otter Lake somehow anchored him.

His hometown also provided him with a lifetime of stories about oddball hotel guests, water sports in summer, ice fishing in winter, and the late-night weekly passenger train that had to be flagged down with a lantern if someone needed to board.

Although Otter Lake was small — part of the Town of Forestport, which logged less than 1,000 inhabitants in the 1940 US census — Dad thrived there, and for a while went by the nickname “Nooni” (although I have no clue about the moniker’s origins).

My dad Norm as a teen in the 1930s. Dad was an avid shutterbug who probably rigged up a camera timer to take this pensive self portrait. Graphic by Molly Charboneau

Dad did well in school, engaged in sports, helped out at the hotel and became a keen observer of the natural world, as well as the interesting North Country folks around him. The bucolic Adirondack setting fueled his love of photography.

He was also the first Charboneau in his family to go to college — Clarkson College of Technology (now Clarkson University) in Potsdam, N.Y. — which is where he met my mother Peg Laurence. But their match almost didn’t happen, because before Dad, she was dating someone else!

Up next, read all about it in D is for Dance Card. Meanwhile, please visit the other Wordless Wednesday bloggers by clicking the link below.

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