Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sylvio & Eunice Caire Boudoin

Happy St. Valentine's Day!
This is my week 7 entry for the 52 Ancestors Challenge, 2015.
Of course, this week's theme is "Love" <3 

This week's spotlight is on my maternal great-grandparents: 

Eunice & Sylvio Boudoin.
Eunice Caire & Sylvio Boudoin

My great-grandparents were from Saint John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana which is known as the "Heart of the River Parishes". How fitting.

The Back Story:

Eunice Caire (1900-1979) was an only child of Gustavie Thomas and Louis Caire. She is also the granddaughter of Frenchman Pierre Jacques Caire, whom I wrote about in January. Her mother, Gustavie, died in childbirth before Eunice was able to make her 6th birthday. Her father, Louis, moved to New Orleans to obtain better employment opportunities. This left Eunice in the care of her maternal aunt, Julia Thomas, and her husband, Pierre Boudoin, whom she loving referred to as "Ma Neat" and "Papa Pierre".

Sylvio Boudoin (1894-1978) was one of six children, only four of whom lived to adulthood. His parents were Olympe Borne and Joseph Albert Boudoin. Both Eunice and Sylvio grew up in the Edgard area of Saint John the Baptist Parish. I am unsure as to when and how they met. However, it is an extremely small town and the community was close. At 18, Eunice married Sylvio, who was 23 at the time. They created a life together in what is often called Lucy (still in the Edgard area). Together they raised 9 children, including a set of twins, of which my grandmother is one. Eunice was a homemaker and cook at the local Negro school. Sylvio worked as a sugar farm laborer and chauffeur. 

Family Memories

Since my mother and grandmother are still living, I interviewed my family asking for memories of my great-grandparents.

My mother describes her grandparents as extremely kind-hearted people. She remembers visiting them on Sundays after church. She and her siblings would pile into the car and travel to Lucy to spend the afternoons full of food and family. My mother remembers their land was lined with pecan trees. (This comes in handy if you are baking pecan pie.) All of the children (siblings and cousins) would play outside, often sneaking to a neighborhood store to purchase candy from a man who was hard of hearing.

My grandmother describes her parents as extremely hard-working people. They led a simple life. The family kept chickens. The men hunted and fished. The women made clothing. Their home did not even have electricity until my grandmother was a teenager. Despite not having material wealth, they were rich in love and generous with all they had.

As a testament of the times for people of color in the rural South, neither received much of a formal education. Eunice completed the third grade, while Sylvio completed one year of formal education. In true Louisiana form, they were devout, Creole-speaking Catholics. Eunice would recite her rosary religiously. (no pun intended). Sylvio, nicknamed "Don", is described as a quiet, kind man. He was a gentlemen in every sense of the word. He was a member of the African-American Catholic fraternity Knights of Peter Claver, #66. He also loved to smoke. Sadly, his smoking habit would be his undoing. He would die of throat cancer at 83 years young. Eunice, unable to live without her love, passed away one year later, at the age of 79. They are buried together at their church home-Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church.

A Legacy of Love

Eunice & Sylvio Boudoin
50th Wedding Anniversary

Eunice Caire and Sylvio Boudoin are remembered for their enduring love: for one another, their family and their faith. I am told my great-grandparents were inseparable. "If you saw one, you saw the other." This concept is unheard of in relationships today. Though my great-grandparents are no longer with us physically, they still have something incredibly important to teach us: how to love.

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