Rachel Tourigny: Richness of growing up in a big, "poor" family

A story by Biddeford Cultural & Heritage Center "Voices of Biddeford" project from 1920s to 2019

Voices of Biddeford interview with Rachel Tourigny on July 12 and July 29 of 2019

Rachel Tourigny is a lifelong resident of Biddeford born to French-Canadian immigrant parents. As one of 12 children, she knew what it was like to compromise and share with others without compromising her tremendous passion for life and infectious enthusiasm. With 6 children of her own, she is proud of all they have accomplished top date, and cherishes the life experiences she shares with them and her grandchildren. Although she "really didn’t like school," Rachel went to night school for 3 years and graduated with her high school diploma, which was handed to her by Senator Hathaway in 1977 when she was 45 years old.

In this interview, Rachel literally takes us back to a different time. She provided a clear picture of the challenges and joys that were the lives of "everyday" working people. She talked of things many of us take for granted, like not having a car, a phone, washing machine or a bed to call her own; her first job at Kresge's at the age of 13, and what she did to get it; her difficult decision to write a "Dear John" letter to her fiance in wartime and why she did it; and quitting work to care for her ill husband. "You know that was such a blessing, those three years I had with him."

Recorded on July 12, 2019 & July 29, 2019

View a transcript of this interview, more pictures, and additional information.

For more stories from the "Voices for Biddeford" project, visit Voices of Biddeford.

1940 - Rachel's father, Albert Laflamme and mother, Marie Anne Binnette with 11 of their 12 children.L to R: Rachel is #4 of the 5 little girls in the front.

George and Rachel Tourigny family

60th wedding anniversary collage of George and Rachel Tourigny through the years