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Wednesday January 18, 2012 Edition
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Lucien Paquette Shares A Glimpse Of What Makes Him Tick After 97 Years

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Wednesday January 18, 2012

By Marcie Bolton

   Lucien Paquette has a kind smile on his face always gives a warm hello whenever I see him, telling me that his ninety seven years so far, have been good to him.  He was born Lucien Demers Paquette in Craftsbury, Vermont in 1916.  The third of seven children of Mary Anastasia (Demers) Paquette and Adelard Paquette.  Both his parents grew up and lived much of their lives in Canada and moved to Vermont to start a small dairy farm.  Lucien has fond memories of Craftsbury and the simplicity of life back then.  He goes back to visit his childhood home maybe once or twice a year now a days.  He will pick up his 93 year old sister Hilda in Burlington and drive out to Orleans County, journey over the hills and through the mountains to visit his 91 year old brother who lives in the original Paquette family home which was built in 1910.

   He grew up like any other kid in the early 1900’s in Vermont; living on a farm, sledding, skating and skiing to school.   In the summer he had jobs on neighboring farms earning 75 cents a day on sunny days and 50 cents a day on rainy ones.  He would fish and swim in the local watering holes. When his mom asked him to go to the down to the root cellar to pick some vegetables for supper, Lucien delighted in taking a few strips of the dried beef hanging from one of the beams.  He loved his mother’s meat pies. Tourtiere, a quintessential Quebecois peasant food, was one of his favorite dishes.   It took Lucien and his family a whole day of traveling to go to church on Sundays.  The 9 Paquettes would load up into the wagon behind the work horses and travel twelve miles over hilly terrain to their place of worship.  “We did not miss many days of church, and when the weather was bad, it would take longer.”  Lucien retells.  “In 1927, my father got his first car.”  

   In 1936 Lucien left Craftsbury to attend the University of Vermont on an honor scholarship.  Upon graduating in 1940 he moved to Grand Isle County to work as an agricultural agent.  There he met his wife Loretta (1920-2002), and soon after getting married they moved to Addison County.  He began work as the UVM Addison County Extension Agent in Agriculture, and he and Loretta started to raise a family.  Twelve kids within a fifteen year span, Lucien and his family had found Middlebury to be where they would stay.  In fact, Lucien lives in the home they bought in 1946.  One of his favorite parts of his home is his garden.  He loves how it drains well being on a hillside and he loves the rich soil in his yard; a loamy mix.  Not the typical clay sort often found in Addison County.  He has downsized his garden over the years, but still tends every flower, grape, tomato and potato himself.  He lives with a son, and feels very fortunate to still be in the home which he shared with his wife and love of 58 years, and his large family all throughout the years.  Today, the 12 kids get together about once a year on the anniversary of their mom’s passing, December 12th.  They all go to a special mass together and afterwards Lucien serves a couple of turkeys and fixings or a pancake breakfast with about 4 pounds of bacon, all of which he makes all himself.  This coming December he is considering a potluck, just to make it a bit easier.

    Slowing the pace, just a bit over two years ago in 2009, Lucien retired from his post as superintendent of the hand mowing contest at the Field Days, which he started in 1978.  Not only did Lucien start the mowing contest, he initiated the entire beginning of the Addison County Fair and Field Days called Addison County Farm & Home Field Days in those days.  Talking about his legacy, Lucien said, “I’m kind of prejudiced, but I think it’s a nice small scale, kind of local event and I like, well it I still love it.  It’s working good.”  The first ever Field Days was took place over two days in the first week of August 1948.   It happened on the Davis Brothers farm, with assistance in land usage from the Sawyer, Butler, Bicknell, and Butterfield farms on East Munger Street in Middlebury that first year, moved around to different places until finally settling in its current permanent location.  

    For many years it took place over two days.  In time it grew and expanded to the current five days.  Lucien was the chair of the committee and served through 1984 on the board of directors.  He held the position of manager and secretary for several years and served on many committees within the 61 years.  He told me the history of the white marble walkways that line the entire field days area.  “Many years ago in New Haven Junction, there was a marble processing plant.  There was a great amount of residue and runoff from the marble and they needed a place to put it.  It was perfect timing as the Field Days had just settled upon its permanent spot in New Haven in 1967, and this was the perfect materiel to line the walkways with.  Truck load after truck load came in and that is what you walk on top of still today.”

    Holding many positions and receiving many honors throughout his sixty-one years of service, Lucien retired from his last standing post as superintendent of the Addison County Field Days hand mowing competition.  Shortly thereafter, in 2010, one of his sons was inspired to honor his dad for his many years of service and asked his siblings if they wanted to join in for a Paquette hand mowing get together at the Field Days site.  Lucien was as pleased as punch and explains, “Steve, (his son), did not know what the whole process of hand mowing competitions entailed.  Most of my kids had never had a scythe in hand.  It worked out so nice.  Each one of my kids went with me at one time or another to practice hand mowing in a field down the road before the actual event.  My youngest daughter Janice came several times and really got interested.  She said she wanted to enter the Field Day’s contest.  Oh, I was just tickled!  In her class of about 8 or nine, Janice placed second!  She was so enthused she said she wants to get some more practice in and try again next year”.  Lucien was so bright eyed when talking about this event, it was clear, being honored by his own family meant a great deal to him.

    Today, Lucien loves enjoying time with his ever growing family and likes to keep busy.  In the winter he does some downhill skiing at the Snowbowl, and still clears his own driveway.  When I asked him what advice he would give to young people today he said kids should have respect for others and treat people well. He also said kids should earn their own money and not always look to their parents for a handout.  They should know the difference between needs and wants:  Needs -one should always provide, wants -one can place on the backburner.  I was fortunate enough to meet him through his granddaughter Jessie who recently was married.  Jessie is one of 40 grandchildren and great-grand children.  I asked her to tell me something about her grandfather, who is her hero, and she said, “Strength, courage and perseverance are all characteristics we grandkids strive for.  These are all characteristics Pepa [Lucien] has always had.”  Long live Lucien!   Tourtiere As stated by Monte Matthews in his blog: A traditional Tourtiere is a pork pie consisting of both ground meat and pulled pork, its seasoning a unique blend of cinnamon and ground cloves.  But tourtiere is a very expansive recipe and the Quebecois make all manner of fillings depending on where they live (think seafood tourtiere) and what they have on hand (think wild game tourtiere).  Interestingly, the word ‘tourte’ means ‘passenger pigeon’ in French and folklorists believe that the earliest French Canadians first made pigeon pies.

When the passenger pigeon was hunted out of existence, they turned to pork… basically pork is the king of meats in Quebec.

Make dough for double crust savory pie, chill, wrapped, for 1 hour

For the Pie Dough:
8 oz. cold unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cold water
1 pinch fine salt
1 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lb. ground pork
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 teasp. salt
1/2 teasp. thyme
1/4 teasp. ground allspice
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons fresh bread crumbs (I use dry)

In a saucepan cook onion & celery in butter over mod. heat, stirring frequently, for 4 mins. Add garlic and cook the mix for 2 mins. Add the pork and cook stirring until pork changes color. Add the chicken stock, the thyme, salt, allspice and bay leaf and simmer the mixture, covered, for 30 mins. Let it cool and stir in breadcrumbs.

Roll ball of dough into 9-inch round, fit it into a 7-inch pie plate & spoon pork mixture into it. Roll smaller ball of dough into 7.5 inch round and lay on top of the filling. Press edges together to seal pie and trim excess dough. Make a 1/2 inch X in the center, brush dough with egg glaze (1 egg, beaten with 2 Tablesp. cream) and bake the tourtiere in the lower third of a preheated oven (425 degrees F) for 10 mins. Reduce heat to moderately hot (375 degrees F), transfer the tourtiere to the middle of the oven and bake it for 25 mins. more, or until crust is golden.


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