A tradition when I was young and growing up on the farm on Fairfield Ridge was the yearly pilgrimage to Isle LaMotte's St. Ann's Shrine on August 15th. Members of the family from Fairfield, Highgate, Alburg, Quebec and Champlain, NY would gather at the shrine and attend the first Mass of the day. Back in those days, Catholics could not eat, or even have a drink of water after midnight, if they wished to go to Communion, thus the reason for getting there as early as we could, because Dad had been up since at least 4 a.m. to do the milking before we left home. In the photo above, which was taken on August 15, 1950, with their backs to the camera are my Uncle Linford and my Dad, Edos, with his foot on the bumper of our Old 1935 Plymouth and to their right a bit is my Dad's mother, Grandma Raymond and in the 1948 Willys Jeep Station Wagon, is my Aunt Germaine, Uncle Linford's wife and also my God Mother. Not seen, but standing in front of my Dad was my mother.
We were apparently waiting for the next Mass here and had already eaten after the first Mass. Mother always brought 3 or 4 dozen homemade doughnuts and had made coffee before we left, put it in Quart Canning Jars and wrapped the jars in towels to keep the coffee warm until we could have it with donuts after Mass. It certainly didn't keep the coffee hot, but it did keep it warm as we did not have the luxury of thermos bottles back then. I do have to admit that we had sandwiches and deserts that we had brought for a picnic lunch to partake of later that we used to grab a few to eat to keep us going.
There have been a lot of changes since those early days at Isle LaMotte. Since the time this photo was taken, they have replaced the little outhouses on the hill with bathrooms, first in a building by themselves and in recent years they are now in the new building up on the hill.
I always remember these August 15th celebrations as a time when I saw all of my cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents. I also will not forget my mother's father, Grandpa Bedard, who was a very religious man who attended every religious ceremony held that day which ended with the Stations of the Cross in the afternoon, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. I remember us kids searching for Oyster Shells on the beach and coming home with some, but we also made sure we did not miss any of the religious services that Grandpa Bedard expected us to attend.
It is sad to say that nowadays families rarely get together and those close ties of the old days are no longer there. Usually families only get together when there is a death in the family and even at those times a lot of the family members do not attend.
Tomorrow is August 15th and The Feast Of The Assumption and I am sure if I went to St. Ann's in Isle LaMotte, I would probably not know a soul there or see any of my relatives.