May 19, 2011: Local Memories of a Hometown Boy.
Local Memories of a Hometown Boy.
By Jude Hayes.
How did Mechanicsville get its name? What was once located where Tunney’s Pasture is now? Do you know the answer to these questions? There are some old timers from this area who do.
Conrad Charbonneau grew up in Mechanicsville. Now in his 60s, he thought it would be fun to take a nostalgic look back at the days when he was a teenager. He began by collecting old photos from the archive, from relatives and from friends as a hobby.
It is easy to see the excitement on his face and hear the enthusiasm in his voice as he sips his coffee, fondly reciting the memories of his youth in Mechanicville and Hintonburg.
The scope and size of his collection of photos took his hobby to the next level in the form of a book. “Why don’t you write about it,” his wife said to him. “You’ve got a lot of stories to tell.”
So Charbonneau wrote about 23 short stories of his teenage life and put them together with some of his photos.
He says that although he has done nothing to promote the book, Mechanicsville and Hintonburg Backyard Memories, it has been selling quite well, just by word of mouth. It’s a self-published project and the printing is done at Staples.
Nevertheless, Charbonneau said he has been getting so many requests for his book that he keeps returning to Staples to have more copies printed. Recently, a friend of his asked him to drop off 12 copies at West Park Bowling Centre. “She started handing them out; people wanted them,” he said.
Most of the people who have bought the book grew up in this area. Charbonneau said they recognize people in the photos and they tell their friends who end up ordering copies of the book for themselves.
In his stories, Charbonneau points out that he doesn’t use any names. If a story is familiar to someone, then they probably know the people involved. If not, the names don’t really matter.
Charbonneau is an accomplished musician. He said he’s on sabbatical from his jazz trio, so this book is a project that has been occupying his time. He’s also doesn’t hesitate to mention how much he loves this area.
Charbonneau is very pleased that people want to share his nostalgia and reminisce about the old days in an area that has changed so much over the years. He’s willing to provide copies of his book if interested people send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“I did it, I closed the cover and I said I don’t care if it goes anywhere. I wrote it down and I’m happy. I got it out of my system. And if I look at it, I’m happy. But it’s selling! It’s going great!” Charbonneau said elatedly.