Jacqueline Lavier


As Interviewed by Lily Lavier, March 13, 2016

Jacqueline Lavier: In Her Own Words

I lived in an apartment in Messigny. In Dijon also but it was small and the buildings were very old. In Messigny there was no street it was a village. In Dijon it was Magenta Street.

The postwar period affected my family because my dad had to leave the army where he was professional to work in a company in the countryside in Messigny. He changed jobs at that time. In Messigny, he worked in a factory that made parts for washing machines. Later after the war, he moved to Dijon and open a small business to repair bicycles and mopeds .

There was the death of dad when I was nine, so I was very young. I did not understand too well. What I understood is because the adults kept me away from home, it was normal at that time. My mom who was not working at the time was forced to go back to work to support the family. My older brother Michel was working already and Daniel was in training in Paris. My mom worked after the death of my dad for four years. She took care of a disabled child in a family. He was about the same age as me between 12 and 14 years old. She was also taking care of the home maintenance. I went there with my mom on Thursdays because it was a day off at school at the time. To help a little bit. After that my mom got sick. Daniel had gone to military service. Michel had done military service before too. But Daniel died in Algeria in the meantime. My mom died a year later. She fell ill just after Daniel passed away. She had a liver disease, they said that it was related to her stay in Indochina when they lived there for the military in the 1930�s. She may have contracted something there.

The important thing was that I was in boarding school for 4 years. I spent all week in school and I was part of the Catholic Youth organization. We took care of other comrades and we had meetings, that kept me busy. I stayed there from 14 years old to 17 years old. We were going until 14 years old in elementary school and then we went to a career school. The children did not automatically go to middle school , we went to school until 14 years old for the certificate of primary education. And after that went to prepare a specialty in a professional school. There were middle schools but not everyone went. It was not mandatory. So I did a certificate of primary education and after I did professional studies. Anyway at that time girls were automatically sent to study to become secretaries or seamstress� or things like that. But it was often secretary. It was normal for the adults not to ask for our opinion though. It was like that. Some children went to middle school in sixth grade but they were rather the children of teachers or their parents were there to support them.

Daniel, It is difficult because he died in Algeria and he left home early to study and work in Paris. With Michel it has always been a pretty peculiar relationship. Michel is quite reserved, so perhaps It is why I took the leadership in the relationship later. Anyway everything always went well with him. I knew Daniel but I was little. He left when I was about ten years old.

I think I could have had a different career than the one I had. No one was there to guide me. Neither Michel who could not , or my mom who was not capable because she was sick. Daniel or my dad could have helped me but they were gone. I was a good student and I wanted to work in the medical field. I would have preferred to be a nurse . At 12, I should have gone to sixth grade (middle school) instead of doing the certificate of primary education. Mom was not able to make that choice . She had no knowledge or culture to make this kind of choice, and at the time the teachers did not push you to do studies. However the teachers tried to keep me another year to try to make me go to middle school, but it did not work out with all the problems at home. In sixth grade I had all possibilities of orientation. You could even do the baccalaureat from there.
At that time it wasn�t a problem to find a job. I went on vacation in July and when I came back they offered me this job and I accepted. There was little unemployment at the time. You left an employer and you usually found another one fairly quickly.

Grandpa Louis was my neighbor. He lived in the house next to ours. We knew each other but I was a young girl and he was already a young man. I was 18 years old. He was 29. I met him when I had my first job. We met because we shared humanitarian ideas and we were both unionists. So we discussed these ideas. Louis was secretary at the CGT (communist union). I was in the Young Christian Workers union. We married July 3, 1965 , 10 months after meeting.