Old building photo

Interviews 2001

The Life of Floyd LaMotte
By Kedgard, Kristina, and Jessica

We interviewed Vera LaMotte. Since Floyd, her husband, died the summer of 2000, she is speaking for Floyd.
Floyd was born in Centerville. He did lots of skating, playing baseball, and kick the can. His favorite thing was taking pictures. Floyd’s elementary school was located in the parking lot of where the current Centerville Elementary School now stands. It had 1st grade - 12th grade and didn’t have any kindergarten. The school bus had wheels in the summer and in the winter it had sled skis. It was pulled by a horse all school year.
Vera and Floyd met on a blind date. Soon after, they were married.  Floyd and Vera LaMotte owned the General Store which was located on the corner across from Kelly’s Bar. They ran the store for many years. Floyd’s father owned the store before Vera and he ran it. Floyd had the job of getting the store supplies back from St. Paul. He used a school bus. Before Floyd would pick up the supplies, he also picked up kids and brought them to school. After he brought the supplies back, he would take the kids home from school.
Floyd died in the year 2000. He died when he was 82.


Bob LeRoux & Sara LeRoux Stella
By Eric, Rochelle, & Andrew

Bob LeRoux was born in January 1926 in his house by Centerville Lake. Bob went to Centerville Elementary which had 11 grades. Gas cost $0.12 cents a gallon and his dad got a car when he was about 6 years old. When he was little he hunted deer, pheasant, and ducks. For entertainment he played cards, found arrowheads, and collected rocks. When he got older he worked on the farm, milked the cows, and worked in the barn. He graduated with Marcel Rivard. Sara LeRoux was born in August 1928 in her house. She went to Centerville Elementary also, and for 12th grade they went to White Bear Lake High School. She worked in the garden and cleaned out the barn. She got married to Angello Stella in an army camp. In 1975 a tornado hit her house, and it took her garage completely.


Bob and Joan LaMotte

By Chloe, Dakota, and Janelle

Joan LaMotte was born February 22, 1923. She would ride the bus to school every day. She lived in Centerville most of her life. After her mom died she had to raise twelve children. They only had 3
bedrooms.
Bob was born on December 16, 1922. He walked to school every day. He lived on a farm most of his life. He only had three brothers and sisters. His parents got the biggest bedroom, his only sister got the second biggest bedroom because she was the oldest, and he and his two brothers shared a room. Back then candy would cost a penny and a big candy bar cost a nickel. After they got married, they had 11 children. One died of cancer, and their daughter Lori LaMotte, was murdered on July 25, 1983. Then years later Bob LaMotte had a heart transplant. Joan LaMOtte's first husband died in the Korean War.


All About Gene Houle
By Ryan, Blake,  and Lizzie

Mr. Houle was born in Red Lake Falls, MN. He had 2 sisters and 4 brothers. He was the youngest child in the family. His oldest sister is 72 years old now. When he was a kid, he went to a Catholic school for 5 years. Gene was an average student. His chores were cleaning out the ashes out of the old school. He also put the ashes on the road and the cars would flatten the ashes. A lot of spices and onions were used on their food. As a child everything was home cooked. They made a lot of things from scratch. For a treat they went all the way to St. Paul to eat at White Castle. Most of his pets were cats and dogs. He got to school by bus and he went to school in White Bear Lake. Houses kind of looked small and they were usually two stories high. His favorite activity as a kid was listening to music and playing the piano. In his teenage years, he had his own band. A tragedy was when he got shot in the eye. When he played ball, he would get hit in the head or knee. He wasn’t very good at sports. Some clothes they wore were Levi’s. The Levi’s had to be cuffed. In the winter they wore big bulky sweat shirts. Penny loafers were common too. A hobby Gene likes to do is working with wood. He made a toy chest just for his grandsons for a gift. He has seven grandchildren and still lives in Centerville.

 

Joan Landberg Life
By Thomas, Michael and Jenna

As a child Joan did not have many chores. They were usual chores like dusting and preparing the table for supper. She played games like kick the can and for winter games they would go sledding and played cutting the pie. Her house was the nicest house on the block. It was built in 1941 which means it is 60 years old. Joan lived there since she was 3 years old. Every night she made Jell-O for dinner, and on Sundays they had roast turkey and gravy but it was usually lumpy because of her.
Her school was right next to her house. In grades one through four she went to a private Catholic school. In fifth grade she was in a state spelling contest. Her favorite food in school was chow mien. They had to help the school’s cooks make their meals. Her dad owned Burque's Bar, well known as Kelly’s now. After he sold it, it became Kelly’s. Her dad sponsored an adult men bowling team and baseball.
She had dogs and kittens. The dogs were Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers and Labradors.
Joan was in the Winter Carnival. She was the little princess. Martha Dupres was the Queen. The Winter Carnival was going to be in the Pioneer Press. When the light flashed on the camera, it scared all the horses so Joan started crying and had to be taken off the wagon.
Joan got married in a Catholic church. Her brothers now live on a farm. Her mom still lives in Centerville. Joan helps her mom a lot. The family stayed close except for her sister. She lives in Sioux Falls, SD.


The Life of Melvin Dupre

By Michael, Anna, and Leah

Melvin Dupre was born in 1920 in Centerville, Minnesota. He lived on a farm and he sometimes had hard times. They got electricity in 1924.
The toys were different than they are now, because they were not plastic, but were made of wood. The toys they had were wagons, clamp skates, and balls. He liked to play ball. He had one dog which was a boy, and his name was Keedoo.
The kinds of foods his family ate was potatoes, corn, radishes, salted pork, and much more.
The school he went to when he was little was Centerville Elementary. Their school was half French, half American.
His first job was working on a threshing machine. He joined the army in 1940 for 5 years. He made a lot of friends and traveled to lots of places like Scotland, France, and England. He is still married. He has ten children. There are 2 boys and 8 girls!
Today you can find arrowheads around his house. They are 200 to 1,500 years old!


The Life About Marcel Rivard

By Steven Anderson, Taylor Greene, and Jeanette Perrault

Marcel Rivard was born in Centerville in his house between the Trio Inn and Kelly’s Bar on December 4, 1926. In his childhood he had 8 brothers and 4 sisters. He was the youngest out of all of them. He had almost every kind of pet, even a skunk at one time.
He went to school at Centerville Elementary which was located in the parking lot that we have for Centerville School right now. Once in fourth grade Marcel’s teacher sent him to the principal’s office for some reason. He asked the secretary for Walter (who was the principal at that time.) Walter came out and slapped Marcel and he said, "Never call me by my first name again!"
In Marcel’s spare time he played kick the can, played with his neighbors, went swimming, and went hunting. In the winter he skated and went sliding. Some of the chores he had to do were chopping wood and taking out the garbage.
At school Marcel accidentally stuck his tongue to a pole. He finally got his tongue off, because he put it in his mouth. It ripped his first layer of skin off his tongue.
In 1944 he graduated from White Bear High School. In high school, he played football and ran track. Marcel’s first job was shoveling for a November snow storm that hit Centerville. He also worked from the Marcel Electric Company. His first car was a 1927 Chevrolet Coop.
Marcel had a very sad event in his life. It was Christmas Eve, 1966. His mother went out to get the mail. A car was coming and she was hit and run over.
Marcel got married when he was 18 years old on October 31, 1944. They were married at St. Genevieve Church. Right now, Marcel has 10 kids: 8 boys and 2 girls. He also has 29 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren with one on the way. His wife died in 1994.


Straight from the Mouth of Thomas Wilharbor

By Tyler, Chloe, and Joe
Thomas Wilharbor didn't have a name up until baptism. The name was Boy Wilharbor. Then he got the name of Thomas. He was born on October 21, 1940.
Thomas Wilharbor’s childhood was very interesting. He had many childhood chores. His 8th grade teacher, Sister Mary, was his favorite teacher at St. Rosedale, a Catholic school. When he was a young boy, their gas cost $0.25 a gallon. The food didn't cost as much as today. The first television was black and white, and there were only four channels.
Some of the jobs he had, and some of the jobs he worked at were, a gas station, a receiver, a clerk, a supply sergeant in the military, a warrant officer, also in the military, and the Mayor of Centerville for 6 years.

Facts About Centerville History

The whole city of Centerville, which was 450 people, went to St. Genevieve’s, if they were Catholic. The fire truck was stored in the city hall. The city hall used to be the old jail. His own two daughters even went to Centerville Elementary.


A Grandmother and Mother’s Story
By Dana, Drew, and Brian

Vi Barrett was born in her house in White Bear on 1910. In her childhood she played hopscotch and kick the can. The only toy she had was a doll. She had many chores like washing dishes. The school she went to was Hugo Elementary.
At school her teacher never gave homework! That is so lucky! She also went home home for lunch. Her first job was cooking here for 22 years! Shirley was born in Centerville in 1931 in her house. All the cats Shirley had were killed when they went in the street. Shirley went to Centerville Elementary School. Her family had to raise animals for their food. At home they had no swing set.