Arthur & Helen LeBeau
By Sheila Mason Gale
If you attended the Dr. Helen Baldwin School in the 1950's, 60's or 70's you probably had a "LeBeau" in your class. Arthur and Helen LeBeau had ten children who all attended school in Canterbury. Do you remember Sharon, Joyce, Christine, Arlene, Richard, Gerald, Annette, Marie, Gail or Theresa?
Once when Arthur was visiting his aunt in Vermont, he met Helen's mother. Helen's mother invited him to visit her family in Redding MA and that's where he met Helen in 1941. They got to know each other better through writing letters while Arthur was in the service. They were married in February 1946 and moved to Canterbury in 1953 to their present house on Graff Road. They bought the house from Ted and Lydia Greenstein who moved to Tracy Road. The LeBeau house was on the land that was the Bennett skunk farm many years ago.
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Graff were their only neighbors on the road in 1953. I used to ride horses along Graff Road and Wright Road with the Graff's granddaughter "Bunny". It is one of the most beautiful wooded areas in Canterbury.
Shortly after they were married, Helen had a job at Majestic Metals where they made such things as compacts, rosary beads and lipstick cases. Majestic Metals later became Kaman.
The family didn't have TV, but the children had lots of activities they enjoyed like jumping rope, hopscotch and playing in a big hand made sandbox. Their neighbor, Mr. Graff, had a big pond and the children would go swimming in the summer and ice-skating in the winter. They had chores too, like weeding the garden. The LeBeaus had three large gardens and grew beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra, pumpkins, peas, carrots, beets, etc. They canned some tomatoes and beets, but mostly froze the vegetables, which lasted all winter. They also had a couple hundred white leghorn hens. Arthur would candle their eggs and sell some of them to his coworkers. At one point, Arthur had someone come in to do some digging in the yard. When the children asked why he was digging, he teased them and said he was building a frog pond, but he was really putting in a swimming pool.
In the late 50's and early 60's Canterbury had a school band with Malcolm Wibberley as the bandleader. He generously gave all the interested school children music lessons free of charge. Sharon, Joyce and Christine took lessons and were in the band.
The LeBeaus attended church in Plainfield, but several people got together in Canterbury and masses were held at the Grange Hall. Mr. LeBeau recalls that Lillian Waskiewicz and Terry Pukalo went to the Bishop in Norwich and asked if a church could be built in Canterbury. They got the approval and St. Augustine was built.
Arthur decided to run for the Canterbury Board of Education and won. He was on the School Board for six years and was the chairman for two. He had the privilege of presenting Sharon and Joyce their diploma when they graduated from eighth grade.
The children were involved in 4-H. Richard and Gerald were involved in gardening and the girls in sewing. Sharon learned her lessons well, because today she is an excellent seamstress. Miriam Pellinen and Elsie Hawes were their leaders.
The LeBeaus now have 18 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Joyce's son is the father of the two great-grandchildren. Joyce posed for a photo in the Norwich Bulletin showing five generations- Helen's mother, Helen, Joyce, Joyce's son and his child.
When they look back over their years in Town, they said the biggest changes in Canterbury are the building of the two schools, the municipal building and all the businesses we now have--the restaurants, pharmacy, bank, garden center, etc.
When their children were in their teens and they wanted to go to some activity they complained to Arthur and Helen because they lived so far away from everything and needed a ride everywhere they wanted to go. "Why did you buy a house way out in the sticks?" they would ask. Well, when the children got married and had their own families, most of them said, "I wish we could find a place for our family just like this one in Canterbury".