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Helen Sylvain, Irene Mercier & Irene Cody

You might want hold onto your hats! Helene Sylvain and Irene Mercier have incredible energy. Helene and Irene are sisters. They grew up in Lewiston, Maine. And, like many people from their generation, recycling memories and sharing life’s experiences takes on special meaning — especially their deep connection to family and the love of a good song and a good story.

Helene and Irene were interviewed in Lewiston, Maine in 2010. In the photo by Kathleen Mundell, Helene is to the left, Irene in the middle, and, on the accordion is Irene Coady.

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On this edition of Story Bank, a tale from Somalia. It’s a story about Egal Shidad, a wise coward. The story is told by Jama Osman Mahdi a Somali elder living in Lewiston, Maine who carries on the Somali tradition of oral recitation. Jama’s story is translated by Hassan Adan.

Jama was interviewed at the Lewiston city hall in 2011.
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Irene Coady lights up the keys and buttons!  (Photo by Kathleen Mundell)

There’s a substantial population of Franco-Americans in the Lewiston-Auburn area of Maine. For the French speaking community there, music springs from the heart of their homes. Especially around Christmas.

Irene Coady and Lorraine Ouellette were recorded at the Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine, Lewiston.

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The city of Lewiston was once a hub of French-Canadian culture in Maine — so much so, Mona Lothian didn’t realize there was a language other than French until she went to school!

Mona stopped by the Story Bank recording booth at the 2009 American Folk Festival in Bangor. She reminisced about her Franco childhood in the 1950s, the decline of Franco culture, and what she does to maintain her traditions.

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