From Pointe-A-Pitre to New Orleans (Part 5): History decides

Drew Kinchen: Where did you go to grammar school? Did you stay on the island?

Jack Kinchen: I was schooled in France. I played soccer over there, yeah.

Annette Kinchen: Yeah, he was good at soccer.

Jack: I was schooled in England also; I had never seen the game of cricket before. They put me on a team and I don’t know how, but I made it to varsity! [Laughs] Cricket! Pow! But soccer, oh yeah, that was my game. Nobody could take the place of me, my baby, oh no. I would have played soccer twenty-four hours a day.

Drew: I always heard you were very good.

Jack: Oh yeah, I was drafted. [for the French national team], but ehh, the war came up. If it hadn’t been the war, I would have stayed in France and played soccer. I would have become a doctor. The war, the war. History decided other [things] for me.

Annette: A doctor? [Shakes her head no] Well, no, I shouldn’t say that! [Laughter]

Drew: What about your story, Meme?

Annette: We were on the same island. We met at a surprise party. We got together, got married, and decided to come here in America. And I was very scared, because I never travelled.

Drew: After you were born on the island you never left until you came to America?

Annette: Uh-huh. But I was curious; I came over here and was very scared. I couldn’t speak the language and I had to adapt. And it was very difficult.

Jack: America was a big country, but I was used to a big country. I was in France, France isn’t that big but..

Drew: But you had been all across Europe.

Jack: Oh yeah, so I was drawn. Matter of fact, I wanted my father to let me go to America sooner, but he wouldn’t let me. He had three sons. One was killed and one was a prisoner of war, so he said please stay with me.

I stayed with him. A year after he died, exactly, I came here. You know how difficult it was for me? Me!? Jack Bunel. To come and get a permit to come to this country, we had connections with Ford, with Pan-American and it still took me a year to get in. Now is not the same.

Annette’s Guadeloupean driver’s license from 1951.

Part 6: Life on the island

Editor’s Note: This story is one of a series reprinted from the book A Guide to South Louisiana: Stories of Uncommon Culture. Each author was a student in Rachel Breunlin’s “Storytelling and Culture” course for the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Orleans in the Spring of 2017. The Neighborhood Story Project sponsored the project as part of its mission to publish collaborative ethnography in high quality books in which the authors receive royalties for their creative labor.


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