World War II bride settles in Siluria

Published 2:24 pm Friday, October 10, 2008

In a little village near Dijon, France on May 14, 1924 a tiny two-pound baby girl named Micheline was born to Blanche and Henri Cadouot.

Blanche was sickly and unable to care for this baby and the toddler she and Henri had 18 months earlier. Henri’s parents moved in to care for the children. When the baby was nine months old Blanche died of kidney failure.

Henri remarried nearly nine years later and fathered eight more children.

By the age of sixteen Micheline Cadouot went to the big city of Paris. She gained employment along with her sister, Jeanette, in a cookie factory. The war in Europe was creeping across borders and life held a frightening unrest for young and old alike.

During the war Micheline met a handsome G.I. from the United States at a Paris restaurant. It must have been love at first sight because they were married within six months. At first he was stationed outside Paris then later in Germany.

Imagine, if you can, the courage it must have taken for Micheline to tell her family that she would be leaving for America. With a two-year-old daughter and her husband, Micheline sailed on the Simon B. Buckner on March 24, 1948. With hardly any English skills she faced a totally new and foreign life in Mississippi. When the ship docked in New York the family took a train to Jackson, Miss. and then a bus to his home in Magnolia. They stayed with relatives and found work at the local textile factory. Later they went to Texas and Louisiana, back to Mississippi and finally to Siluria, following the textile trail.

Micheline told me of the big hotel in Siluria where many people boarded while working at the mill. There was a train depot, dry cleaners, drugstore, doctor’s office, post office, dozens mill houses and even their own little country club. (The old Alabaster YMCA was originally built as a place of relaxation and swimming entertainment for the textile families). Michi was widowed in 1975 and completed 24 years of employment with Siluria Textiles until 1979 (when the mill closed).

Completing the CETA program gained her employment in the recording section of the Shelby County Probate office where her smiling face, helpful ways and lovely French accent were a trademark for the next decade.

In 1989 Micheline became an American citizen after attending classes in Atlanta.

This little lady has survived so many trials and hardships … the starkness of life in rural Mississippi in contrast to what she had known, loss of babies, cancer in 1966, widowhood and the tragic loss of her grandson, Jeremy Davis, in March1986. Throughout it all her personal walk with the Lord has sustained her.