Mrs. Louise M Remington Kidder

  • Born: February 13, 1889
  • Died: May 1981
  • Location: Potomac, Maryland

Tribute & Message From The Family

Louise M Remington Kidder (circa 1950)

Louise was born on February 13, 1889 and passed away 2 May 1981.

Louise was a resident of Potomac, Maryland.

BIOGRAPHY OF LOUISE M. KIDDER by Ray S. Kidder with the help of his mother (Page), 29 December 2007

Louise Remington was born in St. Gabriel de Brandon, Quebec, Canada on 13 February 1889. During her early childhood, the family moved to Rhode Island. Her father was hoping to save some money while in the United States, and then move his family back to Canada to buy a farm. Louise's first language was French, which was true of her brothers and sisters. This was because her mother (Virginia Peltier Remington) spoke only French. Her father Walden spoke English and French fluently, and his ability to speak English must have been a contributing factor in his decision to move to Rhode Island. There were many French families in Rhode Island at the time, so Virginia did not feel isolated. Some of these families were her relatives and there was quite a lot of visiting back and forth. Louise told me her father was employed by a textile mill. One of the things she remembered from her childhood was the occasional oranges she received during the winter. In those days, because of the shipping costs, oranges were much less affordable even during the winter when they were in season. After his wife died, Walden heard of a well paying job back up in northern Quebec or Ontario, so he went there to work at a lumber logging site to earn more money. It was very remote and his children were grown and did not join him there.
As I vaguely recall, Louise had a job in a silent movie theater playing organ music during the films, as did her sister Cecile.
In her 20s, Louise and Cecile were in Springfield, Massachusetts when she met a divorced man named Ray N Kidder, who was born in Milton, Wisconsin in 1887. She married him in 1918 and moved to Louisiana while he was in the Navy. After the war, they moved to his home in Boston, Massachusetts. One reason for his divorce from his first wife was that she wanted to move back to Milton, Wisconsin to be near her family, but Ray's business was in the east and he could not see any future for himself in Wisconsin. Ray had attended the University of Wisconsin for a time and was thinking of becoming a physician but this did not happen; mainly because of his family's financial situation. Louise Kidder had her only child when she gave birth to Nathaniel Remington Kidder on 4 April 1921 in Boston, Massachusetts. About a year later, they moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Ray Kidder had a job as a traveling upholstery material salesman to department stores and upholstery firms. They purchased a house on 9th Street in northern Philadelphia and Louise's sister Cecile came to live with them for a time. While living there, Cecile met a Mr. Wagoneer, who was some years older than she was. Louise was not in favor of the marriage due to the age difference, but later she became fond of him. Nat also loved him, and called him Uncle Wag.
Louise told me that during my father's childhood, which was largely during the great depression, he would frequently come home from school and play football with 3 of his neighborhood friends. His father, who was not making a great deal of money, would give him a couple of nickels for the streetcar fare to and from school. Due to the tightness of money, Nat would sometimes walk so that he could keep the money for himself.
They had a summer home in Burmingham, New Jersey. Cecile and her husband would often spend weekends in Birmingham with them. By this time, Louise's youngest brother, Albert, had moved to New Jersey and he was a frequent guest with his wife Gertrude during the summer. The house was on a small river and was ideal for swimming and canoeing. Cecile's husband was an accomplished carpenter and helped to build an addition to their house. Ray N Kidder dug a well on this property.
My father somehow skipped a grade and graduated from Olney High School in Philadelphia in 1938. He thought he would study to become a lawyer, as this is what it says about him in his high school yearbook. He was accepted to Harvard (much to Louise's pride), and graduated with a B.A. degree in 1942 in something akin to political science. The war was on, and he immediately volunteered for service in the US Army. He was made part of the Signal Corps where he worked as an instructor, mainly teaching radar. He was discharged just prior to the end of the war because of asthma. In the late 1940's he returned to Harvard and earned a M.A. degree in social psychology in 1950. As part of his studies, he worked with the US Navy for one year on Yap Island in the South Pacific, where he was the demographer. Together with other students, they wrote a study on the demographics and history of the natives of this Island. The U.S. government was concerned because the population on Yap was in decline.
In later years, her father Walden became old and senile. The plan was for him to live with her sister Gabriel, who had married Bill Quigley, and who was to look after him. Because of the work of looking after her father, Gabe was to receive the inheritance of his estate. Walden became too much of a burden due to mental problems, so Gabe put him in a state-run old folks home where he died. Louise and Cecile thought that the inheritance should be divided among the children because Gabe had not fulfilled her obligation to tend to her father for the remainder of his life. Gabe thought it was supposed to all come to her. A lawsuit developed, and Louise and Cecile were on the winning side.
During the 1940's the Kidders moved to Medford Lakes, New Jersey. They had many friends and relatives visit them. Cecile's husband had died and she had married a business associate of Ray N Kidder's, Harold Burton. They lived in Connecticut and New York City. Albert and Gertrude Remington had returned to New England. Because of the lifting of the war rations, the sales of consumer goods boomed and Ray Kidder's income boomed to $25000 in one particular year from his commissions in the late 1940's. At that time, $25,000 was enough to purchase a very grand house. Ray Kidder had a heart condition that was discovered to have originated from a childhood sickness. Shortly after his semi-retirement of working only half days, his heart problems became much worse and he finally died in a Philadelphia hospital in December of 1952. In the early 1930's he lost quite a bit of money from a bank that failed, as did many people. He would occasionally receive small amounts of money from time to time from this account. They were thankful that at least he was employed, and they could afford a maid during the great depression.
Her husband was buried in Philadelphia, and when Louise died in 1981, she was buried next to him. Louise inherited a good amount of money from her husband, and she owned at least two houses and had quite a lot of money in savings. I do not think she ever had to work after she was married in 1918. The following year after her husband died, her son met my mother for the first time and they were married in September of 1953. My mother never met Ray N Kidder. It was in the month or two following her husband's death that Louise became deaf. Her explanation was that the sorrow of being left a widow somehow caused a physiological strain on her hearing. I remember that in the 1960's, she had a hearing aid in only one ear, but as she became more deaf, she decided to have the same aids in both ears. These hearing aids were built into her glasses. Around 1954, she decided to move from New Jersey, so she bought a type of semi-detached townhouse on 69th Avenue in North Philadelphia, a block from the city line. Her home consisted of a main floor apartment with a basement, and it also included a similar apartment on the top floor. There was a stairway that went up to the top floor apartment, but this stairway was accessible only from the outside. She owned the upstairs apartment and rented it out. The apartment and her two floors had a dumbwaiter elevator. She used this elevator to assist her in taking out the trash. The bottom level had a large basement storage area and a garage. She had to go outdoors to go to this bottom level. I vaguely remember that I had to stay with her for a couple of weeks or so (in 1962 or 1963?) while my mother, father, and sister went to Europe for a vacation. Back in the 1950's, after her husband died, Louise went on a cruise around the world. She visited Europe, Egypt, the Holy Land, and India.
Her only child fathered four children. First was Elizabeth Kidder who was born in 1954 when living in Charlestown, New Hampshire. Then I (Ray) was born in 1959 when they lived in Arlington, Massachusetts. The Nathaniel Kidder family moved to Hudson, Ohio in January of 1961 and Nat Jr. and Charles were born in Akron in 1963 and 1965, respectively.
In 1968, Louise sold her home and moved to a 1-bedroom apartment in the Benson East apartment building in Jenkintown, PA. One reason she moved there was that she felt it was becoming too difficult to take care of her house on 69th Avenue. In addition, she was feeling a bit isolated as her friends began to die off. Another reason was that she was a bridge card game enthusiast, and one of her bridge playing close friends lived there. As a teenager, I learned to play bridge so she was willing to play with me and my parents.
By 1974, she decided that she needed further assistance from my father, so she moved to a 1-bedroom apartment in Rockville, Maryland. I remember the day of the move. When the movers were finished moving her furniture, they told her the amount and she said it was price gouging. My father intervened and said their price was very reasonable so she wrote the check for this amount. In 1977, she moved to an Episcopal Church assisted living home in Georgetown in Washington, DC. She was given one room for her bed and a few pieces of furniture, plus a private bathroom. She had her meals in a common dining room. They raised the prices too high, so my father found another senior citizen home in Georgetown called the Eads Home for her. This was much less expensive and in an older building. One drawback was that she no longer had a private bathroom, but there were other things about it that she liked better. A friend from her old apartment in Rockville told her about a new seniors apartment complex in Rockville. It may have been because she didn't like the Eads Home that she decided to move into this new complex. By this time she was going a bit senile and later had trouble preparing her food. Her friend who lived across the hall died. The operators of this senior's complex complained to her son about her behavior. She sometimes knocked on her neighbor's doors and asked for food. My father decided to move her back to the Eads Home again. She lived there for a few months, but her senility was becoming worse. The management of the Eads Home didn't like the way in which she would wander the halls in the middle of the night, so my father agreed to have her move in with us around June of 1980. She became so senile that she only knew who my father was. She sometimes thought my mother was the maid and that my father was running a boarding operation for myself and my two brothers. In April of 1981 she developed a bubble sore on her leg, so my father took her to the doctor. The doctor recommended a hospital stay. The hospital gave her pills to keep her calm and unable to walk around. This affected her blood circulation, which already was quite poor, and when she was released, she became bedridden. She went into mostly a coma and died in her sleep on 2 May 1981. Her sister Cecile had been visiting her when she died.
When I visited her in my childhood, one of the things that she was good at was telling made-up and true stories. I decided to do the same by telling stories to my daughter and nephews, which increased my popularity with them. In telling stories about people, she had a way of making the listener sympathetic to the person as she explained their situation. She made it seem as though most people had good motives, but they only misbehaved because they were ignorant of something or other. Her taste in home furnishings had a sort of Victorian Era look. She had plush furniture and fringed lamp shades. Perhaps this was common among those of her generation. The Remington family always had a picture of Queen Victoria and her family in their living room. They remained loyal to the crown even though they lived in the United States. Her parents never became American citizens. She did not receive much formal education, and probably did not graduate from High School, but she never stopped being curious and was a very sharp bridge player. She liked to talk about my father's college accomplishments, so I asked her what college she attended. She claimed she only took some courses at Temple University in Philadelphia, but this may have been one of her made up stories. She may have taken some French classes there and she belonged to the Alliance Francais in Philadelphia. She said that when she first moved to Philadelphia in the early 1920's, she missed Boston. After making friends in Philadelphia, she decided she liked Philadelphia better than New England. When she was very old, she sometimes told my father she wanted to move back to Philadelphia, but we knew she could not live independently of him.
She was born into a Roman Catholic family, but when she lived in Philadelphia, she belonged to the Oak Lane Presbyterian Church. She never forgot her Canadian heritage and remembered fondly her visits with her Canadian relatives in her youth. On her 90th birthday, she received congratulations from her second cousin's son, Pierre Elliot Trudeau (the Prime Minister of Canada).