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May 21, 2009

Victory!
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:40 AM * 70 comments

Our baker returns!

A week or so ago, in Legal Immigration, I wrote about how our local bakery was about to close because the owner couldn’t get a visa to return to the USA to continue her business.

Yesterday (while I was below the Notch on other business) came word that her once-denied visa had been renewed, for five years, and she’ll be back as early as this coming weekend.

From the Union Leader’s on-line edition:

“Lovely letters” save Main Street bakery

COLEBROOK – The French bakery that has become a Main Street landmark will remain open.

Early this morning, Verlaine Daeron, who owns Le Rendevouz Bakery, phoned her partner, Marc Ounis, to say the visa she was denied last month has been renewed for five years.

Senators Gregg and Shaheen (New Hampshire) and Lahey (Vermont) put their horsepower behind the effort.

From the print upstate edition of the Union Leader:

Now an ocean apart, the two owners of the town’s popular French bakerly will be making a rendezvous as early as this weekend, after the State Department reversed itself and issued a five-year visa for French citizen Verlaine Daeron.

[Senator Jeanne] Shaheen said the “heartfelt letters we received from many Colebrook residents made it clear just how important Le Rendezvous Bakery is to the Colebrook community, and I’m so happy that … Verlaine Daeron will now be able to return to her home and her business. This is great news for all of Colebrook and I wish Verlaine a wonderful homecoming.”

My greatest personal thanks to everyone who wrote letters of support.

[UPDATE]

[UPDATE 2]

[UPDATE 3]

[UPDATE 4]

[UPDATE 5]

The Colebrook Chronicle, June 5 edition (pdf)

The story of how North Country residents rallied to help convince the American Embassy in Paris that Le Rendez- Vous Bakery owner Verlaine Daeron should be allowed to have her E2 Visa renewed continues to garner wide attention. For many, it seems like something right out of a Frank Capra movie of the 1940s like “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

What started as a community effort to save a business from closing is yielding some unexpected benefits for Colebrook and the North Country, including helping to make Colebrook a destination point.

Chief among the widely circulated publicity is a New York Times article, which appeared last Sunday, May 31, which featured a full page, with fullcolor photos. As soon as the article appeared, said bakery owner Daeron—who returned from France on May 24—phone calls started coming in from around the country to congratu- (Continued on page 2)

[UPDATE 6]

Comments on Victory!:
#1 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:02 AM:

OH GREAT GLORY AND TRUMPETS!

#2 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:06 AM:

Do not mess with the pastry!

#3 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:13 AM:

Yay!

Makes me want a loaf of bread.

#4 ::: Bether ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:15 AM:

Joy! Croissants all 'round, and happiness & light to Verlaine and her family.

#5 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:19 AM:

Once again the north country is safe for baguettes and madeleines.

#6 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:23 AM:

yaay, maybe sanity is starting to infect the INS!

#7 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:34 AM:

Reason to celebrate. You know, the more Jim writes about his town, the more I understand why he wants to live there. Damn good neighbors.

#8 ::: FrancisT ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:38 AM:

One hopes she'll not have to repeat in 5 years time... but she probably will unless she does something radical like marry a genuine American

#9 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:46 AM:

Yay! Great news!

#10 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 02:19 AM:

Le jour de gloire (et croissants) est arrivé.

#11 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 02:53 AM:

Excellent news. Sometimes the good guys win.

#12 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 03:25 AM:

This sounds like the ideal time to test the effects of pyrotechnics on a Walmart crusty white.

BBC Commentator (Breathlessly): ...and now the Master Baker inserts the ceremonial key in the detonator, and the High Exploder raises the plunger. The crowd waits in silence...

This was, after all. A Matter of Loaf and Death.

(There are far worse reasons to invent ancient local traditions.)

#13 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 07:37 AM:

Now that's the happiest news I've heard in a long time.

#14 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 08:31 AM:

The good guys win. Yay!

I hope this effects a policy that takes local conditions into account better.

#15 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 08:47 AM:

Woo hoo!!! (and now I've got 'Headin' back to the north country' stuck in my head :) )

#16 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 08:54 AM:

I'll be returning from Katahdin on my way to Ottawa at the beginning of August, and Google maps has me traveling through Colebrook at about the half way point. I know where I'll be stopping for lunch.

#17 ::: Columbina ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 09:05 AM:

Just wanted to note, in case you hadn't seen it today, that it made the front page of the Globe as well.

#18 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:14 AM:

w00t w00t w0000t!

That is delightful news!

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:14 AM:

So, the French baker crust the border without trouble?

#20 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:22 AM:

Here's another article on this issue from the Boston Globe, which is not dead yet:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2009/05/21/town_rises_up_for_bakery/

#21 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:44 AM:

19: there was no knead for that, Serge.

#22 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:44 AM:

Here's hoping that the outpouring of support that convinced INS that the business is, indeed, vital to the community, acts as a precedent for her renewal five years hence, so that she doesn't have to go through this ordeal again.

Of course, here's also hoping that in five years we have a saner INS.

#23 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 10:55 AM:

How wonderful to hear that sanity has prevailed! Vive le bon pain !

#24 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 11:45 AM:

Good news! Best wishes to the bakery, its owner, and its happy customers.

#25 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 01:18 PM:

Wonderful news. It's nice to see the system work the way it is supposed to. :)

#26 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 02:14 PM:

Hooray!

#27 ::: RiceVermicelli ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 02:45 PM:

Awesome! I'm so glad!

#28 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 03:28 PM:

If you're interested: what Colebrook looks like.

You'll get a few photos from Connecticut and Tasmania mixed in with that. I couldn't exclude Connecticut without losing every photo of the Connecticut River.

For the short version of the local tour, add "-beaver" to the list of search terms. This gets rid of most of the duplicate photos of Beaver Brook Falls.

If you get far enough into the sequence, there'll be a run of boring indoor photos taken by one Shansen_81 during a winter trip to the area. Take heart: they do eventually end.

#29 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 03:38 PM:

That's fantastic. And I'm glad it got renewed for the right reasons - not because she had connections who pulled strings, but because a local community stood up for her.

I think I might have to stop in the next time I head up to Montreal from Boston.

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 05:32 PM:

If you do stop by, Debcha, don't come on a Monday -- they're closed then.


From the Union Leader article:


When the state Department of Environmental Services wants to come to town for a meeting, it avoids Mondays, when the bakery is closed, she [Town Manager Donna Caron] said.

#31 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 05:44 PM:

Sanity at the INS, Paula? I doubt it. Try fear.

'We have *how* many Senators asking why this lady doesn't have her visa renewed? Do it. Now. Before we get our appropriations slashed.'

#32 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 09:12 PM:

This photoset gives a very good idea of the area where I live.

Pittsburg is the largest town in the state of New Hampshire, and is covered by my ambulance squad.

#33 ::: John Aspinall ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 09:20 PM:

The bakery made the front page of the Boston Globe this morning.

#34 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2009, 09:29 PM:

Thanks, John. I'll add the link to the main post here.

#35 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 12:55 AM:

So, does this bakery do mail order business?

#36 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 01:02 AM:

But, Teresa (#28), 'n' all, if you instead use this search, you'll find all these lovely things! And more, from near Colebrook Town. Compare this from 2005, to see the effect of drought.

(I could be biassed)


#37 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 04:20 AM:

25: Wonderful news. It's nice to see the system work the way it is supposed to. :)

This story is very much not the way the system is supposed to work. Except in the sense that, when it goes wrong, there is a way in which a last-ditch effort can put things right.

#38 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 09:14 PM:

Somewhere in one of these three parts of the show, the CBC's As It Happens is going to interview someone about the baker's triumph. We only get two half-hour segments of the show on public radio out here in Hawai'i, and it hasn't finished yet anyway, so I can't identify which part.

#39 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 09:17 PM:

Aha. Tried the "Listen" links in that CBC page. It's the first segment in part 3 of the show, here. (Windows Media file).

#40 ::: Sara E ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2009, 09:47 PM:

Yea! Mazel Tov. May you enjoy the bakery for many years to come!

#41 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:40 AM:

There was a short piece on Verlaine and Le Rendezvous on "All Things Considered" as well. Thursday the 21st, I believe. I was thrilled about it even before I read it here.

#42 ::: Alan Sandercock ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 09:41 PM:

Excellent news. I had a wonderful croissant from the gentlemen last September in the Bethlehem NH Saturday open market and decided to check the main Colebrook store next time I travelled up that way from Georgia. We'll definitely do it this year!

#43 ::: janetl see spam on Victory! ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 01:13 AM:

golly - free web hosting at #43.

#45 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2009, 03:03 PM:

I wish we had a radio show like As It Happens in the US. As always, they did a great interview.

#46 ::: lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 11:18 AM:

Made the NYTimes http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/01/us/01land.html

#47 ::: Columbina ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2009, 02:08 PM:

I suspect I'm invisible here but, e'en so, a late addition for your notice: Story in 30 May issue of The Economist.

#48 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 02:46 AM:

No one's invisible here.

That "abandoned gas station" across the street that Dan Barry talks about in the Times is the very one where Christopher Wilder, the Beauty Queen Killer, shot himself in 1984 to avoid capture.

Do you see the picture of sign for Le Rendez-Vous that appears in my previous post about this story? The one-story gray building (with the "Copy" sign on it) is the News and Sentinel newspaper office. That's where two of the Drega shootings took place. The two windows to the left of the front door were Vicky Bunnell's law office. The small square signs between the front door and the windows are brass, the lower one still carries her name. The low stone wall to the left of the News and Sentinel marks the town park with the Civil War memorial and the old snow roller. The area to the right of that building, all the way to the corner, is the old gas station.

I'm told that in the TV movie about Christopher Wilder, that the gas station is played by a log cabin in the middle of a forest.

Other exciting happenings that took place in the building that now houses Le Rendez-Vous are detailed here.

#49 ::: Columbina ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 11:51 AM:

The "invisible" comment was referring to the relatively late addition to the thread. I forget that on ML, comment threads have long tails. (Everywhere else I write or post, if activity doesn't happen within 24 hours of the source post, it might as well not happen.)

I learned about the history of the Drega shootings from you (and very interesting/shocking stuff it was), but I know absolutely nothing about this Wilder matter. Time to go tickle a search engine or two ....

#50 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 03:15 PM:

The photo of downtown in the New York Times article was taken from in front of Hicks' Hardware, looking northwest across Main Street.

What you can see, from left to right:

The white building with the multi-pane windows is now Creative Natives, a gift-and-craft shop. It was formerly the town's hospital, and before that a tavern. During a long period when it was empty, there was a two-headed calf in the left-most ground-floor window. To its right, with the blue false front, is an apartment building. On its ground floor are two storefronts. On the left, vacant, is where First Run Video used to be before it moved across to the Walker House on the east side of Main Street. On the right in that building is another empty storefront, that most recently held Mabel's Kitchen, a lunch counter. Before that it had a consignment store. Before that it had a general store.

To the right of that, in yellow, is Le Rendez-Vous.

Continuing to the right, and partly obscured by a telephone pole, is that abandoned gas station. To the right of that is a house now divided into aparments. To the right of that, dark gray single-story with a maroon awning, is Ducret's Sporting Goods. Then comes the bridge over the Mohawk River. The next house you can see is a private dwelling, with the steeple of the Monadnock Congregational Church visible above it.

The road entering from the right, with a fire hydrant on the corner, is Pleasant Street. The fire house is up that way, as is the Catholic Church (St. Brendan's). The corner of Main and Pleasant, the north side is the new home of First Run Video, and the south side is Hicks' Hardware (both out of sight to the right of frame), which brings us back to where we're standing.

#51 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 04:36 PM:

Oh, and the third (of four) photos at the France-Amérique story (linked in the main post update), "Les habitants d'une petite ville du New Hampshire ont sauvé leur baguette" shows the table where Doyle and I usually do our final read-throughs of manuscripts.

#52 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 05:35 PM:

Jim,

Where in all those shops did the bottle of delicious maple syrup that Patrick and Teresa brought over come from? They said it was the hardware store—was it Hick's?

(Half of it was good. We're hoarding the other half.)

#53 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 06:22 PM:

abi: New Hampshire Maple Syrup? The sort Jeb Bartlett insists on? They must really like you.

It seems I am always importuning Marna to bring me maple something (in november it was maple sugar, that we might make some cookies we had a recipe for. It was cheaper to wait on her, than it would have been to order it, by a factor of two, or some such).

This time I have Wisconsin Grade B Amber. A wonderful, dark, liquid. French toast rarely has it so good.

#54 ::: Alan Sandercock ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 06:38 PM:

You can also get a pretty good idea of the Colbrook Main Street in Google Maps Street View. It clearly shows Le Rendez-Vous, etc.

#55 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 06:52 PM:

Terry: Grade B Maple Syrup? Sacrilege!

Well, not really. Grade B Dark Amber is really strong flavored stuff, good for overwhelming other tastes, or for barbecue sauce. Delicate, fluffy, white flour Poffertjes (little clouds) get Grade A Light Ambber (when I can find it, most of the places I looked said the early run was already darker/stronger than that), Medium Amber for pancakes that have their own flavor (corn, oat, whole wheat), and Dark Amber for buckwheat pancakes (my buckwheat recipe is only 1/2 buckwheat flour — I'm a Yankee. Real all buckwheat flour pancakes need sorghum syrup, but both the cake and the syrup are too strong for my delicate sensibilities taste.

I believe I mentioned earlier elsethread that I've been rather partial to pancakes since before I started school.

#56 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 07:04 PM:

John Houghton: You may enjoy your effete Grade A, I shall keep to the Grade B.

Just in case you didn't know the reason for the grading is how white the resultant sugar is going to be if you boil all the water away to granulate it.

White sugar was more sought after, so lighter syrups were considered better. I happen to really like the flavor of maple. If I need less flavor, I can use less syrup.

#57 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 07:21 PM:

Abi, the maple syrup came from the Northwoods Truck Stop (near the IGA). The first place we looked was Hicks' but they were all out of last year's, and everyone was in the woods right then getting this year's. As it happens, the sugarbush it came from was right across the river in Vermont, and I know the people who made it, so you're about three degrees of separation (at the most) from the tree itself.

#58 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 08:44 PM:

Terry, I walk by you with my nose raised high in the air (to catch the scent of boiling maple sap, even though the sugaring season has been over for a couple of months, the last time I actually smelled sap boiling was the middle of April). But then my taste runs to delicate flavors in a lot of things. I will not deny you your robust grade B.

Jim, there have been times in my life when I knew the sugarbush personally, and not just the small demo operation at Sunday River, where the brand new sugar shack is right next to the bunny slope. I introduced a lot of British schoolchildren to the joys of maple syrup and maple candy this year. There are a few trees with buckets by the road and just off the slope — mostly for show — but I haven't visited the sugarbush with the web of plastic tubing going from trees to the collection tank.

Sugaring has changed since my childhood. No more, or not so much, the rustic shack in the woods with a big flat steel pan over a fire. Few open buckets. Fancy stainless steel evaporators, but still wood fired. Cleaner product is a result. I would joke with the sugarer that he never looked tired enough, since during the run sugaring is frequently an around-the-clock operation, maple sap spoils pretty quickly.

#59 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2009, 11:18 PM:

John: Lean/fat, neither of us is competing with the other. Some things I like big and brassy, some I like delicate and evanescent (the "princess" ice-cream bars in Kuwait... ah, rosewater and vanilla).

For things in which I want syrup, bold is what I'm looking for.

Reminds me, I need to prep for corn fritters in the morning.

#60 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 10:34 PM:

Governor Lynch came to town today.

Doyle, Pip, and I were sitting in Le Rendez-Vous eating almond croissants and drinking coffee when he came in with six or eight suit-wearing folks in his wake. After he asked Marc and Verlaine if they needed anything (they didn't), and they gave him a loaf of bread, he came over and sat at our table (since we were colorful locals).

We thanked him for signing the Gay Marriage act. He shook our hands.

Other than that, today was marked by thunderstorms.

#61 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 04:44 PM:

Le Rendez-Vous will be on TV tonight on WMUR (Manchester) at 7:30 pm on the program "N.H. Chronicle" with Amy Covenno.

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 05:00 PM:

James @ 63... What does a colorful local look like?

#63 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 05:19 PM:

A colorful local looks very much like me.

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 05:40 PM:

I'm a colorless local myself. My pallor is greater than usual today, in fact (I'm not feeling especially well).

#65 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 05:41 PM:

May the pale Xopher become colorful again.

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 05:45 PM:

James @ 66... So you're saying that the parameters of 'colorful' are defined by you, instead of your being a human who fits with parameters that define 'colorful'. Does that mean that, when Xopher becomes colorful again, he'll look so much like you that he will in esssence be you and not even he nor you nor anybody will be able to tell the difference?

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 05:46 PM:

I am never, on my best day, as colorful as James. I can only dream of attaining such heights of colorfulness.

#68 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 06:48 PM:

Serge, you asked James about "a colorful local"; he told you about a colorful local. You didn't ask about a typical colorful local, or an average one, or a statistically-significant sample, or anything like that.

#69 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 10:22 AM:

A colorful local would have a beard and long hair, wear jeans and a lumberjack shirt, and have heavy boots.

#70 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 01:25 PM:

to Columbina @52 on long comment thread tails for old threads: One of the things i adore about ML is the 'last 1000' (or more) comments page, where I can see what threads have new comments, and if so, how many.

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