Susan Poulin is a Maine-based writer, actress, and storyteller. In 1996, she created her alter ego, Ida Leclair, after winning a 'Yankee Yarns' storytelling contest. The New Hampshire show was hosted by veteran storytellers Tim Sample and Bob Bryan, best known for Bert and I. Susan was thrilled to be among such talent, but found she was the only female selected to perform. Right then and there, she decided to develop a character inspired by the wonderful women in her Franco-American family.
And so arrived Ida Leclair: a gregarious woman with good common sense, a wicked sense of humor, and a genuine warmth fans can't deny. She lives in a fictional Maine town called Mahoosuc Mills with her husband, Charlie, and their little dog Scamp. She's a cashier at A&P and has a group of girlfriends she calls, "The Women Who Run with The Moose."
Ida is also a romantic, she loves holidays, baking cookies, and celebrating with good food and friends. But more than anything, she adores her Charlie. Here's an excerpt of how they met and married from Finding Your Inner Moose:
I can't remember when I didn't know Charlie — Mahoosuc Mills just isn't that big—though we only started dating in high school. That's right, we were high school sweethearts.
We got married two weeks after I graduated. He was a couple of years older than me. Charlie graduated third in his class. 'Course, there was only six of them.
The day of our wedding, I promised myself I wouldn't shed a tear. I was doing pretty good, too, until I was just about ready to walk down the aisle. My father looked at me and said, "Ida, you're not my little girl anymore." That did me in. I cried the entire ceremony. Charlie looked so handsome in his white tux. The bridesmaids were all in different color pastels—one in pink, one in yellow—you know. My sister, Irene, was the maid of honor. I remember, she had on the prettiest periwinkle blue.
Charlie and me were a little giddy by the time we got to the reception at the Fish and Game Hall. We'd drunk some champagne in the car. Let me tell you, those ushers tricked out Charlie's Dodge Dart within an inch of its life. Streamers, tin cans, JUST MARRIED written all over the windshield. The minute the photos were over, Charlie took of his shoes. The rented tux was okay, but the shoes were just too tight. The Fish and Game Hall looked wonderful. Me and the girls had decorated it with crepe paper and balloons. Even gussied up all the animal heads on the walls.
It seemed like all of Mahoosuc Mills was there. It was potluck, BYOB. That was pretty normal back then. You go that extra route, and the food's always good, 'cause people put in the extra effort for a wedding. Kid Morensy set up his stereo and everyone brought their favorite records. Our first dance together as husband and wife was to Elvis singing "All Shook Up." Charlie's a hell of a dancer.
We were all drinking beer, laughing, and dancing up a storm. Charlie and me knew our marriage was official when Emile Dugal sang, "Prendre Un P'tit Coup." Every wedding in town, the minute he'd get a buzz on, he's sing the same song. And everyone joined in.
After we cut the cake and fed each other a bite—I'd made Charlie promise he wouldn't smoosh it in my face—I changed into a pink suit and we left for the honeymoon: a long weekend on the coast of Maine. We didn't have much money at the time, and that's about all we could afford. We stayed in Damariscotta, though we could have been anywhere since we hardly left the hotel room.