Herman Ferdinand LaVoie

Herman Ferdinand LaVoie.  Researched and written by Camille Arbogast

Herman Ferdinand LaVoie was born on February 9, 1896, in Southbridge, Massachusetts. His parents, Hormidas and Emerance (Bouche) LaVoie, were originally from Quebec, Canada; Hormidas was born in Napierville and Emerance in L’Avenir. They married in August 1886 in Windham, Connecticut. Hormidas and Emerance had at least seven other children: Anna born in 1887; Arthur in 1889; Alexander in 1891; Alice in 1893; Adelard Joseph in 1894; Marie Aldea in 1898; and Ferdinand (known as Fred) in 1901.

In the early 20th century, the LaVoies lived at 7 Morris Street in Southbridge. Hormidas worked as a clerk, a salesman, and an inspector at the lens works. Emerance died of cancer in June 1907. In 1913, Hormidas remarried and settled in Rhode Island. Herman attended school through the eighth grade, according to the 1940 census. By June 1917, he had moved to Dorchester, where he lived at 41 Evelyn Street. He was employed at the Central Theatre in Stoneham, Massachusetts, as a moving picture operator, or a projectionist, his lifelong profession.

On June 30, 1917, Herman enlisted in the Army. He was assigned to Battery F, 16th Field Artillery, 4th Artillery Brigade, 4th Division. He served as a bugler. On May 10, 1918, Herman sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey, on the S.S. Duca D’Aosta, headed for France. The 16th Field Artillery participated in the Aisne-Marne, Saint-Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne offensives. On July 19, 1919, Herman departed from Brest, France, on the USS Zeppelin, arriving in Hoboken ten days later.  He was discharged on August 4, 1919.

By January 1920, Herman was again employed as a motion picture operator. He boarded with the Patterson family at 90 Wellington Hill Street in Mattapan. On July 22, 1926, Herman married Margaret Agusta (Brown) Beck in Waltham, Massachusetts. Born in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, Margaret had been married previously and had a 10-year-old son, Leslie. Herman and Margaret had two daughters together: Evangeline, born in 1925, and Mildred in 1930.

The couple initially lived in Belmont, Massachusetts, then moved to Watertown, Massachusetts, where they were living at 12 Perry Street in 1930. Around 1935, they returned to Belmont where they first resided at 50 Alma Avenue, then 28 Davis Road, and finally 78 Davis Road. Later they lived in North Billerica, Massachusetts.

Herman was a projectionist and technician at the Strand Theatre on Trapelo Road in the Waverly neighborhood of Belmont for many years, likely employed at the theatre from its opening in 1921. He was still working at the Strand in 1940, when the census recorded he earned $2,924 a year. In October 1951, Herman was one of three projectionists who opened the 1,400-seat Cinema movie theatre in the new Shoppers World shopping center on Route 9 in Framingham, Massachusetts. An article in the Boston Globe stated that the Cinema was “undoubtedly the most modern theatre in New England” with staggered seating and a larger than usual screen. A member of the Theatrical Stage Employees and Motion Picture Operators Union Local 505, Herman also projected at a nearby drive-in, probably the Natick Drive-In on Speen Street, as well as at the Saint George Theatre on Concord Street in Framingham.

In the early 1960s, Herman retired. He and Margaret moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, where they lived at 235 Plain Street. Herman died at the Lowell General Hospital on July 18, 1973. He was buried in the Lowell Cemetery. Margaret died three months later and was buried beside him.


Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, MA; Ancestry.com

Family Tree; Ancestry.com

1900, 1910, 1930, 1940 U.S. Federal Census; Ancestry.com

United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration: Ancestry.com

Military, Compiled Service Records. World War I. Carded Records. Records of the Military Division of the Adjutant General’s Office, Massachusetts National Guard.

Lists of Outgoing & Incoming Passengers, 1917-1938. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985, The National Archives at College Park, MD; Ancestry.com

U.S. War Department, Battle Participation of Organizations of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, Belgium and Italy 1917-1918. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1920; Archive.org

1920 U.S. Federal Census; FamilySearch.org

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United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940, database, citing Military Service, NARA microfilm publication 76193916 (St. Louis: National Archives and Records Administration, 1985); FamilySearch.org

Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, database. Lehi, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011; Ancestry.com

Herman LaVoie, Lowell Sun, 19 July 1973: 32; Newspapers.com

“Studio Cinema,” Cinema Treasures. Cinema Treasures, LLC 2000-2021. <http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/1937>

United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System. National Archives and Records Administration; Ancestry.com

“News of the Territory: Boston Crosstown,” The Exhibitor, 17 October 1951; Archive.org

Adams, Marjory. “Theatre at Shoppers’ World is Last Word in Film Houses.” Boston Globe, 29 Oct 1951: 9; Newspapers.com

Sherman, Harry. “In the Spotlight” International Projectionist, December 1951: 28; Archive.org

Herman Ferdinand LaVoie, FindAGrave.com


Posted on

April 5, 2022

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