BOURNE –On a patch of land off of County Road, Reale Lemieux, 75, of Fort Myers Beach, Florida, seemed to understand his tiny yet significant role in the chain of events that is Christmas in Bourne.
A few days ago, Lemieux was on a golf course in 87-degree weather, but then his son-in-law, Mike Bilodeau, injured his back. Lemieux’s daughter, Suzanne Bilodeau, owner of the Sagamore Inn, who was10-years-old when her father first sold Christmas trees on Cape Cod, needed help.
So, Lemiuex, retired, hopped on a plane to rescue Christmas. The next thing he knew, he was wearing three layers of clothing and a big grin as he stood next to his family’s Christmas trees. There are, he said, repeat customers for the trees,which mostly sell for $25 to $50, he said.
The Christmas tree business started, said Lemieux, when he owned the Shady Nook Inn in Sandwich. He had four small children and not a lot of Christmas money. So after he and his wife discussed options, his wife drove to Hyannis and purchased 100 trees from a supplier. They resold these trees, and a secondary income stream was born.
But that business has been passed down to Suzanne and Mike, Lemieux said. In fact, there is a second site selling trees over at the Sagamore Inn. But with the injury in the family, Lemieux is back on Cape Cod, selling Christmas trees.
“I’m not a salesman,” he said. “People know what they want. We’ve got a tree for everyone.”
Over at the Sagamore Inn, Bill Collins of Sandwich said he’s been buying trees from the Lemieux family for 40 years. After loading his $47 tree into his car, Collins smiled and said, “We had insider information on this tree.”
Sue Bilodeau said, “I just showed them a nice tree. We have a lot of nice trees.”
She remembered driving as a child, just after Thanksgiving, to Vermont with her family to buy trees. “We picked out the trees one by one,” she said. After the trees were cut, they rented U-Hauls and brought them back to the Cape, she said.
And now Lemieux is back on Cape Cod, selling the aromatic, beautiful, quite traditional center of Christmas attention. After all these years, Lemieux understands the importance of a real Christmas tree.
But sometimes his customers remind him. “Yesterday, we had a little girl, Anna, in here, with her mother,” said Lemieux. “After they picked out the tree, little Anna, maybe three years old, said, ‘I love you,’ to me. That makes your day.”
— Brian Tarcy