Thanks so much for the great response to this blog!
A special thank you to those who have passed it on to others. We are heading quickly to amazing page visits to this blog! Welcome to folks from all over the country and other countries as well, including Lisbon!!

The "Village", as it was called, is located in the northwest corner of the city of Taunton, Massachusetts U.S.A. It covers about 1 square mile with the center being School Street. A large portion of the Village population was Portuguese when I was growing up.

This blog covers a lot of the history of the Village, much to do with my years as a child there: 1940 through the late 1950's. I do have many wonderful photos and information prior to that that and will share those as well. Always looking for MORE PHOTOS AND MORE STORIES TO TELL.

If you would like to send photos or share a memory of growing up in the Village
e-mail me at
feel free to comment on the posts. Directions are on the right side of the blog posts. Jump in, the water is fine and it is easy!!!

I will be posting photographs but not identifying individuals unless I have permission or they are a matter of public record. It you wish to give me permission, please let me know.

I am looking for any and all photos of the Village...

Please note: the way blogs work is that the latest post is first. It you would like to start from the beginning of the blog, check out the post labels on the right of the blog and go from there. Thanks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ebola and Yesteryear: the Fight Against Disease and the Lessons we Once Knew.

Recently, my husband and I were comparing the fight against the diseases of the 50's with the current struggle against Ebola facing this country and, indeed, the world. It is he who remembered the post I had written last year about the U.S. fight to conquer Polio.   We were then reading the Wall St. Journal and the article The Last Epidemic.  (Oct-18-19, 2014).

                                                             That inspired this post.

 I am offering again an earlier post in my blog: A Tauntonian and the Fight Against Polio which I published last September.  It gives us a comparison between then and now.

We can all draw our own conclusions.  There is no question that once we were united in so many ways, and the lines were not drawn in the sand.  They could not be, the futures of our children
were at stake.

I highly recommend the article in the WSJ.   Let's put it this way. the first two sentences are "In the winter of 1947, an American tourist arrived in New York City on a bus from Mexico, feeling feverish and stiff.  He checked into a hotel and did some sightseeing before his condition worsened...He went to a local hospital....he died a few days later of smallpox." People immediately volunteered to be vaccinated. There was no panic, the article goes on.  The public had a high regard for the public health apparatus that had served them so well.

Americans lined up for smallpox vaccine in 1947

In the fight against Polio, Americans channeled their fears into a common purpose, as they did in 1947 with the Smallpox scare. Let's revisit my earlier post and once again find inspiration.

                                    A TAUNTONIAN AND THE FIGHT AGAINST POLIO
                                                    Published in this blog, Sept. 13, 2013

When I wrote the last post discussing the polio epidemic, I had no idea I would learn what the connection was between Taunton and the successful battle to fight that disease.  This is when this blog is at its best, when someone comes forward with information that just bursts at the seams to complete what has been started here.

This post was inspired by Arlene Gouveia who knew of the story of Tauntonian, Basil O'Connor and shared it with me to share with you.  It received research help from Aaron Cushman from The Reference Department at the Taunton Public Library. It is a real collaborative effort.   This information came to me from Arlene after the first post on Village Healthy was posted.  It is fascinating Taunton history ..who knew?  Not me!

Who knew that a product of the Taunton School System way back in the early 1900's was a man who was pivotal in winning the war against polio?  His name:  Basil O'Connor.

                                                          oil portrait of Basil O'Connor
                                                         archival: Taunton Public Library

Born in Taunton in January, 1892 to parents Daniel Basil and Elizabeth Ann (O'Gorham) O'Connor who lived on Highland St. in Taunton,  Basil's himself said that " he was a generation away from servitude."  As a youngster, he was a Taunton Gazette newsboy and later an odd job painter who also worked weekends at the Colby Clothing Store in downtown Taunton where he earned $6.25 a week.

The story of this boy born and raised in Taunton and educated in Taunton Schools (he was a 1908 graduate of Taunton High School, business manager of the Taunton High Journal) is a true example of the American Dream.  By the time he passed away at age 80 he had been decorated by 19 foreign governments,  He earned numerous honorary law degrees and high awards.  When asked by someone why he did not go into politics, he replied:"Polio makes no political distinctions nor do flood fire and famine.  Why should I? " (newspaper report: 1954).  He was a sponsor and member of the General Assembly of World Brotherhood and in 1959 became a member of the United States Committee for the United Nations. He served as Chairman of the American Red Cross and chairman of the Board of trustees at the Tuskagee Institute.

To get back to our story.  Basil O'Connor went to Dartmouth College and Harvard after Taunton High and became a lawyer going to practice in New York City.  There he met another young lawyer : Franklin Delanor Roosevelt.  Do you see where this is going?  After FDR contracted polio, he made his friend Basil, second in command of the Georgia Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center where FDR rehabilitated and then put him in charge of the biggest medical fund raising in the country's history:  The March of Dimes. An interesting side note is that there is a possibility FDR had Guillian-Barre Syndrome vs Polio. G.B. is a viral complication which can have serious complications. Who knows,  it still served to mobilize a nation led by FDR and our Tauntonian,  Basil O'Connor.

The March of Dimes was the largest fundraiser for a disease in U.S. history at that time.  Radio messages urged people to send their dime to the White House to fight polio. Then the mothers of America each evening canvased neighborhoods across the nation, fighting for their children and the war against Polio. The March of Times revolutionized fundraising in America: raising $1,800, 000 the first campaign.  In 1954, they collected $66.9 million more.

                                                     Basil and FDR in 1844 (Wikopedia)
                                                     Notice the pile of dimes on the desk.

The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis  went on with Basil O'Connor as chair.
As time went on Mr. O'Connor was pivotal in noticing Dr. Jonas Salk and invited
him to work with the foundation. The rest is history. 

 In spite of the serious setback of a bad batch of the vaccine in California resulting in some deaths, Basil and his scientists continued on to succeed in vaccinating the children
of this great nation and eventually eradicating Polio here.

                                                 Basil O'Connor still at work with  JFK
                                                     Archival: Taunton Public Library
Basil O'Connor had a sister, Mary, who taught in the Taunton School system for 52 years keeping the family roots in Taunton at 159 Highland St. firmly planted. meeting  Basil O'Connor died on in March 1972, at the age of 80 while getting ready for a meeting of the Foundation's
Scientific Committee meeting the next day.

           With the help of You Tube here is an interview by Basil O'Connor himself.
              Step back in history, this was obviously recorded early in the Polio campaign for a cure.
I unfortunately do not have a date, but would hazard early 1950's.


Postscript:  the article quoted earlier in the post in the Wall St Journal ends on this note:

  "What seems most apparent at this early point is the yawning chasm between public health officials and the public at large....   Next week marks the 100th birthday of Jonas Salk.   Shortly after his vaccine was declared successful, he gave a nationally televised interview with Edward R. Morrow.  'Who owns the patent on this vaccine,' Morrow asked, 'Well, the people I would say,'Salk replied.  'There is no patent.  Could you patent the sun?'

"For Dr. Salk, the whole endeavor was a gift from science to humanity, nurtured by the goodness of the American people.  We must find ways to keep that spirit alive - winning back for modern medicine and public health the full confidence of the world most generous nation."

              For me, this gives the term, "Ah, the good old days" a whole new meaning.    


                                                         The Last Epidemic:

                                 The Smallpox Scare of 1947. Photo from that site.

                                                  My Post from September 13, 2013

Sunday, September 28, 2014


 The last few articles needed much research.  I decided that now something in a lighter vein was in order.  In truth, I have long had this post in the back of my blogging mind.  The reason being that  a vivid memory was shining out among my childhood recollections.  Just a  tiny little memory yet  clear and sharp and somehow comforting.  You know how those memories can be?

Here is how it goes.  A few of us young Fuller School classmates are outside in the schoolyard at recess.  Specifically, we are on the right side of the dirt playground not far from the side and front picket fences.  Huddling together under one of those precious elms that hugged the side fence,
we each have a cloth bag of marbles.
We are on our knees.  It's good that packed dirt is beneath us, 
much kinder to little girl's knees since we wore dresses or skirts. Our knees were 
always at risk and often tattooed with scars and healing scrapes. 
 Anyway, you could not play marbles on concrete.


There are three or four of us around the " bunny" hole we have dug out of the ground, thumbs and fingers ready to launch our chosen marble. Little girls with pigtails or curls hanging over our shoulders, we are in intense concentration.  Elbows ensconced in the dirt...liftoff!!

Pinterest: piccsy, com

I vaguely remember the marble terminology for each kind of marble
such as the cats eye, the aggie, the tiger, and swirly...
 Wikopedia tells us that there are many more names, and many rules.   I do not recall those.
I just remember the feel of the marbles in my fingers and my hand.
The beauty of each one. The joy when I was able to gain another in a game.

Today try to find old marbles.  There are collectors out there.  Real old marbles are expensive,
but hold so much memory of peace, of gentle gaming and the fact that no one
seemed to get ticked off after a game of marbles....  No one left mid-game in a huff.


Just a simple little game.  You were quiet, there were no spectators or reporters.  You did not need anything electronic.  Your little drawstring bag of marbles fit nicely into a pocket.

 The game of marbles- gender and class neutral.  Non-violent.  I never saw a fight over marbles. Rich or poor could play equally.  It was race neutral.  The game could be slow or it could be fast.  Ah, the days of innocence. Marbles did involve strategy and concentration.  It involved friendly interaction, there was anticipation and time for laughter.

Then there was the sheer feel of the marble itself.  No corners.  Marbles were marvelous with  their cool roundness snuggling into your hand. This post reminded me that when I did tai chi we had a session on "meridian balls" (sometimes called boading balls).  These go all the way back to the Ming Dynasty starting in the 1300's.  Small marble-like spheres (or larger if indicated) were rolled in the hand and fingers.  The practice is still used today.  They exercise not just the fingers and hand, but the forearms and shoulders, too .  The very simple exercises invigorate and increase blood circulation, unblock energy areas, keep the brain in good health,  reinvigorates memory, relieves fatigue, drowns your worries and may prolong your life.

                                                   Not bad for a sweet little sphere!

This 1937 Life magazine cover demonstrates the concentration
of playing marbles.  This boy obviously is not worrying about other things.



More Marble factoids

Marbles have a history all of their own as we read above.  Time magazine (quoted in Wikopedia) goes way back to the 1500's. The were found  in early Egyptian and Roman excavations.

Marbles as we know them were first manufactured in Germany in the early 1800's.
Ceramic marbles were first mass produced in the 1870's.  In Germany someone invented glass scissors and glass marbles were sold everywhere. Recently, a marble set owned by Anne Frank has been discovered, giving the history of marbles a poignant aspect.

Today there are only two companies who manufacture marbles in the U.S., one in Ohio and another in W. Virginia.

Below a game of marbles at a South Carolina cotton mill in 1903.

A thought about marbles:

Sometimes I think this present world has lost its marbles.
 It needs a quiet time to crouch down in the dirt and
pay attention to listening to the wonders and goodness around it.
It needs to gaze into
the swirling depths of a marble. It needs  to concentrate on strategy and trajectory
with another human being, both of you crouched down into the same size, neither of you
thinking of differences but of commonality.

Then we might all find our marbles...



More about oriental healing balls...

Note: I have been derelict in not attributing Pinterest photos.
They are now being attached as they should have been.
If you are into nostalgia and history and have not found Pinterest online,
you havea wonderful surprise coming...  The attached sites
are websites from which the Pinterestphotos originally derived.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Did you know about the The Coimbra Club?

A common goal of  the Portuguese who settled in Taunton and throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, was to keep their heritage alive. In the last post we that celebrating Festa was one way to do that.  
Today we see a resurgence of the Festa and indeed a revival.

Back in the late 50's, and even before, there was another  example  of maintaining and increasing Portuguese cultural identity.  For a certain group of Portuguese Americans the Coimbra Club of Massachusetts and Rhode Island did just that.  I acknowledge the great help of Carolyn de Sousa who was treasurer of Coimbra from 1971-1973. Carolyn supplied me
 with personal anecdotes as well as written history of the organization.

The Coimbra Club was named for Coimbra University in Portugal.   Coimbra University in Lisbon  has an illustrious history.  Considered a cultural icon, it was founded in 1290,  now the oldest continuously operating university in the world.  Interestingly, Coimbra is a public University.

The founding members of the Coimbra Club in Southeastern New England, among whom many Tauntonians were numbered,  decided that their organization would be educational in nature. It would study the Portuguese culture in depth which would define their membership criteria . They would delve into historical ancient Portuguese philosophy, writings and art.

The eliteness of the Club in no way diminished the wisdom and gracefulness of others of Portuguese descent in the area.  Although they required two years of formal post-high school education for membership,  their Board was authorized to use equivalency discretion.  One had to be of Portuguese heritage for membership, of course and had to be sponsored by two members.  
Membership was voted on by the Board. 

Like the round table dinners hosted by Father Louro at St Anthony's in the early to mid 1900's members of the Coimbra Club met to forge relationships among those with similar backgrounds.
 ( See The Art of Gracious Living, May 8, 2014  post on the Blog for more on Father Louro's dinners).


The Coimbra Club was an extension of the Portuguese classes at Ivy League Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.  Specifically, it was an outgrowth of the University Extension Division taught by Belmira E. Tavares.  Several times a year the class would get together for dinner. Finally, at Sunderland's in Tiverton in 1957, they decided to formalize their gatherings. The name Coimbra was chosen since many members, including Ms. Tavares, attended  Coimbra.  The first President of the Coimbra Club, Dr. Correia-Branco, had graduated from there.

Belmira E. Tavares was from Fall River, MA.  She was first a school teacher, then a school principal and  created her classes at Brown University.  She was the author of Portuguese Pioneers in the U.S. published in 1974.  It is still being used today for historians and genealogists.  The book focused on 7 parishes in the Fall River area and their families.

                               The original organizers of the Coimbra Club were:

Atty. Aristides Andrade : I knew Attorney (Aris) Andrade, he was a neighbor of ours on School St.  
         He passed away too young at the age of 54 years in 1964. Married to the indomitable Emma    Andrade, he  was the City Solicitor at the time. 
        Atty. Andrade is pictured here at a Fuller School function with Principal Sophia Dupont, 
another member of the Coimbra Club.  This puts a Village touch to the Club.

Other organizers: Dr. Rose Borges, Miss Mildred Braga, Dr. Joseph C. Carvalho, Miss Alice Clemente, Dr. Raymond R. Costa, Miss May Escobar, Mr. and Mrs. Williston Hobert, Mr. John Lima, Mr. and Mrs. Fernandes Lopes, Miss Pauling Luis, Miss Estelle Machado, Miss Laura Nobrega, Miss Mary Oliveira, Mr. Louis Rocha, Miss Cecilia M. Rose, Mr. William R. Silva, Mrs. Helen Sylvia, Dr. Othilia Veira, Dr. and Mrs. Gilbert Vincent, Miss Mary Viveiros and Joseph Fernandes.

The last name in this roster, Joseph Fernandes, deserves special attention.  Born in Madeira, he lived many years in Norton, MA and is one of the luminaries of the Taunton/Norton area who highlighted the achievements of Portuguese Americans. Joseph Fernandes was a name I often heard growing up. We were so proud of this outstanding man.

Mr. Joseph Fernandes graduated from Boston University in 1947, later earning an Honorary Doctorate from Stonehill College in N. Easton, MA. He distinguished himself as a Navy Lieutenant in World War II and was awarded the ETO-Battle Stars Presidential Unit Citation.  He exemplified the quintessential Portuguese American immigrant whose talents flourished in the U.S.  

          Active in his successful business, he was at the same time deeply involved in the Portuguese American experience.  Proud of his heritage, he :
         * was President of the Portuguese Times and the Portuguese Cable Channels
which served 65 communities ,
        *received the Peter Francisco Award  in 1966 (do you know who Peter was?  
Find out in an upcoming post). \
                         *received the Order of Prince Henry Society's Man of the Year in 1995,

Joseph Fernandes  1923- 2007

Active on the International level he was appointed by President John F. Kennedy as Special Consultant for the State Department's Alliance for Progress at Puente Del Este, Uruguay.
Joseph Fernandes was awarded the Bicentennial Salute to Leadership Award by Secretary of the Treasury William Simon in 1976, The Leadership Award by President Ford and the Prime Minister's Award Medal from the State of Israel.

He was one of the original founders of the Coimbra Club, founded the Portuguese American Foundation, was chair of the Portuguese Cultural Foundation, chaired the Portuguese Cultural Foundation, was honorary President of the Portuguese Cultural Union, and President of the Association for Development of the Catholic University of Portugal.

Scholar, entrepreneur, statesmen, Portuguese American and gentleman extraordinaire. A 
wonderful example of the membership of the extraordinary Coimbra Club.

Another distinguished member of the Club was Ret. Lt. Col. Rudolph (Rudy) de Silva, once Mayor of Taunton and a former POW in the Korean War.  Rudy spent 23 years in the Army and his service also included the Vietnam War.  He was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor,
 the Army Commendation Metal and the Purple Heart. 

There are many other distinguished members of the Coimbra Club. I just am not aware of them...will you share if you do? The Village was well represented.  We have mentioned  Atty. Andrade and Sophia Dupont.  Also, friend and  Fuller School classmate high school teacher, 
Cecilia Mendes Rodier must be included in the list.

Coimbra Club Insignia

The Club met four times a year, members often attending with their spouses (who did not have to be of Portuguese descent).   They met at venues all over Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  They sometimes met at the Fernandes Compound in Norton, MA .Their programs included Fado artists from Portugal, for example.

School teachers and principals as well as a superintendent, lawyers, business men and more gathered to augment their Portuguese heritage. Don't you wish  that you could peek back in the past at gatherings such as this and listen and learn and be astonished? Researching this topic, as well as so many others, I am struck once more of the impact Portuguese Americans had on so many fronts.
Not only from the Village where I grew up, but as part of the Greater Taunton experience. A small Village, a small City, a plethora of strong people nourished by their cultures, excellent teachers and school system, and by their faiths.

As its members aged, the Coimbra Club membership diminished 
and finally the organization disbanded. 


  A Note 

Writing this blog is such an honor for me.  Uncovering the accomplishments of those I write about, which are so often hidden. Writing about those who went beyond their known horizons to reach distant goals is a joy.
Gratitude is due to those who have fed this blog, growing it with their willingness to share our heritage.  Contributors such as Carolyn de Sousa with this blog post and others.  Of course, our incredible Village and Taunton historian Arlene Rose Gouveia takes prime place.
  What would I do without you?

Monday, September 1, 2014


We took a little mountain trip to clear my mind and soul and let my memories run free. I am back to work sharing those memories and thoughts.

Good and safe Labor Day to all here in the U.S.A.  This uniquely American holiday is a fitting occasion to write about Portuguese Americans.  Portuguese immigrants were and are a hardy lot.  They settled in to a new country and commenced to make their mark with an incredible work ethic.

They worked hard and they commemorated and passed on their traditions just as hard.  The centerpiece of those traditions was the Festa.  Still going strong, though sometimes different, still hard work. Consider the following quote.

                In an article by Stephen Cabral, Ph.D  for the Madeira Feast Booklet we read:

                        " Madeiran folkloric music provided the beat and inspiration behind
                   the Ramboia a Pe De New Bedford ao (walk from New Bedford to Loreto) 
              Loreto in Norton, MA. Twenty-eight Madeirans undertook the 31 miles pilgrimage 
                   to the Feast of Our Lady of Loreto during the Labor Day weekend of 1948.  
                            This group decided to resurrect an old Madeiran Feast custom. 
                    Extended families and friends often walked and sank along the routes to festas 
                     at neighboring villages on the Island.  Thirty mile hikes along mountain trails 
                          and narrow unpaved roads were not unusual.  Only eight of the original 
                                Madeiran-Americans completed the walk to Loreta."

I grew up on festas and am delighted that they have not only rebounded but that these cultural iconic events have proliferated. Although Portuguese immigrants were/are ethnically and culturally diverse, one shared tradition is the festa- part religious ceremony, part carnival. and all fun.  Festas: a way of passing on traditions from one generation to the next.  Southeastern New England still is a central point for many festas each year.

August of this year is the 100th anniversary of the New Bedford Feast of the Holy Ghost (or Festas das Madeiras), the largest festa in the world!  
Festas were a fact of life for us in the Village. Those days there were many and they were smaller, more intimate. The sound of Portuguese music being played by a band (or a contest of bands), the twinkling strings of lights crisscrossing overhead, the delicious smell of homemade fava beans and sizzling carne  d' espeto ( meat on a stick cooked over a fire of lava rocks). Linguica sandwiches with Portuguese bread soft and fresh. Malasadas , delicious fried bread.   Children running around the legs of adults who were trying to chat and catch up.  Laughter and greetings.  Those were the sounds of the festas when I was growing up. The ones I  knew were (and still are) at St. Anthony's, in E. Taunton, in Norton.  Today there are many more as we will see later in this post with the granddaddy of them all in New Bedford..

There was/is a  Festa at the Ward Five Club on Winter St. at the edge of the Village with  an open air Mass and traditional entertainment and food.  For many years there was another at the P.A.C.C. (The Portuguese American Civic on School Street ) often the site of festas in its heyday from the 20's on into the late 50's until the Village changed, diluted as it were,.  Still my memories churn up the plumes of scented smoke from the Espetatha pits and the sounds of families 
and friends greeting each other.

 The Madeira Festa de Nossa Senhora do Loretto (Feast of Our Lady of Loreto) took place each summer in the woods of Norton.   Groups of Madeirans would gather with their concertinas in corners of the festa and start singing and dancing.  There is now an elementary school where that festival took place for so many years.

Although they were and are a social cultural affair, the root of the festa is religious. There were often processions earlier in the day.  I am not sure if First Communion wrapped around them, but these two photos were too good to pass up, especially for me.  Here at St. Anthony's two angels ( old time processions always had children dressed as angels!), my sister Kathy Souza front right and next to her my cousin Helena Souza .  My brother Frank is the fourth little boy in the communion group behind Helena.  I am sure some of you will recognize others.

 Traditional angels in Madeira

Below  are our angels without their wings having breakfast...Frank on the left in front across from Kathy and Helena in back of Frank.  I am hoping you can name all the adults.


Every Village in Portugual, Madeira and the Azores had their own Festas. The biggest were in honor of the Holy Ghost (Catholics have not heard that term in years) and the Blessed Sacrament.
This religious practice and celebration of the Holy Ghost originated with Queen Saint Isabel, sixth Queen of Portugal and daughter of the King of Aragon, who was married to young monarch, Diniz .  There was once  a terrible famine in the land.  During Mass the Queen begged The Holy Ghost to send food promising to give her crown to the Church. Upon leaving the Church she saw an armada of ships bringing wheat and corn.  For the next 700 years the Portuguese have celebrated The Festa do Espirito Sancto to intercede in times of danger and in
n memory of their Queen's holiness.

Above a Holy Ghost Festa in the Azores in the 1890's.  The 'Emperor' with the crown was called
the Imperiador ,  he oversaw the Festa.  Women hung their best handmade linens from their windows as they watched the procession.

Below a wonderful photo from the 1890's of The Folioes, traditional costumes
on Sao Miquel, the musicians who led the Holy Ghost Festival.

During that above mentioned famine, Queen Isabel sold all she had except the crown that symbolized the monarchy.  Those of us who grew up going to a Portuguese Catholic Church remember the little side altar where the silver crown and sceptre were displayed.  The crown consists of three individual pieces: the scepter is accented by a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, 
the crown itself and the base plate representing the people.

Madeirans had their own Festas.  They have maintained a fervent devotion to the Blessed Sacrment such the 15th Century when the Knights of the Holy Order of Christ established the earliest feasts.
Local parishes throughout Madeira still celebrate the feast on different Sundays 
from Easter through January.

For our ancestors the Festa meant many things.  In the days before media communication and easy transportation it provided a meeting place to reinforce their worship, their beliefs. A place to meet a prospective mate while under proper chaperones.  A place to talk politics. For children it was a place to run around safely while they absorbed their culture.

For immigrants coming to a new country, the Festa was a place to remember home, to keep alive their beliefs through worship, a place to teach the young their traditions, a place to renew their bonds with each other.  And over the  centuries as new immigrants came here, 
these traditions kept going and growing.

The facades of buildings in the USA "villages" were decorated as in the Old Country for Festa.  Statues of saints were adorned with garlands and jewelry.  Streets were lined with banners, twinkling colored lights were laced overhead.  Bayberry arches lined neighborhood streets.  I remember our priest holding the Ciborium containing the Host in his caped hands as he processed beneath a canopy held by four men who were honored with their responsibility.

What a great photo below taken in 1889 at Monte Pio Hall on Acushnet Avenue in New Bedford.  President McKinley granted the Society's request for permission to fly the Portuguese flag without accompaniment by the American flag.

The Blessed Sacrament was displayed on the Altar for adoration and fervent 
volunteers kept constant attendance.

                                    Who does not remember their Avo ( grandmother ) keeping watch in the Church, her head modestly covered with a kerchief.  The Avos I remember were all in black, 
a constant reminder of their widowhood. Taken at Mt. Carmel Church , New Bedford,1979.

New England was not the only place in the U.S. where Portuguese
immigrants settled and Festa became a center point.
Below children form a procession for a Holy Ghost Festa in 1914
in Riverside California.

In recent history: a very large Festa takes place in the Sacramento/Oakland area in California.
You can see the women who have been chosen to portray Queen Isobel, and her court.
This is a long procession and many Churches take part, each one with their band, their participants and their Queen.  My sister Kathy and her late husband Leo, attended this in 2007
and captured these photos.

Festa, always at heart a family and neighborhood feast.

Below, a photo taken in the 1920's of a Festa procession
originating at St. John the Baptist Church on County St. in New Bedford,
 heading south on Bonny St.

At  Santo Christo Church on Columbia St., Fall River, a processon in 1992

The Festa began with a novena and evening recital of the Rosary. It opened with Vespers on Friday, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and on Sunday a High Mass and procession.  Waves of incense wafted over all, and the odor of it still lingers in my memory.  Often the priest would disappear in its clouds, especially if there was an over enthusiastic altar boy.

The two oldest Festas in the United States are : The Festa Do Divino Espirito Santo in San Diego. It is the oldest ethnic feast in the U.S. having started in 1884 by the first Portuguese settlers there.  It was formally organized in 1910.

 Secondly, the Festa of the Blessed Sacrament in New Beford, MA is the next  oldest Festa started in 1914 by a group of four Madeira immigrants in thanksgiving for a safe voyage to America.  It is now the largest in the WORLD and it is they who have just celebrated their 100th anniversary.  This is a video of last year's festa.   The Festa attracts over 100,000 people each year over 
 its four days from the U.S., Canada and Portugal.  It is quite an event 
and far from the lovely little ones I remember as a child.

 Another hallmark of festas is that somewhere within it there is free food, a symbol of the generosity of Queen Saint Isobel.  Usually that food is sopas a kind of soup made with beef and milk. Depending on the origin of the Festa ( which Island, etc.) sometimes
linguica or pork might be added.

There are Festas throughout the world, even in Quebec and Montreal, Canada. There is a Boston Portuguese Festival probably qualifying as a Festa and a 
significant one in Woburn, MA.  All summer they are laced throughout the calendar.

Wherever Portuguese immigrants settled in the U.S. especially on both coasts and Hawai, there is Festa.  The late Senator Daniel Inouye and others wrote about the fact tha timmigrant Portuguese came to work the sugar cane fields there from the 1880's establishing their 
settlements and bringing  their traditions.

Portuguese dancers performing the bailinho, the national song 
and dance of Madeira, during a parade on Madeira Avenue 
in New Bedford in 1980.

Photo below: Groupo Folclorico do Santissimo Sancramento, (also pictured above)
The Madeiran Folkloric dancers, 1995
                                                               New Bedford, Festa

The New Bedford Festa is the only place in the world permitted to get Madeiran wine by the cask. It requires approval by the Madeira government.  A favorite spot at that Festa, says Carolyn, is the Madeiran Museum Cafe a block from the festival grounds where there is Fado singing and folkloric dancing.  If you have not experienced an authentic Fado performance, you are in for a treat,  Fado is a type of singing in a category all its own, full of nostalgia and beauty.  You can sip Madeira port as you enjoy the performances.

A historic note: If you have never tasted Madeiran Port, do not wait.  Join those in history who were very fond of it:  George Washington ( a shipment to him from Madeira in 1789 was the first recorded shipment of Madeira to America), Benjamin Franklin ( he made a point of always having it with him), John Adams  (once said, ' a few glasses of Madeira makes everyone feel they can be president), Thomas Jefferson 's favorite was Malmsley which was stocked in pride of place in his wine cellar at Monticello ) and most likely a favorite of Winston Churchill who spend much time in Madeira, a favorite resting place for him.

Another large Massachusetts Festa takes place in Fall River's Kennedy Park at the end of August.
This is the Festa of Espirito Santo,  also known as the Azorean Feast.  Any one living in South Eastern New England knows there is a large Portuguese population in that city now.  This Festa once attracted busloads of Portuguese-Canadians, folks flying in from Bermuda, Idaho, the Azores and California.
Among them were folkloric dancers and traditional musicians. Thousands would attend. There are not so many now, all of the Festas bemoan needing volunteers to keep them going. There is still a procession from and back to  St. Anne's Church and lasting 2-3 hours.  A hallmark of the Kennedy Park Festa is a giant crown over 8 feet high making its statement in the northern section of Kennedy Park. Not far from the Park is the Columbia St. section or cultural district boasting of several excellent Portuguese ethnic restaurants.

Columbia Street runs a quarter of a mile up and down a hill.  It is alive with people and cars.  The centerpiece of what is called the Cultural District is the majestic Santo Christo Catholic Church built in 1925, the first Portuguese Church in Fall River.

In Fairhaven, MA there is the Feast of our Lady of Angels occurring Labor Day weekend (if you are nearby you can catch this one...).

There are Festas everywhere that there are Portuguese populations.
 They are laced throughout the summer calendar.

The music, the food, it will all awaken the memories of a Portuguese American who grew up with this summertime tradition.  It surely did mine. I am far from New England where there
are no Festas .


Thanks to Kathleen Campanirio and Carolyn de Sousa for
filling out memories with their photographs and  printed materials
This article would not have been written without them.

Portuguese Spinner: An American Story, ed. McCabe and Thomas. If you are interested in the Portuguese history in Madeira and the Azores with the experience of Portuguese-Americans this is the book for you.  Many of the photographs in this article are from the Spinner Collection.
I found mybook at Partners store in Westport, MA. years ago.  Article regarding Festa in 1914 in Riverside, California.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Recently, on the I'm From Taunton Facebook page, Charles Crowley posted this photograph
of strollers on the Taunton Green circa 1889. He kindly agreed to share it with us.

It really struck me.  The calm, dignified people out for a Sunday stroll. Strolling, mind you, not rushing, not glued to an iPad or cell phone.  Interacting with friends, or making new ones.
Sharing with family.  The advantage of looking way back in the history of Taunton is to try to latch on to old/new ways of living, ways that have been lost. Note that there were many trees on the Green once upon a time, probably those wonderful elms that were devastated and lost. The City proper was noted for its beautiful shade trees. The Green had been common ground since 1774.

                  Believe it or not, here is a video of the time, just to bring it home a little more.

In 1889, Tauntonians were probably still recovering from the Civil War which had ended in 1865. Amazingly, today 2014 there is one Civil War pensioner still receiving benefits for her father's service.  She is 84 years old.  But back in 1889, it was still fresh. You can see that there are few statues in the photograph, those were still in planning stages.

 My grandfathers and grandmothers were not yet in Taunton, the first arriving in the early 1900's. Our Church, St. Anthony's, would not come along until 1906. For sure, those Portuguese immigrants already here had found their own spaces in which to worship and began saving for their own Church.

It is hard to believe what a successful era the late 1880's and early 1890's were for Taunton. Yet, when we read of the luminaries that flourished then...well, it really sinks in.  When I was growing up in Taunton and walked by so many beautiful and grand houses or downtown when it was still flourishing, I always felt that hint that Taunton once had been so much more.  This photo intrigued me enough to absorb myself into my city's history and learn about that era. It was a fascinating trip even though I only accessed the tip of the iceberg.

Greatness, full employment, healing from the Civil War wounds, gracious living.  It is no wonder that our grandparents were lured here from their home countries.  When I was a child in the 40's and 50's, Reed and Barton was still operating, though not as in the 1880's.  Back then there were churches everywhere, it was still a time of faith-centeredness, the reverse of what it is today in this country.  I knew only one classmate whose parents were divorced.  Radio and T.V.  consisted of wholesome, family entertainment in the 50's and 60's..

Going way back into the 1880 era we see the roots of what Taunton is today and the traces of it that were what I was feeling in my childhood.

Much of what I am quoting below is from this website
  Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer 1890. 
The article is  well worth a full read. The photos I found elsewhere on the net.

"In 1885 there were 182 farms in the area.  In the 1890's there were seven cotton mills in the city which employed 2,000 persons, foundries, machine-shops and boiler works employed 1,000, stove works employed 300, zinc, brass and copper works and jewelry factories, upwards of 300, 600 in brittania and silver plated factories, 500 in tack, nail and bolt, cutlery around 50, and brick, tile and stove linings from 200 to 300.  Railroad coaches, earthenware, rattan and willow and other furniture, yarn, boots and shoes, horse trappings, pencils and crucibles and on and on. The total number of establishments in 1885 were 301.

                                            Jewelry Shop in downtown Taunton circa 1885

Field, Track and Nail Works (established in 1827) was the largest in the country. Mason Works occupies 6 acres and made cotton and woolen machinery, car wheels, engines and locomotives.  Here is one made for the Union Pacific in 1860 in Taunton. Do not know which company made it (that is for another future blog).  But, could have been Taunton Locomotive Mfg. Company.

Of course, there was  Reed and Barton's Brittania Works (the oldest and largest on the Continent), and the Taunton Paper Mfg. Co.

Here is a photo of a sterling silver scent box created by Reed and Barton in 1890.
Note the engraved letter A surrounded by a heart.

There were fisheries of alewives, herring and shad.  The commercial marine embraced 
36 schooners and one steamboat.

The population in 1885 was 23, 674, of whom 5, 232 were legal voters. 
There were four newspapers: The Daily Gazette, the weekly Household Gazette, the Bristol County Republican and the Taunton Courier. The city proper was noted for its beautiful shade trees abounding on all streets."

                                                       (photos from Pinterest and Internet)

"Mass media" consisted of newspapers back then.  Here is the type of item that interested folks, far from the bottom-feeding items we so often see today.  Far from the endless chatter on social media and talk shows never leaving our minds at peace.

That 1890 quote by the Taunton Courier story was carried in 34 New England papers and one in London, England.   Tame by our standards, wouldn't you say?

My city back in those days was beautiful   The echoes of that can be seen in the graceful historic homes in Taunton still standing, many of them on the Historic Registor of National Places.  Here are just a few of them with bits of their history. Many are lovingly cared for and grace our city streets.

Below is the J.C. Bartlett House built in 1889 at 12 Walnut ST.
Mr. Bartlett was a prosperous mining engineer.

The W.C.Beattie House built in 1882 at 229 W. Brittania St. 
He was a designer at Reed and Barton.

           Below: The Henry Morse House, 32 Cedar ST. 
 Henry Morse acquired his father's estate.

Finally,  here is the McInistry House at 115 High St.  Built in 1779 by William McInistry, a minister. In 1763 it was the site of a grisly murder in which one of the family daughters was murdered by a servant.  It is now the parsonage for St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
 Who knew this history?
I never did. 

The times were busy in that era, even nationally.  Here are some events that those Tauntonians lived through in the year 1889/

*Benjamin Harrison was inaugurated as 23rd President.

*President  Harrison opened Oklahoma for colonization.

*Montana was admitted as the 41st state of the Union.

*Washington admitted as the 42nd.

*The Coca -Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Co.
is originally incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia.

Any one know when this sign was put up?

*The first National holiday was set for the centennial of Washington's Inaugeration.
We sure have come a long way since then on national holidays.  
If you wait a minute another comes along!

*The brassiere was invented....hmmm

*For the first time, George Easmen places Kodak camera on sale. 
This same year Thomas Edison showed his first motion picture.
Talkies would not come along for a good while.
In 1927 my maternal grandmother saw the first which starred Al Jolson. 
She also called called her radio a "talking box" (this from an interview she gave).

*Wall Street Journal began publishing,  all that time ago.

*Bayer aspirin was introduced in powder form in Germany 
changing headaches and fevers forever.

*The screw top was about changing the world!


*the first dishwasher was invented!   

Young men rowed their sweethearts on the Taunton River, probably by moonlight.
Have you looked at the I'm From Taunton Facebook page today?

It was not all roses, of course.  In his history of Taunton until 1893,  Samuel Emery Hopkins tells us that there was a smallpox hospital on the Raynham-Taunton line off the Boston turnpike. Such wonders and antibiotics were not yet on the scene.  Infant mortality would have been higher and the life span lower.  But, here we are looking at the quality of life as it was lived by so many.  There are always lessons to be learned from history....and keys to a 
gracious way of living is surely one of them.

                                                          Some of my sources.  
 Increasingly there are more Pinterest photos of Taunton, 
check them out or add your own. 

History of Taunton from Its Settlement to Present Time (that was 1893) 
by Samuel Emery Hopkins.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Wordsmiths, word artists, fabricators of the beauty of the written word touching our hearts.  That is what I believe to be the definition of a poet, cousin to writers and songsters.  One such came forth from our Village, after my time and too soon gone in his own time, but making
himself live on through his art.

I introduce you to the late, Jose "Joe Gouveia", poet laureate of Cape Cod
and a son of the School Street Village.

Joe Gouveia

Once again, threads of the Village wind themselves around our hearts, 
no matter how far we wander.  It is unusual to have so much current information on someone I write about. T his time, we can read Joe's poems and actually see and hear him on You Tube.

Initially, some time back, I received information about Joe from Arlene Gouveia, one was his obituary and the other a listing of famous people from Taunton in which he was included.  I filed it ,as I often I do, until the time is ripe to research it at greater length .  I also had received an e-mail from a reader,  Elizabeth Gouveia Miner.  She wrote to tell me of her father, Joe Gouveia Sr.,who owned and operated Joe's Superette located on the corner of Wilbur and Purchase Streets in the Village.  Before Joe Senior had owned it, it had been owned by his in-laws, the Jardin family. A daughter of that family, Caroline, was a close early childhood friend and classmate before she and her family moved to California.  We lost touch with each other... until the daughter of Joe Gouveia Sr. and  sister of our poet, Elizabeth  Gouveia, connected us all over again. 
 Elizabeth gifted us once more by introducing us to her late brother and his achievements
culminating in his last book, 

Too soon, Joe left us.  He passed on at the age of 49 years. He died of cancer.  But, not before he created his poems about his journey and that of the Portuguese American experience. He graced the Village, the family and people who shaped him, leaving an heirloom 
for each of us who shared that experience with him.

                                            I wager not many villages have their own poet.


Above photograph: Joe Gouveia Sr. and his family.
From left to right: Ann Gouveia Frias.  paternal grandmother Isabel Gouveia, Lori Gouveia Fyfe, Joe's mother Mary Gouveia standing next to her husband Joe Sr.  who is and holding their son and our late poet: Joseph Gouveia.

            I recognize the house and the grapevine right next to it.
            Shared by Elizabeth this was taken 8 years before her arrival.

               Fellow poet, Martin Espada , describes that home beautifully as Joe growing up as:
                      " ...the lone brother in a sweet sea of sisters, a cherished son..."

In a poem by Joe himself entitled Fala Portuguese.he speaks of bigotry overcome by toughness, communal feasting, the pilgrimage to the old country and the return to the Americas when. "they always came back plus one.'  I can identify with this description of growing up in the Village as the culture of being fully Portuguese seeded itself in our hearts.

Our future poet (yes, he is ours) would have run about the Village as he grew getting into the mischief Village boys did in those days, attended St. Anthony's Church and heard the humming lullaby of the Portuguese language all around him.  He would have taken in  the culture just as he absorbed the air all around him. It would have been engraved on his soul.
                                                He would have breathed in Saudade.

His greatest poetic achievement, the book Saudades, was his first fully published work, and he tasted that achievement before sickness overpowered him. Besides his work, he was a presence that made him his adopted Cape Cod's Poet Laureate. It was written that he imbued 
the Cape and beyond with poetry.

We of Portuguese descent know what Saudade is.  Difficult to translate fully into English, its meaning goes beyond nostalgia to more of a yearning, a longing for something you can never have again.   "JoeGo", as he was sometimes called, captured that yearning in Saudade for us and all those who are descendants of those intrepid folk who came to America with courage and dignity. He wrote of growing up in Taunton, and right there he is ours! I do not speak Portuguese, to my dismay, I also do not read it.  Therefore, I cannot read the great poets of the Portuguese language.  But, Joe tells us, that we who grew up in the Village, descendants of immigrants, indeed have our own language, even if it dwells deep in our beings.  I so regret never having met Joe Gouveia, poet and person of great distinction.  I am honored to be able to use his sister's words and those of his friends and colleagues to speak of him here. The more I read and researched the more I found to admire and cherish.

Joe did not want to go to college, but his mother, the daughter of immigrants, and his father, also an immigrant, insisted. At Bridgewater State University he was asked to write a poem in one of his classes.  He did not want to, his professor insisted.  He wrote it in ten minutes in the men's room and the rest is the history we are reading about here.  He graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry and went on for further studies as he honed his own work.

His accomplishments are so many, no doubt I will forget some.  He wrote the "Meter Man" column for the Barnstable Patriot newspaper, he was Poet-In-Residence at Cape Cod Community College, Cape Cod. Poet Laureate Massachusetts Poet of the Year 2001 (awarded by Cambridge Poetry Awards no less), Poetry Curator at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, hosted a weekly radio show on WOMR called The Poet's Corner as well as Poet's Corner Open Mik for 18 years.  He started the Cape Cod Poet's Theatre. He was a guest on numerous Television shows, including PBS, KDVS-FM University of California Davies, Radio Soulspeak and more. His poetry was published in six countries and four continents. He edited  numerous anthologies and opened for readings for Robert Pinksy, one time Poet for the United States who often was heard on PBS, among other noted poets.

He took poetry to nursing homes and loved open miks (microphones), he mentored many aspiring poets and became beloved because of his generosity. He spoke of his poetry in the rough as "lumps of clay.  Maybe a half page from a journal or five pages, some from here and some from there, ..forming a poem; I take the best of it, reshape it."  These words in an article ,authored by Lee Roscoe, further said hat Joe had worked as a construction worker and "there is somehow a good deal of hand hewn-heft, hammered rhythmically into his words, spoken or on the page. Joe's poems "carried secrets and layer upon  layer of experience and language you cannot absorb in one reading."

Joe taught  bringing "Keep the Rage on the Page" to juvenile delinquents. He mentored and encouraged burgeoning poet after poet.  This is the true sign of a real artist, this confidence, this love of the art and all those who follow it.

Joe and Maya Angelou

There are You Tubes of Joe reading. You can find them easily as they have his name.  Joe shared his experience with cancer with courage and you can see and hear his poem about the last of his treatments in  Joe Gouveia: In Place Live  on You Tube. He married the love of his life, Josy,  from Brazil.  They married on the beach after he had been told he had two months to live.
Two years were their gift after he had been given that dire diagnosis.
Those years were filled with love and creativity.

I urge you to listen to this next video of an interview with Joe...listen to the whole interview!  Take the time and hear how he laces his Portuguese heritage throughout.  Privileged am I to write this and share him with others around the world, for this where this blog reaches.  Privileged in that I knew Joe's father and his mother.  H wrote what is my heritage, too.

 Godspeed to you, Joe, I deeply regret never having met you. Your brief spell here was too short.  But, what a legacy, what a footprint you have left!  For that we thank you and we will remember, for your poetry is living on in our hearts.

Joe's friend, and a poet himself said:
"If Walt Whitman were alive today to hear America singing, he'd hear the voice of Joe Gouveia."

I end this post with this
 excerpt from the poem
The Distraction in Saudades
 by Joe Gouveia.  

All this work in retirement.  All those dreams of afterlife.
If there is a secret to this life, let it be flowers and grass,
because when He said that the world would end
not by flood but by fire, it was because
on God's green earth growth is stronger
and colors brighter after the first burn.
Must be why there is so much war, all those firebombs,
and all that blood soacking the earth with the stud of creation.

Perhaps that is why some settle down - to find sanity
in an insane world.  Let us embrace our joys now,
impatient for an end that comes as slowly
as a single bare footstep amongst the wild fields.
Take my hand, let us rest here, looking to Heaven
for answers, and each other for distraction.

Joe Gouveia


There are many sources for this post and I thank them all
for introducing us to this incredible man.  I apologize for omitting a source,
please let me know if I did and I will rectify the fact.  There is so much written about
Joe Gouveia that I may have lost my way.

As always, Arlene Gouveia for starting me on this search.
Joe's younger sister Elizabeth Gouveia Miner for inspiring it and for the photographs.
Thank you for letting this post come about.  It is each of us, children on the
Village, that keep our history alive.

For the photo of Joe and Josy and the accompanying article.
,,,,,,,, :
a poem written by Martin Espada for his friend and fellow poet, Joe Gouveia.

Joe's website


Saudades, by Joe Gouveia (you can order your copy at Amazon
Do yourself a favor and read the reviews.