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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


In the past I have written of School Street Village gardens and how they held memory roots of forgotten days.  It must have been some sort of prescience because along came the experience for this post.

When we researched a place to stay this past June, the web photos of the garden at 49 Oliver St. in Bristol  attracted us.  When we arrived there it was even more than we had imagined! Soft immersion into the Portuguese culture of Bristol.  In the way of a Portuguese garden it held a lovely story that soon was uncovered.  This post is about that story.

Someone wrote me that it confused him that I was not writing about the School Street Village in Taunton.  Ah, but this is a sister Village still vibrant in its Portuguese culture and heritage - it charmed and delighted this old Portuguese soul.  It will do that for you, too.  It enlarges our heritage as every new story does.

When I was growing up in my own Village, there were elderly grandfather gentleman tending the back gardens of School Street. I never knew my grandfathers, so these gentle people struck my imagination and carved out a niche there.

The Portuguese immigrants who came to America carried the planting gene in their DNA. They added new information and plantings and succeeded in accomplishing lush and fertile gardens where they grew most of their own food.  The title of Master Gardener was not invented then, but I believe those gardeners, and their progeny were and are way ahead of that title.

 In their bib overalls and soft crunched hats they tended their crops of corn, cabbage, kale and more . There was such a Grandfather Gardener right next door to us at my childhood home in the Village in Taunton in the early 1950's : Mr Costa.  Quietly with gnarled hands the earth is tilled into the soil and the soil returns the favor worked by touch and remembrance.  Portuguese gardens have pride of place, they always did. They anchor the home, softens its trials and sorrows. The garden has seen it all.  He tended the green acreage that was for him a reminder of the Portuguese home he had left behind, the Mother Garden as it were.  He also had a flock of chickens.  Their little shed nestled up to our grapevine and the chain link fence between our house and his.

   The photo above is of the back of 184 School Street before we moved there in 1952.  My cousin Beverly and my Aunt Alveda refresh themselves on a sunny day probably in the late 40's . Directly in back of the fence is their field of corn and other vegetables, the higher corn next door is the Costa planting area.  These parallel gardens of crops lined the back yards of many School Street Village homes. It felt good to see those same kind of back gardens
along the Portuguese Village area of Bristol.

The soft clucking of Mr. Costa's hens in their little house next door formed a musical theme to the backdrop of my childhood.  Remember the fences on either side of our house had gates in them and were the right height for neighbors to lean on and chat. We were linked: by heritage, by green gardens, and friendship.

This Bristol story now takes my heritage memory to a whole new level.  For at 49 Oliver St., I came upon something so close to those memories that it awakened all the others.

Introducing Luis Oliveira.   I almost need not say more, this painting of Mr. Oliveira speaks volumes.  In the painting, he is holding the corn stalks he grew to make brooms, still grown in his garden today.  He is the picture of a Portuguese Grandfather gardener.  The painting hangs in the kitchen of the apartment where he and his family once lived.  That is now a rental apartment but it is unchanged since the days he raised his family there.
 It is utterly charming. 

We came home with stalks like this, a perfect souvenir.

Mr. Oliveira was more than just a gardener, he was a beloved mentor. A native of the Azores, he brought with him the traditions and  knowledge he had grown up learning.  Mr. Oliveira became the father-in-law of Mr. Ed Castro and the garden became their classroom. Eventually, it passed to the Castro couple and it has been lovingly tended over the past 50 years with love for this mentor and for the heritage that the garden still is today.

                                            Mr. Oliveira and Mr. Castro in the Garden
                                                         taken some years ago.

 In time, with his knowledge and experience, Ed and his father-in-law opened the heritage garden, now a place of magic greenery, to groups of school children.  Hosting 60 first and second graders from where his wife was a teacher's aide he added to their own memories.  Each child was given a small kale plant to plant in the garden before they left, their own tiny heritage plant. Adult visitors would often take home one of Mr. Oliveira's small brooms. Those brooms, by the way, apparently lasted years and years.

At that time, at the age of 87, Luis Oliveira still  went out back to his garden at 5:30 each morning until the day became too warm. He returned in the cool of the evening. He had done all the work in the vineyards in his home in the Azores. His favorite shady spot in Bristol was his grapevine arbor.  Today, long after he passed away, his son-in-law keeps up the garden with the help of another grandfatherly gentleman who tends the kale, fava beans and more while dreaming his own bygone dreams of home.  I found him there one morning and he softly bid me good morning, his accent music to my ears.

                                                           The garden at 49 Oliver St.

It was to this apartment and garden that my husband and I came while on a trip to New England,  We stayed for 10 days.  Each day was a gift, a blessing.  The garden was a place where we could sit in the shade, serenaded by the many birds who found shelter and food there, be entertained by the small cat whose garden was his home away from home and listen to the music of the koi fountain.  What is a Portuguese garden without a cat? We could listen to pots and pans being readied for the evening meal and the song of children playing in a nearby playground.

I often sketched there, photographed the flowers, the Azores vegetables and of course, the cat.  There, too, I photographed our family and friends when they visited. The garden gifted us each day with new memories layered on to the new...memories of another Village, not too far away but for the years.

Now for a treat: Rhode Island Public Radio did a web slideshow of the garden which includes a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Castro and photos of the garden,  It was posted Oct. 12, 2013 by Emma Roddick who probably took the wonderful photos. Some of the photos are in this post. You can see more photographs and play the audio to get a full appreciation for this very special place.


The best trips are those that keep dancing in your memory.  Such memories come with feelings of rest, of beauty, of family and friends and in this case, memories of faith. Who would think.. one rents a space and finds a treasure. Many, many thanks to the Castro family, for their friendship and their sharing. We will return!

                                                    Sources for this Post                

- Memories shared by Mr. and Mrs. Castro
-Above cited Slideshow from Rhode Island Public Radio archives.

-Providence Journal, June 22, 1997 "One Square Mile: The Portuguese Gardens of Bristol"

-Bristol Phoenix, Aug. 18, 2005  Home Section: "Mentoring Grows New Gardeners"

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Earlier this summer we spent ten days in lovely, historic Bristol, Rhode Island.  Bristol is located about a 30 minute drive from the School Street Village in Taunton.

 We are partial to historic towns, as you can imagine, as well as to those close to the sea. This small town fit the bill and has long been a favorite of ours.  By a stroke of great good luck we found a perfect apartment in a three story home a block up from the bucolic downtown and two from the water.  That was a blessing, but our stay there contained even more blessings. We found ourselves in another  Portuguese American Village and with new good friends.  This post and perhaps the next two will share that experience so brimming with history and family nostalgia.

It is a grand feeling to come upon another Portuguese Village, and even better to find it flourishing. To be part of it for just awhile and immersed in the welcoming Parish at its heart is a gift.  That grand feeling is still better when the landlord family that rented the apartment to us is a premiere Portuguese family which shares friendship with us.

Bristol is very historic.  It was settled in 1680 by early colonists.  Bristol has the oldest continuing Fourth of July parade in the country.  When I went to the Bristol Historical Society I was not able to find a lot about the significant Portuguese presence in Bristol.
For many years it had been a closed society probably run by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Why was I interested?  Well, apart from  the beauty of Bristol, it means a lot to me since it welcomed my Grandmother Isobel Bento Correia to America in 1915.  It introduced her to her husband and they were married in Bristol in 1916 at St. Elizabeth's Church on Wood St.

In 2013, The Providence Journal published an article describing the historic Portuguese section of Bristol that is Wood St. The area is still carrying on its culture and traditions even today.  Portuguese bakeries, a Portuguese Grocery and a Portuguese Butcher Shop dot the area. There is an independent Portuguese Band Club.  The neighborhood is characterized by small and multifamily homes, similar to my own School Street Village.

An excellent article from The New England Historical Society: "How Portuguese Immigrants Came to New England",  tells us that ".. in Rhode Island Portuguese Immigrants make up 9.7 % of the total population making it the densest concentration of Portuguese in the Country..."  Although Massachusetts has the largest number of persons of Portuguese ancestry, that is still quite a statistic.

No wonder we so impressed by the Portuguese culture and its continuing vitality. The presence of Portuguese Americans and new Immigrants is felt strongly in the Wood St. area of Bristol, RI in particular.

The Wood Street neighborhood grew in earnest around the mill complex on the east side of Wood St. built in 1864 to house the National Rubber Company. This is a photo of that complex that hangs today in the Bristol Historical Society.  Many of the buildings are gone, some house smaller businesses while others have been converted to senior housing, condominiums and townhouses.

In 1913, just two years before my grandmother arrived in Bristol, R.I.  St. Elizabeth's Church was built at 577 Wood St. It was built to serve the growing Portuguese community and culture around it.  My Grandmother Isobel met my Grandfather Manuel Motta, probably at that Factory of the National Rubber Co.  Her papers say that it was a shoe factory where they met and they did make shoes there.  My Grandfather's Uncle introduced them. My grandmother is on the right in the photograph below sitting next to her sister, Annie and one of Annie's children. This would have been in 1916 on the front stoop of a tenement where they were all living in Bristol.  Isobel and Annie were part of the tide of immigrants coming from the Azores (for my Grandmother and and  Great Aunt) and Madeira (for my Grandfather).

      The Parish of St. Elizabeth (named after the great Queen St. Elizabeth of Portugal) would grow and nurture all of these Portuguese newcomers to America.  The Parish today is still just as vibrant and as the music of the Portuguese language flew around me making my soul sing as we made our way into the Church for Mass.

This is a video of the parishioners at St. Elizabeth's singing in Portuguese to Our Lady of Fatima . If you grew up in a Village like School Street or that of Bristol's Wood St. area, this will warm your memories . Note that the video was recorded after the renovation.


                               Another Village in my heart.  Another deep link to my past.

St. Elizabeth's was recently renovated to what you see in the above photo. The Parish did a beautiful job of blending old and new.  Below note that the  old original altar has been kept, the altar before which my Grandparents were married in 1916. just three years after the Church had been built. The renovation blends seamlessly into the clean lines of the Church that reminds one of the inside of a ship.  Portuguese were, after all, people of the sea. That is why they settled on either coast, although often ending up working in the skeletal innards of a factory as my people did.

 In their way, where they settled Portuguese families eventually purchased homes and a good amount of land. Their homes are impeccable, back gardens flowering in color in early Spring and Summer.  One evening as we walked this second Village, we came upon an elderly couple sitting on the ground finishing up caring for their the lawn. That finishing meant using a small scissors to be sure the edges of the grass were neat and even. The streets are lined with homes. not just historic, that are obviously as cared for as those of the great Ship Captains of yesteryear

Walking the historic downtown and peeking out at the harbor

The Parish  of St. Elizabeth's has its Festas as did our Village St. Anthony's  in Taunton (and still does), though we were not there at the time when one was happening. In the second photo you can see the Folkloric Portuguese dancers at the St. Elizabeth's Festa at a "time" as they would call it.  Cultural cousins from Taunton visiting and entertaining with the native dances we of Portuguese descent all share. These photos were taken during the Festa of Santa Domingo.

Providence Journal: "Wood Street in Bristol: A Mix of Community and Commerce"
Providence Journal, June 21, 2013 by Alex Kuffner
St. Elizabeth web site.

Ave Maria by the Portuguese in Bristol, Rhode Island
see site posted in blog post: Vimeo.

2015 Photographs by Sandra J. Pineault and  from Family archives
and Unpublished Book: "Searching for Isobel"



Saturday, July 18, 2015


Recently, a mini-reunion took place between three friends whose friendship began in the first grade in the Village and continues over 70 years later.  No matter how long an interval when we do not see or talk to each other, we snap back smoothly into the long relationship that just picks right up again. Up comes the laughter, the sad sharing of lost friends and classmates, the updates of families, and on and  on.  We have so much to share that the calypso recital of the ills of aging does not have room to flourish. We are too busy being young again.

 One of us had been cleaning out her "stuff" and found papers from when we were young students at Fuller School in the Village. The "stuff" engendered the opening of a whole lot of memory doors. We just tiptoed right into them.

              Guessing time...can you find us in this 1949 second grade photo? Bright eyed youngsters with all the world before us.

Imagine, we even had Fuller School sweatshirts back then!

 As we wrote in the last post, those times were very far away from the calculators and e- tablets for children in the classroom. We were there to learn how to write, how to understand our history as a nation. Every day started with the reading of the 23rd Psalm and the Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag.  We were, and are, after all the children of the greatest generation.

Geography led to dreams of far off places. It is amazing that many people today have no idea where countries are located -never mind the histories that were the root of many problems today.

Remember those pull -down maps....the ratcheting sound they made coming down- and going up ?The cursive sampling like a border of wallpaper around the walls?  One of our teachers would ask us to go and point to a did not forget that country. Now, reading newspapers or listening to news reports you know exactly where it is located. How strange that with all the modern technology too many have turned in to their own little worlds.  More is the pity.

 We also learned how to be thoughtful in the manner of writing. Psychologists are telling us that cursive writing can make us smarter and more thoughtful.  I wrote a blog post about this very thing, if you want to read it, here it is.


Witness the resurgence of scrapbooking and the calligraphy that is part and parcel of a whole renewal of hand-writing.  Yes,  there is an argument that it is right and proper to bounce out that cursive curriculum once and for all.  Be sure, it will never go, it will simply pop up in adult optional classes.

One of our trio found this in a saved paper notebook from 1950 hiding amongst the papers her mother had kept.  I print it here because of the telltale splats of the ink from the metal pen nib  dipped into the ink well set into our  desks. We never knew that it was our dear Miss Margaret Coleman who wrote the Fuller School song but here it is. The writer of this page still knows the song by heart.

Below is an excerpt from a lovely blog:

                               The desk above is not quite the same but close enough...
                                              note inkwell up in right hand corner.

We painstakingly wrote answers to a spelling test in cursive. She was not only awarded a red 100 but also a flower sticker, a mum, so it must have been Fall.

        A whimsical painting by Les Brophy visually describes the three of us....always minus one more who is always kept close.   What can describe a friendship like that?

How can you do so when it winds and whispers around your heart through years and years and years? It is a friendship that makes you joyfully fall into it when you get to speak to one of these friends.

We are far from each other much of the time.  But distance, like the small fingers that followed a path and places on that old pull-down geography map is never a consideration.  Come the rains and storms of life, we hope and pray that this blessing stays calm and endures.  May your friendships be such as ours.

                          Meanwhile, bring on the rain1 We shall dance as best we can!

                                                                AFTER ALL...

Friday, July 3, 2015


The greatest inspiration for this writer is the opportunity to visit the well, so to speak. That is what I call  the great grace of being mentored.  A deep well for me has been the writings and sharing of the Village's own historian: Arlene Rose Gouveia.  
I have acknowledged her many times before in this blog.

Arlene and I grew up but a few houses from each other on School Street in the Village. She about 5 years older than I.  As adults, my journey took me far from the Village in many ways, her journey kept her closer to where she had been born and raised.

My mother did not grow up in the Village.  Her mother did.  Her parents were memory keepers and imbued that in their daughter.  I would come to it very late, going back in time as it were. She was fed on it, each story and memory being passed on and kept alive.

Up until last month I had probably not seen Arlene in about 50 years, give or take. Perhaps we passed each other on the street as we walked to Church. I remember her, I remember her whole family. My brother was always best buddies with her younger brother.

 For once, a trip to New England had more days to it and a time was fixed for me to visit her in her home.  Like the excellent teacher she once was, she was prepared for me.

I was in the storyteller's lair! I was gifted with more stories and information than my mind and my pen sought to register.  Laughter and sadness was laced throughout. I settled into the lair and let it wash over me. My heart would tell me what my pen might forget.

How do you pass on the history of a place? A loved, wonderful place. You first must live it and then let it come alive once more in your heart.  Then you speak it, record it, write it.  For Arlene and I, the goal is to keep the stories alive and invite as many as possible to enjoy them, to be nourished by them.  In the context of history, there are lessons, there is pride in a people, there is a deep sweetness.

This meeting of like minds will result in new posts, many of them. After seeing her collection of research books bending their shelves, her long and laden table next to her kitchen where the times and days of the Village lay in quiet accumulation,  I took a long deep breath.

When you relive a story by telling it again, you find the nuances and even more humor that was first suspected and embroider it with memory.  From this chair Arlene can reach her bookshelves, her table.  At her side her notebooks and pens, perhaps some historical point she is researching cuddled up to her glasses. When I pulled up this photo from my iPhone I noticed the book or pamphlet with the big HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY. Did I tell you that being a historian can take you far from everyday concerns? There is no such thing as coincidence...this message is for us.

Arlene's table with the accumulation of Village stories and lore
takes up the length of one wall.

There is often loss, sadness, confusion and disappointment in each of our lives. Today there is a frightening lack of family,  community,  common everyday kindness.  The many advantages of today often blot out what truly nourishes us.  "No man is an island " the scribe once wrote.  We are all a part of something. There is a deep need to know what that is - what defines us.   Before the speed of transportation destroyed our anchors, before the constant barrage of texting  there was simple conversation, shared recollection and tight community.

People yearn for stories. Do you know that there is even a web site where you can listen to people tell stories?  How sad that those people have no story tellers of their own, storytellers based on the fact of village life. Stories woven with fact and history dancing all about them. Storytellers are weavers of words, words that are magic.  Words that are of people and events long past. There are also storytellers who weave photographs of old that sparkle among the words and let us wander way, way back and wonder.

Amanda Paterson

The Village life on School Street grounded us in the need for each other.  It grounded us in small classrooms where our teachers cared so much that we felt like princes and princesses. I am unaware of one single disciplining action in those childhood school years.  Bullying was unknown. You looked each classmate and teacher in the eye and read their regard for you.  Each of us was treasured: by parents, grandparents, a slew of aunts and uncles, cousins, by our friends and classmates and by their parents.

The laughter in the playground framed the laughter in our adult lives.  We belonged- we still do - if not in place, then in our memory stories.

In other years, I had driven through the Village was sad by loss and change.  This time I was rewarded by a sight and sound a friend from the Village had predicted.  Above the School Street Bakery is an apartment. It is on the side of the house facing up School Street, facing north.  An elderly man sits by the window in a chair with the window wide open. His arms rest on the windowsill and he peers out. Beside him is a radio, just a little one, and a Portuguese station is on. He watches and waits.  He waits for walkers with whom he can share a greeting, or even someone he can invite up for a story or share the platitudes of life. He might also hear echoes.  He might think he hears the Taunton Band Club rehearsing of a Sunday morning.  Perhaps he is waiting for children to come skipping home for the long-gone Fuller School. He thinks: when did walking become an olympic event and not a time to appreciate a neighbor's roses?  When did earphones replace the sounds of the birds, or the luaghter of children?  When did grandmothers and grandfathers. like himself, disappear from the scene?  When did it require visiting hours to visit them?

We need our stories...each and every one of us....
stories give us the hope that chaotic times may once more be ordered and safe.
Our values rest in that order, when they are threatened on all sides
we find truth and help in the stories of our peoples..

When did it seem so important ro read your messages on your iPhone than to just have time to be immersed in quiet - where just maybe God might whisper to ou or you might have a creative thought or inspiration. We did not need tools to immerse ourselves into connectedness back then.

Arlene's's hands are painful with arthritis and mine are getting there - but, we have a mission and our hands are strong enough for that! A true mentor does not regard distance as an obstacle, a true mentor collects every story that comes her way. A true mentor keeps up with technology. Arlene and I talk via phone, e-mail, message, and through the wonderful I'm from Taunton Facebook page. Arlene has a e-tablet and keeps up with this blog faithfully.  Arlene is not my only mentor, but she is mentor par excellence to so many. A true mentor knows her task is to pass it on!

                        May the stories you hold dear keep you warm in the storm.  All you need
                                      is memory and imagination. God bless our storytellers!


-Pinterest Storytelling Boards

                                                       - Photography by Sandra Pineault

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Many readers commented on the Facebook page, I'm from Taunton regarding our last post.  How these memories find a fond place in the hearts of those who grew up in the Village. I feel honored to be a Memory Keeper and do not take it lightly.  Often, when I am remembering and writing it feels as if I am transported to that other place in another time. It gives me courage and joy to relive those halcyon times, if only in my memory.  There are lessons there,  reassurance and knowledge we did not possess before.

Following up on the Heirloom Plant trilogy - here are the Matriarch plants we spoke of, still growing strong. green and hearty!  These photographs were taken by my sister, Kathleen Souza Campanirio.  She is the keeper today of these original living treasures. The plants  must know that they are family. It is no little thing to maintain and nourish these plants and we thank our sister with the very green thumb. She then is the Family Plant Keeper.

Stories abide in these plants, stories of generations of Christmas', Easters, Baptisms, weddings and the sorrow of passings. The chimes of children's laughter and the joy of shared remembering live in their roots.  The sweet fragrance of Portuguese cooking nourished them and still does.

We come and go, we Souza's. We are born and grow and the family grows larger.
No matter, the plants remember and cherish...maybe that is what keeps them flourishing. Maybe that is what keeps us flourishing.  Love. of course, is the ingredient that maintains us, plant and person alike.

Delphina's original Christmas Cactus- the mama of them all sits proudly in place. When an heirloom such as this likes it somewhere, you do not move it!  We believe this plant to be over 100 years old.

The Hoya plant below is probably around that age as well.  The children of this plant are scattered around the country living and being treasured by siblings such as myself, grandchildren, a plethora of cousins and friends.  All from this beautiful flourishing plant still living in my sister's sunny kitchen window.

These plants are cherished as are its offspring. Living keepsakes holding memories and the touch of loving hands. It never crossed my mind when I started writing about grapevines that this would turn into a trilogy of another aspect of family, another aspect of times gone.

Now into their third generations, these matriarch plants seem secure for generations into the future
Like the leaves of the pages of a Family's history they await discovery and recognition.  Their task of remembrance goes on as long as they are kept safe. We are blessed with these that still accompany their families on their journeys.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


In the last post we wrote about the historical importance of grapevines in the Village. The topic  found an enthusiastic audience.  This 
inspired me to dig deeper for more such green roots.

For a minute, though, let's harken back to Village grapevines.  Here is a beautiful photo of our long ago neighbors facing Wilbur St. This is directly in back of our family home on School St. the family homestead from way back in the 1900's.   A low little wood fence separated us, a token rather than a barrier. 

 I recognize them our reader and her brother!  They are celebrating his graduation from High School. If I recall he was a few years ahead of me. This grapevine is vivid in my memory. After all, we played in back of it growing up.

The background is intriguing farther in the back is our home. There was a large lot behind it which once had been planted when other family lived there.  Eventually my Dad got tired of mowing it -even getting sheep did not help.  He also tired of making that drive to Cape beaches with a carful of kids while we always ending up in  traffic jams on the old Cape road. Remember those days?  He finally dug an inground pool in the back lot. With four kids that was a good investment.  He next rounded up almost every kid in the neighborhood and taught them to swim, just in case .  The pool was heavily fenced, but you never knew. Generations of kids swam in that pool, starting with us and then grandchildren. Ah, the weiner roasts and swim family get -togethers. There could be four layers in that pool at any one time!

Just off to the far left in the photo one can just see our sweet Fuller School.  This is a photo snapped out of time.

Well, like all historians I digressed a bit.  It is in our DNA.  

Another photo found in my archives set me off
on a related subject: how all plants can be heirlooms linking us to our family roots.

The above is a very old photograph of my Grandmother Delphina Souza, my Dad's mother.
She is gazing fondly at her Christmas cactus. That plant is a legend in our family.  I will bet that she acquired it years before this photo.  She had been in that house since 1906. That plant must have witnessed a lot of family tears and celebrations.  I like to think that it watched 7 children along their journey and it may have watched the loss of a father.  You can see that it is already a large plant in the photo.  It outlived Grandmother Delphina and continued living on at 184 School St.  Its offspring found new homes in the homes of my sisters and myself. Each offspring flourished  Mine ended up in a long planter, each year gifting my family with heirloom blooms.  One day mine was not doing well.  I called the Plant Doctor: my Mom. She advised splitting it.  Oh, no, I dreaded the task not knowing the result.  My brow would need mopping as I worked to keep the patient alive. It needed surgical saws but it was handled as tenderly as possible.  Alas, it did not survive the procedure and had to enter the compost heap where it returned to the earth
But, I knew that my sister's was still living  taking the legend into the future.

That was our first Souza heirloom plant. 

My sister and I at the side of 20 Blinn's Ct. in front of
one of my Mother's rock gardens, 1950

Which brings me to more about heirloom gardens and plants. Remember the story I wrote recently of the woman who bought an old house with a empty dirt garden? Remember that in the first Spring that garden sprouted a carefully planned rainbow garden? A living legacy.

Above is one of my mother's early gardens.  She gardened all her life, knew each plant by common and Latin name.  For her gardening was a devoted  hobby.  Her gardens would grace the two  homes where she would live. In our Village home they surrounded the house lighting it up with color. In the little mobile home where she spent most of her older years they climbed rocks, stone walls and  hills all the while attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. They surrounded her beloved St. Jude's statue. 

 My mother's garden hats were legendary and always hanging on a hook beside her door- unless she was outside wearing one.  She went into eternity with one of these hats by her side.

My Mother is standing speaking with a gardener at a Nature Preserve on 6A on the Cape,  a favorite place for her and I to wander the gardens and learn new things.  Once I illustrated a children's environmental book (never published) and her genes in me really activated as I learned all I could about marsh plants and animals that translated into a story..

 My mother spoke the language of nature with much love.

Angi in her garden, where one could always find her.

The following is a sweet story about someone's mother and her gardening. It is from this
that I found the title of this post.

Always in my mother's pocketbook was a little plastic bag where she could safely nestle a seed or pod from something growing that she met along her way. Those little bags and her camera accompanied her everywhere she wandered.  

Every plant in her garden had a lineage and a story.  Each visit with her ended with a walk 
 visiting the blooms and green spikes listening to her stories and advice.

My garden became an heirloom garden in its own right. When I visited our visits ended the same way with a walk in her garden. When she visited me it was a walk in my own garden, where some of her heirlooms could be found.  In time, my daughter's became an heirloom garden, only this time with two generations of plantings.  The first time my daughere and I walked through her garden, my heart bloomed like the garden at my feet. There are roots in one's hearts, too.

I am in my later years now, my southern garden is far from their Village cousins . But, snuggled in my patio is a Hoya Vine, an heirloom descendant of my Mothers vine.  My mother's garden lives on, too, in many of my paintings . I often sat and painted or drew in her garden.  Many of those paintings were sold so her posterity spread far.

She loved everything about her garden, especially the wonders of spider webs which she immortalized with her photography. From one of her photos, I painted this abstract.  

   Spider Spins a Moonbeam,

Her garden was a symbol of the love that my mother gave to her children and grandchildren.
Her real garden was in her heart. This poem seems written just for her, like this post. She indeed is our greatest heirloom rooted deep within us.

"My garden is my refuge, I find a solace here.
I tiptoe toward the the rhythm and a rhapsody I hear:
The feathered ones give concerts, it seems they all agree
That now they are together, there needs to be melody.
The flowers show their colors as blossoms come to bloom-
they outdo one another in a wonder of perfume!
Extravaganzas greet me in the most exciting ways:
My heart is overfilling with the marvelous displays.
My song is not perfected, nor is my beauty rare,
But I receive a welcome within my garden prayer.
I dance within the stirrings of the love which takes control,
and I am elevated by the flutter in my soul!

      Rhapsodies within by Jeani M. Picklesimer.

Photograph by Angi Souza

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Old houses tell secrets.They tell those secrets in all kinds of ways:  photographs, old records, in scratches on the wall where children told their growth spurts. Sometimes, if you are lucky, someone comes along and opens the treasure box of secrets.  You get to peel away layers of stories and countless dramas played out between the walls.  I got lucky, someone came along.

A few months ago, a reader commented on one of my posts.  Thus began a dialogue. As we chatted online we discovered that she and I had grown up ( myself, at least for part of my childhood) in the same house.  She is much younger so it made even more interesting. We grew up in a house on Blinns' Ct in the Village in Taunton, MA.

 Here is the house on Blinn's Court as it looks today.   Her parents bought it in 1971 and proceeded to lovingly renovate it.  It bears little resemblance, as you shall see, to the house where I and my family spent part of our history.,

It appears, with exceptions,  that many of the houses in the Village were built in the early 1900's as was the particular house we are discussing on  Blinn's Court .  Our reader remembers an elderly lady of about 90 years of age, telling her (she was ten at the time) that she had been born in that house. Another link.   Given time, city records would give us a whole lot more. 

In the 1940's my parents bought the three decker, which was almost at the end of the dead -end street just off School Street.  Blinn's Court and Lane's Avenue just next to it are hills awesome for sledding, especially then when there was little traffic.

The two additions on the right of the house in the above photo were not there in our time and the front entrance stairs were different. They were wooden stairs and landing. When I was 7 or so I would slip through the slats and hide away from the wind. There were no big windows either. I do not have one single full photo of this house as it was in the forties and fifties. I do have quite a few of my childhood time with which to try to build a picture of it.

The three decker on Blinn's Court housed three Souza families. We were on the first floor, our Aunt Eleanor and her family on the second, and our Aunt Alveda and her family were on the third.  This appears below to be an earlier photo of the house and more like my memories.  We did not have a fence and there was an old wooden  garage where you see cars parked.  On the front right grass near the street was a huge tree. It had a big filled cavity in the trunk just child-height. We would throw snowballs at it and make believe it was Stalin.

Here is where the fun begins as we seek out the house history we made.  Since our years there it has made a whole new batch of histories, to be sure.

Looking straight back to where the cars are in the above photo, the wooden two car garage had old fashioned garage doors that you had to manually open to the sides.  In the picture below you can see those doors and that they are a little askew, There was no pavement on the driveway, just packed  dirt, a lot easier on little knees that tended to get skinned. Here are a bunch of us kids just hanging out on our little red wagon.


These are ancient (yet loved)  photos and they get a little blurred when enlarged. Enlarging it one can see the wooden door going into the basement behind us cowkids  with a little window in back of my brother. To the right are the stairs going up into the sunroom off the kitchen in the first floor apartment where we lived. The basement had a dirt floor, like many did in those days.


Here is a  better look of those back steps, and another of my little brother in the garb of the times. Note the ubiquitous grapevine.  If you could peer around the other side of the steps you would see the old kerosene barrel sitting on its tripod.  As you can see the wooden fence had seen better days. That was OK, we were all friends and real neighbors then and fences did not mean much. The house on the right is on Lane's Avenue. Our driveway started on Blinn's Court and opened up on Lane's Avenue, the next street over, We knew everyone on both streets, in the Village way.

Now you can see the side interior and exterior steps to the second and third floors. The window is on our first floor. I love this photo.  I am sitting with my brother and Mom, the rest of the photo melting from age yet still perfect for a memory.  I am pretty sure that those are asbestos shingles on the house...back then, who knew?

In back of little me waiting to walk up the hill to Fuller School are the front steps of the house.  Pretty sure this is a joke about a school bus.... You can just make out the wooden side of the front steps with the slats where I used to hide and daydream. The front door was formal and not much used except for storing baby carriages and the like. Everyone used the back stairs for us and the side stairs for going to the 2nd and 3rd floors.

You can just about see the other houses on the street.  I am told that my Grandfather Souza once owned a three decker on Blinn's Ct.,  I do not know which one.

Very old photo below of my sister and I on our bikes out in front of the house on Blinn's Court. The fence behind us went around the empty lot next door to us.  This street was so safe, hardly any cars went up and down that we children played with security.

In 1949, my Mom and Aunt Eleanor hosted a Halloween Party for us "older" kids in the basement. Residing there was a big old coal furnace in the back of which I got my very first kiss.  Brick walls and the musty smell of those cellars linger in my memory.  Looks like all my classmates were invited and the decorations were great.  I distinctly remember bobbing for apples in a big white enamel panella (as it was called in Portuguese) filled with cold water and bright red apples. I was growing up, after all here I am dressed as Carmen Miranda, a favorite movie star of the day.


The distinct advantage for an adventurous toddler like my brother (here above with our Aunt Eleanor of the Second Floor) is that he could tell his Mom he was going to see Titi (diminutive for aunt in Portuguese) on the second floor, then say he was going to see Titi on the third floor and then announce he was going home.  This he did not do.  Instead .with our little black cocker spaniel shadowing him. he peddled his little tractor up the hill and along School St.  Someone from the Village would eventually call my Mom or just bring him home.

Gives new meaning to "it takes a Village." 

The memories come cascading through my mind.  I remember walking (shakily) in an old pair of high heels outside on the dirt driveway and the sound and feel of it as I played at being a sophisticated lady.  The sense of walking up the stairs to one of the Aunt's apartments and the slight tilt of those stairs. The well-used white refrigerators and stoves that cooked up the most wonderful meals and desserts,  the birthday parties with a big dose of loving. The enameled kitchen tables and chairs.

A big old three decker laced with family and caring.  Way back then it was not very updated but it was as comfortable as an old shoe.  It saw my growing up and it seems many other growings up, too.

Imagine if this house could talk. Laughter, tears, small feet running here and there. We had one of the first TV's in the neighborhood, a little round 10" screen and into the small living room crowded as many as could fit to watch Uncle Milty.

The grass outside was soft and cushiony where in the summers we ran barefoot screaming with glee when a grown-up held a hose with sprinkling water to cool us off. We were always spending summer days sitting out on blankets for a nap or just lazy mind-meandering. Our grass was a thick cushion because we had a cess pool.  When it rained a lot, it would bubble up and fertilize the grass. 
A kind of night soil.

Here is my Dad cutting my brother's hair,  my Uncle Bunny/John looking on. My Dad learned to be a barber when he served with the Civilian Conservation Core. My brother knew better then move around or a knock from the scissors handle would straighten him out. Again you see another rickety fence between us and the house on the other side.

The same Uncle Bunny bought the house from my parents around the early 1950's when it was decided we would go to live with my Grandmother Souza up at 184 School St. That School St. house story is for another time...but what a metamorphosis it has had!

The current owners of Blinn's Court  graciously shared the photo of the Blinn's Court house as it is today and this excerpt from the deed as it passed from my uncle to them in 1971 when a new history page began.

The stories of houses paired with photographs are fascinating.  I did a little internet research on this subject finding some charming anecdotes.  One home owner bought her old home along with a big empty yard.  She spent most of her time working on the house, neglecting the yard.  Then, the first Spring the whole yard blossomed into a rainbow garden as its legacy gift to her. Not only was it a rainbow- they were arranged by color!  Sometimes houses reach out to connect you to those who loved and lived in that house before you.

This was true for me when in the 80's I bought the little red house on Ashland St. built by Manny Silva (of the Top Hatters band back in the day) and his wife Kay.  Manny was my Dad's partner and it felt strange to be there at first.  Both of them had passed away. The color was its legacy.

 They loved the color red. The house was red shingles, the wall to wall carpet everywhere was deep wine red and the kitchen had a wonderful red linoleum floor I loved to polish.  The house did give up a few secrets: a printing plate of the Top Hatters discovered in a little nook. Like the house above,  the first Spring brought forth a legacy garden of bright red tulips! When it was time to repaint the house,  I had all the shingles removed and side board put on. Everyone waited to see what color it would be...well, of course, RED !

As a side note: I  found this Christmas card photo of that little home on Ashland St.
I had written it to my future husband. It was very early in our courtship, very early.  I had written...Keep in Touch!  The rest is our own history started in this little house in Taunton with our wedding day. W e moved from there right after the wedding
(the house had found itself a new owner) and started our combined history
in many other houses right up to where we are today.


I am grateful to the current Blinn's Court keepers of the house and their
 daughter, our reader, for sharing some of their history of that house
 with me, and with all those who follow this blog.

It is very true that when we return to visit a place where we have lived we go to
where those memory-keeper houses still reside always seeking the echoes of our lives.
We do not see the present there, our minds and hearts are full the the past.

Keep in touch, all,  and perhaps you can share some of your house stories....