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.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


The first part of our story about New York Lace Store and its founder has received a wonderful response! In all the little towns where people grew up, there must have been a store like this.  A store that mirrored the events in our lives: our first Communion dresses, prom dresses ( or a gown for the Cadet Drill at Taunton High), our wedding dresses, or dark dresses for the sad part of our lives and our families. A reader wrote that each Christmas her Dad would take her to buy a cocktail dress for her mother who would wear it New Year's Eve.

It seems that many Dads took their daughters to NY Lace to pick out a dress for Christmas for their Moms. A gentlemen recollected that his Dad would take him there to pick out clothes for presents for his Mom and that he bought the boy his first leather jacket there.

This is a photo of my Mom, Angi Mota Souza,  probably from the early 50's or late 40's. She is wearing a taffeta dress with a perky little hat to match.  I think they were in emerald green. I am sure she bought this dress at NY Lace Store and that it might have been a Christmas or New Year's party.  Remember the rustle of taffeta and the music of lights that played on the material?

There was always a continuity in the women working at NY Lace. They were, in their own rights, professionals who knew their customers and what would please them.  The elegance I spoke of at New York Lace was like a balm that left the frazzled everyday outside. Another reader recalled that the saleswomen had lovely hands, they would put their hands (knuckles up, of course ) into the sheer nylons so you could see what they would look like on you.

One reader mentioned the back of entrance. Remember that?  You came in from the back parking area, up the quiet stairs and then you were there where everything was carpeted and the big three way mirrors beaconed you in the new dress you were trying on. The dress would start the dreaming and you would be in another world.  My childhood friend and I went there to get her wedding gown and my dress as Maid of Honor, so many years ago. I do not know why I was so serious, except that maybe I could see into the future....

The memory of us back in the Bridal Salon area at N.Y. Lace store is vivid in my mind. Just the two of us as it was a very small wedding.  I had never been in a wedding before. Kneeling on the altar at St. Anthony's I stepped on the dress and tore a hole in the back....    All of this when I was but 18 years old.

In 1984, New York Lace turned 77 years old.  This is a photo of Betty Setchkenbaum Mackowski,  daughter to Pincus holding a treasured photograph of her father.  At the time, the store had been run by three generations of the family.

The Taunton Daily Gazette did a major writeup for the occasion of the anniversary. Mr. Zetchkenbaum died in 1950 and never saw the final form of his store. Mrs Mackowski and her husband, Sidney took over the running of the store in 1930 as 
Mr. Zwetchkenbaum entered retirement.

This photo below in that same issue shows Sidney Makowski with  pieces of the actual lace and other yard goods that Pincus Zwetchkenbaum sold door to door.

But, back to our real story, that of Pincus Zwetchkenbaum (everytime I type this I hope I do it right!)

We know that Mr. Zwietchkenbaum was a good businessman and entrepreneur. How many other stores started in 1906 and endure until this day?  But, what was he like as a person? In the 1984 article he is described as a generous man.  The article quotes his daughter that during the Great Depression he always carried nickles and dimes in his pockets in case he met a man selling apples to feed his family.

   Fact:  During the Great Depression unemployed men,
 often dressed as if go to work to try and maintain their dignity, sold apples on the streets around the country. In 1930 the International Apple Shippers Association had an oversupply of fruit 
and decided to empty their warehouses of apples.  They gave them on credit to the unemployed.  Selling apples on street corners during those dark days became a symbol of the times.

                                                                     Pinterest: Chicago Tribute photo

Pincus often saw to it that a needy family had food, coal, milk to last them through the winter. His back porch was a place where someone could find a good meal and not be turned away.  Mr. Z's generosity seemed of biblical character. When the City Treasury hit a low and doubts were that teacher's salaries could not be paid, Pincus gave them an interest free loan to be sure that they were paid.

New York Lace Store kept that very special character. Interestingly, the Star Theatre building was right next door to New York Lace.  Its fate was not a happy one and it met its demise. Yet, New York Lace store, now expanded and enlarged, continues on its timeline, earning new owners and finding new ways to build upon the long ago selling of yards of lace.

 Once the venerable store came under those new caretakers new stories emerged.  The story of that journey is fascinating as well and waits for another day.

                                             I am appreciative of the following resources:

                         *    Once more, The Taunton Public Library Research Department in the person of  
                             Aaron Cushman who is always willing to speedily help with what is needed.
                                     -        Taunton Daily Gazette  editions

                         *    Pinterest: Chicago Tribute photograph

                         *     1930 and 1940 U.S.A. Census online version.

                         *     The "I'm From Taunton" Facebook page. Thank you to all those who
                                 posted comments and memories to this iconic store.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Remember the photograph on the last post of the Star Theatre building with the sign New York Lace Store on one side?  Well, here is the story of that neighbor to the Star, another formidable downtown lady, The New York Lace Store.

We have just gone through Christmas shopping time.  There are still folks around who prefer to stroll from shop to shop instead of sitting in front of their computer to find what they want.  Nothing wrong with that...but, for our purposes we say kudos to shoppers who prefer to patronize their local businesses.  One place you might shop is New York Lace . Perhaps you would couple that with a stroll around the Christmas Green then lunching at one of the good restaurants downtown.  If there is a bit of snow, so much the better!

Quite accidentally, I stumbled upon historical information about The New York Lace store ( one of the oldest on Main St. ) finding a gold mine of Taunton lore.  Connections bind history with a thread that if followed finds us at more connections... reminding us of the thought, of "nine degrees of separation."

It was a real treat to unravel this particular thread sending us back in history to the early 1900s , specifically 1907.

In 1907, in the United States, woman suffragettes were still fighting for the vote.  In that year, the U.S. Congress raised their own salaries to $7, 500 (and kept on going).  In February of that year the passenger ship Larchment sunk off Block Island, Rhode Island and 322 souls perished.  In April, a Canadian won the 11th Boston Marathon.  The Bubonic Plague broke out in San Francisco in May.  December of that year saw the first ball drop in Times Square and Oklahoma becaming the 46th state of the Union.  Federal spending that year - are you ready for it .... $ 0.58 billion.

That same year Pincus Zwetchkenbaum, an immigrant from Poland (the 1930 census lists him as Polish, his wife Austrian) came onto the Taunton scene. There are those who think he came from Russia but I am going with the Census information.

The well known fabric of the immigrant ingenuity of those days  is exemplified with Mr. Zwetchkenbaum.  It was true also with our grocer below,  John Dimitri from Albania. It was a new country for many in Taunton and they did not hesitate to inject new vitality into the economy of the City.  Current Tauntonian Stephen Kosta's Uncle John Dimitri below started selling bananas from a cart, then worked his way up to this horse and buggy....

                       .... eventually locating his own store (seen below) at 107 Main St. His store was
described as being right next to the  Star Theatre . 
 New York Lace Store would be located nearby at 89 Main St.
 Even though this photo was taken in 1927, 
it still gives us an idea of early downtown Taunton.

Thank you to Stephen Koska for sharing both those incredible photos above.

 Those immigrant entrepreneurs fitted themselves into a new culture
and in Pincus' case, a new couture.

A place for lace
  Pinterest photo                                                  

As John Dimitri with his horse drawn cart above finally opened his own store,   Pincus Zwetchkenbaum traveled the same journey beginning with "strips of lace and yards of  calico ."  By dint of hard work and keeping his goal in mind,  Pincus,  sold from a cart, went door to door and then managed to open his first Taunton shop with his son Joseph in 1906 in  Whittenton selling lace and embroidery.  In 1920 he moved it to the location downtown where Pober's had been.

(In those same years, my own grandfather, Joseph Souza, did as those gentlemen . Selling wood in his case from a horse and buggy and then establishing his own used furniture Store on Weir St.  I like to think that they all knew each other.)

In 1935  Pincus Z. moved to 89 Main St. and opened New York Lace Store.  Pincus and his family had been in business in the City of Taunton since 1906 and that business today is still going strong.

Imagine, our grandmothers would have shopped in the store in Whittenton.
                    Since in 1907 women dressed like this...with lots of material and lots of lace, it
                                                                is highly likely.
Wow, the lace!

Pinterest photo

Here is a photo I use as this blog cover photo.  In 1907, my grandparents had only been in
Taunton a few years.  Their first child, my Uncle Joe (far right) was born in
Taunton in 1906.  In this photo  he is with his brother John and sister, Mary. Look at all the lace!!

So where would one get lace?
Where else....New York Lace Store.

During the 1900s  Downtown Taunton probably looked like this...

                               No date to this postcard, but betting it is very early on downtown Taunton.
                               Once Charles Crowley dated the clocks...we see a white one here. Need to
                                            do more research unless someone out there knows?

New York Lace Store would have sold to our grandmothers, mothers and we ourselves,who grew up in Taunton in the 40's and 50's  Below is a photograph from the Taunton Daily Gazette of a 40th Anniversary sale at the store in 1947.  Check out the kerchiefs we all remember.  Note the prices as well!  The article notes that Pincus would be the gentlemen at the lower far right.  Only his back and part of his head can be seen.  Remember the days when there would be crowds like this in downtown Taunton. One has to stretch the memory for that.

I remember the touch of elegance that was so apparent there.  Nylons (well before pantyhose) would have been nestled in tissue paper in their own slender white boxes,  Gloves the same. There were always the same lovely ladies waiting on you, so it was a familiar shopping experience and very personal. They knew their customers and they knew their wares.

Through the years and decades New York Lace Store has anchored one end of downtown.  Through that time it drew our ancestors then ourselves.

                     Stay tuned for Part II of The New York Lace Store Story. There is more!


 *photographs from Stephen Kosta.
                                                    *photograph from my own archives.

*Aaron Cushman from the Research Department of the Taunton Public Library
           Taunton Daily Gazette: Dec. 3, 1984

*A History of the Bridal Business in Taunton


Sunday, December 28, 2014


Happy New Year to each and all!

In 2015 this blog will continue to tell our stories. The most exciting thing 
about the storytelling here with the naming of people and places is that we make them
live once again.  Our hearts and minds can know that there is a place to put them, 
to share them, to keep them safe and even to add to them. 

There are some lined up already but I welcome more and more....

Here is another architectural story that we have just
 bid farewell .

This post is dedicated to those incredible historic architectural
structures lost to the Taunton landscape as well as those of so many other towns and cities.

Progress? Parking lots? Short term vision?
So many reasons.  Do you know that the magnificent mansions
in Newport almost met that fate as well?  Only the Newport
Preservation Society saved them....and finances, of course.

                                                 "Final Curtain Call for the Star Theatre"
                                            with permission of Frank C. Grace, photographer.
                                                                    Trig Photography

On April 12, 2014, photographer Frank C. Grace of Trig Photography was invited to have a last look at the Star Theatre on Main St. in downtown Taunton.  He took this magnificent photograph of the dying icon. There are so few photos of the Theatre making this even more precious. Thank you, Frank, for your willingness to share with us.

After years of sparring and neglect the Star Theatre has finally fallen to the wrecking ball.  In spite of those wishing otherwise, it joins other  magnificent edifices who have not found new life. This one is now gone forever, its history buried beneath the ignominious rubble now swept away.

                             History is  a whiff of eternity, delicate and quickly gone.

 Just next to Taunton Lace Store we see the edifice of the Leanard building still bearing an old ad.

Below we see the front of the theatre building.  
                                         The final demolition started on Monday, Dec. 15th.
                   In a photograph offered by David Pimental Jr. of Taunton,
            we see the top two stories that housed the Theatre going first.

The Star Theatre's descendants: the Park, The Strand, the State,  elegant in their architecture and wrapped in our memories met that wrecking ball years ago. Any of these edifices could have meant  a greater renewal for the downtown area. The other day, for no reason, up into the front of my memory came a moment, as fresh as it was then when I was a child.  I was coming out of the seating area into the lobby,  Underfoot was lovely deep red carpet. I remember feeling the elegance, the quiet. The magic as I looked up the carpeted red stairs that led majestically up to the balcony(I was too young to know yet what that magic meant to teenagers!).

True, you and I never saw a performance at the Star. As part of the Taunton Art Association I once exhibited my paintings there as we tried to raise awareness of the historical theatre. What a task for our imaginations.  Our grandparents must have enjoyed performances here, live and on film. Already the structure was delicate and we were not allowed to wander around.  Maybe there were echoes of long ago...but I never researched it until now.


The Star Theatre opened in 1911and is listed as having 450 seats.  The Leonard Block building had been built in the late 1870. This photo is taken from a diaganel angle. The building with the sign Goldstein houses the Star Theatre.

 The Star did not survive the talkies, it closed in 1929.  BUT, it probably aired the first full length film ever to be shown in the U.S., Dante's Inferno in 1911. Prior to this movie producers did not think people would sit for an hour through a full feature film. Many films were shown as serials over a month or two.

 The Star was listed as having "shows" daily. Take a look at the film "Dante's Inferno "restored in 2004 and feel like your grandparents may have felt.  My grandparents were already in this country when this film appeared.  Maybe?  Keep in mind, full length then was not full length now.

                                                    YouTube:Dante's Inferno original film

There would have been concerts and vaudeville acts up there on the second and third floors of the building.  Once closed, the Star lingered like a dying ballerina, alone surrounded by memories of her glory days.  Hushed as she listened to echos of laughter, maybe even tears and surely of the tinkling piano that accompanied those silent pictures.


       Goodbye, Lady Star.  I do not wish to know what will be built in your place. You
      offered entertainment and escape for Tauntonians in your own era. 
For that we owe you at least our gratitude.


                                                                   Post Sources

                                     Frank C. Grace Photography Facebook page: 

a great article of early movie history.

                 For my past blog posts about the Star Theatre's offspring see the links below.




Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday Evening Post
1927 issue

into each and every corner in all lands.

My deep thanks and appreciation for all
who have assisted in presenting this blog
and those who keep me going with encouragement
and sharing.

Have a merry and safe Christmas.
Dream of those we enjoyed so long ago.

To share, to speak or write names of those long gone,
to remember. 
Each time we do that the angels must ring bells
to let them know they are still here
in our hearts and gratitude.

This is why this blog exists.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


  A medley of Village Christmas memories....ah, they soothe the soul.  We are bombarded with ads and wants and spaced out Christmas shopping.  I hope that you can play this video as you read this. It is a long video but I am going to keep it going.

                                             ...and remember, no matter where you grew up.

I am letting the music slow me down.  My mind and spirit focused lets me reach way back into memory and feel those far off Christmas years all over again.  The silence of the Village (not many cars remember?), the snow snapping under our feet, hot cocoa for when we came in from building snow forts or sledding down Blinn's Court in a rush of colored jackets and stocking caps. Pulling your wooden sled back up the hill.  Your breath coming out all frozen with laughter warming you up.  Clusters of snow clinging to hair and woolen clothing.  But, laughter and screeching as your sled picked up steam,  My friends, my family.  Frozen in time in the Christmas card of my memory.

Nearly every Village Portuguese home had a Creche in prominent place.  My mother and my Aunt Eleanor took us out to the woods each year at the edges of the Village to gather greens and mosses for the best Creche ever.  Those women who lit up our lives, not just at Christmas but all the years of our childhood and beyond to this day.

My sister Kathy and I often sat at the piano and sang together, especially at Christmas time
I took piano lessons and plunked along.  My mother loved to hear us sing.  Our piano
looked just like this....

Christmas carols and religious decoration were part of our childhood.  The Taunton Green always had a focus of what Christmas is really about.  There seemed always to be snow, usually soft and kind.
Christmas was a time like no other.  It was everywhere: downtown, in our schools, in our Village and in our homes.  It was a lesson in love, in sacrifice as you saved your pennies for presents for your parents. If you were very young, still at Fuller School, you made your own presents and gave them with great pride.  It was about giving and worship and celebration.


As we grew, the festivities and religious meaning of Christmas stayed with us.  I am no longer a child, of course, far from it.  I am a silver haired senior.  But, I remember everything about my Christmases.

 As teenagers Christmas changed. We started a new tradition.  A group of teens that I and my sister Kathy hung out with joined together for Christmas caroling.


Our wonderful mother, Angi Souza, piled us all into the back of my Dad's company pickup and off we went around the Village, singing carols all the way in the cold snowy evening.  We would go to our family homes.  I especially remember the Silvia home down around 237 School Street, Pat and Joanne's home. Mrs. Silvia always had cocoa and refreshments waiting for us.  Midnight Christmas Eve this group went to Mass and were surrounded by most of the Village. Then afterwards my Mom awaited us with a big breakfast-all of us- when we returned to 184 School Street. My Mom's cooking abilities were legendary. One member of our group was known to eat one of her pies all by himself!  

Midnight Mass was glowing and bright.  St. Anthony's in all of it's beauty shone like no other time.
The choir would make Ebenezer himself soften.  We were warm inside and outside. Friendship did that, family did that, the holy day itself did that.

Christmas in the Village

In these times of global uncertainty, of growing older and less energetic
the Christmases of yesteryear bind us once again in the liveliness and meaning of those times.
Times of simplicity and greater meaning.

I wish each and all a dear and wonderful Christmas.
May you not be lonely.  But,if you are, harken back, for somewhere there
must be a Christmas memory or two to savor.

Not everyone grew up in our Village, but I hope these
memories have cheered you.


  Sandra Souza Pineault

My past Christmas in the Village blogs are below if you would like to read them.
 This is the third Christmas for this blog and still
the memories come, well maybe with a repeat now and then.  

After all, I am a silver haired blogger.


12/2/13 Memories Dance Like Sugar Plums....

12/11/13 One Hundred Years of Lighting Up Christmas

                                                        12/16/13  Away in a Manger


Saturday, November 22, 2014


Happy Thanksgiving U.S.A.

It is also a thanksgiving wish to all of our readers wherever they may be,

This is a Saturday Evening Post illustration for Nov. 25, 1922.

Thanksgiving in the Village back then and Thanksgiving today in 2014
remains the same in spirit.  The times are different, more complicated and challenging.
Families may be spread around the country or even around the globe.

But, hopefully, you 
and  yours can be together, if only on Skype  
or somewhere on the Internet.

Friday, November 21, 2014


It is my sad task to write of the passing of Charles Crowley last evening.  Recently, I wrote about
him and his incredible dedication and work in researching and sharing the history
of Taunton.  He and I had been emailing back and forth, he wrote that he liked what I wrote.
Coming from Charles that meant a great deal to me.

Here he is sharing his tales of those buried in Taunton Cemeteries, a font
of history.  I remind everyone that Charles never charged for his presentations.

Charles was keeper of the truth about the history of Taunton.
Big and small, facts of its history were a source of fascination for him, 
His joy was to share with others.

It is so good to know that all of the Olde Time Taunton television
programs are there on You Tube in perpetuity. That is his lasting gift to us.

Rest in peace, Charles, you will not be forgotten. 
This blogger will remain
in gratitude that such a man lived and gave to the city he loved and to all of us.

Photo thanks to David Pimental

Monday, November 17, 2014


As I ponder another post topic, it occurs to me that I have never deeply explored what it means to me to have grown up in the School Street Village in Taunton, MA,  Why that little approximately one square mile is such a part of my heart. I have posted photos and stories but this one is special.
This one goes deeper.

Yes, the photos we share dip back into those days, those wonderful dear folk that peopled that place.  But, what about way down where the tiniest of memories crowd among all the others. Remembering the dress I wore when I recalled that marble game in the Fuller School playground. The feeling of exultation when I was chosen in the game of Red Rover ,Red Rover!  The whoosh of air and the sense of taking off in flight when your swing went as high as it could...and all was possible

Pinterest photo

 The camaraderie that tightly bound us. even as little children, goes on to this day even when the storms and fears and loneliness of old age roam around us.

When we gather, even just two of us, sometimes storytelling is such that we end up laughing so hard it is hard to catch one's breath.    Remember when....remember when...?

Remember Broadway in the 50's  as it looked when we were children and teens.
Mulhern's  Pharmacy, the cars we rode in...  

Photo courtesy of Charles Crowley( see his Facebook page)

This beauty below is from a time I do not recall yet it does not take much to see it in my imagination. This was the corner of Weir Street and the Green probably sometime in the 40's . Some type of Parade when parades meant something.  I do recall that in my youth there was another  pharmacy, Dunnington's, on that corner, though not so large, I do not think.

Below, Main Street in 1939.  Imagine: the ever present New York Lace Store!  That store has weathered the years and is still in Taunton at that same spot today, 2014!  It would be great to research that downtown mainstay.   I believe this photo is thanks to Steve Koska.

These photos are meant to tickle your memories or if you did not grow up in the fair city of Taunton, to try to recall the downtowns of your past.  This blogger would welcome any of your photos in this regard.

We humans have whole lifetimes of memories that we can store deep inside. Amazingly, most of us can retrieve them from our immense capacity!  No wonder they come trickling up unbidden. You know how that goes?  One must capture them,  let them flow and link on to others.  The trick is to let the joy bubble up.  When you grew up in the Village, they usually are the bubbling variety, I assure you.  Too often we let computers replace our memories and they grew hazy.

Above, late cousin Barry's first birthday in the 50's, a party loaded with cousins and aunts.
On Blinn's Court off School St. in the Village.   Barry is being
held by his Mom.

Computers can help, but not replace.  That is the sadness of dementia for so many, that they are robbed of those memories.  I pray that perhaps, though we do not know it, they still strengthen them. The first friend I knew as a child is now in that darkness.

This is a precious photo of my first friend on School St. where we both were born. 
This photo is from my archives.  Somehow my mother saved this all those years.  
It was probably taken around 1945.  It is as cloudy as the years that have passed.
But, it is clear in my heart. This was taken in the backyard victory garden of her family,
 next door to where we lived for a time.

Sometimes photos tug on your heart strings and make you sad to know you can no longer reach out.
Yet, I believe that somehow still reaching out touches somewhere with love.

I was her Maid of Honor way back when ( we bought her gown and my dress at NY Lace Store).  Now every few months I send her a card. No matter that she does not remember.  Yet her husband one day said my name to her, she thought a moment and said....."wedding"...   It gave my heart such comfort to hear that.  I have three friends total in her category.  I keep on sending my little cards reminding them and their families that I do not forget.

The treasures of growing up are locked inside of us.  The events, the history of our time help us to access what lies beneath.  What lies beneath for me is rock solid love and safety.  As a high schooler I babysat after school and did not head home til around 6 p..m.  In the winter months it was dark.  Alone I shuffled my feet through the piles of leaves along Dauphin's fence.  When I could see 184 School St. it was the golden light of the front window that welcomed me.  I knew it was warm inside, busy with children's voices, and the smell of another wonderful Mom dinner.  Home.

During those days, I promised myself I would never leave Taunton.  Well, that sure did not happen except for a brief few years.  I wandered to far off places and experienced a life far removed from that little house.  That is why now I realize that I never did leave, neither the Village or the Taunton I knew growing up. It still inspires me, it still makes me feel safe.  It still teaches me what a real community offers the people it shelters.

Photos help, stories help.  Fingering the pages of my scrapbooks or going through my iPhoto albums all takes me back.  It takes me back to see the photos Charles Crowley posts or the memories shared by Arlene Gouveia.   Precious are the leaves of our lives stored in these photos and stories.


To further enhance this post click to my earlier posts  below.  
They will reference the reasons I began this blog.

Friday, November 7, 2014


Some time ago we sang the praises of Arlene Rose Gouveia, Village historian, and one of the prime movers of this Blog.

Another Taunton historian must be honored and is in a class all his own.  Charles Crowley is a mistro of Taunton historical lore and much more.  The history and life of Taunton runs in his blood. He has dug into her history, her famous sons and daughters ,and those not so famous, as well as the events that shaped her.  Through photographs and facts large and small a historian only whets his appetite on each discovered treasure.  We are the recipients and are constantly being surprised and delighted by new wonders uncovered.

A renaissance man, Charles has served his beloved Taunton in public service for at least 34 years and longer  as its memory keeper.   He has served on the Historical Commission.  An author and noted speaker,  he was elected Mayor for a four year term in 2007. For  many years he served on the City Council and in many other capacities.  He has preserved the history of Taunton keeping it alive for all of us.  We owe him a great deal of gratitude.  I can only touch on his contributions which I will further describe later in this post.

Bloggers like myself can not thank such people enough.  All of us are trying to find and study  our roots, not only those of our families but of the place we called home as children.  There is ever more to learn.  The Village did not exist in a vacuum, its greater surroundings also made it what it was. Charles reminds us that those of us who were born and grew up in the Village travelled in the footsteps of so many who came before.

 Charles also very frequently posts precious photos of the bygone times of our fair city.  You will find these on Olde Tyme Taunton  Charles ' Facebook page.  It is this Facebook Village photograph from Charles' archives appearing last week that prompted me to write this post.

Above: Dominic and Mary Gebeau and Mary Lynch
Source: Olde Tyme Taunton Facebook Page.

If you are a School St. Village kid, as I was, you are always on the look-out among Charles' goodies for School St. lore. Above is the gem that last week showed up on the Olde Tyme Taunton Facebook page which is Charles' page.

It contained no point of recognition for me even though it is a photo from a store  right on the corner of Blinn's Court and School St., specifically 187 School St. in the Village.  Our family lived at 20 Blinn's Court and then at the family homestead, 184 School Street.  This couple above, Mary ( 1860-1940) and Dominic Gebeau (1856-1933) lived at that 187 address and had a neighborhood store on the first floor. To orient those of my day (I was born in 1940) that house later became the home of John and Rosie Serras. Ironically, John and Rosie had a neighborhood store one house down from the P.A.C.C. not far from 187. I well remember them walking to their store which they operated in the 50's , and back each morning and late afternoon. It is the Serras store that I was familiar with as a child.

 The Gebeau's (not a Portuguese name) were gone by 1940. Arlene Rose Gouveia remembers them, especially Mary whom she says was a lovely, kind woman. See the gas light at the upper left of the photo?  Apparently Mary kept them even when electricity came along. The store sold canned goods, tobacco, candy and other such sundries. Arlene also remembers that Mary went to 6 a.m. Mass each day, 7 days a week.  The photo is a beautiful period peace. The young lady behind the counter is identified by Mary Lynch.

If you would like to read once more (or for the first time in many cases) the posts about the Village Economy, especially the neighborhood Mom and Pop stores of which there were many, go to my previous posts in 2012:

More About Charles Crowley

Left to right, Bob Jacobs, TCAM TV Board President, Dr. Mark Hanna, historian,
 and Charles Crowley, Internet News photo in 2012.

One of the greatest historical contributions made by Charles Crowley are his local television programs on Old Tyme Taunton .  Charles celebrated the 300th episode in Jan. 2012. The program began in 1998 and has become a mainstay of local television in Taunton ever since. It can be seen on Channel 15 for Comcast and Channel 22 for Verizon at 8 a.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. Sundays.

 In the wonderful technical time we live in, you can many of these programs on You Tube. This one is about the history of School Street. I invite you to sit back and enjoy it. This is perfect for me, since I now live far from Taunton.

I can assure you  that you will be seeing more photographs and You Tube episodes from Charles on my future posts. They are an unending source of pictorial history for all of us.  Charles often offers tours of local sites, such as historical cemeteries, etc. He often does public presentations on Taunton history and never charges for these events.  As I stated earlier...Charles is a true renaissance man.


Note: Charles Crowley authored A Pictorial History ofTaunton in 2004. More than 300 historical photographs "providing a snapshot of the loves of those that came before us." It can be purchased on Amazon or at Pacheco's Jewelry and Gifts, 20 Taunton Green in Taunton.

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.