MEMOIRS OF SCHOOL STREET VILLAGE

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 spinoart@comcast.net
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.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

RIBBONS , RUFFLES AND ROSARIES - REMEMBERING FIRST COMMUNION DAYS IN THE VILLAGE







As has often been said in this blog,  St. Anthony's Catholic Church on School Street was the Faith center of the Village. Liturgical events marked the passages of each person there.  Baptism as an infant was the first event.

When I was a child and before a baby did not go out of the house until he/she was baptized. This is a photo of one of my grand nieces on her Baptismal day.





 Back in those days it was felt that there were too many dangers- such as infectious diseases - that might harm the child.  Many families could still recall such times.

Baptism, then as now, marked a child as a Catholic and insured theirt heavenly destination should disaster befall.  

The next rite of passage was the sacramental rite of First Communion.  Not only did it mean a major milestone in the spiritual life of the child allowing that child to regularly receive Communion,it was a powerful Church and Family ritual.  It also initiated the child into an age group.  For us in the Village, that group was the one you took religion classes with, and probably the group you were with at Fuller School and onward. Many of us, those still among the living, still keep connected,  Even if we see each other infrequently the bond of the Village is always strong and supportive.


This is the oldest family First Communion photo in my collection.  Here is my Uncle Eddy: Edward Souza in 1927.  As it was at 7 years of age that a child received First Communion, I can date this accurately.

As was the case in the Souza Family of old, it is a formal photograph taken at the Boutin studios in Taunton. This was true for most families, the occasion almost rose to that of a wedding in terms of formality. There are two important things about this photo and the date.  My grandfather, Joseph Souza, died suddenly in a tragic fishing accident that year in July.  First Communion usually took place in early Spring. It is hard to know what date, but one has to wonder if the fact that he is dressed in black means that he had already lost his father.  At least for girls and for boys white was worn for this occasion.




Surfing through the incredible Pinterest posts I hit pay dirt. One of those times when 
an amateur historian and blogger lets out a "hoorah".
I found this photo on Pinterest of Frank Sinatra on the occasion of his First Communion.
Here he is in  black suit and stockings. This photo was taken in 1924.
Both Uncle Eddy and Frank have the white ties and the 
white ribbon on the left arm. They also have the
certificate of this event in their hands.





Portuguese families as well as many Catholic families love to celebrate religious occasions and  a child's First Communion called for just that. In the case of the Village, the old St. Anthony's would have been filled with proud parents and family members proudly watching a gaggle of 7 year old boys and girls.  Present would have been godmothers and godfathers, of special importance in the life of a child of Portuguese descent. Godmother is Portuguese is Madrinha, Godfather is Padrinha. A child shortened it early to Midinga or Minga and Padinha. They were beloved members of the family.


From  1906 to 1951 children at St. Anthony's would have made their First Communion in the dark old, subterranean basement Church, a prelude to the new bright one that would come in 1951.              
No doubt, the dark tones would have had an impact on the solemnity involved. The insert is that of Father Louro, first Pastor.  I received my First Communion from the very dear Monsignor Texeira whose simplicity and kindness was well known throughout the Diocese of Fall River.





To learn more about St. Anthony's please go to



Children would have processed in the procession like the one below before or
after the Mass. I recognize each of these houses across from the Church, although this looks like the entrance to the newer Church, it was obviously taken in the early 50's from the dress and the cars.
The old Church had deep long stairs from the top ground entrance downward which were
often frightening for a small child.  Often processions with little ones came in at the side
whose stairs were much shorter.





Below is a 1925 Pinterest photo of two young girls at their
First Communion. Like Uncle Eddy's and Frank Sinatra's everything
is far more elaborate and in tune with fashions of the day. 
Here we see that candles complete the ensemble. The dresses
are long and modest.






These are St. Anthony First Communion studio portraits of a Village brother and sister: Arlene Rose Gouveia and her brother, Donny Rose.  The white suit replaces the somber
black one but the white arm ribbon  and neck tie remains.  
The certificate is gone and only the rosary remains.


Donald Rose : 1939




Arlene Rose: 1941

 For little girls, the elaborate headpiece still remains, although much simplified,
 as do the long whitegloves. The veil is still quite long. One might say these were small debutantes for the Lord. Here Arlene kneels on a kneeler. her dress also is shorter than the two
1925 children.




I received my First Communion  at the old St. Anthony's
in 1947. I was 7 years old. I kept my mouth closed  in the photograph
because I  had lost my front teeth.

Memories of that day: the silky feel of the white gloves and the
way my fingers felt in them. The stiffness of my veil and how I was
careful my veil and cap did not fall off.  My veil ends at the hem of my white dress,
Little shoes that had a tiny heel making me feel so grown up. The awe.  Feeling my little friends
in front and behind me supporting my long procession up the aisle to the alter rail, the start of friendships that would be lifelong. There was the emotion we youngsters felt on approaching this Holy of Holies the right way, of reaching out for the host correctly with our tongue and of not chewing it but rather swallowing it whole. A lot for a child to remember along with keeping our minds open to prayer and thanksgiving.  I remember a little gold edged prayerbook covered in white silk which I kept for a long time...but not long enough.

Each time I hear the hymn:" O, Lord I am not worthy..."
I am transported back to that day.


Here I am, long gloves and white stockings and all.




 Another contemporary of mine in her First Communion attire.






Finally, here is my sister, Mariellen, in her photograph (not studio for the first time)
and  her First Communion attire. She received her First Communion in the newer present Church
pictured here.






 No gloves, shorter white stockings. The veil, too, is shorter although the headdress is still quite fancy.   Maryellen's dress is shorter.  She has the sweetest smile of all my photos on this post. Still sweet ruffles and lace, white shoes and socks
and a white rosary.




First Communion memories can be found in our hearts.  Those that happened at a simpler time when liturgical events were an event for child, family and the Village.  It is a gift to revisit them, to
re-ignite the simplicity our our childhood Faith and trust.

We were innocent in a more innocent time.  Though it had its problems, they were not as multiplied as today and our Faith kept everything centralized and in its place. Those memories can still
light up our souls strengthening them when we  need them the most.

Times like these, they really can comfort and inspire.

Question: do we share such memory with our children and grandchildren?
My next blog will be about how we do that, pass on
the stories that inspire and share family history and keep such history 
safe for the future.


.................



SOURCES;

Photography from Arlene Rose Gouveia and
Sandra Souza Pineault
.......

About memories of First Communions:
............

Pinterest:
see links below each photo.











Monday, December 28, 2015

PAYING HOMAGE TO EMMA

Just before Christmas a Village light went dark. There is little doubt, however, that it shines in a far better place.  At age 101 years of age,  School Street Village's  own Emma Andrade went to her rest. As she rarely rested prior to that it must have been quite a surprise.

As a friend and blogger, Mary Jane Fernino wrote:

                                                  " ...Emma. A force of nature
                                                     we all thought invincible
                                                      is at rest  after 101 eventful years.
                                                      Emma was the stuff of legends."

         
Emma died just before Christmas, quietly but in the midst of caroling, glitter and the color red. In her own fashion she went out of the world as she inhabited it - legendary. It is my honor to dedicate this post to her in hopes I can share the wonderful story of her life as it affected all who knew her.

The Village was known for its strong women. Yet Emma stood out.  Women today continually attempt to rise above, to be respected, to attain the heights. Emma did all of that while never leaving the Village.

This is a photo of Emma, taken in her very later years. I believe that it captures her essence -her sharp witty gaze, direct and true but always, always kind. The smile that was ever prepared to share or tell a funny story or just to cheer you up. When Emma spoke her words tingled with cheer and a kind of ringing that let you know you were in for a safe and happy good time. Her attitude in the photo is of a woman getting ready to hit the dance floor!



If you grew up in the Village  born in the 30's, 40's or 50's and someone said the name , Emma Rico \Andrade, her image would just pop right into your head.  That image is wrapped in a smile that lit up a room, a Village, and even a child's spirit.

That smile lit up my own spirit. I was a skinny, gawky teenager feeling my way to growing up with a great lack of self-confidence. One day I met Emma on the street in the Village and her words to me gave me such a dose of belief in myself that they became etched into my heart . Emma never had a daughter but it seemed she adopted the young daughters of the Village and cheered us on. Her niece shared that her joy was seeing the children of the Village do well with their lives.

Emma was a native born Villager, born Sept, 12, 1914, the fourth child of Portuguese immigrants: Frank and Pauline.  Like all the rest of us, she went to Fuller School as a child and eventually graduated from high school in 1930, voted the best athletic.  Until moving to Marian Manor, a Nursing Home in Taunton,  she never lived anywhere but in the Village.  She did, however, travel to many countries and to every state in the country.

She proved the description of being the most athletic at her high school graduation. As a teen she was a member of the Village girl's softball team. Rumor has it that they were very good, playing down on the fields near Ventura Grain on Longmeadow Rd. off School Street.  We can imagine she and her teammates looked like this. I found this photo on Pinterest, the car in the background pretty much dates it.



















Emma proved her pep and athletic abilities far into her later years. I attended a family wedding where she, in her early 90's, was present. When a toe tapping dance number started  she jumped up, hoisted her skirts above her knees and begged other to join her on the dance floor. Vintage Emma!

Back even in the 30's and 40's and onward Emma was a vibrant and vital part of the Village. In her teens she volunteered to canvas the Village and nearby neighborhoods going door to door seeking donations to the American Heart Association, the Red Cross and United Way. She must have paved the way for us, I remember doing that as a teen myself.

Emma founded the Question Mark Club in the 50's in the Village where young women could get together. She stayed a member for over 65 years.  In those days there were more male associations than those for women.

At the age of 19 Emma was the first President of the Portuguese American Civic Club Auxiliary on School St.  She remained active there for 25 years.

In 1942, Emma married Aristides (Aris) Andrade.  I remember him,  He had a smile as big as Emma's. They had one son, Peter.  Below is Aris when he served as President of the P.T.A. at Fuller School. He is with our beloved Principal, Sophia Dupont. He was as quiet as Emma was energetic and like yin and yang they made a perfect couple. Emma would lose her dear husband in 1964 when he died suddenly of a cardiac condition.  Tragically, for Emma and their son, Peter, a high school senior then, and for their extended family, his death occurred one day apart from one of their young nieces, a mother of two small children.  They had a double funeral at St. Anthony's and there were so many cars, School Street was closed off.




Emma's faith and her ability to look outside herself and go on helped her to heal.
 She got up from her sorrow and went out and got involved.

St. Anthony's Catholic Church was the faith center of the Village and Emma was always at its heart.  She served on the Pastoral Council, the Holy Rosary Sodality, the St. Anthony's Feast Committee.  She would be a member of the Parish Centennial Committee, the Centennial Parish History Committee.   She was active in the Diocesan  Council of Catholic women,  elected President twice. By special appointment of the Bishop at that time, she was appointed on the Bishop's Pastoral Council and was recipient of the prestigious Marian Medal for exemplary service to her Parish.




She went on to serve as Chairperson for the Bishop's Charity Ball. She was once heard talking to the Bishop who chided her that she might be the first woman priest, Emma responded, she would rather be the first Bishop and take his job!

Emma was an active member of the Business and Women's Foundation society.  She was a member of the Quota Club, on the Board of Trustees of the Morton Hospital Corporation as well as the Old Colony Historical Society.

Emma had a heart as big as her spirit. Her niece recalls that her Aunt once took an early lunch from her work as an Assistant Clerk to Clerk Magistrate, William Grant to go to Fuller School. There she cheered her young niece on for her part in a Christmas play.

Perhaps my favorite story of Emma is that when a resident of Marian Manor she continued to "hold court" as it were.  She held her own "salon" serving a group of friends refreshments each Friday afternoon.  She would insist that the ginger ale be chilled to properly accompany the cookies and crackers and cheese that she set out.





One of this writer's joys was that early on when I was researching the history of the Village, I wrote to Emma asking if she would share her memories, particularly as to the small businesses in the Village.  She gathered together her Friday group (also from the Village). They put their heads together.  Soon after I received a very impressive large envelope with their findings.  Typewritten pages gave me all I had to know...and more.  

Tucked in at the end -  "there was a house ill repute " at the edge of the Village.  I imagined the laughter they must have enjoyed when they attempted to describe it.

I knew of the house but never of its nefarious purpose....the fact was proved out when I did further research.  Attached to the presentation was a card telling me that her son had written the note as she had broken her wrist when she fell from her walker.  I dare not ask what she may have been up to...

That following Christmas I received a greeting card with my address in shaky handwriting. It was from Emma and I felt so pleased that she remembered me.  Emma, still making people feel good about themselves.

She was very well read and a member of a book club at the time of her death. She was writing a paper on The Kennedys from a book she was reading and preparing to share it.  I think of my own mother. When she died there were unfinished crocheted handbags, gifts for friends.  Village women keep on going right to the end, When they move on to a better place they are probably still busy watching over all of us.

In September of 2014, Emma turned 100.   Many friends and relatives joined in the party at the Marian Manor.   She quipped silly jokes and stories and sang songs for her guests.

 She told hem;
" Now I want to thank all of you.  I can't stand and I can't walk 
but I can do everything else that's bad!" 

She added, 
"I am so glad you are here, and that you are making a lot of racket
she said, "I like the noise."  

After the singing of Happy Birthday, she issued 
another one liner,
 " It's time to stop kissing and start eating."
.............................................
        
               I end this post with an excerpt from a Poem by Maya Angelou: Phenomenal Woman



"It's the fire in my eyes
 and the flash of my teeth
the swing in my waist
and the joy in my feet.
   I am a woman- phenomenally."
...................


                                           Heaven is happy you are there, dear Emma!
But, we sure will miss you!

 .....................



Sources:

Narratives of the Village as shared with my by Arlene Gouveia

Taunton Daily Gazette: Obituary of Emma Andrade

Taunton Daily Gazette: : "Two Remarkable Taunton Women..."

Reminiscents of Her Aunt by Cynthia Mendes as shared with this writer. 

Saltwater Influences: a blog by Mary Jane Fernando

Pinterest


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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

MUSINGS ON CHRISTMASES PAST

For  myself and others graced with a childhood in the "olden days", Christmas memories twine around our hearts like a wreath.  Kind of like the photograph below taken by my
mother.  She had carved and painted the little hearts that are so full of message.



Why, we ask, is the term "Christmas" so frightening for some?  It's been a tough couple of years for "Christmas".  Hijacked, reviled, given other meanings, subsumed into someone else's holiday...poor Christmas.  Christmas has never done anything but be itself.  The term means Christ-Mass, a specifically Christian derivation.

Still with all of that Christmas shines on.  Precisely because
 the term is less seen it shines even brighter!

The remnants of a real Christmas are all around us.  Twinkling lights set off apps in my head tuning into the real meaning of Christmas.  Those of us born in the 40's and 50's
 can access that meaning knowing that it is more about the Creche than commerce, 
more about love than gifts.

There was a spirituality about it all, the Christmases I knew.  We can still find it today if we seek it in the right places, sort of like following the star.  But, back then it surrounded and comforted us.

My memories jostle for space - they live at the foot of years upon years of Christmas pasts.

Joy was found in DIY (do-it-yourself)  long before the term became vogue.  Out in the woods on a sharp snowy winter day looking for the perfect greens, the best moss, holly and red berries. Small feet crunching on packed snow looking for the wherewithal to create a creche for the Holy Family.  

It tickles the top of my nose to remember the cold. 
Our baskets filled with gifts from the forest.

As I went through old photographs not yet on my computer albums, I came across this one. Amazed, I realized it was taken in 1947 and included our Christmas tree and creche or it was my Aunt Eleanor's?   Just above my head (I am the oldest at 7 years old,)  is the creche filled with greens from the woods nearby. Greens we had picked.  You can see the wise men figures approaching the crib.  Note the levels, they were comprised of moss and rocks and perhaps boxes holding it all up. Next to that on the right is the Christmas tree strewn with old fashioned tinsel. That is my little brother on my lap, my sister Kathy next to me.  It was tradition that we girls wore velvet for Christmas day, and this was taken Dec, 25, 1947. To the right is my cousin Helena, my Aunt Eleanor's daughter. To this day I love wearing velvet around this holy day.




One of my sisters has my mother's handcrafted creche with all its ceramic figures she lovingly painted in a ceramics class.  I recognize each little statue like an old friend feeling the curves and lines of the angel watching over it all.  Year after year more tiny figures were added as my mother was given or came upon little squirrels, tiny fish, a mirror to act like it was a pond.  Then she started carving her own little animals, too. Each year the Creche became higher, wider. Soon there were levels that pretended to be hills and sparkling dark blue cloth like the night sky. First, we as children were drawn into the Christmas story within that beloved scene, then grandchildren knew it each year as they grew.  There were two stories.  The great, grand story of a Savior's love for us, and the wonderful warm story of a mother and grandmother's love for us children. Added to that was another Creche created out of love and that was of our dear Aunt Eleanor.  Her Christmas seasons were over too soon but not before her love had marked us and kindled in us the understanding of this season.


                                 Mom's Christmas figures in a new home still telling its story. Below
                                        more tiny creatures to grow the Nativity Scene.





Did you know that St. Francis of Assisi created the very first Nativity Scene in 1223? He had been inspired by a trip to the Holy Land. His Scene was a live one. It started the whole world wide custom and continues to this day. Each culture made it their own with the landscape and people.  For example, the Portuguese put a little pot of sprouting wheat seeds alongside the manger symbolizing the Bread of Life.  In every Christian Church today, some form of Nativity scene is displayed, and in many homes as well.  The Message continues.

As a child, our Christmas times were filled with wonder and what seemed like a never-ending celebration.  The stars in the Village winter nights promised bulging stockings (even if only with tangerines and hard candy) and presents below our tree (not many but each precious).  By the by the Christmas stockings were our own and not works of art.

The great Creche in our Village Church, St. Anthony's, could fit a small child as it did so long ago. The bright warm lights and soaring voices of our choir set our souls aglow. The Nativity set was so large whole pine trees guarded its boundaries, red poinsettias warming it along with the single light shining down on the manger where the child would lay.

Part of all the magic was going down to see the Christmas display on the Green in the center of Taunton.  As a 7 year old the lights and snow must have seemed incredible. Would that we keep our childhood sense of wonder.

Below is a photo of the Taunton Green Christmas display in 1947, the same year as the photograph above with us children. years of the Christmas City displays.  An interesting note from the book "Candles on the Green" is that the lights-on ceremony that year boasted light snow.  On Christmas Eve the temperature was below zero. The day after Christmas, Rosalind Ballroom burned down! A few historical tidbits from my little city that keeps its Christmas displays going even to this day...and always containing a religious motif!



The gift of Family was learned, too.  Back then, the arms of many Aunts, their coats scented with the cold, were always seeking to hug and clasp close a small one.  The laughter and energy of a gaggle of cousins high on Christmas candy and excitement sounded through our house.

We feed on our memories, the good ones from my childhood Christmases color over in bright hues any sad ones.  There was such a place as the Village in the 40's and 50's and we lived there. It takes longer to reach back now, I may forget a thing or two. But, they continue to be brought back to life.

 Our memories can still be a source of smiling and sharing.  They still occasion a prayer for those no longer here.  Today the digital world provides us with a way to share such memories.  The great thing about this blog is that it will still be here long after I am gone.  Still a remembrance of such a place - of faith, family and friends.

But, not yet.  Still going...this little engine of memories.  Still being crafted and dusted off.



         May your memories sparkle this year, soothe what might ail you
 and keep you and yours close.
Sandra Souza Pineault

         

                                                                                               123f.com



Sources:

Story of St. Francis of Assisi and the Nativity Scene
http://www.uscatholic.org/church/2012/10/who-invented-nativity-scene


1947 Photograph of Christmas on the Green: Bristol County Historical Society

Candles on the Green: Charles Crowley and Dr.  William Hanna. Available at the Bristol Country Historical Society as well as Amazon.com.

Photographs from my Collection and that of my sister, Kathleen Campanirio.
Photography collection of my mother, Angelina Souza.