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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 23, 2015


Thanksgiving 2013 I posted this and it seems
right to use it again.  My memories simmer like gravy on the stove, 
loved laughter drifts through my mind, the taste of that special squash pie only my Aunt Eleanor could make, the smell of the apple pies that were my mother's specialty, the sound of the bubbling crispness of the turkey roasting in a brown paper bag in the oven, The smell and taste of Aunt Alveda's stuffing. The sound of children's feet as they sneaked into the kitchen for a taste of this and that, little fingers traveling the tabletop.  

The heat and heart of the kitchen from all the cooking and from all the love.

Happy Thanksgiving memories and dreams to all !

This is a great photo of two of my wonderful aunts: Aunt Alveda and Aunt Eleanor.  
The light of their smiles lit up a room. This was some kind of 
a family get-together;
maybe Thanksgiving, maybe not.  But the message is there: of family, 
of place, of all the gifts
in our lives that started with being born into the place we were.

  I am thankful for everything, for 
my family and for the family of the School Street Village.
May Thanksgiving blessings be on each of
you and your families wherever you may have roamed. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Photography by Ryan Smith

I am no longer in the region of glowing Autumns. Yet, just recently visiting
the mountains of North Carolina my memory taste buds received enough to
stir my memoirs. Some of the photographs from there appear in this post. The 
above was taken by my nephew who has inherited his grandmother's photography genes.

I have taken to bringing a little red notebook with me on trips.  I write when
the spirit moves me. I absorbed the ghosts of the autumns from my childhood while in the mountains this year. The ghosts were benign and kind and spoke to me of misty autumns. 

Now, in these November days even in the
South the crickets have an autumn sound waking my long gone 
 childhood experiences.

I remember....

the feel of gardens entering their winter slumber.  Are we meant during the days of autumn to go into some quiet protected place as well?   Those of us who were fortunate enough to live back in another time may well feel that we are called to do just that.  

"The magic of Autumn has seized the countryside; now that the sun
is not ripening anything it shines for the sake of the golden age, for
the sake of Eden, to please the moon for all I know."

Elizabeth Cutsworth

Autumn in the Village where I spent my childhood was a magic season. It entered the turning paths of our imagination where we found myth and possibility. There was enough silence in the Falls of my childhood that the drying leaves played by the wind created a scintillating sound that was a music unlike any other.  The pines plucked their needles to
produce their own lullaby, especially right outside a child's window.

The child's imagination could be slowly nurtured by the night wind rattling old
wooden sashed windows and gently nurtured by shadows of big trees in the backyard.

As children we collected the bright leaves, ecstatic in their dying.
They were used for collage, for tracing and then coloring, for
dry bouquets for our mothers.

Sweaters and jackets kept us swathed in the scent of mothballs where
they had been hidden all summer.

                                     We began to nestle into our dreams of paths yet to come.
                              Nothing like shushing one's feet through dry leaves on the way
home from school to nudge such dreams.  They gathered in great piles
against old tall wooden fences waiting for a child
to plunge into them with laughing glee.

The elegance of autumn in New England.  Color upon color reaching high, like a dowager in her finest garb. A last hoorah! The leaves must touch each other to play their Fall song.  Many softly let themselves join Mother Earth.  Mellowed and wizened they gracefully slip silently to sleep.

Even back in my childhood Autumn held its own traditions.  It held the promise of Halloween. It made you hold your breath passing by a cemetery, expecting to see the Headless Horseman come galloping through.  The violence of today's video games and movies were not around to stifle our imaginings. Even before us,  poets like Robert Frost had created poems that nurtured our childhood creativity. There was silence abounding to let all of that pass through. Cell phone were way in the future and everything let us be.

The creativity of the Autumn palate.  The creativity of Halloween and how we were part of it. Simply a part of it.   The safety of the Village on the eve of Halloween. A gaggle of children slowly processing from house to house. Hooted Trick or Treats (never a trick...) and giggles upon giggles as we spied who some masked child really was.  The fained surprise of the adults greeting us at each house. All the porch lights were lit to welcome each and all.


Innocence wrapped in the colors of Autumn. Costumes were patched together with our own old clothes or that of our parents. Black mascara worked wonders. We were who our imaginations wished us to be and we acted accordingly. A bedsheets with eyes cut out was perfect. An old mop made a wig for a witch, Cardboard was always helpful.  Pillow cases made the bags for the candy we collected. An old soft hat of our dad's pulled down over a cheap paper mask, one of his jackets so big on a little boy that the sleeves dragged along the ground.

Autumn is a time to wrap oneself up in the memories of a childhood in the 50's hiding oneself from the noise and anger of the world around us. Values were clear back then, like the shine of red leaves and the gift of an apple from a neighbor on Halloween Eve.  How blessed those who can go back and pull out friendships and trust their remembering.

     Milkweed in Autumn
photography by my mother
Angelina Motta Souza

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


 It is clear that a lot of folks enjoyed the last post's story of the Taunton Old Ladies' Home. It is gratifying to hear that it definitely rang a memory bell.  Also, it was a surprise to hear  from Peter Roache partner at Donellon, Orcutt, Patch and Stallard, Certified Public Accountants who now own and occupy 96 Broadway, the former Old Ladies' Home. The building has been lovingly restored with photos and stories of the Home on display in their Office.  Mr. Roache sent in a short history written by one of the Founders of the Home.  This allows me, along with another article from the Taunton Gazette from 1969, to add another post on the subject.

A great big thank you to everyone who has helped to add more history to this Taunton historical tale.

A History of the Taunton  Female Charitable Association
by S.R.B.

In this post I am paraphrasing the above history of the Association and its work adding some touches of my own.The Ladies' of the Association will kindly forgive me for doing some enlightening and connecting. The initials on the history are S.R.B. so it is assumed that Susanna Brewer wrote the paper although it is a dated very late for that.

Mrs. Brewer tells us there were 35 members and a printed Constitution for the Association. The officers were: Mrs. Susanna Brewer, First Directress, Mrs. Abby West,  Second Directress, Mrs. Sally Shepard, Treasurer, and Mrs. Harriet Leanard, Secretary.  The managers were Mrs. Sally Carver, Mrs. Eleanor Hodges, Mrs. Anna Ingell and Mrs. Mary Bush.

(One site elsewhere says that Mrs. Morton was First Directress, but we will not quibble. They were both early involved.)

The Taunton Female  Charitable Association had its beginning with tea table chats after the war of 1812.  The women organized in 1816 and dreamed of sponsoring a comfortable home for the elderly needy women of Taunton.  (a 1969 Taunton Daily Gazette article wrote that they were planning on caring for elderly Protestant women in the Home, but that did not come up in Ms. Brewer's writeup. Still, as there was rampant anti-Catholisism about for many years in the country, this would be no surprise.)

Early records of the Women's Association were lost but not the treasurer's information.  Susanna Brewer tells us that the gentleman from Savannah who donated $2,000 was Edward Padelford. (It is interesting to note that many streets in Taunton bear these names.)

In November of 1870 a house at 1871 Franklin St. in the City was bought for the sum of $4,000 from Philander Williams for the purpose of opening the Ladies' Home and in January 1871, it was opened with "appropriate exercises".  It served as the Home for 15 years.

Water came from a well in the front yard and a cistern was there as well.  In 1871, the Association  "voted to sell the outhouse as it was no longer used." The Matron received $5 a week and the servant, $3. There was no dearth of applicants for admission. "One was denied entrance until she promised to give up smoking."

There was a Board of seven gentlemen elected as advisors with one acting as auditor. There were annual fairs held at Wilbur's, The Armory or Music Halls. Sometimes these were run for 2 days and brought in a "goodly sum."

The Taunton Armory 
1907 postcard

The Admission fee to be admitted to the Home was $150 in 1887,  $200 in 1903, in 1907 $250, in 1910, $300, in 1924, $400, in 1958  $500 and in 1959, $800.

The gift of a lot by Mrs. Sarah King spurred on the desire for a new building and eventually enough was raised to construct the Home on 96 Broadway.  Meanwhile, a man "paid $6 for the privilege of pasturing his cow upon the lot."

The original contract for building the Home was $8.800, the contract is now at the Office at 96 Broadway. The $65 for the fence was extra. The contract is dated 1885 which is not in line with other historical accounts but no matter. Storytelling  certainly does not always purport historical accuracy.

Broadway as to probably looked in 1878
One can imagine a cow grazing here.
Not the Broadway as it looks today.
Source: Cardcow

In 1885, writes our historian, a contract was signed with Franklin D. Williams to build a fifteen room house with heating and grading by Walter Park, Architect,  for $10,000 on 96 Broadway.

When the building was done the "family" moved in.  Six of the city's well known physicians inspected the Home to insure its safety from a sanitary standpoint.  They were Drs. Presbrey, Hubbard, Murphy, Paige, Jones and Hayward, ( Two names stand out for me: Presbrey was the last name of the Director of Nurses at Taunton State Hospital in the 1960's and Murphy was the physician related to the first women surgeon, Dr. evelyn Murphy, in Taunton written about in the post cited below, you will find it a delightful read and includes information on the Murphy physician line, we assume it was the father-in-law of Dr. Evelyn Murphy alluded to in the history here):

During the war years an astonishing amount of canning was done from the vegetable garden at the Home.  When Susanna Brewer wrote her history in 1959 she said that a bequest had meant there was an elevator,  a television and that the Home was comfortable for all of its residents and staff. (paraphrased). To comply with state laws a fire alarm system was installed then as well. A reader tells us that growing up nearby she remembers that the Ladies often made fudge for the neighborhood children.

The photographs below are from a Taunton Daily Gazette article in April of 1969 when the Taunton Women's Association celebrated its 140th anniversary and the Home was still thriving.

A  Golden Tea was occasioned for this anniversary, the festivities
patterned set in 1829 by the first fundraises of the Association.

Recognize anyone?


                                                            Below is  Rachel Morse
who was feted on this occasion for her years as a
member of The Taunton Female Charitable Association
following in her mother's footsteps.
It was women like Rachel and her mother who made it all possible.
She was given an orchid for the occasion. Rachel Morse joined
the Association in 1909.


The article tells us that an exquisite red and white quilt done by the Home's very first residents was
exhibited. Each square was embroidered with a verse and the initials of the woman who composed them.  It was given to the Bristol County Historical Society. I would guess that it is still exhibited there and kept with great care.  If you go there, take a photo for me.. 
That would round up our history beautifully!

I am so pleased to be able to add more to our Old Ladies' Home story and that of the Taunton Female Charitable Association that founded and managed it. There are many,  many stories of the Village and the City of Taunton that just pop up here and there begging that to be remembered and told.  I almost never know what is coming next!


From the Research Dept. at the Taunton Public Library

Taunton Daily Gazette Article in April, 1969
Rachel Morse Feted at Anniversary Tea

Peter Roache CPA
Donellon, Orcutt, Patch and Stallard
Certified Public Accountants
96 Broadway, Taunton, MA

From their records, the last person
to leave the Home passed away in 1984.

      Visit the Old Colony  Historical Society on Church Green in Taunton 
for more information about the Ladies' Home.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Let's face it,  the times today are complicated for all of us,  especially so for our seniors.  Navigating the pitfalls of  Medicare/Medicaid and the like can be hazardous for anyone's health.  Grown children often live far from their parents and grandparents. The need for assisted living or nursing facilities can become a necessity, and a frustrating business for all concerned.

Not everyone today can live in a place like the School Street Village of yesteryear or on one of the Sardinian Islands in the Mediterranean remaining in the bosom of family and friends.

 As I mentioned in the last post, it was nearly unheard of for an elderly parent or grandparent not to live with family in the Village when I was a child in the 40's and 50's.  Like a cocoon or an oasis, the Village cared for its own.  Somehow, that family value endured for years. The times were conducive to that, they were softer, more family oriented and families were strong and intact.  Now, our American culture is sometimes almost unrecognizable.  The elders of our time are no longer a priority for inclusion.  This is a unavoidable fact of life for many reasons.

That transition took years and years to change as family, individuals and society morphed into one that was more egocentric, less concerned with honoring its elders and treasuring their gifts. Recently, Pope Francis said, ..."children are the future of a family, grandparents are its memory."

Looking back we see the factors early on.  In the late 1880's the great migration West took place in the U.S.A.  Families often left parents behind who could not cope with the arduous trip. The Civil War would mean that fathers and sons would disappear leaving a tremendous hole in family life.  Also, there was a movement into more urban areas which accomplished the same leaving behind.  To cope society did what it could. There was the rise of the poorhouse where mentally ill, and destitute were often thrown together in a terrible mix with those simply to poor to cope and with the elderly who were alone.  But, also, in the American way back then there came the advent of benevolent societies who tried to help in a more humane and genteel way the plight of left behind parents and grandparents and the single and widowed elderly.

A benevolant society did come forth in in that tradition with a group of determined women in Taunton. A sign of those years of yesterday was the gracious way that needy elderly ladies were helped by this group in the City and in many cities and towns throughout the country.  Back in those days, government intervention was not nearly as invasive as it is today.  Then, charitable groups often assisted those in need of services making that charity more personal, and most likely, more cost efficient.

In 1815, that group of concerned Taunton women became aware of the fate of the population of single elderly ladies in the City. Many of those elderly were alone and in those days had no old age  assistance programs.  The group of charitable women held teas and fairs managing to pay for rent and food for needy single women in their later years. Finally, in1829 they obtained a state charter and were called The Taunton Female Charitable Organization. It is still listed as a non-profit in Raynham MA with a corresponding post office box number.

       Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives in General Court
       assembled and the authority of the same as follows: The Taunton Female Charitable
       Association, in addition to the powers now vested in said corporation, is hereby
       authorized to establish and maintain in the City of Taunton a home for the relief of
       aged and indigent women; and said Association is hereby authorized to receive
       grants, devises and donations for the use and purposes herein specified, etc.

Donations were generous. Mr. Edward Padelford, of Savannah, Georgia, giving two thousand
dollars, the Ladies went to work to find a house suitable for their purpose.(Who was this gentlemen?).  In January, 1871, they opened their doors at 96 Broadway and during that month and the following ones, they received 8 members to the Home. Twelve Founding Ladies took turns supervising the Home.  Matrons and domestic help were obtained.

This is a lovely postcard of the Old Ladies' Home,  probably from the 20's or 30's by the look of the car.  I love this postcard, the sepia tones just exude genteel elegance and softness.

Applicants had to be born in the United States, be residents of Taunton for ten years preceding the application and be at least sixty years of age. They paid an entrance fee (often $100) which secured their care for the rest of their days.  A dozen ladies were able to live in the Home at any one time.  Eventually, throughout its existence 171 women were cared for there.  In the last two years that the Home existed there were only two ladies and the Home stayed open just for them fulfilling its mission to the end.

The yearly expenses of the Home amounted to $2,000 and were met by the Corporation. The first officers (elected yearly, a form of term limits, it seems) were:  Mrs. Erastus Maltby, Mrs. Samuel Southgate, Miss Mary L. Hartshorn, Mrs.E.U. Jones. There was a Board of 21 ladies 
as managers and six gentlemen as advisors who met monthly.

The Home on 96 Broadway was simply known as The Old Ladies' Home. Early on the Home was called the Home for Aged and Indigent Women..that was how it was listed in the City Listings.  I like Old Ladies Home much better, don't you?  This photo below is from a 1969 article in the Gazette when the Home was closed.   There was never a sign, there was no need, everyone knew what it was.

                   Elegant and lovely, one of those spearheading the Old Ladies' Home in Taunton

Charlotte Hodges Morton (wife of Marcus Morton, Judge and one time
  U.S. Vice Presidential Candidate).  Mrs. Morton was the first Directress
                     on the Taunton Ladies Home.  She was a busy woman, she had 12 children and had time for this as well as being involved with the Remonstrance Society in Boston
which wasanti-suffrogate (against the vote for women). She lived from 1801 - 1850.
Morton Hospital in Taunton is named for the Judge and the main
building was once their home.

The portrait is from the Frick Collection.

We can close our eyes and see in our imaginations that the rooms in the Home looked like those below. This photo was taken in an Old Ladies' Home in New York state during the 1880's.   The residents often had teas and enjoyed hosting visits with friends.
What an antidote for senior loneliness. I am intrigued by the fact that the
victorian manner of decor we see here has come back, as people look for warmth in their surroundings. I also know of a lovely widow Village lady in her 100th year
who now lives in Marian Manor in Taunton who, until recently, 
hosted teas each Friday with her friends. Only now it was ginger ale and cookies. 
But, the warmth and camaraderie still shines on.

                                                                      Flickr photo

The Home had all the hallmarks of "a home". I do not say all such homes were perfect but they were surely an improvement over "warehousing" (a term used today) of the elderly today. Here is another photo of the Home in N.Y. The Home in Taunton would have had warm touches such as the fresh flowers, thanks to the Women who organized and ran it.

                          Below is the bedroom of one of the residents in the Home quoted above.
                  The Home for Old Ladies' in Taunton closed its doors in 1969. A person who grew
up nearby in Taunton remembers long befor that the ladies peacefully
 rocking in the rockers on the front porch.


This is a photograph of ladies giving a fund raising tea circa 1930's for the Graham Old Ladies' Home in Brooklyn, N. Y., the closest home to the one in Taunton I could find.  The Home has been restored and refurbished and still could accept elderly ladies....for $800,000!

Over the years of its service, the Home never once had to place a resident into a Nursing Home,  Even if they had to engage a private nurse they kept the resident in her own surroundings at the 97 Broadway . The residents considered themselves a family. Nearly every day there was a visitor, a clergyman or a member of the Home's Managers who made sure no one went without attention.

Such a lesson to be found in this history, a lesson of local people caring for their own in the community.  A lesson dedication and hope.  Fortunate were those ladies of old, both those in the Home and those who served them.

It was delightful researching this post and once again reaching back to find a treasure that still teaches us today. The rise of bureaucratic rules for Homes for the Aged meant that the elderly were protected, but it also meant that such homes as we write about here could no longer exist.  Hence the loss of an opportunity for smaller homes much like anyone's homes where dignity and friendship abided. In the meantime. what a gift for those women who were able to live there.

" The (Women's) Charitable Organization has gone steadily forward with its good work- providing a comfortable and happy home for the homeless, providing themselves friends
to the friendless and take the best care of the sick, ministering in every way to the good of all in the home, and being a great blessing to the Community."

                                                           A HISTORY OF TAUNTON...SAMUEL HOPKINS EMERY

                                         96 Broadway today, renovated for a business.
                                           Are  there memories imbedded in those walls?

                                                         SOURCES FOR THIS POST:

           As always, thanks to Aaron Cushman, research librarian at the Taunton Public Library.
                   Taunton, MA. I loved that library as a child and treasure it still.

                Taunton Daily Gazette, Archives: Old Ladies' Home: Just a Piece of History:1969
                        Old Ladies' wouldn't Recognize the Place Now; Nov. 24, 1989.


Vintage Postcard of Old Ladies Home, Taunton, MA
also see Facebook Page:Taunton,Ma-Postcard History


The Ladies Repository:Vol. 35, Issues 3-6  Documents that a Mrs. King gave $5,000 to the Ladies' Home at an early date. 


                                                     Lists of Old Ladies' Homes in the U.S.

  History of Taunton, Massachusetts from It's Settlement Until the Present Time (1880's) by Samuel  Hopkins Emery. If you are doing any type of Taunton history, this is an excellent source. Samuel  Emery was a minister and provides an excellent history.  Now out of print, it is available free online.

The Social Welfare History Project from 1877 to 1893.

Taunton City Directory: 1899 pg. 392

Women Anti-Suffragegists in the 1915 Campaign.


The Graham Old Ladies' Home in Brooklyn, New York.

Monday, September 28, 2015


This past May, the Wall St. Journal published this article:WANT GREAT LONGEVITY AND HEALTH? IT TAKES A VILLAGE. For me, now a very grown-up Villager, it was fascinating reading. It was easy to make comparisons to The School Street Village of my youth. Also, I know of at least two School Street women who have reached 100 years of age. One is my Aunt by marriage who lived in the Village in her early married life, she had married my Uncle who was been born there.  The other grew up in the Village and until recently spent all her life there.

The subtitle of the article in the WSJ is "To make it to 100: plenty of community, exercise, beans."

In our School Street Village, elders were honored and lived as fully integrated members of their extended families and the Village as a whole.  Most every child I knew as I grew up had a grandmother or grandfather living with them. Those were not the days of Nursing Homes as we know them today.

The WSJ article focuses on a series of Villages in Sardinia which boasts 21 centenarians for every 10,000 people.  Only about 4 in 10,000 Americans make it that far.  These Villages are part of what scientists and physicians call "Blue Zones" around the world where there is far less chronic illness and a longer life span. Below is the cover photograph for the article.

One of the cornerstones, says the article, of dietary issues is the humble bean.  Portuguese people love beans, especially the fava bean.  Beans are inexpensive, easy to grow, and can be cooked with a variety of meats. Meats, though, do not account for large servings but accentuate the bean. When my grandmother Isobel was a child in St. Miguel she earned money for the family by working in the bean fields.

But, the dietary issues were not alone in explaining longevity and health status.  A hallmark of the Villages was their closeness.  Remember some time ago, I mentioned that in the School Street Village, women who grew up in the same Villages in the Azores or Madeira would gather to bake their bread together?  So here in Sardinia where 5 generations of a family would get together to share their knowledge and experience in bread making and pass it on.  But, the women in Sardinia did more, they chopped the wood and stoked the ovens. Perhaps, in the Azores and Madeira our grandmothers and great-grandmothers might  have done the same.  But,  did you ever try kneading bread with your hands and arms...without the help of a food processor?  Who needs Pilates if you are doing that for 45 minutes?

Here is one of our School Street Villagers from probably the 40's or 50's kneading bread. Her home was on Floral St. and she is sitting in the doorway of her summer kitchen working the dough. I love the intense expression on her face as her hands expertly turned and forced the dough into food to feed her family.  Tradition carried from her original Village in the Azores or Madeira went into this simple act.

Life in these Sardinian Villages was/is very social, and that is where the big similarity comes in with my School Street Village.  Our elders (I smile because our grandparents were probably younger than I am now) had their own social strata.  These women  would roam the Village, walking in sturdy shoes and in the summer perhaps their distinctive cover-all aprons. They would walk to a friend's house and sitting in the kitchen, or perhaps the porch would share stories of their childhoods or what was happening in their circle currently.  My grandmother and her friends (sometimes a grandfather ) would spend hours like that, breaking out in laughter, maybe even tears and sighs.  Then the visitor would gather her big black pocketbook and be off to the next house.  They did not need stair masters (sometimes it was a second or third floor climb) or a treadmill.  The would often gather at our Church.  Church was a great place to meet and greet for our elders. Wakes always provided another occasion.

The next photograph is my Nana Delphina  (left) and two of her friends back in the 50's visiting in our family home on School Street.  The lovely lady in the middle often visited my Grandmother.  They were both from Madeira. This lady lived with her son and his family down a very significant hill. She would have been into pretty good exercise going back and forth on her visits.  My grandmother (as I mentioned elsewhere) was sort of a Village secretary to the elders. Often they could not read their letters and she would do it for them, or help them write back. She would perch her hat on her head, gather her bulky handbag with her supplies and set off.  It would take her quite a while as she would meet and chat with other friends on other porches along the way.

I noticed on the WSJ newspaper photo: the hair pulled simply back in a neat bun. These elders, there and in my Village had no time for hair stylists, nor for shopping sprees. Neither the time, nor the money.  Anyway, their days were too full of social events. A sweater thrown over a shoulder was enough to go chat over a neighborhood fence or during an evening walk.

Some statistics from the WSJ- "In the are likely to die eight years earlier if you are lonely compared with those with strong social networks."   The article goes on to say that in those villages in Sardinia, "...parents and grandparents move serenely into old age, secure in the knowledge that their children will care for them." Like our parents and grandparents in the Village, there were/are no treadmills, health gyms, dietary counseling organizations. A robust, active life took care of all that. My mother spent time cooking, hanging clothes on the line in all kinds of weather and then picking them afterward, gardening,  canning and sewing...and on and on.  When I say gardening I mean Gardening with a capital G. Putting up grape juice and grape and blueberry jam, cooking pies in big batches so that they were available all winter (and entertaining the friends of her four children). My grandmother had her walking/secretarial route, she washed and ironed and delivered (on foot) the altar linens for our Church for years and years. She made her way to wakes and funerals of friends gone before her. That meant a long afternoon at the wake socializing and remembering the dear deceased. The WSJ write-up stated that every 20 minutes the folks in Sardinian villages were nudged into physical activity.

It seemed then as in the Sardinian villages that there was no rancor that an elder grandparent lived with the family of a son or daughter.  It just was expected and normal.  As children were cherished, our elders were cherished.

No over the counter supplement can substitute for family.  When my elderly mother-in-law knew that her health was deteriorating and she lived alone, she decided to go into a Nursing Home right in her town.  She was one of 14 children.  Though her failing mind was slipping, one or another of her siblings came every single day, most days taking her to lunch, or just for a ride around her beloved neighborhood. She was always part of the family she knew and loved.  Her children were there as well, cherishing her and motivating her to share her many stories, and just to love her.  Love makes the difference, and faces that are so often there it becomes hard to forget them.

My husband and I are far from family (thankful for Facebook cell phones, etc.) but we are blessed. We live on a small island off the coast of northeastern Florida.  Small island - tight friendships and support groups.  Our new parish has become a haven for many of us seniors, our talents are appreciated, our voices are heard. Happily, technology helps us all to stay connected and sometimes (wow) a written note gives us delight and connectedness.

We in the USA and perhaps elsewhere are part of a throw-away culture...too often elders find themselves in just that situation.  Growing up in the School Street Village, I learned as a small child as I was passed from the arms of one Aunt to another with loving hugs, that it is cherishing that we all need- from one end of our lives to another.

                Funny, back then, nobody thought of retiring and leaving for another place.

                                                       The Wall Street Journal Article:

                                  Related Past Posts on this subject you may find interesting:

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...