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.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

"IN THE END YOU ALWAYS GO BACK TO THE PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE IN THE BEGINNING"

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 country...you 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.

                            http://schoolstvillage.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-write-stuff.html

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:https://books.google.com/books?i



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



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






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

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

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

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




                                                                AFTER ALL...






Friday, July 3, 2015

THE MEMORY SEEKER


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






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

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

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

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

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




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

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



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



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


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

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




Amanda Paterson



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

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


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



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


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

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






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



Sources:

-Pinterest Storytelling Boards



                                                       - Photography by Sandra Pineault



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

INTRODUCING THE BELOVED MATRIARCHS


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

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

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

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


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




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



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

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












Tuesday, May 26, 2015

HIDDEN IN AN OLD GARDEN - THE ROOTS OF A FAMILY

The last post centered upon the historical importance of grapevines in the Village. The topic
 found an enthusiastic audience inspiring me to dig deeper.

Let's harken back to Village grapevines for a minute.  Here is a beautiful photo of our long ago neighbors whose home fronted Wilbur St.which ran parallel to School St.   This was directly behind our family home on School St.where the Souza's had lived from the 1900's.  A low wood fence separated the two properties, a token rather than a barrier. 

 The Mello family lived in that home and this day they were celebrating their son's graduation from High School. It is their daughter, pictured here, that sent this precious  photograph. If I recall he was a few years ahead of me. This grapevine is vivid in my memory. After all, we played in back of it growing up.

One can see our  Souza homestead way in the background. The lot beyond the fence once had been planted when my Aunt Mary's family lived there with my grandmother.  When we lived there my Dad eventually got tired of mowing it - even getting sheep did not help.  He also tired of making that drive to Cape beaches with a carful of energetic kids that always ended up in the infamous old Cape Cod traffic jams.  Remember those days?   My father finally dug an inground pool in the back lot. With four kids that was a good investment.  He next rounded up almost every kid in the neighborhood and taught them to swim: just in case. The pool was heavily fenced, but you never knew. Generations of kids swam in that pool, starting with us and then grandchildren.  Ah, the weiner roasts and swim family get-togethers. There could be four layers of kids in that pool at any one time!

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




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

Another photo found in my archives brings me back
 to the subject at hand - how all plants can be heirlooms linking us to our family roots.



The above is a very old photograph of my Grandmother Delphina Souza, my Dad's mother.
She is gazing fondly at her Christmas Cactus which became a legend in our family.  I will bet that she acquired it years before this photo.  She had been in that house since 1906. The plant must have witnessed a lot of family tears and celebrations.  I like to think that it watched her seven children along their journey and it may have watched the sad loss of her husband. 

 You can see that it is already a large plant in the photo.  It outlived Grandmother Delphina and continued living on at 184 School St.  Its offspring found new roots in the homes of my sisters and myself. Each offspring flourished  Mine ended up in a long planter, each year gifting my family with heirloom blooms.  One day I realized that it was not doing well.  I called the Plant Doctor: my Mom. She advised splitting it. I dreaded the task not knowing the result.  Christmas Cactus' are notorious for not liking disruption.  To my dismay mine was no different. It did not survive the procedure and had to enter our compost heap where it returned to the earth.
.
But, I knew that both my sister's plants were still living, the legend still
binding us.

That was our first Souza heirloom plant. 




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

 Remember the story I wrote recently of the woman who bought an old house with an empty dirt yard?  Remember that in the first Spring that yard sprouted a carefully planned rainbow garden - a living legacy?  That story reminded me of my own family gardening legacy.

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

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


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


 My mother spoke the language of nature with much love.

Angi in her garden where one could always find her.




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



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

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

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

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

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

   Spider Spins a Moonbeam,




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


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

      Rhapsodies within by Jeani M. Picklesimer.



Photograph by Angi Souza








Thursday, April 30, 2015

A HIDDEN CACHE OF MEMORY THAT WILL WIND AROUND YOUR HEART


The last post about Blinn's Court engendered much dialogue.
It found a family that shared a house with my family. It found people who knew of old departed family friends. It tickled the past that lives in my mind and brought forth new memories. In short it was pure delight.  It also gave forth a whole new story as I learned
about the grapevine at 20 Blinn's Court.



A grapevine is a metaphor: a metaphor for family, for life, for reaching out to whatever is around it clasping it to itself. To me it is a metaphor for the School Street Village, for my childhood home.How fitting that it is still reaching out today to remind us of what we had, and what still lives in our hearts. Nurturing, year after year, strong after storms and loss keeping us connectedto all those who were a part of our lives all through our growing up.




When you work in historic research you discover that each find is a thread to something else. That is the joy of all of this digging and discovering.  I often feel like a verbal and pictorial archeologist. All of us who engage in this memory- mining are Keepers of the Village Flame.


Everywhere we lived, there was a grapevine. It wound around its posts and beams, its tendrils promising a good harvest every year. By the photo below you know it is perhaps early Fall. One could tell the seasons by watching the vines.  Next time I visit Taunton I will include a drive-around to see how many of these venerable vines still exist. Stay tuned for that one. 

Remember this photo from the last post - the 'giving post' as I call it?

Do not look at the little boy, as cute as he is, look at what is behind him.  The grapevine in this photo was taken in the early 50's.  I have been told by the current family in the house at Blinn's Court that this grapevine is still living today and giving fruit! I do believe that that grapevine was there when we moved there. This is an aged and honorable vine, indeed.  The owner's son  has taken a branch and is now growing a descendent in his own yard.




Leafing through files and papers I found very old photos of grapevines in my family. These were very much hidden and met me with all new stories.

This next photo is a beloved one, indeed.  This is my Mother, Angi, probably early 1930's. She is a young woman standing next to her beloved Tia Annie.  Her maternal Tia Annie lived right next door to another loved landmark: Jigger's Variety. Her home sat nearly at the front of its lot while the long back yard boasted a burgeoning garden and this venerable grapevine. My mother was at the cusp of a better life. My Aunt Annie was somewhere in her middle years, always a gentle and loving lady with her own story of hardship.

The grapevine in the back is at the fullness of its life. It is so heavy it strains the cross posts. At the prime of its life, it is so healthy that its huge leaves and branches tumble pulling tself down to the earth. It must have been deep summer and the bees are no doubt all over it.  The pungent sweet smell of the ripe purple grapes would have filled the yard with its signature scent, a promise of good eating,  grape juice and jam.

But, the grapevine was more. It was shady shelter from the heat in the days before air conditioning  and a place where children could play hide and seek.

It was a place to dream. My mother must have dreamed as she left behind a difficult childhood and found her own shelter with her Aunt Annie. This photo and the similarities to that venerable vine are deep in my heart.  The end of summer was harvest time for the grapes.

As well as the ubiquitous grapevine you can see these women standing in the lower garden, probably among squash plants, perhaps kale and so on. The shed is a little shabby, who of them knew that shabby chic would one day be all the rage. At that time it demonstrated 
much use and a limited budget.






Later on, after my parents married here we are in  1943. My father holds my sister Kathy, less than a year old, while I stand next to them, three years old.  Note the grapevine.  Kathy and I were born when we lived in this three decker way down at the end of School St. at the end of the Village.  We lived on the third floor of a house owned by a dear couple. We are growing and so is their grapevine. You can see the swinging branches and early leafing. It is early summer or even late spring.





Here I am at 9 years of age with my Ti Tia Annie. You can just about see me at her left.  The photo is very old as can be attested by the wrinkles it has earned.  There behind us is that dear grapevine. It has been pruned way back but is leafing out so this is probably Spring. The rest of the garden, as you can see, has a lot of plantings either coming or going.  Only until I started researching this theme and rooting out this photo, did I know I was in it. There is what looks like a doghouse under the arbor and perhaps a birdhouse which could help with mosquitos. Other houses in the Village cuddle at the edge of the garden probably with grape arbors of their own counting the seasons,






When I came back to Taunton in my middle age and moved into the little red house on Ashland St., didn't I find a welcoming mature grapevine in the back yard!  It's harvest were deep purple Muscadine. When they were full and ready for picking they about burst their skins. When that happened you could find them on the ground under the vine.  I remember my mother harvesting the grapes for jam when I was a child . The kitchen was waiting with chairs upside down and bearing corners of cheesecloth over a big panella to strain the grapes ( and then bottle for grape juice) so that only the mush of the grapes was left for cooking and "putting up" as it was called.  The heady deep perfume of the grapes sought every corner of the house. I am sure some made their own wine, but for us, it was cooking and boiling down for more simple delights.






Remember how big and full the grapes were as they hung heavy on their vines?  Grapevines werelike another room added to the house.  When we moved to the School Street  Souza homestead in the 50's , of course there was a big grapevine right in back of the house hugging the fence between our house and the one next door.  Underneath the arbor was a rabbit hutch, or perhaps children's toys scattered around on the ground. your dog could be found napping there, too. The arbors were so heavy with leaf and grape that little sun could get in making it a good place for a baby carriage, a sleeping child beneath the mosquito netting.







A little vine of a memory, it bore a lot of fruit for me and, I hope, for those of you reading this. Perhaps, you have photos of those days.  Days when the grapes grew big and juicy while the sun sang to them.  Days before boom boxes and traffic where a dreaming child could think of far away lands.


Thanks, as always to Pinterest for two of the photos in this post.
 The rest is from my own archives.
 See you next post!
Remember it is wonderful to get your photos and memories
to enlarge on these memories! 




Wednesday, April 15, 2015

LISTENING TO THE SECRETS OF AN OLD HOUSE

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




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






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




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

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

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

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


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

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

1949

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


1948

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




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





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

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





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




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




1948

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

Gives new meaning to "it takes a Village." 

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

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

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

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


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




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

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



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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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



Monday, March 16, 2015

MAKING YOUR WORDS LINGER



Still reading Pat McNees online and her "story catching",  I found another phrase I love: "between rattles and rattling bones."  McKnees , Stallings and Bragg have a book titled: My Words are Going to Linger, which is top of my list to read in the near future.


"There was never yet an uninteresting life. 
Such a a things is an impossibility.  Inside the
dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy,
and a tragedy."

                                                                                          Mark Twain


All lives contain those elements, one has only to scratch the surface of family members to see that.Those of us digging into the past for treasured facts and memories devour such books and websites. The search, in reality, is never ending.  People go at their research and their presentations in all kinds of ways.  Our own Eileen Gouveia painstakingly wrote out in long hand the memories she had as well as those told to her by her parents and others. She, as we know, has shared them with us. Many people do just that, writing out their thoughts and remembrances. It is always a possibility that in the future a curious descendant will enter all onto a computer and complete with photos.  Arlene and her mother had saved many wonderful photos, which again, we have shared in this Blog.


Above a Page from Arlene Gouveia's
Memories of the Village


Below is a newer, sort of hybrid manner of safeguarding and presenting memories, Scrapbooking. Not like the scrapbooking you and I grew up doing, but rather a craftier method of preservation. A whole new industry has grown around this hobby and Pinterest as well as the Net in general abounds in help for this endeavor. One of my sisters is doing scrapbooks for each of her grandchildren, a grand endeavor involving all types of tools and embellishments. Two of them, twins, cannot get enough of their scrapbooks.  What a treasure to keep, to hold, and to look back on when they are adults and can share with their own children and grandchildren.

I am doing scrapbooks(below) now which will utilize marvelous collage tools on my computer such as Canva and Pic Monkey as well as many others.  This is a work in progress as are all things that relate to memory-keeping. My dining room table has been pressed into use, as my computer 
area is not sufficient


"The greatest gift we can give our families is the story that charts our history."
McKnee
.............

ANOTHER WAY

Stan Pierce, however, chose a totally different way in recording the charting of his history. He began by sharing his story in posts on an on-line community publishing program that willfully blurs the lines between blogging and social networking (like Facebook and Twitter and formal blogs like this one) . Below is the  Live Journal site is below for you to check out.
                                                    http://www.livejournal.com

Stan started with his project around 1999-2003 and as all Storycatching it was an exciting journey.
He indicates that Live Journal's time, as he knew it, has come and gone. However, it provided him a venue, a beginning, a template within which to frame his story. Stan interacted with others posting on the site.He began to post his own history stories and the response was amazing. As he was probably the oldest person posting, his online friends began to ask for more . First he made 100 friends and it went on from there,  Stan entered into a whole new and interesting community.

He decided to review his posts culling them into his biography.  After merging the posts, he found an online site that published them for him.  This is a great option and one which eliminates the need to type and enter, cut and paste photos (not an easy task either by hand or on a computer, I assure you). Cut and paste gets old quickly.

Stan set his biography in a historical context, then goes on to lace his posts together in an easy, conversational manner. If you keep a journal and calendars, that might work for you for a foundation as Stan's posts did.  Reading Stan's bio it is no wonder his readers enjoyed him so much.

He begins with:
            "I am curious if you can remember the first toy that you had (and maybe the second). It has to be a toy you actually remember and one that your parents told you about."

He then skillfully goes in in paragraph bursts leading one back in time, awakening memories in many of us.  One paragraph reads simply:

         "It was a good life."

and much later: " and that's a sample of life in a small city in Massachusetts 
in the 1934-1942 era".

Those years preceded my remembrances - just.  I very much enjoy reading of those times. Things like "gas jets in every room",  awaken one's imagination.  Also, of course Stan writes as a boy and then a man, a different perspective from my own feminine voice, so his work is refreshing for this writer.

              When you are a child you make mudpies.  then on day you realize 
you were really making memories.  
        Sandra Pineault



Focused, his memories sharp and honed with telling, Stan gives his family a forever gift, movie-ready as the new saying goes.  I really enjoyed hearing about the big bands and how he loved dancing to them in such places as Rosalind Ballroom in Taunton. This is a photo from Pinterest, your imagination supplies the music, right?




Wit, description of the smallest detail, a large dose of love for one's life, a sense of history - all those ingredients make for a fully-formed memoir.  Watching the child, the boy, the teen and then the man you walk with him all the way. That is the way to tell a story.

Stan's memoir is 51 pages in length. When I wrote my Grandmother Isobel's story it was 100 pages but I included many photographs and it was a complicated story..  I have yet to tell my own story....hmmmm. Perhaps, Stan, you are the one to inspire me on.  Right now, I write the stories of others which in reality ring around my own.  The way you write a bio, your story or memoir depends on many things.   In many ways our stories write themselves.

Stan finished his story, published it  and then did a marvelous thing. He distributed a book to each of his children and grandchildren.  Someday a future grandchild will start to ask about him and the information will be there for him or her.  A forever gift, as I said.

Thank you, Stan, for your generous sharing and willingness for me to write about you. I hope I have done it some justice, and that it will inspire others.


RESOURCES 


There are many  e-book publishing sites on the net. Here is one to help you begin. 
They vary in price and page limits.

                               http://www.your-life-your-story.com/autobiography.html


Other sites to help: If you do Pinterest, look for the Board: Ancestry and enjoy. 
This is a site from one of the pins to be found there...

                              http://www.atticlightstudios.com/page-layout---design.html

Some notions about photography in telling your story. 
This is from my blog.