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.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LIGHTING UP CHRISTMAS!!

I originally published this in 2013 and am reposting in today.
One cannot get enough of Christmases past.


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Taunton Green was placed on The National Register in 1985.

Taunton's Green, or Common as it was called,  factored centrally in Taunton's life since Taunton's founding in 1637.  First it was a place to graze cattle and roster the troops. In  1914 it began its story of a spectacle of light and hope at Christmastide. 

 Below is one of the first Christmas Green photographs taken in 1925 from the wonderful book "80 years of Christmas in Taunton: Candles on the Green." released in 1994.  A new one is available celebrating 100 years this year of 2013.  Once again, Charlie Crowley and Dr. William Hanna renew our memories and knowledge of this Taunton treasure.  I have added the framework to give it a nostalgic touch for this post.  



In the next photo taken in 1936, the theme was The Spirit of Taunton recalling the famous Lindberg flight  with a plane at center on a multi-colored globe painted by Frank Taylor.  "The airplane's registration number, shown on its tail, was 593, which happened to be the telephone number of the TMLP."  The Christmas displays each year would mirror the times in which they occurred, in peace and in war. You can see the plane glowing above the globe.

My husband was nine years old that year and recalls this display.  His family made the trek from Swansea each year to see the Green.  He remembers, as do so many Tauntonians, the wonderful arches that so often graced the Christmas Green.



Last Christmas in this blog we followed the Green over the World War II years when blackout rules did not allow for lights and Taunton with the country worried over the safety of its sons and daughters. The romance of my Aunt Alveda and Uncle Ziggy provided a personal pictorial framework for us.


In 1949,  then Mayor ]ohn Parker wrote an article about the meaning of the Green.  A good friend, Louise Foster who grew up in Taunton, shared this photo of the Green that same year.  As so often happened, a blanket of snow covered all.  War was over and the nation was starting to dig itself out. 




This past weekend, on Dec. 7th, Taunton, The Christmas City celebrated 100 years of lighting Christmas up for its people and those from miles around. With its celebratory hat on the City bloomed with venues of wonderful entertainment .  There was even a human Christmas tree in which 982 people participated and broke the Guiness Book of Records!!  Taunton went for it!!


Thanks to Micaila Britto-Patten and the TMLP bucket truck for this awesome photo of this year's
Christmas lighting from I'm From Taunton Facebook page.


One hundred years of living through the ups and downs of so many struggling New England cities, and still our little city shows its spirit! That spirit it demonstrated in the American Revolution, through the Civil War and the terrible wars that followed.  Lights on the Green led us on, even when it would have needed candlelight.  May those lights get even brighter and our birth city pull itself up and onward!

What is wonderful about all of our Christmas Greens is the fact that there has always been a Nativity scene somewhere on them.  Take the one below from 1947 (picture found on the Net) which prominently displays the Nativity right in the center of the Green.  Even this year one was included. Taunton has never forgotten the true meaning of Christmas.



You can easily find a lot of interesting photos and information on this year's Taunton Green Christmas celebration online:  Taunton Daily Gazette as well as with photos and information shared so well on I'm From Taunton Facebook page.

To read my posts from last Christmas about the Green please go to 2012 posts on the right of the blog, then find December 19th and 21st.  Thanks.

                       Thank you to Kathleen Campanirio for her assistance with this post.

Monday, May 22, 2017

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







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

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





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

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

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


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

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




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





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


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





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



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





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






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


Donald Rose : 1939




Arlene Rose: 1941

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




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

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

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


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




 Another contemporary of mine in her First Communion attire.






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






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




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

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

Times like these, they really can comfort and inspire.

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


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SOURCES;

Photography from Arlene Rose Gouveia and
Sandra Souza Pineault
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About memories of First Communions:
............

Pinterest:
see links below each photo.











Tuesday, December 20, 2016

MUSINGS ON CHRISTMASES PAST

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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


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





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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

         

                                                                                               123f.com



Sources:

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


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

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

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