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.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


The first nativity scene dates back to 1223 when St. Francis put on a living creche.  This soon spread throughout Europe becoming a beloved tradition.  It did that in Madeira and The Azores where most of our people originated.  When I was a child, it took center stage for my home and others around me in the Village.

The term on Wikopedia (where else?) for the dramatic and complex nativity scenes in Portugal is called Frioes-Presipio.  I never heard that:  for me it was always the home for 'Minin Jesu'. -Anyone want to help me with that, for surely I did not spell it right.  I could not find the right translation for my memories. It just lives in my thoughts.

Here is what I do know and remember.  These nativity scenes , religious works of art, took center stage rather than Santa Claus in our homes.  Santa surely did have his place, of course, as he was rooted in a Christian tradition.  Basket laden mothers, aunts and grandmothers headed to field and "forest" around this time to find mosses, pines branches, holly leaves and berries and whatever else caught their creative and practiced eyes.  We often went with them, carrying baskets and branches and perhaps even making our own discoveries.  It was quiet, peaceful, and if there was snow it just lent the perfect air to the moment. No other noise than the wind in the trees and bushes and birdsong. The sound of our boots on frozen grasses and moss.

A few weeks before, a handful of wheat grass seeds were planted in a small cup in readiness for its place in the creche symbolizing the Child as Food for the soul and the world in Communion.  Margaret Walker who grew up in the Block in the Village says it was called thicue (phonetic) and took about three weeks to grow after planting it in containers in the house.

While the grasses grew, mosses were kept in a damp place until all was ready.  When the moment came, Christmas music was put on to put us all in the mood.  The scenes that my mother and my Aunt Eleanor built often took up a whole wall or wall and a half in a room.  Each year, my mother would add a new little figure: it made it easy for us to buy her presents as they usually went to this annual project.  I think St. Francis was her inspiration as these little figures often were tiny glass animals, often mother and father and offspring.  Little fish and ducks added to the ponds she created. Lakes were created with mirrors, hills with boxes and little tables stacked high for drama, often covered with material and then with mosses and stones.

 Today I am an artist, following in her creative footsteps...all her daughters are creative, each in their own ways, most especially at Christmas.  When I set up my little scene I always get emotional as the memories engulf me, sweet tho they may be,  She is not here, but she is probably directing St. Francis as to his latest creation. Sadly, I have only one photo from her sets and this is it.  The hardest task was to keep the cat out of sleeping in it, but little hands were invited to touch and move things around. As a small child I have a vague memory of going around in the evening with Mrs. Carvalho, our Church organist and other children, some with instruments, to sing carols in lullaby to the Baby Jesus in homes around the Village.

                                               Creche by Angi Souza in her later years.

                                              Adoration of the Magi this was not...but too
comfy for a kitty to resist

That year, Mom's scene wove all around her grandsons.

Incredibly, adding to her creative skills such as photography, my mother began to do
wood carving.  Her pieces are precious momentos on the hearths of all of our homes.
This is a part of my creche this year, and as each year, this little dog she carved 
sits with pride before the Child.  His tail is high and I decorate it with a few stars, he
almost has a smile to match.  One of my paintings provides a backdrop.

Do you hear what I hear ?


  1. I still have my mother's manger statues and have not put it up since my husband passed away maybe this is a good time to start again. I have many of my Mom's little animals on shelves in the family room as well as some carvings. She was such a talented woman. My son Peter has his creche scene up with her little characters as well . My father decorated the house outside and you could see it from Dean street. People would drive by just to see what he had done that year. We had a good life.

  2. I love seeing all the old photos and reading your narrative! It's a beautiful tribute to a peaceful and loving time in the lives of all the people of Taunton.

    I particularly love the photos of the creche scenes and your description of the adventure of going out and gathering all the things from nature to create them. They are beautiful, and I'm sure they gained indulgences from God for honoring his son so.

    It is sad that life has changed so much that all the emphasis has shifted to the buying and selling, and how much you "get" from Santa, instead of what you can "give" to others to celebrate the birth of Christ.

    This is such a refreshing post to read, and I thank you for taking the interest and time to make it available to all of us.

    God bless you and thank you for the smiles.

    Jude Lynch (I was from down the Weir in Sacred Heart Parish)

  3. Thank you for your comment, it is much appreciated! Welcome, Jude from the Weir, we are glad to welcome your good words. Aren't we fortunate to have this wonderful past to anchor us in these strange and troublesome times!