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.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

NEW YEAR WISHES and sharing precious memories

It appears that I began this blog on September 12, 2012.  What a ride it has been!  It was not one of my long term plans, to do this.  Circumstances conspired, like the fact that health issues kept me from an active art career.  I could no longer bend long hours over canvas and paint.  A long history of genealogical research, working with a blog (my art blog), and the ever wonderful experience of sharing Village memories with fellow villagers all worked together. 
Writing in the old fashioned way would mean only a few would share it.  
So I began this blog.  I wish you a Happy New Year and say thank you to readers who support it with reading new posts, offering their own memories to complete the ones shared here.  If you look at the map of where readers come from, you will see how astounding!  There are readers from all over the world.  Russia checks in nearly each new post as well as England, Africa, South American and many more. Then comes the U.S. as readers come on from  towns and cities
all over the U.S.  We are nearing 26,000 hits!

The blog has struck an international memory nerve, but it means much to me as well.

The blog has saved me in so many ways.  It has given me a way to express, a way to share what has always been deep in my heart.  It gave me a way to connect with the precious memories of others, some of them people I had not spoken to in years or indeed since I was a child.  Just a few days ago I received a Christmas card in the mail.  The post gal had written a big question mark on the last name….for it read: Sandra Souza!  I quickly tore it open and wonderful surprise: a Christmas card from 97 year old Emma (Aunt Emma) Andrade!!!  Last year she and members of the Abreau family had gathered together and painstakingly written out (in longhand mind you) a litany of some of their memories of the small businesses in the Village.  I keep it still.

Years and precious moments go flying off into eternity, as will we someday.  Trying to grasp those memories is like reaching for a milkweed pod seeds as the wind takes them where it will.  This is one of my late Mom's wonderful photography.  She had boxes and boxes of slides she had taken, all collated and sorted into categories.  Years and years the result of her award winning work.  When her hands became too shaky she put down her beloved camera and put it all away.  I found her one day ready to toss her slide collection all into the dump!  Just in time I rescued years of talent and beauty.  She had kept them in those wine boxes once so popular

After she passed away I took them all out, bought a light box and an attachment for my computer to digitalize them.  First, I decided to sort by family, my goal to send each family their slides.  I would guess over 10,000 slides if not more, going all the way back to the early 60's, some even before.  I would immerse myself in the task,  I felt as if I were going back in time, reliving each moment she memorialized on film.  It was an amazing experience.  Finally, off went boxes and boxes to siblings, cousins, and nieces and nephews.  Left with still an impressive amount I digitalized many of her florals and landscapes.  Then I added music to a slideshow and made CD's for each of my sisters and brother,
I still use mine to make my own cards with her work, or share them on my blogs. 
 She is still spreading her creativity and skill.

My mother was an intrepid soul, a soul who loved beauty, 
who took to challenge like a duck to water.
She had to: if there were more time I would share her own personal story of courage and strength. FInding that story after she passed away was the core of my genealogical research. 

 Here she is in her beloved garden.  She knew everything about flora and much fauna, including their Latin names.  Ever since I was a child I watched those hands creating, be it sewing, baking, soothing a sick child.  No matter. No manicures for her, those hands were for loving, for working, for creating.  When I was a wife myself with my own garden, we had a tradition.  I would go to her home and after a visit she would say, "Let's walk around the garden."  She would share new blooms and what was happening in her brilliant rows of beauty.  When she came to my home, we always ended her visit the same way often trading seeds or seedlings.  My own stepdaughter grew and married and had her own garden.  Many of her plants were heirlooms from my mother.  We would end the visit and walk in the garden together….and my heart would sing.

My mother, Angi Motta Souza, a month or so after cardiac bypass surgery out in Arizona.  She was climbing one of the ancient rock caves.  She did not see the sign that recommended people with heart ailments not climb. Vintage Mom.

This week as I prepared this post and wandered through digital files, a new kind of garden as it were, I found this among her slides.  She and a photographer friend would create musical slide shows for nursing homes and the like.  She used this in one of those programs.

It reminds me that she is still here, walking in the garden with me, skipping through
rows and rows of floral slides or at my shoulder as I wander with my own camera.
She left this, to make sure we knew.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Last year Gina Lopes McKenna shared these photos of the "new" nativity set at St. Anthony's Church on School St in the Village.  The wonderful part of this is that this set once was at The Taunton State Hospital.  When the hospital more or less closed, a parishioner bought the set, restored it and then donated it to St. Anthony's.  Perhaps the prayers of all those patients once surrounding it so long ago blessed it in their own way . How beautiful that it still exists offering its simple message for hope.

As we wrote last Christmas, for Portuguese homes when we were growing up, the creation of a beautiful nativity scene was a prayerful task for all of us.  My Aunt Eleanor took us kids off to the woods to pick moss and branches to nest the Infant Child.  My mother did the same.  In essence their nativity scenes needed watering now and then.  They went into creating hills and ponds with mirrors.When we saw sweet little animal porcelain figures of animals we often gifted them to my Mom. Her nativity creations had the Noah touch.  Our cat loved it, too, somewhere is a photo of her all cuddled up within it fast asleep.  Even creatures can adore the Little King.  When a child once looked at my own nativity scene and asked me who that was, I was astounded.  You never needed to ask a child from the Village.  The story was there before our wondering eyes, much more the focus than the Christmas tree.  Shepherds wandered to the manger before us which often had a thatched roof, tinsel provided sparkle to our imaginations.  This is a very old slide of one of my mother's nativity scenes.  You can see the thatched roof on the shelter of the Holy Family.  More figures were below on other "hills" making their way to adore the Child Jesus.

We no longer have a Christmas tree, but there will always be my own Nativity set on my mantle as you can see below. There are still some reminders of yesteryear.  The little wooden dog at left with stars twining his tail, was carved by my mother.  The curly white porcelain lamb is from an old Portuguese set. My white Madonna, St, Joseph and the Child Jesus are Chechoslovakian. The polymer brown pieces:sheep, donkey and oxen I once purchased from the gift shoppe at La Salette when I had my own first home.  Each piece has a memory locked inside.  One of my paintings provides background for a night sky. Each year when I take the pieces out and place them I find myself full of emotion and memories.  A ceremony as it were, a ritual, a prayer….just as my mother's was…….

Enjoy this video of nativity scenes I found to share  with you as 
you prepare your own homes for a real Christmas
May each and all find this Christmas full of blessings.



Monday, December 2, 2013

Memories dance like sugarplums….muses from Village yesteryears

There are no Christmases like those we grew up with anymore. Faded like the carols we often heard and sang.  Everything today seems crowded and hectic and some folks even resent it when
 you smile and offer "Merry Christmas".

This photo I clipped from Pinterest seems to cry simplicity which was what it was all about. 
Simply put it was all about the Babe in the Manger.

Our stockings were often filled with oranges and nuts or tangerines. You could count your presents on one hand and be grateful.  You had saved your pennies all year to buy your Mom some talcum powder and your Dad a necktie.  Diamonds were not on our lists nor the unimagined technologies that would take us away from family conversation and friends playing in the dimming light of the day.
It was so quiet one could almost hear the jingle of sleigh bells or the whish of angel wings.
The nativity set so beautifully arranged caught our hearts in hope and awe.

Christmas though, is safe in our hearts and memories, warm in the remembered fragrance of real pine trees and boughs.  Sometimes we do not remember all the words to the carols but we do remember belting out the Glooooooooooooooria with all the breath and enthusiasm we could muster.

Christmas was ours.  It still is and no one can take it from us.

For those of us who were once Portuguese children small and safe in our Village, the memories run around like sugar plums and make us laugh relishing each lived moment all over again. Like new presents we unwrap them slowly.  They are precious and must not be lost or mislaid.

This is the first of some Christmas meanderings from the past that
will make up the next few posts.  I invite you, urge you to share yours. 

Someone recently posted on I'm From Taunton Facebook that putting up
her decorations felt more like Memorial Day than Christmas.  I get teary when I set up my own little nativity scene as the memories, those long gone, crowd in for my attention, for my prayers.

Found this on You Tube…somebody feels as we do….

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Village Thanksgiving

Here in the U.S. we celebrate Thanksgiving this coming Thursday.
As these holidays come along,
 my memories skip right back to the Village.
 Thanksgiving on School Street had its own music.

You could hear cars arriving at each house bearing relatives. Doors opened and closed, spilling forth children, roasting pans and tantalizing mysterious deserts hiding under dishcloths.  Moms and aunts grabbed their aprons and set to….children buzzed and, with luck, got outside for awhile.  Dads and uncles went on into the dens to set the afternoon football schedule or taste a bit of Portuguese wine.  If you were very fortunate there was at least one grandparent present.  My grandmother, Delphina, lived each day, every day with an apron on…so she fit right in.  Laughter was the order of the day. Laughter and conversation whose volume rose and fell depending on the subject.  All was  accompanied by the rattle of dishes, giggles from kids as they sneaked a taste of this or that and previewed deserts that were set aside.  Just this morning, my husband and I were speaking of the wonderful taste of those merengue pies, so high they seemed mountains to children, apple pies so moist they melted in one's mouth.  My Aunt Eleanor had her special recipe for squash pie….yum. How did they make that wonderful crust from scratch?  My Mom's hands moving at the speed of light as she cut the crust and crimped the sides.  Sorry, packaged deserts, you lose compared to those!!  The smell of roasting turkey as it was then….  Thanksgiving was a riotous festival for the taste buds and the sweet fragrances that tickled the nose.

I give thanks for that now….I was too busy playing as a kid to realize what was happening and that gradually over the years if would all disappear.  We went on to have our own families, but those Thanksgivings are what made us the parents that we became, tradition building upon tradition.  Beginning with storytelling….remember when ….???

Happy Thanksgiving one and all.  May you be making wonderful memories again this year and may those old days warm your heart along with the turkey and stuffing
and may the blessings of the holidays by yours.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


The little Mount Hope spoon saga has spawned research, international dialogue (one might call it an international incident!) and the meeting of new friends. It has even occasioned newspaper articles. Just one little spoon.  It has made for marvelous story telling.  A friend of mine told me:
 " Wow! all this from the finding of a tiny spoon, 
imagine what would happen with a knife and fork!!!"

In reality, though, the spoon itself is not the point, is it?  The point is the story, especially the story of that long ago small 15 bed Mount Hope hospital being spoken of, respected and loved once again. It is the story of a child that was once gifted with this beautiful silver piece, the parents who treasured it and the woman who grew from that child to treasure it herself.  It is the story of the other women, one who found it and the one who was shown the spoon and cared enough to go looking for its owner.  Four thousand miles away from where the spoon was born.  Connecting with a blogger in Florida from a missionary outpost in an interior spot in Brazil.

Nancy and Leonor are now in contact with each other in Brazil. It is now theirs to do as they wish. Someday we will know more.  But, in the meantime I believe this is an experience of the preciousness of things of meaning that we save and the stories we tell.  The spoon took me on an excursion into a foreign land and the Portuguese language I need to learn.  Thank heavens for Bing and Google translation in the meantime.  It connected me with the good work of a family of missionaries working among poor gypsies.  It connected me with another woman who has lived on three continents.

I sit at my desk and conjure stories from my past, sharing it with others and hearing the echo of that loved past from around the world.  Now and then something shines like a star, like this.

It is a troubled time we live in, getting more so all the time.  We must find comfort where we may.
We get older, and our energy lessens and our bodies are not what they used to be. How wonderful to live again in memory the laughter of yesterday and mingle it with that of today….what strength!

 I recently described this blog as a "work of heart".  Somehow that is the best way to speak of  this project of love.  I so regret the questions not asked before I lost those who could have answered them.  Now, in my elder years I scramble to mine my own memories and those of others.
Blessedly, that can still be done.  But, if I had done it sooner, how much more there would have been to pass down.  We lived in a place so unique it cannot be replicated, in a time crossing over many boundaries.  Growing into our teen years we started our own marches across the border of the Village and out into the wider world.  Our steps, our new relationships and careers took us off into far horizons.
My own journey certainly did.  

As we went so many separate ways, the Village wrapped us in threads of gossamer. I and others have been attempting to rewind those threads again, uncovering the treasures gathered in the strands of those years.  As I speak with others who shared my growing up the emotion is always the same.  Who will understand? Who remembers?

Native Americans treasure their stories, and tell them over and over until they form the fabric of a collective history that strengthens each family, each person giving rise to an identity that is part of parcel of a woven beauty.

When Pope Francis went to Rio de Janeiro for the World Youth Conference, my husband and I watched it all.  He is historical, this Pope, and watching him and his witness a joy.  But, for me a huge joy was hearing the Portuguese language spoken over and over. It took me back to the music of the Village that was the lullaby of my childhood.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The distance between Point B which is North Dighton, Massachusetts, site of Mount Hope Hospital from around the 1915  to around 1951, and Point A is 4,356 miles.  That is the distance traveled by this baby spoon given to the parents of a baby girl named Nancy on the occasion of her birth at that hospital in 1942.  The tiny spoon was kept carefully by the parents.  Then the child herself kept it as she grew up to become a college professor and to travel far from little North Dighton.

                      Apparently the spoon went along, too, not leaving its owner for many years.

                                          Until sometime in the past …. the spoon left home

As readers know, on October 17, 2013  this blog published a post about Mount Hope Hospital, a pivotal part of the Mount Hope Company town in N. Dighton, Massachusetts. 
 Hence comes our story.  

Presbyterian missionaries working with a gypsy group in Goias, Brazil were shown a spoon by them engraved in English with a child's name and that of a hospital:  Mount Hope Hospital. The birth date and how much the infant weighed were also engraved on the spoon.  The world shrunk with the Internet.  The missionaries, Leonor and Reginaldo Goulart, googled Mount Hope Hospital. Up came my post !

 The blog shared my e-mail address and they wrote to me, to my utter surprise.  The hunt began with cooperation from the I'M FROM TAUNTON Facebook page and myself.  The Dighton Historical Society was also very interested.  Their oldest volunteer is 95 years young and was born at Mount Hope Hospital herself. Questions abounded until the son of the spoon's lady messaged that he was connecting with the owner, his mother, currently in Brazil !  Connections are trying to be made with the missionaries, the  Goularts and with the spoon's owner to reunite them.

Silver baby spoons have long been a gift source for newborns, especially on the occasion of christening ceremonies.  The city of Taunton where I grew up, so closely adjacent to N. Dighton as to be siblings, contained two famous silver companies: Reed and Barton and E.B. Rogers.  For years area residents purchased their silver pieces from one of them.  We shall see who was the creative originator.

The story is more poignant as Mount Hope Hospital is only a memory now.  The tiny hospital of 15 beds was funded and run by the Mount Hope Finishing Company in North Dighton and that little town was a true company town.  Check out my posts on the subject: very interesting and nostalgic.

Learning more about silver baby spoons, it is an historical fact that back to medieval times, babies were fed with silver spoons. This occurred, of course in wealthier families as it was noted that those children fed with silver spoons did not succumb to the Plague.  It is now known that silver is bactericidal and often a component of bactericidal ointments and such originating in World War II.

For the present I still remain a sort of go-between from my home in Amelia, Florida to Brazil.  Each day I learn a little bit more about the story myself.  This is the kind of experience historical bloggers like myself dream about and it is still hard to believe.  The Internet can be a misused power or it can do good.  Maybe this little blog is the blog that could….that did…..and that will.

                      More to come on this sweet mystery, from whence came the spoon?

                                      Here are Reginaldo (left) and Leonor (right) Goulart
                                                Presbyterian Missionaries in Brazil
                                                        who found the spoon
                                      and their mission website which has been translated.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


In a June 7, 2013 post on the Taunton Public Library, we wrote of Maydell Murphy the first head librarian appointed to the library in 1932.  I would not have guessed that we would have picked up another thread of history from that post, but we did.

As I surfed through the I'm From Taunton Facebook archives I came across this photograph.  This is a photo of Dr. Emilene Frances "Emily" Bliss Murphy M.D.  She was Maydell's mother.

The photograph was placed on Facebook by Dr. Murphy's great granddaughter, Jessica Murphy Paxton.  If not for that sharing, we would not have known of this outstanding Taunton woman
and she would have been another forgotten footnote in our medical Taunton memories.

When I grew up in the 50's we girls knew that it was hard, even then,
for a woman to succeed in medicine.
I was fortunate enough to have one girl in my 1957 THS graduating class
who did go on to a medical career, but that was a rare instance.

The first woman in the U.S. to achieve a medical license was Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell who did so in New York in 1849.  Facing daunting odds, she practiced in N.Y. and later in her native England where she achieved success as a practitioner and also as a distinguished medical author.

Our own Taunton pioneer, Dr. Emily Murphy,
 was born in Taunton in 1859, the daughter of Shubael Bliss
and Alminda Lincoln Bliss. She undoubtably would have been educated in Taunton schools.  After graduation from the New England Conservatory of Music, she went on to marry Dr. Joseph Briggs Murphy and have two children.  When the children were six and seven years old she decided to start medical school in Boston.  She was 36 years old. She commuted to Boston each day while caring for her home.  Emily Murphy earned the money to attend medical school
by embroidering gowns for opera stars!

She graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Boston in 1892.  She continued commuting to Boston while serving on the staffs of Charity Hospital of Boston, the Carney and St. Elizabeth's Hospitals. She commuted to her own office on Boylston St. in Boston for twenty years before eventually setting up practice in East Taunton and then at 23 Summer St. where she practiced with her husband.

                 In Taunton she was the first woman gynecologist and surgeon in the city.

The above dedication brochure with her photograph as a younger physician was on the occasion of the recognition of her 36 years as an outstanding professional in service to the community of greater Taunton.  An article in the Taunton Daily Gazette of the day recounts that she was presented with three dozen red roses.  In her speech  she commented on the struggle of women "to gain recognition in their chosen field of endeavor, dealing more specifically with the medical profession.  She related how she had begun her study of medicine at the age of 36 years.  At that time, she said, women were not allowed to witness operations". This was only one example of the obstacles facing her and other women studying medicine in her time.

Dr. Emily Murphy was a shining example of what women could and can offer in medicine.  She comes through the words of her daughter and those at the above recognition dinner
as a woman of science but also one of great compassion.

                                                           Maydell wrote in her diary:
"that her mother felt sorry for any horse hitched out all night in 
a blizzard, would take it out of her own hide, leave her horse at home,
 and trudge up to the head of School Street or down the Weir in deep snow 
with her heavy bag of forceps.  Usually those terrible calls were "baby Cases" where the midwife had failed.  Her charity was simply compassion, freely given without financial reward."

                          Do you wonder if Dr. Murphy cared for one of our grandmothers?

I love this photograph of Dr. Murphy, her smile speaks volumes of who she was and what she
meant to her family and those she cared for.

 Dr. Emily Murphy attended St. Mary's Church in Taunton and was a member of the Bristol County Historical Society.  She loved her family, her work and her music. She only stopped practicing medicine when a fall prohibited her from doing so, the fall being the occasion of her death. I found it interesting that both Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and Dr. Emily Murphy succumbed after falls.
 These were indomitable women, and they are an inspiration even today. 
 Dr. Murphy died in 1934 at the age of 74 years of age.

I am honored to share this bit of Taunton memory treasures, I hope you share them, too.  Out little city has had an illustrious past, as we keep uncovering.

In a little side note : one of the women who organized the recognition dinner was
Ethel Buckley, would later be my second grade teacher. Another linking thread….


Sources for this post:

To read Jessica Murphy Paxton's family website: a wonderful example of what can be done with family genealogy research see:
Diary of Maydell Murphy as shared by Jessica Murphy Paxton for this blog post.

Taunton Public Library Research Department:  Aaron Cushman for finding
Dr. Murphy's obituary.

Pinterest and Wikipedia on the Internet for information on Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Last post I paid tribute to a beloved family physician.  I cannot leave this whole subject without
writing about Nurses.  This is my tribute to them.

It is related to health issues back- in -the day series, but will be a little more elaborate.  The reason?
I am a nurse, my sister is a nurse, the daughter of my heart is a nurse, and nurses have been and are some of my best friends.  Many of the readers of this blog are nurses. 

 The nurses in my family and among my close friends have advised, encouraged and supported me so often I lost count.  I believe in nurses and their ability to provide so much for the people with which they come in contact.  So this is a tribute to all of you, especially Kathy, and Lyn of whom I am so proud as she heads for the stars and Carol G. who knows who she is.

Today my daughter Lyn carries on the tradition but in a way I could never have dreamed. I live nursing vicariously again through her as she shares her experiences in a whole new world of caring.

Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse. Maybe it was being a candy striper at Morton Hospital when I was a teen. Who knows.  I watched these gracious women tend to folks in need and they inspired me.   In 1960, I graduated from a hospital three year program and was on my way.  The happiest years in my long health care career were when I was hands-on with patients.  As a Clinical Care Interventionest many challenges faced me each day. My time was before ICU's.  I was the first nurse to special a patient on a monitor in the hospital where I far we have come!  I would tell you that story as it is a good one....but for another time.  
I not only worked in the hospital venue but also for nearly a year in a migrant health clinic 
which fully rounded out my experience as a nurse. 

The late 50's and early 60's, my days were the days of starchy caps that constantly were pulled off by bed curtains, an errant child, or fell askew in an emergency. No heart monitors, or staffing standards per se.  As students you were often all alone on night duty with 40 patients.  Doctors were not to be contradicted or questioned, you rose from the desk when they came in, and carried all their charts on rounds. You kept silent. Thank the Lord that has changed.  Many patients back then and even today do not realize it may have been a nurse that saved their lives.

There was a lot of intuitive caring as abilities were honed.  There was constant vigilance since equipment did not yet do all that.  There was teamwork. There were tears, heartbreaking moments, and moments of joy.  There was never boredom, I can tell you that.

                                                       My graduation picture: 1960
                                                   St. Anne's Hospital, Fall River, MA

       Nursing has come a far way.  But, roots always demand restudy and a keeping of the good.
                                 Here is a photographic journey of nursing's roots to remind us
                                 of the courage and commitment, of risk taking and challenge, of
                                                 what made us love it, no matter what....

A visiting nurse in the early 1900's going from rooftop to rooftop in some big city to visit patients.  Nurses are not  easily daunted....

                                 1931 video on frontier nursing in the mountains of Kentucky
                                                      I thoroughly loved this. I did not ride horseback
                                                        but I recall my own harrowing moments.

Nurses have been in the forefront of healing and prevention for eons.  During the Civil War, it was the hospitals of the Sisters of Charity and those of Clara Barton where patients survived in much larger numbers due to their outstanding cleanliness as well as their care. .  Nurses, still today, have to be vigilant with cleanliness in health care.

War brought out, and still does, the best in nurses all over the world. China Beach was one of my all-time favorite TV shows about nurses in combat conditions. Nurses fight smaller quiet wars all the time protecting their patients in so many ways, they always have.

                                       Vietnam War Nurses Memorial in Washington D.C.

This is 1st Lt. Sharon Lane, R.N. army nurse.  She was killed by enemy fire while caring for her
patients.  She is the only American servicewoman to have been killed by direct enemy fire during the Vietnam war.  She deserves to be remembered by us all.

So here's to all you nurses, wherever you may be,
bless you in the name of everyone
you care for: yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Now that the tale of Mount Hope Hospital has been told in its context, I am back to Village affairs (for awhile at least). Once more we speak of how the Village stayed healthy .  One question for us growing up in the 40's and 50's is what happened to the family doc?

Before I begin, I must tell of a legendary name in our family. None of us ever knew him, only heard his musical name which engendered the legend and the phrase "Dr.Camoesa (pronouned kam-whiza), where are you....?"  How entrenched the legend was came home to us when  we were visiting my sister and her family in Michigan. My nephew who never lived in Taunton 
piped up that mantra  and we just howled. It had gone to another generation!

 I had to look into the legend.  Indeed, there was a Dr. Camoesa, a Portuguese physician  practicing in Taunton in the 40's.  One of my classmates remembered he had an office above the Park Theatre near her Aunt's insurance agency in the late 1940's and once tended to her when she got hit by a car in front of the Theatre (not badly, we are happy to report).
Dr. C. was once quite prominent in the Portuguese government as
Minister of Education, he started trade schools for boys there.
He had to leave Portugal when Salazar came into power in 1929 and
Dr. C. was on the opposite political side.
 As I said, I never met him.  He was probably elderly when my classmate met him.
Thanks to Cynthia Mendes and Arlene Gouveia for sharing memories of Dr. Camoesa.

                                                     Back to our own Family Doc

A mainstay for families in the Village and everywhere else, was the physician that took care of us from birth often all the way through adulthood.  He was as familiar to us as any family friend, though more important. This man knew our family, how we related, what our issues were, what our home looked like as he often came there if one of us could not go to his office.  He taught,  cared, laughed and cried with us. He provided us with a stable medical system.  All the time I was growing up neither I nor any one in my family ever visited an emergency room...course we probably predated them.

Our family Doc was Dr. Anthony Elias and he was village home grown!  So he really knew us!  Kind, patient, knowledgeable, eminently competent.  He saw us through many of my Dad's illness episodes and our once-in-awhile minor medical emergencies like bouts of severe poison ivy.  If you visited his office, there was just him. Period. No confusing medical insurance forms, no assistants or receptionists.

To know Dr. Elias you must know about his upbringing in the Village. Arlene Gouveia comes again to our rescue and tells us the tale of the Elias family who would have raised their family in the 20's in the Village. I wish I had known them.

                             Fuller School Class of 1919
                               Anthony Elias is in the third row, far left.  Next to him is Joseph Rose, Arlene
                  Gouveia's father and source of many of her memoirs.
         Photo from September 21, 2012 post in this blog.

Here is Arlene's memory of the Elias Family as her late father told her: 
Joseph Rose, and her late mother, Mary Rose.

"An oasis is defined as a welcoming spot in the desert.  Our oasis was in the personages of the Elias family.  Immigrating from Lebanon the Elias family settled in upper School Street.  First living in the block at 216 School, they bought the three decker across the street at 215 School, and the building next door at 217 that was once River's Pharmacy.  Then Nassif Elias had a variety store.  They raised four wonderful children who attended Fuller School and attended St. Anthony's Church.  They became a fabric of the neighbothood and were loved by all.  One of their children grew up to be Dr. Anthony Elias, a beloved physician in our community.  Their one daughter Genevieve became a navy nurse.
Another son was an altar boy at St. Anthony's until he married....."

It was always told in our family, that the Elias family, all of them, sacrificed much to send Anthony to medical school. When I read Dr. Elias' obituary I was amazed at his education.
I knew Dr. Elias was pretty special, now I know why.
 Keep in mind this education all took  
place in the 30's or 40's.

       Dr. Elias was educated in Taunton public schools, and  Providence College where he received a Ph. B degree in 1932.  He then graduated from the Georgetown Medical School (Washington D.C.) in 1937.  He served in the Medical Corps during WWII and retired as a
 Lieutenant Colonel. He then set up practice in Taunton.
He was often elected by his peers for medical society positions.

Pretty darn good for a Village boy!!  

On May 6, 1973 Anthony Elias, M.D. died suddenly while attending Mass at St. Mary's Church in Taunton, apparently of a heart attack.  He was 64 years old.

                          It has been my privilege to write this post in memory of that wonderful man.

The series Doc Martin on PPS probably comes close to the medical care we were used to, taking place in a small English town where the doc knows everyone and everyone knows him.  Over the years, along with the loss of so much stability in our lives in the Village, went the Family Doctor.
We have grown up to see change, confusion, disillusion along with incredible advances.
Yet still even today what matters, along with of course, capability,  is the
soothing confidence that our physician really knows who we are.

A thank you to Aaron Cushman, Research Department, Taunton Public Library
for finding Dr. Elias' obituary and photo.

Next post: last in the Village Healthy series
My tribute to nurses.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Note: It has been gratifying to see how many people reading this blog were born at Mount Hope Hospital. Their fathers were chemists and other employees at the Company, one reader recognized the company house her family lived in for twenty years. This series has been very interesting for me to research, adding to the many things I did not know about the Village, 
the city and the area where I grew up.

There are a few more up my writer's sleeve to be shared in the future. Hopefully,  
you will continue to add information, too.

Finally, we arrive at the end of the Mount Hope experience.  I cannot judge at this point in time, I leave that up to you.  The story ends on an unhappy note.  Keeping in mind, also, that with the advent of an "advanced" highway system and more cars available to the working person, perhaps the ending was inevitable.  As time passed great industry such as Reed and Barton left empty spaces in the Taunton landscape.  Some of the old mill buildings were rescued briefly when used as movie sets for such as Shutter Island.  But, back to our subject at hand.

As mentioned in the last post, the Mount Hope Finishing Company kept going all through the deep, dark years of the Great Depression offering its workers and their families security and a paycheck as well as so many benefits in their daily lives.  But, life never stays the same and that is even more true for the economy.  The people of the Mt. Hope community knew what they had and protected it, especially in the Textile Worker's Union to attempt to get the Company to join the regional Strike of 1934.  Mt. Hope Company was the only non-unionized company in the region and so it was targeted by the Union. The town realized what it had and effectively along with J.K. Millikin  isolated the town off  and in a week kept themselves strike free.

In 1951 everything changed when after its 50th anniversary falling revenue required shortened working hours and a 20% cut or 120 employees. That was when the rumble of unionization started again, this time within the Company instead of without.  Picketing became a reality in N. Dighton.  J.K. was heartbroken to see a woman whose baby was saved at a Boston hospital thanks to the Company in the front row.  As with all such things, family member fought with family member over the issue.  Violence ensued in the quiet little company town.  In 1951, broken in spirit, J.K. Millikin packed up his company lock, stock and barrel and moved it to N. Carolina to begin again. Still today there is controversy over what happened.

One can look at what may have paternalistic practices in company towns. Once the little community of North Dighton was touted internationally as the perfect New England Village where mutual benefits of the Company that supported it and its people took place. Today, we look at what has become an increasingly welfare-type country and compare...which would you want?  I look at empty shells like Detroit and wonder.....

There still remains a remnant of that unique community: the lovely homes still clustered around the green, the concrete wall of the hospital, the water plant now under other auspices, the dairy farm... Still many, many memories of what was the Mount Hope Finishing Company and its people. Oh, and one more ironic thing, Eric Schultz tells us that Warner Blvd. is named after the Judge who declared J.K. Millikin's action in breaking the 1934 strike legal.

Jospeh Milikin died at the age of 87 years on May 27, 1961 on Chase St. in his beloved N. Dighton.
He is buried along with his family in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Taunton.

                                                       Old Mount Hope Company Clock Tower
                                                                Photos from

                                                           Another source for this post:

Next Post:  back to Health in the Village once more....the Family Doctor....with emphasis on Family.
       I did enjoy the meandering off into the story of Mount Hope though, hope you did, too.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


In 1915  J.K. Millikin purchased an old mansion, the Nathaniel Wheeler house in North Dighton, to renovate it into a 15 bed hospital  which included an operating room.  It was located where later the bank would be across String St. from Johnny's Market/Joe's Pharmacy -
on the same side as the Post Office.
   It was staffed by two nurses, two assistants, and a doctor on call.

The hospital would have been a boon to the employees and their families as, for one thing, a growing population of women preferred hospitals as the place to give birth rather than at home.  In 1931 there were 708,889 births in U.S. hospitals, in 1942 there were 1,670,599.  We know that the delivery room at Mount Hope must have been a busy one.  The hospital was equipped to handle the deliveries and everyday work injuries and sicknesses.  Complicated cases were sent to Taunton or Fall River.  The very complicated to Boston on Rhode Island.

                                                               Mount Hope Hospital in 1927

The hospital was primarily for the employees and their families, but
if special permission was sought from J.K others could be admitted.
Should an employee or his family need specialized care in Boston,
the company was known to provide for that.  At times, J.K. even 
went to Boston to visit the patient.

I found the above photo of an old type of hospital ward in my Pinterest file, it probably was what hospitals in the late 20's looked like.....note the metal beds.  When I was a nursing student in the 60's the hospital where I trained still had two large wards of 16 beds each, one for men and one for women.

A pithy tale is told by Arlene Gouveia: if a patient was very ill, straw or hay was strewn on the streets
outside so that the patient would not be disturbed by the sounds of horses hooves.....  Something that could only happen back in those days, today's hospital noises are impossible.

                                    This is a photo of a delivery room in the early 1900's....

The staffing at Mt. Hope Hospital signifies that the nurses there must have been very busy and also given a lot of responsibility.  One of them visited the Plant each day and would have handled many work related health or injury problems.  The photo from Pinterest is an example of nurses
caring for company employees.


Keep in mind  the following timeline:

*Only in 1921 was the Band-Aid introduced by Johnson and Johnson.
*In 1925, the cost of sickness per capita was $10 a year and $12 for loss of related employment wages.
*In 1928, Vitamin D was identified along with its role in rickets .
*Penicillin was discovered in 1928.  1929 saw the first group insurance plan formulated in Texas.
*The Iron Lung was invented in 1928.

So there were not a lot of remedies to chose from....

Black Thursday on Wall Street was in 1929 which plunged the country into deep depression.

Still the Mount Hope Hospital carried on until 1950 or 1951 when the company relocated.


Next Post:  Why the Mount Hope Finishing Company left N. Dighton and the state.

Resources for this post

Photographs of Nurses Source : Pinterest: Vintage Nurses, Vintage hospitals.

 Source of Mt. Hospital photos: I'm From Taunton Facebook Page as previously cited.  Thank you to Carol O'Connell Soares for her help with dates for Mt. Hope Hospital as well as photos of the hospital.

                                                      Source of Statistics and Timeline:

Sunday, October 13, 2013


 Historians are wanderers by nature and necessity.  Threads of history flutter from each discovery they make, often they are nudged to take a thread and follow it.  Such is the history of Mount Hope Hospital in N. Dighton, a memory waiting to be enjoyed once again.  It cannot be enjoyed in isolation, however.  It must be studied within the larger context of the Mount Hope Finishing Company experience.  This first post is an introduction, followed in the next by a discussion of the Mount Hope Hospital and lastly, by the final history of The Company.

Small towns lie contiguous to the City of Taunton, and it is sometimes hard to see where one leaves off and another begins.  Taunton itself weaves in and out of some of them: a sign tells you you are leaving and a bit up the road another tells you that you are coming back in.

Dighton is one of those towns, particularly North Dighton.  I grew up in Taunton and never knew about the history of N. Dighton, including its hospital.  I began to notice on the I'm From Taunton Facebook page the number of folks who were born there in the 40's and early 50's.  So I went a-hunting and discovered a fascinating tale within a tale!

From 1901 to 1951 North Dighton was the home of the Mount Hope Finishing Company touted as one of the largest cotton plants in the world!  I will not be able to do justice to the Mount Hope/ N. Dighton story here.  But, I plan to do more reading on the subject as I hope you will as well. Perhaps this will whet your appetite as it has mine.  Although I started with researching the hospital, the rest of it captured my interest and thus, these posts.

                    The name Mount Hope came from the Native American Rhode Island village, 
    Montaup, where Wampanoag chief King Phillip was killed in 1676 (King Phillips war
 was in Colonial southeastern New England)

                           The Mt. Hope Co. published a newsletter, here is one of its 1924  covers
                                      with a good aerial view of the Company campus.

I will get to the hospital in the next post  but first I want to write about the "company town," a phenomena of that era.  Come along with me.  As always I welcome addendum's or corrections, this is far from the scholarly endeavor that I wish it could be.

Much of the next paragraphs and photos are from the web site below about the Mount Hope story. The blog post article is by Eric Schultz.  I am grateful to Mr. Schultz, and to Mryna Santos from the Dighton Historical Society for forwarding it to me.  Also, to Karen from
                                                      The post has excellent photographs.                         

In 1901, the story begins. Joseph Knowles and his nephew Joseph Knowles Millikin, who was 26 years of age, known to his associates as J.K.happened by an abandoned mlll in the tiny town of N. Dighton, MA.  They immediately saw its potential. The mill soon represented prominent investors: the Hathaways, Stantons, Tiffanys and Crapos.  Eventually Joseph Millikin would be top shareholder due to his phenomenal success.

Within 6 short months, they had established a cloth finishing company to support the booming textile trade in nearby Fall River, New Bedford, and Rhode Island. J.K procured rights to copious water needed, then sought the necessary labor....and therein lies his fame.

                                                    J.K. Millikin on the 1945 cover of
                                                          the company newsletter
                                               Apparently, he led a quiet and simple life.

To find and keep good labor in this area of New England, J.K. adopted the Company Town
model.  In the days when there were few cars and no highway system, it helped to centralize housing close to the site of work.  This was not new to the U.S., coal mining companies and others had adopted it.  Perhaps, none as pervasively as J.K.however.  In 1901, there was only one macadam road in N. Dighton. This soon changed.  Eventually, the company created a beautiful park where it hosted employee picnics, sponsored ski trips by train to New Hampshire, created a hospital where a nurse would visit the Plant daily, created the town's water system (some of which is still is use today), a dairy (still historically intact today as well).  If you lived there, as an employee, you were provided with paved roads, had your own police department and fire station.  The farm, though it has changed hands often throughout the year/s remains intact to this day with its current owners, the Reed Family Limited Partnership. Milk and vegetables were sold at cost to employees. There were men from the Village employed at the company, too. The company paid for church buildings, a library, card rooms, dances as well as theatre performances Emergency services were provided and employees never had to shovel.

"Shortly after obtaining the old mill, J.K. bought 13 old tenement buildings and completely remodeled them inside and out. Each was decorated and outfitted with new plumbing.  The Company continued to acquire, build and rent nearly 200 homes, many small bungalows and single family distinctive homes.  Each had its inviting entrance, a well kept lawn, a little garden, was located to best advantage along the roads of the model village.  The Company mowed lawns, trimmed trees, raked leaves and cleared snow for its tenants.  All houses were repainted and repapered every three years.  Rents ranged from $1.25 per week to $5.00 per week (on average salaries tended to exceed those of Fall River).  The newest houses, circa 1922, included steam heat, hot and cold water, baths, set tubes, hardwood floors, electric lights, gas, sanitary closets and sewer connections."
                                                                Eric Schultz internet article

                                          NEXT POST; MOUNT HOPE HOSPITAL

Research for these posts about the Mount Hope experience led me to many sources.  If you would like to further dig into the subject, here are some of them.  Many contributed directly to these posts.

                      Sources for posts on The Mount Hope Finishing Company and Hospital
And More...

*  see Dighton Historical Society therein.

*Thanks to I'm from Taunton Facebook member Carolyn O'Connor Soares
 for photos of
the Old Mount Hope Hospital in the next post.

*Thanks to Arlene Gouveia once again for her knowledge
 of Mt. Hope Finishing Company.

 * For a fascinating look at the booming textile period in Fall River, 
visit the Fall River Historical Society
  (there is much more there than just Lizzie Borden material).

two books: perhaps easier to obtain from inter-library loan:
Harriet O'Brien's "From Grey to Beauty"
  and "A Fierce Personal Pride" by Burke Davis 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

If you had to go to a Hospital: Part I

This is a lovely photograph of the original Morton Hospital around 1910.  It was posted on the Litchfield Historical Society website, believe it or not.  Possibly,
 because Marcus Morton went to the Litchfield Law School.

When it became our hospital in the 40's and 50's , there was much of that wonderful building left
with its sheen of elegance.  In 1960, the mansion was demolished for renovation
and later the Thayer Medical Building project also altered its appearance.

The mansion had been donated by Susan Kimball Morton, daughter of Marcus Morton, an illustrious figure, not just in Taunton but in the state of Massachusetts and beyond in the 1800's.  Marcus Morton could trace his roots back to the Mayflower on his mother's side:
 he was born in Freetown,MA
in 1784. He was homeschooled and later was accepted to Brown University
and then on to the Litchfield School of Law in Massachusetts.  He practiced law
in Taunton before going to to his long and illustrious political career.  As well as the positions below his photo, he was elected to the 15th and 16th congresses as a Republican and then later was a Democrat.  He was Lt. Gov of Massachusetts from 1840-1841 and 1843 to 1844.  In his judicial career he was known for a famous case.  He was the lone dissenter the last time
anyone in the U.S. was convicted of blasphemy.

Marcus Morton was the only governor to ever come from Taunton, MA.

He married Charlotte Hodges and they had 12 children, ten of which survived. His son, Marcus would become a Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice as well, following in his father's footsteps.

One of ten remaining children at her father's death, Susan Morton Kimball attained the rights of all of the other children and the family mansion on Washington St. was donated for the first
hospital in Taunton, MA.  The dedication took place Jan. 3, 1889. (Old Colony Historical Society)

First incorporated as The Taunton Hospital Corporation in June of 1888, its name was
later changed to The Morton Hospital.  

In the 20th century, Morton Hospital had its own School of Nursing, a three year program.

I do not recall, but perhaps there was a photograph of Marcus Morton hanging in the
lovely foyer of the old hospital we knew.  Times have so changed and in the recent past, the hospital has been acquired by a for-profit hospital chain and is 
now Morton Hospital- a Steward Hospital.
A friend told me this morning that those amazing historical pictures of the hospital that 
line the corridors  when are going to all be removed. 

If that is true, there go the last vestiges of
the history of Taunton's first hospital.

But,  as we knew it it was an elegant, quiet hospital next door to a primary parochial school where children's laughter could be heard to cheer patients as they recovered.  I always remember the front entrance, the black and white tiles floors, the beautiful  spiral staircase, the fireplace in the waiting area, the switchboard operator who gave you one of two visitors permits 
(you often sneaked in otherwise).
I was never a patient there, but my parents were in those years, though not often. 
 We never frequented the E.R. when we were young, either.

For further interesting reading try

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Often the old Cod Liver Oil was enough to keep us healthy (ugh...remember that taste!).  There was no rush for an antibiotic shot (hence little over abuse), nor a rush to the E.R.  First of all a lot of the living that we did as children was based on a whole lot of exercise, morning to evening when we could get away with it,.  A nice day?  Out we went.
And we stayed out, unless it rained really hard.

Also, we enjoyed  a nutritious and sensible pattern of eating.  We ate slowly, at the family table.  That offered a sharing time as well as a more leisurely rhythm of eating, good for our digestion.  Thank the Lord, the days of cell phones dividing us was way in the future.  We said, "May I be excused, when we were ready to get up and leave" or we waited for everyone to finish.  We picked up dirty dishes and cleaned the kitchen with our Mom.  There were no TV's in the kitchen.

We ate lots and lots of fresh vegetables and meat that had next to nothing added to it, it might even have come from our own henhouse or a neighbor's farm.  We ate Mom's home cooked desserts, again with just enough sugar.  The pantry was full of basic stock and not bags and bags of candies (Halloween stash often lasted a whole long time). Mom canned and froze a lot of food 
so we had the good stuff all year round.

If we got sick, well, most of the time Mom handled that or if it came to it the family doc came to the house or we went to his very simple office, often staffed by only the doc.

We survived and we did not sue anyone....!  We learned to deal with life without medication..imagine that.  We had failure, success, and responsibility and we learned from it all.  We even survived without seat belts....and mercury fillings.  Remember those dentist chairs and the dentist who did everything? We never heard of a hygienist.

  What a different day!  All the squabble politically today, all the constant bombardment of ads for medications everywhere we look (and nothing is sacred either).  The information overload of things that could be wrong with us if we do not do such and such gets bigger each day .  It is relaxing just to look back on a simpler life and breathe!  I am, of course, all for educating ourselves on how to keep healthy, or even better, to control our own health care.  But, today everything has gone overboard in a miasma of profit and greed, and often just by the ever increasing "nanny-state".

Of course, one had all the childhood diseases, that was shared sibling to sibling and kid to kid.
It was a given.  The motto was "get it over when you are young."  A truism there.

Sometimes what was wrong was indeed wrong, even then.
 I just about recall the bright red quarantine signs on doors warning that everyone must keep out.  That meant diphtheria or scarlet fever usually. A gentleman on the web recalls when he caught scarlet fever.  He writes that the teacher asked him to clean out the desk of a student who was out with it, he then contracted it. His teacher did not touch anything and was not infected.  It meant a long confinement and isolation at home for the student, though.

Happily, those diseases are rarely seen today.

                                                           All photos from Pinterest

The worst conditions my sister and I got were terrible cases of poison ivy which our beloved family doc, Dr. Elias, gave us a shot for if it got really bad, which it often did. I think the shots were Prednisone. The next blog posts will be all about our family doc and others who helped us heal when we were young in the Village, and in Taunton.  Stay tuned, there are lots more.  As a matter of fact, when I started this series I did not have much. Then a lot serendipidously came to light and I hope you enjoy it all as much as I do writing it.

Obviously, hoping you will all chime in and make it even more interesting.  If you have looked at the statistics of page views on this blog:  over 20,500!  From all over the world.