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, May 28, 2013

What They Found ...Part I


Because there are so  many excellent historical and pictorial sources on the Internet for all of the  I will not dwell on them her.  Historia dos Acores  is just one.

Our forebears, as we have said, were hard workers.  The above photograph  from the site mentioned is an example of what Azorean and Madeira life was like for many of them in the early 1900's.  Preparing to come to America was a dream for something better, something more.

The labor situations that immigrants found when they came to this country is a fascinating, albeit troubling, part of the nation's history.  This was brought home to me as I worked on my maternal grandparent's story and because of that I feel it is important  to talk about it here.  It gives us new respect for the work ethics of our elders who paved the way for us, a way much easier than theirs.  Though many of them worked as entrepreneurs in the Village, they often had to supplement income by working elsewhere.

They brought their industriousness to their new lives. For many of them, life would continue to be difficult, but with more reward. Arlene Gouveia's father-in-law came to the Village and purchased a large piece of land on upper School St. He  grew crops including purple and white  grape vines, fruit trees, and raised goats and a few pigs.  A lot of folks who raised pigs called him when it was time.  A vegetarian now, I prefer not to remember that...  He was from Madeira,  part of a goodly amount of Madeira folk who settled in the Village.

Many of the Azoreans were factory or mill  workers, that would have included my maternal grandparents Isobel and Manuel Motta. She was employed at a shoe leather dying factory in Bristol, R.I.,  the Old Columbia Mill in East Taunton, The Berry Rag Shop.  The latter was  located at the bottom of Arlington St. in the Village and she worked there with her mother Anna (I notice this building still is located at the same place as it was when I was a child gazing at all those bales and bales of colorful rags).,  She also worked at the Cohen Mills in Taunton as a cotton threader winder, and finally at the Plymouth Cordage Co. in Plymouth which manufactured rope. ( Note: Plymouth Cordage Co. has a fascinating history if you are interested and a museum in Plymouth,MA). Most of the manufacturing work took place within a bubbling stew of toxic conditions that often took a toll of the health of many of the workers.

My maternal grandfather, Manuel Motta, worked for Glenwood Range in Taunton.  He was employed as a stove worker.  At that time Glenwood used quartz dust and the ventilation was very poor.  My grandfather contracted silicosis (Black Lung) which led to tuberculosis. Another worker from the Village also contracted the condition.  It would be fatal for my grandfather at a young age.  The Glenwood  situation prompted Massachusetts to form the Division of Occupational Labor and Workforce Development.  One of the first in the nation.


The picture below is a very precious photograph.  
Taken in the early 1900's, it is of a  group of young women working in a 
Fall River, MA weaving mill and includes my husband's maternal grandmother. She is 5th in from the right peeking over another worker's shoulder. An immigrant from Canada,
not only did she work in the mills, she also went on to bear 14 living children.



   My grandmother Isobel said that the mill work paid $14.66 a month for six days a week of 11 hour working days. This would have been usually inhaling flax, cotton and hemp as as it flew all around them.  Heavy metals were also used in many situations such as dying.  Brockton tanneries left polluted ground which even today is problematic.  Brockton was a center of shoe manufacturing in those times. In Norton, there was the Talbot Wool Company which processed wool and
produced lanolin. In the late 1800's there was the Whittenton Cotton Textile factory, which once boasted 1,600 looms.  The Whittenton buildings still stand and are on the National Historic Register.
You may recall that the suspense movie, Shutter Island, was filmed there not long ago.

In the United States 39% of pregnant women immigrants worked in the mills.  The infant mortality rate for them was 200 per 1,000 live births,
 twice the national average.

Coming here was chasing a dream, it also had its costs.

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

          Next:  last post in the Origins series: the composition of the Village population, then and now.

2 comments:



  1. Thank you so very much. Good words like yours helps to keep this going...

    ReplyDelete