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, 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.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Researching the 50's and 40's in the Village means putting it into a historical context. Part of that context includes medical issues of those years as well as those of our grandparents.  What were the challenges, who were our caregivers?  I hope to discuss these topics and to have input from our readers. I will be doing posts on disease issues, on physicians and nurses with a bit of history thrown in...cannot help it, too interesting!  Having been an active nurse in the 60's I came on the tail end of that medical history and I saw the ushering in of a new era. It has always fascinated me.

                                     Our Grandparents and Medical Issues in the Village:

What did our grandparents face when they came to the United States as far as medical challenges to their health and that of their children?  Their courage necessitates looking at the serious medical threats that faced them.

This is the first of a series on Village Health History.  Because of my own medical career ( extensive nursing education, clinical experience and hospital administration, I also designed and taught a course on Epidemiology on the college level), this research comes second nature to me. It also helps us to better understand our own times and those that established our families here in America.

All four of my grandparents came here in the early and early1900's.  World War I started in 1914 and as a result of crowded conditions for soldiers around the world, in 1918 as it was ending, a world wide influenza epidemic took place.  In the U.S. alone approximately 675,000 people died, world wide that number rose to the millions. That epidemic still haunts the world and is the reason health officials are so afraid when any type of contagious disease crops up on the global stage.

                                                            photo from Pinterest

Stories of that epidemic affecting the Village or my family have not been handed down. Hopefully, readers will help in this regard.  I am aware, however, of industrial caused diseases affecting my maternal grandparents.  Poor ventilation at Glenwood Range in the early 1900's, for example, caused black lung disease in my grandfather which led to terminal tuberculosis of the kidney and passed on to his infant son with tubercular meningitis. The Glenwood Range story is well documented in health history in Massachusetts.  I am aware of at least one other husband and father in the Village also affected with black lung disease.  Massachusetts established an Occupational Health Board as a result of that situation, the first in the country.  Part of my genealogical research was getting in touch with a researcher at Tufts School of Public Health who was doing her dissertation on that very company and the effects of problems there. I discussed some of this earlier in this blog.

                                          Genealogy takes us often to unexpected places.

The 50's ushered in a era of medical "miracles", especially in the care of the victims of polio.  A dreaded disease since about the time of the 1919 Influenza epidemic, we 40's babies recall the fund raising container that was passed during movie intermissions.  Also, the song, You'll Never Walk Alone will forever be the soundtrack for a child painfully walking with braces on the movie screen.  We have come a long way since those terrible days of fear for our children, and today there is a final push to eradicate polio in the entire world.  There has not been a case of polio in the U.S. since 1979.

As a young nursing student in the late 50's at St. Anne's I walked through a corridor in that hospital that still held an iron lung which had once been put to good use.  Two of the physicians at that hospital were directly affected as both of their pregnant wives came down with polio and where ever after debilitated.

                                                            Photos from Pinterest

Dr. Jonas Salk finally discovered a vaccine for polio in  the 50's.  
It is interesting to note that Dr. Salk never saw a penny of the financial reward for his efforts.

                                                    Next: quarantines in the Village.;postID=5079039729757781009;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=80;src=postname

Thursday, September 12, 2013


                              OK- well, not really a dancing Diva, just a little girl all dressed up!

This is not the sharpest of photos but it will do.  I was around 10 or perhaps 11 years old here when my Mom sent me for Ballroom Dancing, perhaps to Louise Crowley and her sister.  We had a demonstration at the Taunton Inn downtown.  This dress-up long gown was for a dancing exhibition there.  Exciting for a little girl to even have a corsage.  The Taunton Inn was a big deal for me, a lovely place for teas and special events.  All the time I was growing up, this is the only time I recall going there. I can almost feel the touch of the taffeta dress (taffeta being very in at the time,) and I remember that it was a peach color.  No one left to verify, unfortunately.  So, peach it shall be.

We learned the waltz, the foxtrot, the quickstep....remember the box when you did the foxtrot...or was it something else??  I have no recollection of my partner.

Below is a photograph from the I'm From Taunton Facebook page, courtesy of a Joanne Simpson Brehner post.  Another dancing exhibition at the Taunton Inn. Good photo of Ms. Louise who with her sister taught so many little Tauntonians a bit of graceful movement.

  Above Herring Run restaurant room at the Taunton Inn in the 50's.
  Back in the day, the Inn was quite elegant.

                                         Online from Cardcow Postcard of Old Taunton Inn in the 30's
It appears from this postcard above that the Inn was once near the Courthouse....
you can see it on the left. My guess is that it was destroyed by fire.
I seem to remember reading somewhere that the original Inn was located
elsewhere earlier on in the history of Taunton.  

Another photo above of the Inn from  Flickr on the Net. This is the Inn building as we knew it.
 I would guess, from the cars, this would have been in the 40's or 50's closer to the time of my Ballroom extravaganza at the Inn.  Below another postcard, date unknown.  Today the Inn in now Marian Manor, a nursing home, I wonder if any of the elderly folks there dream of the Inn, indeed Taunton, in its prime.  I feel it is right that it is a caretaker of memories as well as of people.  

Come on, jump in with memories of your days of learning to dance like a grown-up, before the
time of rock 'n roll sort of stole it all away.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Nose Knows and Nostalgia

This is a personal post a bit aside from our usual research.  I elected to do it since I have just returned from a trip to The Village.  A bit of a pilgrimage I should say.  

On a whirlwind trip to see family in Taunton, one morning we had a free moment and started the drive down at the end of School Street where it meets St. Joseph's Cemetery. The narrator, myself of course, started even before the cemetery.  Isn't that where they raised greyhounds? Was there a pig farm around there as well?

On to the house where my parents lived on School Street when I was born. On and on the Village mantra continued. Just when we crossed Braga Square I noticed that the School Street Bakery was open. We stopped the car on a dime.

As soon as I walked in....BAM, as Emeril would say, the aroma stopped me in my tracks.  IT WAS EXACTLY the same as when I was a child!!!  It looked the same, the little bell rang above the door (or did it, Was it from my memory?)  When the lovely lady came out from the back (as they always did), I told her what the warm aroma was doing for me, and she smiled knowingly.

Off to have breakfast with two childhood friends, I purchased some turnovers and left.  The experience stayed with me all day long.

Driving the Village, I was saddened to see homes not in the best of shape.  Homes where I had known the families who had lived there in my time, and kept them immaculate.  But, now and then, a house shone with loving care.  Sometimes those houses were still in the families I
had known growing up: that felt good.


Time passes and as Thomas Wolfe said, you cannot go home again.  But, Thomas, sometimes a wonderful aroma comes to you....the nose knows, in your mind and with
the memory of your heart, you really can.

Thank you, School Street Bakery, for still being there.....

photo below mid  School Street in the 40's 

Three of us that gathered last week, and one that is always in our hearts
photo 184 School St. back yard.
Graduation from Cohannet School in the 50's.