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….