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.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Portuguese food is for coming in from the fields after a hard day's work, for returning home from fishing in the frigid Atlantic.  When our grandparents came to America and the harsh New England winters Portuguese food became even more as it nourished fathers and children coming in from the cold.

Portuguese food is for remembrance.  It is for when grandmothers bake Massa Sovada (sweet bread) and cover the rising dough with the sweaters of husbands and sons.  I can still smell the warm yeasty aroma that filled the kitchen as my grandmother Delphina made her bread in the traditional way…heavy with memory.


I retrieved the photograph below from an earlier blog, it fits here so well .   Rosalina Semas, a grandmother kneading her bread in her summer kitchen at her home on Floral St.  She exemplifies all our grandmothers who would spend the day in bread making, especially at Easter.  At Eastertime, there would be a hardboiled egg baked into the top of one of the breads.

 Elegant in its simplicity, Portuguese food seeps into your soul.  Even the poorest had access to fish, beans, greens (especially kale), onions, and potatoes. Everyone had a kitchen garden and anyone could grab a pole and go off fishing or digging with their toes for clams at low tide.

What Portuguese child of my era in the Village did not grow up
on Caldo Verde…Portuguese soup?
I have found a version of my own…as I am vegetarian I omit the linguica. Linguica and its spicer cousins (chourico and morcela) was another staple of our culinary culture.  As soon as the first spoonful of soup  hits my palate I am back in our kitchen on School St.  Comfort food like no other for this child of the Village.  The smell as it cooks takes me "home." You may call it peasant food,
for me it is the true "soul food" of my people.

What prompted me to write this post was a recent article in the Wall St. Journal which sent me on my on journey to explore my culinary memories.  The author, Chef Georges Mendes, called his article…"The Delicious Route to my Culinary Roots."  In his New York restaurant he calls his food "Portuguese-inflected.'  There were no such fancy titles when I was growing up.  He said that all Portuguese food has a base of bay leaves, paprika, garlic and onion simmered in olive oil. I agree with that.  I also have to say that in researching this topic, I had to keep stopping as I meandered through all kinds of blogs by Portugeuse cooks as well as those on Pinterest and Facebook.  My recipe files are now fuller with recipes waiting their turns for me to try them.

I was so involved that I had to take myself off for a walk to let my memories simmer, as it were. As I walked I started to mentally list all off the foods of my childhood and they came like a litany :

         *  Favas cooked that very special way (I am still working on that one) especially at Festas.
          *Tomatoes, chicken and rice.
          *Malsadas: friend dough
          *Alentejana : pork and Little Necks.
          *Carne de Espeto: meat on a stick
          *Stuffed Clams from the P.A.C.C. so spicy you needed water in hand.
          * Portuguese bread rolls fresh from the bakery on School St. to soak up your sauce.

Ah,  the cod dishes. Bacalhau in all its many variations.  For us, my mother made her very own special dish for Christmas Eve. Served with authentic Portuguese rolls in a type of sandwich it went quicker than any dish on the table.  Servings were taken home like Christmas presents.  She would purchase the wooden boxes of dried cod, spend a whole day and overnight soaking and rinsing the salt off then marinate it in her own special way.  Adding black olives and sometimes hard boiled eggs, it would last forever simmered in lots of garlic, sliced olives.  My mouth is watering as I write this.

Once, some time ago, we gave a Portuguese themed dinner party.  Portuguese wines like Vinho Verde, Portuguese dishes and Fado playing in the background.  I dressed in a long black dress with a lacy black shawl….we loved it.  Of course, we never dressed that way growing up at the table.  Our foods were the staples of our lives.  It gathered us together, and does so still today.  In my kitchen there is a little Portuguese rooster decorated in that particular way to remind me that my food, even today, is spiced with the memories of my mother's kitchen in the Village.

Portuguese food translates to love of family, food, wine, friendship and hospitality as well as strong and abiding religious beliefs. Bay leaves, for example, were thought to symbolize the Resurrection. For us as children, special foods were cooked at Easter and Christmas.  Today, just my husband and I at table, eating a dish like Caldo Verde imbues me with a sense of tradition that feeds more than my body, the way food should. My culinary heritage is a blessing and I am happy to have shared this with you.

Will you share your culinary heritage memories ?

Meantime it is time for supper….

                                                              " coma…coma…"

Sources for this article:

-Pinterest for many of the photographs.

-"The Long, Delicious Route to my Culinary Roots" by Chef George Mendes, WSJ Jan. 18-19, 2014.

   -  The Portuguese Cook's Blog.
 - Thanks to this blog for the photo of Caldo Verde in its traditional bowl.

There are many, many other blogs and websites you can find filled with traditional Portuguese recipes and the history of that food along with  how it was spread around the world as Portuguese ships made port in their travels: they brought tea to England, for example…
yes, that is true.  Look it up. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Some time back we wrote about the Portuguese American Civic Club, or, as it was and is affectionately known as, the P.A.C.C.   Now there is more to share thanks to John Arruda, current President of the P.A.C.C.,  for providing copies of the archives of the Club with me.  Within the material he sent was a C.D. which included this wonderful photo.  The best thing about it is that two of my uncles are in the photo:  John Bernadino (Middle back row) and John "Bunny" Souza ( left front row).  Most of these other gentlemen were well known to me as well.

  1945 Board of Directors: Portuguese American Civic Club.

Back row: left to right: Frank Rico, Larry Fontes, John Bernadino, Mr. Pacheco and unknown gentlemen.  Front- John Sousa, Frank Rose and John Souza. 
John Bernadino was President 1949-1950.

This history is taken from an address given by Manual Costa in 1963
 on the occasion of the opening of the upstairs hall.
I recall "Mal" Costa and his wife Irene as well.

The P.A.C.C. is part and parcel of Village history.  It was founded in 1929!  The founders were a group of Portuguese immigrants whose names are mostly lost to us today, except that the first President appears to have been Joaquim Ferreira who served from 1929-1931.

 They once met in a neighborhood store on School Street and also upstairs in a funeral parlor. In 1930 a building was rented next to the neighbor at the left of the current P.A.C.C. for $10 a month. With second hand furnishings it must have been like a boy's club: table, 20 chairs and a small railroad car heater. It is true that there were 30 members but it was figured not all would show up at the same time. The men's room was at the end of the lot, as was common it was a one seat out-house. 

The dues were $.25 a month.  They were there for a year then moved to the Sports Medeirence Club across from Lane's Avenue.  Bigger than the last space, the rent was higher: $35.00 a month. and soon after the dues went up $.50 a month.  This was at the beginning of the Great Depression when the average family did not have enough to buy more than food. Many of the members worked as janitor and bartender for a year's dues. Because of an increase in members they began to promote fund raising activities.  For the most part those were dances and whist parties (a staple of Church fundraising, too).

                           Though taken later in 1965, this is a photo of a P.A.C.C. minstrel show
and a good example of fundraising entertainment activities.
I remember Minstral shows at the Church, too.
           Thanks to Janice Costa Treano from the Village for this great shot.
Janice is on the far left, then Carol Rico and Terry Oliver.
 Janice tells us her father and his brothers helped to
build the P.A.C.C.

Carnivals were sponsored, too, which swelled the Treasury.  In 1933 the Ladies Auxilary was born, a group of high school girls headed by Emma Andrade.  Emma lists herself as "still active". Aunt Emma, as I call her, is still with us today. The members of the P.A.C.C. attribute much of their success to this Auxiliary. The following is a history of that group as told to Arlene Gouveia by Emma herself and Jeanette Nascimento ( a non-member).

 "In February of 1933 twelve lucky girls formed a club called The Question Mark Club. Sixty five years later 6 of the 12 were still active members."

Though the time of the quote is undated she does
 give us a timeline for the P.A.C.C. which is great.

I like to research fashions of the time
as it helps to picture what those gals wore back then.

That date of 1933 also tells us when the great P.A.C.C. baseball teams were organized and sponsored becoming City Champions.  The photo below is not of any Taunton group but from the Internet, it still gives us an idea of what teams looked like back then.

Manuel tells us that not only did it achieve great publicity but it was wonderful entertainment
for one and all.  When they played at Hopewell Park against the Polish Club or the D. and M. Garage all who were able to walk could be found at the Park.  The games  made fans of folks who did not know what a baseball looked like.  Every player was an idol to people of the Village.

During the Great Depression the P.A.C.C. showed its loyalty to the Village with their presence being felt in whole new way.  Mindful of unemployed members, an employment committee was organized.  It was very successful in placing men in jobs in city, state, county and even federal projects as well as private employment.  The men with the largest families had  first priority.  Many a member of the committee, out of work himself would give up a chance for a job to someone in greater need. At the time national income was cut in half and a quarter of the work force was unemployed.  Malnutrition occurred in big cities.  Yet the Village, between its people, its Church and the Club managed through it all.

During World War II, non-Portuguese men could join, as long as they were sponsored 
by someone of Portuguese descent.

In 1938 the need for a larger building became evident and the land where the current located  was purchased.  Shortly after, that under John Abreau as President and Frank Rico as chair of the building committee, they went ahead, mostly with the muscle of their members.  The second floor was added in 1965.

The Club reflected Village life.  Festas took place there, and carnivals.  All a short walk from the homes of the Village. Growing up right across the street from the age of 12 years old, I can attest to the respect Club members had for the Village.  We were never disturbed by loud music or disruption of any kind. My grandfather died in 1927, I like to think he was part of the group that planned organizing this Club. My father was active at the P.A.C.C. as well as my uncles and probably my aunts as well.

Addendum: There have been so many folks sharing their memories on the Facebook page I'M FROM TAUNTON, it has been so gratifying.  I am adding this one which particularly touched me, as I knew this family so well…  Somehow the P.A.C.C. post tied so many memories together.  Thanks, Joan.

I am grateful to those who contributed to this post, it was an honor to write it.  Some of the photos are from Pinterest but serve to illustrate the story.  Keep up the storytelling, folks, stories give us an identity, a sense of pride in where we grew up and those who came before us.  
The nice part is that I still remember so many of these names.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Technology seems to have robbed us of our collective handwriting ability.  I shudder when I get email correspondence with 4 instead of 'for' or 'four' or u for 'you' and so forth.  Who keeps emails lovingly?  One cannot hold them feeling the touch of the loved one who wrote those lines.  The tinge of age does not give emails a dignity all their own.  

                                                              Photo from Pinterest

A third of us today cannot read our own handwriting, let alone that of another.  Did you know that the science of handwriting (especially cursive!) is called graphology? How letters and words are crafted can indicate more than 5,000 personality traits.  

Many consider cursive handwriting an art form, a historical tradition.  Remember the homework of learning cursive handwriting in school in the 40's and 50's?  Now calligraphers charge for their handiwork.

Still today, I much prefer the excitement of receiving a handwritten letter or card to an email. When the mail person delivers the mail, we are still expectant as to what might be there for us. The enjoyment of taking the time to write a message out on a card is still a task that I approach with care and love. 

All these musings came about because incredibly, my old 50's autograph book has survived the years.  Kept safe somehow it outlived other bits and pieces I wish I had cherished.  What made me think of it was that the Facebook page for those graduating from Taunton High School prior to 1975 was speaking of our teachers and the school back then. Yes, I am one of those from the graduating class of 1957.  Here it is and till holding all its pages tightly so as not to forget.

The subject of the autograph book also brought forth more musings on my part.  This time on the fast disappearing art of beautiful handwriting.  As one looks at the signatures of those teachers there is an art and beauty to their flowing scripts. The same can be seen on those of my loved ones long gone.

As one of my favorite subjects in my mother, I will start with hers.  She loved to write and it shows most distinctly in her signature that runs singing across the page.
 It is a special gift to find anything that she wrote.

Then we come to teachers.  This is fascinating to me.  When I linger on each page the personalities of each of them comes right across.  See if you agree with me.

Bob Daly, Civics and John Keating, English.
"Hammy" Lane I only remember for a home room.

                                                Miss McMorrow at Cohannet School
                                             She taught math, the only time I enjoyed it.

Mr. Gilcrest at THS who taught English Composition  told me way back then that I could write.     Mary…..I cannot make out the last name.  Can you?  She taught at Cohannet.

Finally, this one I printed out and it hangs above my computer. 
My Aunt Eleanor: wise advice for life.

More autographs are from classmates, still here or gone on already.

Then there are more family  ones.

Collecting autographs was a serious task back then, but I am so glad that they were kept.  I can sense everyone through their writing which is a gift of memory.  Ah, truly the "write" stuff.