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, April 15, 2014

TOUCHING THE PAST: the Power of Vintage Photography

Man's love affair with photography is epic.  For us memoirists it is a good thing,too.  Seeking, finding and memorializing old photographs gives us a way to document the times of our families, of what they lived and how they lived it.  Who has not felt the wonderful joy of coming upon an old family photograph that illumines a host of unknown corners?  Once you experience that, you never stop looking.  You never again take a photograph for granted.

While writing the previous wedding posts and reading a discussion
about Boutin Studios in Taunton on the Facebook Page I'm From Taunton, i
t occurred to me that in my documents I might have such vintage photos.
That started my journey through my papers
 and research into the subject. 
It has been a quite a ride.

This image is from a fascinating web site called Retronaut where one can walk through the ages with its incredible images.  I just started to play with it.  As in all things vintage, context of the times is the challenge and the reward.

When you begin to look into the history of vintage photography and what it meant to our forebears, the trip takes on a whole new meaning.


                                    "Nostalgia clings to photographs like dust to knick knacks".

 What a great quote from an article on the subject online on Guardian, com.  "It seeps out from sepia tints and poloroid hues alike.  As the medium evolves, yesterday's invention is today's curio.  The paradoxical condition of photography is to be both immediate and dated. … As soon as it is taken, it starts to slip away in time, a perfectly preserved microcosm of a vanished universe."

A perfect example of this thought is the photograph of my Souza grandparents taken in 1927. I may have included it in an earlier post but it demonstrates our discussion.  The moment when this photograph was taken by Boutin studio (note that familiar background) time stopped in more ways than one.  Not long after this photograph was taken my Grandfather, Joseph Souza drowned in a boating accident in Fairhaven, MA.  Who was to know that he would be with them for so short a time?He sits there, a solid pater families, a successful entrepreneur, content with his life.

We can date this photo by the ages of the children: my father stands 
next to his father with his elbow casually on his chair.

The studio photgraph below is that of my maternal grandmother, Isobel Bento Correia Motta.  It also is poignant since it is one of only two we have of her. She posed for this around 1916 when she was pregnant with my mother.  A calm, serene photograph, it belies the tragedies that were to befall her and her little family. This photograph of a lovely young woman starting her life as wife and mother would push me to find out what really happened to her.  That search would results in a family book: Searching for Isobel.  It would take me ten years to answer all the questions.  It would result in finding a long lost Uncle.

                          We take thousands of photos today, but do we cherish them?   Perhaps
                          with our fascination of not losing the past have learned to do just that.
                          Surely, the wonderful sharing of vintage photographs of the people and
                          places on I'm From Taunton has enriched all of us.  Also, the incredible
                          work of Taunton historian: Charley Crowley.

                                               My appreciation to each and all.
                          But, for this blog Arlene Gouveia gets pride of place. What a reception those
                         fine and very special photographs she and her son, John, get when those photos 
                                                     come streaming into my computer,

I come to my love of photographs and photography through my D.N.A.  My mother's photographs
were award-winning.  I inherited them and speaking of cherish.  They grace many of my cards. My own, well, now with the Internet and my little camera and iPad there is no stopping.
Recently one of my mother's photographs was requested for the cover
 of a women's retreat booklet for a Church in New England.  

The baby in the above photograph is my mother at approximately three years old. 
Clearly in a studio photograph as one notes the background.


Early vintage photographs were called cabinet cards.  Popular from around 1869 up until the 1920's, they were paper photographs mounted on thick cardboard. They were often displayed on cabinets, hence their name and were made to be seen across a room.  The photographer's name was usually embossed or printed on the photo or mount, a gift for future genealogists.  The photographs were durable encased in their heavy protector lasting the years even when tossed into corners here and there. The clear name of the photographer can mean the photograph can be moreeasily dated.

 Here are some samples I found on my Internet wanderings….we only know that these photographs were taken in Taunton in Studios long gone.  You never know what you will find on the Internet.


                         Here is a card advertisement for that studio listed above and where
in Taunton it was located.

                 The next was taken by Hunter Bros. Studio in Taunton. Clearly in the 1880's.

A lovely advertisement for Ye Rose Studio in Providence, R.I.
Note the terms from Cabinet to Life Size.

Just for fun, this is a studio photograph of a cat whose owner
obviously cared enough to do this.  It was taken at a studio in New York City
in the 1880's.


For us who grew up in Taunton, this was the most familiar logo seen on old photographs              Boutin was located at 6 E. Brittania St. and we have him to thank for many of our  precious photographs that allow us a peak into the generations before us.


The photograph above was probably taken between 1910 and 1912.  It is a studio photograph by Boutin Studios of three small children.  They are from left to right: my Uncle John "Bunny" Souza,
my Aunt Mary Souza Bernadino and my Uncle Joseph Souza.
 When this cabinet photograph came my way as I researched the Souza Family,
I could not have been more delighted.
It is one of our oldest photographs in such great condition.

Here is another: a cabinet formal photograph, no doubt by H. Boutin of my
Uncle Ed Souza, youngest of the Souza children for his First Communion.
I would date this in the late 20's.

It is hard to date this formal photograph below.  This is my maternal  Great Grandmother
Anne Bento Correira.  I know she immigrated when she was 60 years old so this had to
have beentaken in Taunton and I am guessing….Mr. Boutin once more. I have no memory of her except her snow white hair at her wake.  She died in 1949 at the age of 87. This photograph probably was taken in the early 1940's or late 30's.  I do not know how long Mr. Boutin was in business.

Here is my Uncle John "Bunny" Souza on the
occasion of his graduation from Taunton High School.
This photo is probably dated around the 1920's.
Graduating from high school in those
days was quite an accomplishment.
Sorry if this is a little off balance, it refused to budge.

Now, we are always looking for more vintage photographs of the Village and of Taunton.  Want to jump on board?  Noticing the number of folks who view our blog, many on a regular basis, I am sure that there are some beautiful photographs begging to be found and shared.

 How about it? 

                                                            Sources for this post: 

The story of my Grandmother Isobel may be
 found on this website. Hit enter and then Patient Biographies 
and you will find her.  
Her photo  resists resetting…..


                             The excellent article I quoted regarding vintage photography

Studio cabinet photographs: Taunton, Ma

 Below is the wonderful Retronaut site for vintage photographs

 Source of the other incidental photography

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