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, July 31, 2014


Recently, on the I'm From Taunton Facebook page, Charles Crowley posted this photograph
of strollers on the Taunton Green circa 1889. He kindly agreed to share it with us.

It really struck me.  The calm, dignified people out for a Sunday stroll. Strolling, mind you, not rushing, not glued to an iPad or cell phone.  Interacting with friends, or making new ones.
Sharing with family.  The advantage of looking way back in the history of Taunton is to try to latch on to old/new ways of living, ways that have been lost. Note that there were many trees on the Green once upon a time, probably those wonderful elms that were devastated and lost. The City proper was noted for its beautiful shade trees. The Green had been common ground since 1774.

                  Believe it or not, here is a video of the time, just to bring it home a little more.

In 1889, Tauntonians were probably still recovering from the Civil War which had ended in 1865. Amazingly, today 2014 there is one Civil War pensioner still receiving benefits for her father's service.  She is 84 years old.  But back in 1889, it was still fresh. You can see that there are few statues in the photograph, those were still in planning stages.

 My grandfathers and grandmothers were not yet in Taunton, the first arriving in the early 1900's. Our Church, St. Anthony's, would not come along until 1906. For sure, those Portuguese immigrants already here had found their own spaces in which to worship and began saving for their own Church.

It is hard to believe what a successful era the late 1880's and early 1890's were for Taunton. Yet, when we read of the luminaries that flourished then...well, it really sinks in.  When I was growing up in Taunton and walked by so many beautiful and grand houses or downtown when it was still flourishing, I always felt that hint that Taunton once had been so much more.  This photo intrigued me enough to absorb myself into my city's history and learn about that era. It was a fascinating trip even though I only accessed the tip of the iceberg.

Greatness, full employment, healing from the Civil War wounds, gracious living.  It is no wonder that our grandparents were lured here from their home countries.  When I was a child in the 40's and 50's, Reed and Barton was still operating, though not as in the 1880's.  Back then there were churches everywhere, it was still a time of faith-centeredness, the reverse of what it is today in this country.  I knew only one classmate whose parents were divorced.  Radio and T.V.  consisted of wholesome, family entertainment in the 50's and 60's..

Going way back into the 1880 era we see the roots of what Taunton is today and the traces of it that were what I was feeling in my childhood.

Much of what I am quoting below is from this website
  Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer 1890. 
The article is  well worth a full read. The photos I found elsewhere on the net.

"In 1885 there were 182 farms in the area.  In the 1890's there were seven cotton mills in the city which employed 2,000 persons, foundries, machine-shops and boiler works employed 1,000, stove works employed 300, zinc, brass and copper works and jewelry factories, upwards of 300, 600 in brittania and silver plated factories, 500 in tack, nail and bolt, cutlery around 50, and brick, tile and stove linings from 200 to 300.  Railroad coaches, earthenware, rattan and willow and other furniture, yarn, boots and shoes, horse trappings, pencils and crucibles and on and on. The total number of establishments in 1885 were 301.

                                            Jewelry Shop in downtown Taunton circa 1885

Field, Track and Nail Works (established in 1827) was the largest in the country. Mason Works occupies 6 acres and made cotton and woolen machinery, car wheels, engines and locomotives.  Here is one made for the Union Pacific in 1860 in Taunton. Do not know which company made it (that is for another future blog).  But, could have been Taunton Locomotive Mfg. Company.

Of course, there was  Reed and Barton's Brittania Works (the oldest and largest on the Continent), and the Taunton Paper Mfg. Co.

Here is a photo of a sterling silver scent box created by Reed and Barton in 1890.
Note the engraved letter A surrounded by a heart.

There were fisheries of alewives, herring and shad.  The commercial marine embraced 
36 schooners and one steamboat.

The population in 1885 was 23, 674, of whom 5, 232 were legal voters. 
There were four newspapers: The Daily Gazette, the weekly Household Gazette, the Bristol County Republican and the Taunton Courier. The city proper was noted for its beautiful shade trees abounding on all streets."

                                                       (photos from Pinterest and Internet)

"Mass media" consisted of newspapers back then.  Here is the type of item that interested folks, far from the bottom-feeding items we so often see today.  Far from the endless chatter on social media and talk shows never leaving our minds at peace.

That 1890 quote by the Taunton Courier story was carried in 34 New England papers and one in London, England.   Tame by our standards, wouldn't you say?

My city back in those days was beautiful   The echoes of that can be seen in the graceful historic homes in Taunton still standing, many of them on the Historic Registor of National Places.  Here are just a few of them with bits of their history. Many are lovingly cared for and grace our city streets.

Below is the J.C. Bartlett House built in 1889 at 12 Walnut ST.
Mr. Bartlett was a prosperous mining engineer.

The W.C.Beattie House built in 1882 at 229 W. Brittania St. 
He was a designer at Reed and Barton.

           Below: The Henry Morse House, 32 Cedar ST. 
 Henry Morse acquired his father's estate.

Finally,  here is the McInistry House at 115 High St.  Built in 1779 by William McInistry, a minister. In 1763 it was the site of a grisly murder in which one of the family daughters was murdered by a servant.  It is now the parsonage for St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
 Who knew this history?
I never did. 

The times were busy in that era, even nationally.  Here are some events that those Tauntonians lived through in the year 1889/

*Benjamin Harrison was inaugurated as 23rd President.

*President  Harrison opened Oklahoma for colonization.

*Montana was admitted as the 41st state of the Union.

*Washington admitted as the 42nd.

*The Coca -Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Co.
is originally incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia.

Any one know when this sign was put up?

*The first National holiday was set for the centennial of Washington's Inaugeration.
We sure have come a long way since then on national holidays.  
If you wait a minute another comes along!

*The brassiere was invented....hmmm

*For the first time, George Easmen places Kodak camera on sale. 
This same year Thomas Edison showed his first motion picture.
Talkies would not come along for a good while.
In 1927 my maternal grandmother saw the first which starred Al Jolson. 
She also called called her radio a "talking box" (this from an interview she gave).

*Wall Street Journal began publishing,  all that time ago.

*Bayer aspirin was introduced in powder form in Germany 
changing headaches and fevers forever.

*The screw top was about changing the world!


*the first dishwasher was invented!   

Young men rowed their sweethearts on the Taunton River, probably by moonlight.
Have you looked at the I'm From Taunton Facebook page today?

It was not all roses, of course.  In his history of Taunton until 1893,  Samuel Emery Hopkins tells us that there was a smallpox hospital on the Raynham-Taunton line off the Boston turnpike. Such wonders and antibiotics were not yet on the scene.  Infant mortality would have been higher and the life span lower.  But, here we are looking at the quality of life as it was lived by so many.  There are always lessons to be learned from history....and keys to a 
gracious way of living is surely one of them.

                                                          Some of my sources.  
 Increasingly there are more Pinterest photos of Taunton, 
check them out or add your own. 

History of Taunton from Its Settlement to Present Time (that was 1893) 
by Samuel Emery Hopkins.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Wordsmiths, word artists, fabricators of the beauty of the written word touching our hearts.  That is what I believe to be the definition of a poet, cousin to writers and songsters.  One such came forth from our Village, after my time and too soon gone in his own time, but making
himself live on through his art.

I introduce you to the late, Jose "Joe Gouveia", poet laureate of Cape Cod
and a son of the School Street Village.

Joe Gouveia

Once again, threads of the Village wind themselves around our hearts, 
no matter how far we wander.  It is unusual to have so much current information on someone I write about. This time, we can read Joe's poems and actually see and hear him on You Tube.

Initially, some time back, I received information about Joe from Arlene Gouveia, one was his obituary and the other a listing of famous people from Taunton in which he was included.  I filed it ,as I often I do, until the time is ripe to research it at greater length .  I also had received an e-mail from a reader,  Elizabeth Gouveia Miner.  She wrote to tell me of her father, Joe Gouveia Sr.,who owned and operated Joe's Superette located on the corner of Wilbur and Purchase Streets in the Village.  Before Joe Senior had owned it, it had been owned by his in-laws, the Jardin family. A daughter of that family, Caroline, was a close early childhood friend and classmate before she and her family moved to California.  We lost touch with each other... until the daughter of Joe Gouveia Sr. and  sister of our poet, Elizabeth  Gouveia, connected us all over again. 
 Elizabeth gifted us once more by introducing us to her late brother and his achievements
culminating in his last book, 

Too soon, Joe left us.  He passed on at the age of 49 years. He died of cancer.  But, not before he created his poems about his journey and that of the Portuguese American experience. He graced the Village, the family and people who shaped him, leaving an heirloom 
for each of us who shared that experience with him.

                                            I wager not many villages have their own poet.


Above photograph: Joe Gouveia Sr. and his family.
From left to right: Ann Gouveia Frias.  paternal grandmother Isabel Gouveia, Lori Gouveia Fyfe, Joe's mother Mary Gouveia standing next to her husband Joe Sr.  who is and holding their son and our late poet: Joseph Gouveia.

            I recognize the house and the grapevine right next to it.
            Shared by Elizabeth this was taken 8 years before her arrival.

               Fellow poet, Martin Espada , describes that home beautifully as Joe growing up as:
                      " ...the lone brother in a sweet sea of sisters, a cherished son..."

In a poem by Joe himself entitled Fala Portuguese.he speaks of bigotry overcome by toughness, communal feasting, the pilgrimage to the old country and the return to the Americas when. "they always came back plus one.'  I can identify with this description of growing up in the Village as the culture of being fully Portuguese seeded itself in our hearts.

Our future poet (yes, he is ours) would have run about the Village as he grew getting into the mischief Village boys did in those days, attended St. Anthony's Church and heard the humming lullaby of the Portuguese language all around him.  He would have taken in  the culture just as he absorbed the air all around him. It would have been engraved on his soul.
                                                He would have breathed in Saudade.

His greatest poetic achievement, the book Saudades, was his first fully published work, and he tasted that achievement before sickness overpowered him. Besides his work, he was a presence that made him his adopted Cape Cod's Poet Laureate. It was written that he imbued 
the Cape and beyond with poetry.

We of Portuguese descent know what Saudade is.  Difficult to translate fully into English, its meaning goes beyond nostalgia to more of a yearning, a longing for something you can never have again.   "JoeGo", as he was sometimes called, captured that yearning in Saudade for us and all those who are descendants of those intrepid folk who came to America with courage and dignity. He wrote of growing up in Taunton, and right there he is ours! I do not speak Portuguese, to my dismay, I also do not read it.  Therefore, I cannot read the great poets of the Portuguese language.  But, Joe tells us, that we who grew up in the Village, descendants of immigrants, indeed have our own language, even if it dwells deep in our beings.  I so regret never having met Joe Gouveia, poet and person of great distinction.  I am honored to be able to use his sister's words and those of his friends and colleagues to speak of him here. The more I read and researched the more I found to admire and cherish.

Joe did not want to go to college, but his mother, the daughter of immigrants, and his father, also an immigrant, insisted. At Bridgewater State University he was asked to write a poem in one of his classes.  He did not want to, his professor insisted.  He wrote it in ten minutes in the men's room and the rest is the history we are reading about here.  He graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry and went on for further studies as he honed his own work.

His accomplishments are so many, no doubt I will forget some.  He wrote the "Meter Man" column for the Barnstable Patriot newspaper, he was Poet-In-Residence at Cape Cod Community College, Cape Cod. Poet Laureate Massachusetts Poet of the Year 2001 (awarded by Cambridge Poetry Awards no less), Poetry Curator at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, hosted a weekly radio show on WOMR called The Poet's Corner as well as Poet's Corner Open Mik for 18 years.  He started the Cape Cod Poet's Theatre. He was a guest on numerous Television shows, including PBS, KDVS-FM University of California Davies, Radio Soulspeak and more. His poetry was published in six countries and four continents. He edited  numerous anthologies and opened for readings for Robert Pinksy, one time Poet for the United States who often was heard on PBS, among other noted poets.

He took poetry to nursing homes and loved open miks (microphones), he mentored many aspiring poets and became beloved because of his generosity. He spoke of his poetry in the rough as "lumps of clay.  Maybe a half page from a journal or five pages, some from here and some from there, ..forming a poem; I take the best of it, reshape it."  These words in an article ,authored by Lee Roscoe, further said hat Joe had worked as a construction worker and "there is somehow a good deal of hand hewn-heft, hammered rhythmically into his words, spoken or on the page. Joe's poems "carried secrets and layer upon  layer of experience and language you cannot absorb in one reading."

Joe taught  bringing "Keep the Rage on the Page" to juvenile delinquents. He mentored and encouraged burgeoning poet after poet.  This is the true sign of a real artist, this confidence, this love of the art and all those who follow it.

Joe and Maya Angelou

There are You Tubes of Joe reading. You can find them easily as they have his name.  Joe shared his experience with cancer with courage and you can see and hear his poem about the last of his treatments in  Joe Gouveia: In Place Live  on You Tube. He married the love of his life, Josy,  from Brazil.  They married on the beach after he had been told he had two months to live.
Two years were their gift after he had been given that dire diagnosis.
Those years were filled with love and creativity.

I urge you to listen to this next video of an interview with Joe...listen to the whole interview!  Take the time and hear how he laces his Portuguese heritage throughout.  Privileged am I to write this and share him with others around the world, for this where this blog reaches.  Privileged in that I knew Joe's father and his mother.  H wrote what is my heritage, too.

 Godspeed to you, Joe, I deeply regret never having met you. Your brief spell here was too short.  But, what a legacy, what a footprint you have left!  For that we thank you and we will remember, for your poetry is living on in our hearts.

Joe's friend, and a poet himself said:
"If Walt Whitman were alive today to hear America singing, he'd hear the voice of Joe Gouveia."

I end this post with this
 excerpt from the poem
The Distraction in Saudades
 by Joe Gouveia.  

All this work in retirement.  All those dreams of afterlife.
If there is a secret to this life, let it be flowers and grass,
because when He said that the world would end
not by flood but by fire, it was because
on God's green earth growth is stronger
and colors brighter after the first burn.
Must be why there is so much war, all those firebombs,
and all that blood soacking the earth with the stud of creation.

Perhaps that is why some settle down - to find sanity
in an insane world.  Let us embrace our joys now,
impatient for an end that comes as slowly
as a single bare footstep amongst the wild fields.
Take my hand, let us rest here, looking to Heaven
for answers, and each other for distraction.

Joe Gouveia


There are many sources for this post and I thank them all
for introducing us to this incredible man.  I apologize for omitting a source,
please let me know if I did and I will rectify the fact.  There is so much written about
Joe Gouveia that I may have lost my way.

As always, Arlene Gouveia for starting me on this search.
Joe's younger sister Elizabeth Gouveia Miner for inspiring it and for the photographs.
Thank you for letting this post come about.  It is each of us, children on the
Village, that keep our history alive.

For the photo of Joe and Josy and the accompanying article.
,,,,,,,, :
a poem written by Martin Espada for his friend and fellow poet, Joe Gouveia.

Joe's website


Saudades, by Joe Gouveia (you can order your copy at Amazon
Do yourself a favor and read the reviews.


Friday, July 4, 2014


Recalling the sparklers of past childhood Fourth of July's is not hard.
They were simple times and included some very minor fireworks, a lot of running around with sparklers which was quite exciting for us. In the Village, of course, the annual unofficial
bonfire on Braga Square on School Street.

Below, in a photo thanks to Stephen Kosta from I'm From Taunton Facebook page,
a peek into the yesteryear of 1939.  In front of Dickerman's Bookstore the Fourth of July buntings are proudly displayed either in anticipation or just after the celebration.

But, we were just kids or our parents were when we did things like this. We really did not yet know what the Fourth of July really celebrated...nor the cost.

An unspecified city in 1918 with American troops celebrating the Fourth, and perhaps readying for war themselves.

In the Village, we always were reminded of the cost walking through Braga Square
 commemorating one of our courageous boys whose courage 
and sacrifice took place in the Korean war. 
Rest in Peace, Anthony Braga.

The square was dedicated in 1953.

Taunton vets remind us the rest of the way, near the beautiful and moving
Memorial Fountain just behind the Congregational Church in Taunton.

So much is owed s to our veterans of all wars....they must never be forgotten.

Some of the photos are from this fascinating site

Others are from I'm from Taunton Facebook photos.

Happy and safe Fourth of July to all!!!