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.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


The first part of our story about New York Lace Store and its founder has received a wonderful response! In all the little towns where people grew up, there must have been a store like this.  A store that mirrored the events in our lives: our first Communion dresses, prom dresses ( or a gown for the Cadet Drill at Taunton High), our wedding dresses, or dark dresses for the sad part of our lives and our families. A reader wrote that each Christmas her Dad would take her to buy a cocktail dress for her mother who would wear it New Year's Eve.

It seems that many Dads took their daughters to NY Lace to pick out a dress for Christmas for their Moms. A gentlemen recollected that his Dad would take him there to pick out clothes for presents for his Mom and that he bought the boy his first leather jacket there.

This is a photo of my Mom, Angi Mota Souza,  probably from the early 50's or late 40's. She is wearing a taffeta dress with a perky little hat to match.  I think they were in emerald green. I am sure she bought this dress at NY Lace Store and that it might have been a Christmas or New Year's party.  Remember the rustle of taffeta and the music of lights that played on the material?

There was always a continuity in the women working at NY Lace. They were, in their own rights, professionals who knew their customers and what would please them.  The elegance I spoke of at New York Lace was like a balm that left the frazzled everyday outside. Another reader recalled that the saleswomen had lovely hands, they would put their hands (knuckles up, of course ) into the sheer nylons so you could see what they would look like on you.

One reader mentioned the back of entrance. Remember that?  You came in from the back parking area, up the quiet stairs and then you were there where everything was carpeted and the big three way mirrors beaconed you in the new dress you were trying on. The dress would start the dreaming and you would be in another world.  My childhood friend and I went there to get her wedding gown and my dress as Maid of Honor, so many years ago. I do not know why I was so serious, except that maybe I could see into the future....

The memory of us back in the Bridal Salon area at N.Y. Lace store is vivid in my mind. Just the two of us as it was a very small wedding.  I had never been in a wedding before. Kneeling on the altar at St. Anthony's I stepped on the dress and tore a hole in the back....    All of this when I was but 18 years old.

In 1984, New York Lace turned 77 years old.  This is a photo of Betty Setchkenbaum Mackowski,  daughter to Pincus holding a treasured photograph of her father.  At the time, the store had been run by three generations of the family.

The Taunton Daily Gazette did a major writeup for the occasion of the anniversary. Mr. Zetchkenbaum died in 1950 and never saw the final form of his store. Mrs Mackowski and her husband, Sidney took over the running of the store in 1930 as 
Mr. Zwetchkenbaum entered retirement.

This photo below in that same issue shows Sidney Makowski with  pieces of the actual lace and other yard goods that Pincus Zwetchkenbaum sold door to door.

But, back to our real story, that of Pincus Zwetchkenbaum (everytime I type this I hope I do it right!)

We know that Mr. Zwietchkenbaum was a good businessman and entrepreneur. How many other stores started in 1906 and endure until this day?  But, what was he like as a person? In the 1984 article he is described as a generous man.  The article quotes his daughter that during the Great Depression he always carried nickles and dimes in his pockets in case he met a man selling apples to feed his family.

   Fact:  During the Great Depression unemployed men,
 often dressed as if go to work to try and maintain their dignity, sold apples on the streets around the country. In 1930 the International Apple Shippers Association had an oversupply of fruit 
and decided to empty their warehouses of apples.  They gave them on credit to the unemployed.  Selling apples on street corners during those dark days became a symbol of the times.

                                                                     Pinterest: Chicago Tribute photo

Pincus often saw to it that a needy family had food, coal, milk to last them through the winter. His back porch was a place where someone could find a good meal and not be turned away.  Mr. Z's generosity seemed of biblical character. When the City Treasury hit a low and doubts were that teacher's salaries could not be paid, Pincus gave them an interest free loan to be sure that they were paid.

New York Lace Store kept that very special character. Interestingly, the Star Theatre building was right next door to New York Lace.  Its fate was not a happy one and it met its demise. Yet, New York Lace store, now expanded and enlarged, continues on its timeline, earning new owners and finding new ways to build upon the long ago selling of yards of lace.

 Once the venerable store came under those new caretakers new stories emerged.  The story of that journey is fascinating as well and waits for another day.

                                             I am appreciative of the following resources:

                         *    Once more, The Taunton Public Library Research Department in the person of  
                             Aaron Cushman who is always willing to speedily help with what is needed.
                                     -        Taunton Daily Gazette  editions

                         *    Pinterest: Chicago Tribute photograph

                         *     1930 and 1940 U.S.A. Census online version.

                         *     The "I'm From Taunton" Facebook page. Thank you to all those who
                                 posted comments and memories to this iconic store.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Remember the photograph on the last post of the Star Theatre building with the sign New York Lace Store on one side?  Well, here is the story of that neighbor to the Star, another formidable downtown lady, The New York Lace Store.

We have just gone through Christmas shopping time.  There are still folks around who prefer to stroll from shop to shop instead of sitting in front of their computer to find what they want.  Nothing wrong with that...but, for our purposes we say kudos to shoppers who prefer to patronize their local businesses.  One place you might shop is New York Lace . Perhaps you would couple that with a stroll around the Christmas Green then lunching at one of the good restaurants downtown.  If there is a bit of snow, so much the better!

Quite accidentally, I stumbled upon historical information about The New York Lace store ( one of the oldest on Main St. ) finding a gold mine of Taunton lore.  Connections bind history with a thread that if followed finds us at more connections... reminding us of the thought, of "nine degrees of separation."

It was a real treat to unravel this particular thread sending us back in history to the early 1900s , specifically 1907.

In 1907, in the United States, woman suffragettes were still fighting for the vote.  In that year, the U.S. Congress raised their own salaries to $7, 500 (and kept on going).  In February of that year the passenger ship Larchment sunk off Block Island, Rhode Island and 322 souls perished.  In April, a Canadian won the 11th Boston Marathon.  The Bubonic Plague broke out in San Francisco in May.  December of that year saw the first ball drop in Times Square and Oklahoma becaming the 46th state of the Union.  Federal spending that year - are you ready for it .... $ 0.58 billion.

That same year Pincus Zwetchkenbaum, an immigrant from Poland (the 1930 census lists him as Polish, his wife Austrian) came onto the Taunton scene. There are those who think he came from Russia but I am going with the Census information.

The well known fabric of the immigrant ingenuity of those days  is exemplified with Mr. Zwetchkenbaum.  It was true also with our grocer below,  John Dimitri from Albania. It was a new country for many in Taunton and they did not hesitate to inject new vitality into the economy of the City.  Current Tauntonian Stephen Kosta's Uncle John Dimitri below started selling bananas from a cart, then worked his way up to this horse and buggy....

                       .... eventually locating his own store (seen below) at 107 Main St. His store was
described as being right next to the  Star Theatre . 
 New York Lace Store would be located nearby at 89 Main St.
 Even though this photo was taken in 1927, 
it still gives us an idea of early downtown Taunton.

Thank you to Stephen Koska for sharing both those incredible photos above.

 Those immigrant entrepreneurs fitted themselves into a new culture
and in Pincus' case, a new couture.

A place for lace
  Pinterest photo                                                  

As John Dimitri with his horse drawn cart above finally opened his own store,   Pincus Zwetchkenbaum traveled the same journey beginning with "strips of lace and yards of  calico ."  By dint of hard work and keeping his goal in mind,  Pincus,  sold from a cart, went door to door and then managed to open his first Taunton shop with his son Joseph in 1906 in  Whittenton selling lace and embroidery.  In 1920 he moved it to the location downtown where Pober's had been.

(In those same years, my own grandfather, Joseph Souza, did as those gentlemen . Selling wood in his case from a horse and buggy and then establishing his own used furniture Store on Weir St.  I like to think that they all knew each other.)

In 1935  Pincus Z. moved to 89 Main St. and opened New York Lace Store.  Pincus and his family had been in business in the City of Taunton since 1906 and that business today is still going strong.

Imagine, our grandmothers would have shopped in the store in Whittenton.
                    Since in 1907 women dressed like this...with lots of material and lots of lace, it
                                                                is highly likely.
Wow, the lace!

Pinterest photo

Here is a photo I use as this blog cover photo.  In 1907, my grandparents had only been in
Taunton a few years.  Their first child, my Uncle Joe (far right) was born in
Taunton in 1906.  In this photo  he is with his brother John and sister, Mary. Look at all the lace!!

So where would one get lace?
Where else....New York Lace Store.

During the 1900s  Downtown Taunton probably looked like this...

                               No date to this postcard, but betting it is very early on downtown Taunton.
                               Once Charles Crowley dated the clocks...we see a white one here. Need to
                                            do more research unless someone out there knows?

New York Lace Store would have sold to our grandmothers, mothers and we ourselves,who grew up in Taunton in the 40's and 50's  Below is a photograph from the Taunton Daily Gazette of a 40th Anniversary sale at the store in 1947.  Check out the kerchiefs we all remember.  Note the prices as well!  The article notes that Pincus would be the gentlemen at the lower far right.  Only his back and part of his head can be seen.  Remember the days when there would be crowds like this in downtown Taunton. One has to stretch the memory for that.

I remember the touch of elegance that was so apparent there.  Nylons (well before pantyhose) would have been nestled in tissue paper in their own slender white boxes,  Gloves the same. There were always the same lovely ladies waiting on you, so it was a familiar shopping experience and very personal. They knew their customers and they knew their wares.

Through the years and decades New York Lace Store has anchored one end of downtown.  Through that time it drew our ancestors then ourselves.

                     Stay tuned for Part II of The New York Lace Store Story. There is more!


 *photographs from Stephen Kosta.
                                                    *photograph from my own archives.

*Aaron Cushman from the Research Department of the Taunton Public Library
           Taunton Daily Gazette: Dec. 3, 1984

*A History of the Bridal Business in Taunton