MEMOIRS OF SCHOOL STREET VILLAGE

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 spinoart@comcast.net
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, December 29, 2012

GOT HISTORY?

Wishing everyone a good New Year as we say goodby to another one.  This blog is all about keeping memories alive, those memories that we who grew up in the 50's love to share.  There is a lot to learn from these posts for each of us.  It is remarkable how today, many neighborhoods in cities are getting a new lease on life.  People, especially younger ones with families, are seeking what we took for granted....a place where people interact with neighbors who become friends, where children can grow up with other children and feel safe on street, sidewalk, and backyards.  Where one can walk to the neighborhood shops and there are block parties.
 I know a young family in just such a place in the midwest.
Their neighborhood is a place where one can drop in anytime.
 Good for them.
                                                            

When I read that caption, it made me remember that the pile of laundry ready to go in the machine seemed never to diminish.  My Mom did not make a big thing of us getting dirty, somehow things got done and there were enough clean clothes to put on.  Life was more than being sparkly clean.

As I roam the roads of the internet, read facebook pages, stroll Google and other reminiscing blogs, it becomes more and more apparent that what we had, what still
lives in our hearts, 
many are seeking today.

A place where there were no such things as "family" rooms.  What you had was a kitchen and a living room and that is where it all happened, with emphasis of the kitchen
'round the kitchen table.
We did not have dining rooms....what for?
.......
Where everyone always knew where everyone was, you did not need a cell phone to find out.
You did not need a phone answering machine, either, someone was always home.


Where spontaneous outside games like Red Rover could happen anytime, anywhere.



Where baby and bridal showers were held in living rooms where a whole lot of
laughter could happen.
...........
Where a child's highlight of the day might be admiring a caterpillar, learning botany the real way.



......
Where there was only 1 T.V set,:you did not split up to watch alone.  It was more fun to watch Uncle Milty and Jerry Lewis and laugh together.
......
thanks to Pinterest and this website:enjoy the music,too.
http://heavens-gates.com/50s/50snostalgia/


***************


Stay tuned, a whole lot more posts are being planned.
If there is a topic you would like covered, let me know.
It is heartwarming to have received much sharing
via email and telephone that will be coming on posts.






Sunday, December 23, 2012

O Holy Night


This is my last Christmas post.  True: there are so many more memories to ponder. But, it is time for me to get back to my own Christmas preparations. There is always next year.

                                                        Remember these little fellows?

This  Christmas post is about Midnight Mass at our St. Anthony's Church just at the edge of the Village.  I still call it the "new Church" even though I was about 12 when it replaced the old nearly subterranian  church I knew as a small child.

For midnight Mass, the new Church was brilliant with light and holiday attired parishioners.  Entering, they came in carrying with them the sharp tang of the evening cold, and perhaps whispers of snow flying about hats and coat shoulders.  I have always felt that this Church was quite unique in its beauty, but never so much as at Christmas.  The blue ceiling, the unique lights, and more, were unlike other churches in the area.

 Most beautiful of all, though, was the Nativity scene. Up on the altar, it covered nearly a quarter of the right side.  A huge scene, it was surrounded and topped with pine branches, and even small trees.
Warm and inviting it symbolized not only the love of our tiny God made man, but the love that each of our families had for the others in our Village.  I never thought about it that way until now.

Light- color- the fragrance of pine throughout the Church, and- finally-
 the music.

In all my growing up when I think of being at worship celebrations at St. Anthony's I hear the
wonder of the voice of Agnes Martin.  Soaring, clear, sweet as an angel, that was her voice.  If liturgical music is a ministry, which it is, then she was the high priestess of her time. We are so fortunate to have this photo of Mrs. Martin (mother to my Fuller classmate: Beverlyann Martin) and our intrepid organist Mrs. Clara Carvalho high up in their choir perch.


I remember the way we all sang in with the carols. Standing next to my friend Terry: how she loved the gloooooooooria.....in excelsis Deo.  We would compete with the warbling of our young voices.

                         Photo from the St. Anthony's Centennial Book, given by Arlene Gouveia
               

There is much reaching back into nostalgia these days. We are not the only ones, to be sure.
Is it because of the fear, the uncertainty of our days now that we harken back to times of warmth,
of closeness, of family and faith?  It was a time of tradition, of a slower, sweeter pace.  Media did not bombard us on every side.  There was time to think, to ponder, to appreciate
 the voice of angels.

                                                  A Sweet Merry Christmas to all

                                                                  Sandy




Friday, December 21, 2012

More about Christmas in Taunton

After posting the first blog about our Christmas Green display, I was delighted to receive more photos and information to share with everyone.

I felt it important enough to do a follow-up post. Thank you to Arlene Gouveia. Kathy Campanirio and Shelley Au for these lovely additions to our memory banks.


First, Arlene Gouveia has identified the friend with Aunt Alveda 
as Alice Emond, also from the Village. Arlene says that Alice was
a font of information about the Village.
Here is the photo once more.
                                 







Shelley Au has sent another batch of her Mom's
 photos and we know now that it was her Dad, my Uncle Ziggy who probably
took the photos of Aunt Al and Alice. 
Here is Ziggy and a friend....think they were double-dating?
These photos appear to be in the later 40's. After you read the
quotation below, you may agree with me that this was in 1945.
Arlene tells us that the memorial was one she read often. I recall
it so well, it is long gone and so, apparently, is the one
in City Hall.


Finally, Kathy Campanirio retreived an excerpt from
"From 80 Years of Christmas in Taunton-Candles on the Green"
by
Dr. William F. Hanna and Charles E. Crowley

"1942-1944 strict wartime blackout rules were in effect as war raged in Europe and
the Pacific so there were no lighted Christmas displays on Taunton Green,
the only time since 1914 there were no lights there.
In 1945, three months after the surrender of Japan a beautiful Christmas
display was then lighted on the Green.  At its center was the honor roll listing the names
of 4,900 Tauntonians who served their country during wartime. Atop a gold pedestal
topped by a gold star symbolizing those who had perished in the conflict. On two
sides of the Green stood ten foot high figures of Santa Claus and Uncle Sam, both
saluting the star. These were designed by Allison Macomber, a well known local sculpturer."



Amazingly, Shelley has shared this photo with us: Uncle Sam saluting
the brave fallen from Taunton.  My Uncle Ziggy must have felt
a special emotion as he had only recently served in Europe during the war.
Bless you, Shelley and Aunt Al for keeping this beautiful photo.

------------

This lovely little book pictures all of the Greens from 1922 to 1993
and was released in 1994.  I plan to find myself a copy.

Thanks again to Dr. Hanna and Charles Crowley for
helping the keep the history of Taunton alive.








Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our Own Christmas City



Today, in my mind I walk the mile or so from the Village to downtown Taunton.  In this memory walk there is crusty snow under my feet.  I can see my breath in icy clouds.  I'm heading for  the Taunton Green in all its Christmas glory.  It may be evening, the stars in a clear sky, before light pollution, of course.  The Green is at its Christmas best, as it has been each year since 1914!


                                                                Here it is in 1929
I apologize for not recalling provenance of this photo.


In 1914, a group of Taunton businessmen gathered to discuss how to increase traffic to the shops downtown.  They were spearheaded by Mr. C.W. Foster.  In a delicious historical coincidence we have this photo below, probably from the 30's, of my Aunt Alveda Souza on the left with a friend on the Green at Christmas.

  Since earlier days there had been a Yuletide
display on the Green, so this seemed a good place to for those businessmen to put their efforts.
Since the Green was an intersection of many main roads, this was perfect.
The display attracted people from all over southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island at
Christmas time. A cold night, music and lights....magic!

The display started with just a few lights, today they number a million.

Look closer: there are marvelous notes to this photo.  First, the men's shop founded by that same
Mr. Foster is seen prominently on the right.  To the left is the Taunton Bus Station and Comfort Station we all knew so well: a real bus from the time out front.  That station served travelers from as far away as New York, Providence, and of course, the Village.  For us: the Jackson and School Sts. bus picked us up and brought us home. I can still feel the metal poles we held on to as we prepared to get off.

The station itself was warm and clean and the ladies even had an attendant keeping things in good shape.  The stationmaster's office was elevated above everyone else. 
He announced the buses in a deep voice of great authority.

   



Below is a photo from 1947: Bliss Lumber Co. kept these photos for years: we have them to thank.
(Photo from the website cardcow)



The photo below from 1948 is also from that same website and provides us with none other
then a sighting of one of the little diners on the Green.  Anyone know which?



Finally, another photo below from my Aunt Alveda's collection thanks to her daughter, Shelley Au.  This is a beautiful reminder of the sentiments often expressed on the Christmas Green display.
There was usually a nativity scene prominent displayed.


The display that year sat upon the honor role that listed the names of those Taunton servicemen and women lost in World War II. This display must have been in the 1940's sometime. 
The honor roll, as far as I know, no longer is on the Green.




Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas lights twinkle in my mind

Back in the day, it would be time to find a Christmas tree.  Our folks would either go out into the woods and chop one down or more likely go off to a lot where they sold them
 (and a lot cheaper then, too).
Once the live tree was roped to the top of the car it would come back home with us. Would it fall off the car before we arrived?  Would it fit, would it hit the ceiling, its slender top tilting off to one side? Would Dad have to chop the top off?  Would the star fit on top?

                    Did you know that today only 25% of people in the U.S. buy a fresh Christmas tree?
                                                            Wall St. Journal report 2012


The tree would next be fitted into the stand and screwed in place.  This could be a  tricky feat, as we had to hold it straight so that it would stand upright. Then the stand had to be watered, it was live, remember?  But, up it would go.  Often we would let it be for the night, letting it "settle."

Do you think Dad had a good drink beforehand?

Phase I : The lights. Those big clunky strands that would somehow not have been put back correctly the previous year ending up in a tangle.  Dad and we got them all worked out and stationed along the branches.  Put on the lights: oh, no, one bulb must be out!
 And on and on and on....

                                 I remember these bubble  lights, too, though they were soon 
                                           replaced with the big colored ones.
                                               
                          Dad needs another drink....and the boys sneak out of the house.

Phase ll: the tinsel.  Yep, the tinsel. You took it out of the original  boxes where it had been recycled last year and packed away.   No cheating now: no bunches flung in heaps.  Delicately, strand by strand.  Kneeling, pushing through the branches, reaching up and around.  Suddenly, someone would yell the dreaded: "you missed a spot!".  Finally, probably after an hour or more: done with the tinsel.
       
    Little known facts about tinsel:  from an old french word meaning sparkle, it used to be made of real silver (only for the rich), then it was made of aluminum (when we all got on board), and now: ready: polyvinyl chloride - translated - do not let your babies and animals chew it.  Thanks to Humor me Blog for those tidbits.



About  now Dad had another libation to keep from uttering words children, they thought, did not know. Dad may have even  quit the process altogether.  Up to us and Mom now.  Looking for ornaments in their old boxes which had sunk in tops from being used year after year.  Mom and us commenced to decorate the tree, finishing with a satisfying sigh...



                                                          Photos all from Pinterest


The house was now scented with that beautiful smell of pines, no spray cans needed, thank you. The glow of the lights reflected off the ornaments and tinsel and also our hearts.  The rest of the house lights went out and,  job well done, we sat and listened to the memories of earlier Christmas days.  We remembered loved ones gone, while visions of sugar plums danced in the minds of we children, for the celebration to come....and the presents (not too many) that would lie at the foot of our tree.

                                 Somehow a quick pre-decorated tree does not do it.....it was all
                                 part of a seamless ceremony, those twelve days of Christmas.

                 This year even more hugs for grandchildren.....and gratitude for the innocence of
                       the Christmases we had as youngsters in our very own Village...safe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thank you...

This post is for giving my thanks to all those who have supported, commented, spread the word and in general acted as a team for this blog.  The blog is written with love, every word from my heart. It is grand to feel that others share that emotion for the place that made us what we are today.

In particular, I wish to thank Arlene Gouveia and her son John for creating flyers for the blog which will be placed around Taunton as well as for their patience in digitally sending so many wonderful photos that grace the posts. Arlene's written memoirs have provided so much information with more yet to come!  My sister Kathy for her help, my sister-in-law Carol Souza for steadily sharing the blog through her Facebook posts. Thank you to my cousin Shelley, who so willingly shares memories and photos from her Mom's collection: my wonderful Aunt Alveda. Thank you to Charlene who signed on as a member along with my sister Kathy. Thank you to my sister Mariellen for her support.  Did you know you can do that and automatically be made aware of new posts? Thank you to Dave Semas for sharing his memories and precious photos. Thank you to Margaret Walker for a delightful telephone interview about the Village before my time. To Gina, Elaine, Emma Andrade, the Abreau ladies.... I am sure to forget someone but if you are not on this post you are in my heart. Gilda Mello Lynch, Tom Hoye, Nancy Hendrickson, Debbie Moniz: thank you for your interest and comments. Thank you to my nephews Peter and Ryan..I know you are checking in.  Thank you to all the new friends who grew up in Taunton now starting to follow this blog, as well.  You are a rich source of information for this amateur historian.

Comments keep bloggers going! It is more appreciated than you can know.  To everyone who visits: now all over the country and into Europe! Thank you for tuning in.  I started this project when I was getting to what I thought was the end of my written memoir of growing up in the School Street Village. At that point I made the decision to put it online in this blog...as Robert Frost said:

                    "....I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference!"

The blog and each of you pushes me into new territory, 
into areas of information and memories that delight us all.  

Finally, to my husband who proofs, listens and shares his own growing up adding to each and every post my heartfelt thanks. It is not an easy project, this blog, especially as it grows. I now have a big poster storyboard in my studio to try and keep topics straight and listed.  I need you all, your thoughts and comments, especially stories and photographs.

                                   So keep this coming....we have a long, wonderful way to go!

To each all and your families we wish a Merry blessed Christmas - let us keep the legend of School Street alive and well !!!

                                                           Sandy Souza Pineault




Sunday, December 9, 2012

A PLACE FOR THE BABY JESUS

The first nativity scene dates back to 1223 when St. Francis put on a living creche.  This soon spread throughout Europe becoming a beloved tradition.  It did that in Madeira and The Azores where most of our people originated.  When I was a child, it took center stage for my home and others around me in the Village.

The term on Wikopedia (where else?) for the dramatic and complex nativity scenes in Portugal is called Frioes-Presipio.  I never heard that:  for me it was always the home for 'Minin Jesu'. -Anyone want to help me with that, for surely I did not spell it right.  I could not find the right translation for my memories. It just lives in my thoughts.

Here is what I do know and remember.  These nativity scenes , religious works of art, took center stage rather than Santa Claus in our homes.  Santa surely did have his place, of course, as he was rooted in a Christian tradition.  Basket laden mothers, aunts and grandmothers headed to field and "forest" around this time to find mosses, pines branches, holly leaves and berries and whatever else caught their creative and practiced eyes.  We often went with them, carrying baskets and branches and perhaps even making our own discoveries.  It was quiet, peaceful, and if there was snow it just lent the perfect air to the moment. No other noise than the wind in the trees and bushes and birdsong. The sound of our boots on frozen grasses and moss.

A few weeks before, a handful of wheat grass seeds were planted in a small cup in readiness for its place in the creche symbolizing the Child as Food for the soul and the world in Communion.  Margaret Walker who grew up in the Block in the Village says it was called thicue (phonetic) and took about three weeks to grow after planting it in containers in the house.

While the grasses grew, mosses were kept in a damp place until all was ready.  When the moment came, Christmas music was put on to put us all in the mood.  The scenes that my mother and my Aunt Eleanor built often took up a whole wall or wall and a half in a room.  Each year, my mother would add a new little figure: it made it easy for us to buy her presents as they usually went to this annual project.  I think St. Francis was her inspiration as these little figures often were tiny glass animals, often mother and father and offspring.  Little fish and ducks added to the ponds she created. Lakes were created with mirrors, hills with boxes and little tables stacked high for drama, often covered with material and then with mosses and stones.

 Today I am an artist, following in her creative footsteps...all her daughters are creative, each in their own ways, most especially at Christmas.  When I set up my little scene I always get emotional as the memories engulf me, sweet tho they may be,  She is not here, but she is probably directing St. Francis as to his latest creation. Sadly, I have only one photo from her sets and this is it.  The hardest task was to keep the cat out of sleeping in it, but little hands were invited to touch and move things around. As a small child I have a vague memory of going around in the evening with Mrs. Carvalho, our Church organist and other children, some with instruments, to sing carols in lullaby to the Baby Jesus in homes around the Village.



                                               Creche by Angi Souza in her later years.




                                              Adoration of the Magi this was not...but too
comfy for a kitty to resist



That year, Mom's scene wove all around her grandsons.

Incredibly, adding to her creative skills such as photography, my mother began to do
wood carving.  Her pieces are precious momentos on the hearths of all of our homes.
This is a part of my creche this year, and as each year, this little dog she carved 
sits with pride before the Child.  His tail is high and I decorate it with a few stars, he
almost has a smile to match.  One of my paintings provides a backdrop.


Do you hear what I hear ?





Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Earlier Generations Gave to this one....

November 29, 2012, an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal:
" Cue the Holly, It's Time for Bing &Co."
 It was written by none other than the son of Allan Funt -
remember Alan from Candid Camera?
His son is Peter Funt. It was a great article and I would like to share some of it 
along with my own thoughts.  Here goes.

As we hear interminable Christmas songs everywhere we go during
 this pre-holiday period, this may soften the blow.

Much of the American Christmas music tradition took root during World War II, a period that saw the release of "Holiday Inn" in 1941 in which Bing Crosby first sang Irving Berlin's heart-string tugging "White Christmas".  It was a time when live music ruled the radio networks, giving prominence to pop-standard stars of the time who recorded the songs that remain popular today as holiday classics.

Soldiers far from home and families awaiting their return, shared these tunes that stressed home, hearth and family.  Back then, most people heard the same radio shows and saw the same movies.  It was all a shared experience, quite unlike with today's fragmented media.  Today's music media usually means ear plugs isolating a person from those around them.  No more gathering around the radio...

The war era was a golden age of holiday spirit, not only for Christmas music, but also for the holiday films still cherished at this time of year - It's A wonderful Life, multiple versions of The Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street and more.  It was a time of relative innocence that many folks regard with a sense of deep nostalgia (that's us).  In 1949, Gene Autry sang Holly Jolly Christmas and it still takes second place to White Christmas in holiday hits. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas was 1943 and Blue Christmas in 1949.  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was written in 1939 as part of a printed promotion for MongomeryWard department stores.  Talk about longevity! I'll be Home for Christmas released in 1943.

Newer more recent songs of the season just do not have that sticking power. I think that is because when the older ones are played our hearts and memories go into overdrive.  We are sent back to a more family oriented simpler time.

'Our special fondness for decades-old holiday music seems immune to forces that change almost everything else around is.  Now that's a holly jolly thought.'


                               Yes, it is holiday music but the slides are great!  Merry, merry...
                       p.s if the little ad comes on at the bottom, just hit the x and it will go away/




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

WINTER IN THE VILLAGE

Whether you believe in global warming or not, there is little doubt that for us winters were full of a heck of a lot more snow and a whole lot of chill and cold.  Bone numbing cold. Snow drifts that to little folk seemed very, very high.  We continued to spend our time outdoors though the temperatures plummeted. Sleds took the place of bikes and ice skates were sharpened. Woolens came out of mothballs and smelled that way, too.


Snowsuit paralysis: did you see the movie The Christmas Story with Darren McGavin? We love it so much our kids gave us the video one year for a gift! There is a scene where the little brother is so layered and bundled for the winter cold that when he falls down he cannot get up or bend his arms or legs.  Here is a photo of my little brother and a friend...you can see the snowsuit my brother is wearing.
Doesn't look like he could bend much either.




Our Mom used to put our legs into the sleeves of cardigans then button up the tops around our waists before we stepped into leggings.  Our stocking feet would then be wrapped in Wonder Bread wrappers (my Mom always kept those around, even in her later years). I read in a 50's blog another writer describing her mother doing the very same thing! Thanks to my sister Kathy for the memory of those wrappers.

Thus, we were ready to face the cold staying out for hours til we came in with
 bright red cheeks and bright eyes.

Cordoroy whistles and jean rubs:  my husband shared that when you wore cordoroy pants in the cold they would get so stiff  they would whistle and crack, never mind the red thighs you got from those or jeans in the cold.  As a little girl walking to school with a skirt or a dress, stockings ending just below the knee, my knees would freeze so that they would go numb.  Back then little girls did not wear jeans or leggings to school. Here is a scene from kids in Ohio...it could have been us. Note that the girl has no leggings on....brrr, I can still feel that tingling! When your knees started to thaw, they actually hurt.





Snow forts: we often made forts with the huge mounds of snow against the garage from the plow and more often shoveling by hand. Crawling in and out and never thinking it could cave in.


The music of sizzling radiators: Once kids finally surrendered to the cold and wet they came
in to hot cocoa topped with marshmellow fluff.
The marshmellow gave your mouth a mustache..can you still feel it? 

Dripping clothes, often studded with bits of snow and ice, were placed on the radiators to dry.  The radiators would sizzle, steam and permeate the air with the smell of wet wool.  Somehow polyesters and such materials are not the same as those hand knitted woolens. Did the fact that they were hand knitted make the love in them warm you even more?

You slipped into dry socks and mmmm the feeling. 
Never did hear the word "bored" spoken by children in those days.
 Getting kids to sleep at night was not a problem either.

stock photo from the internet


What do you remember from your winter memory stores?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A BIG TREAT: LINCOLN PARK !


We have been chatting about the way we played as children in the Village.  Pretty much it was up to us to find things to do and places to go.  But, for A BIG TRIP, we were taken to Lincoln Park in S. Dartmouth, MA.   The history of that place matches the memories.
Here is a photo of my Aunts Eleanor and Alveda and my Uncle Bunny (John) 
probably taken in the early 40's.  


Much of the information I am sharing is from Wikopedia 
and a couple of websites listed below that you can explore. 

As with much else in our lives then, things seemed simpler.
Federal Spending in 1947 was $34.50 billion. Imagine!
But, clouds were on the horizon as we learned about bomb shelters in the 1950's.
 Still, two tunes on the Hit Parade were Serenade of the Bells and Nature Boy.  


                                                  soundtrack: Serenade of the Bells


Lincoln Park began as a small park on 20 acres just where it stood when we knew it. The Park opened July 4, 1894 drawing crowds of people from the towns all around.  They came by trolley, the trolley system had a hard time keeping up. The name Lincoln Park came from a contest,
the winners name lost to history.

In 1895 the original carousel was opened, later replaced in 1921.  That second beloved carousel now sits proudly at the Battleship Cove in Fall River where it was moved in 1985.

In 1912 a "giant Roller Coaster" was added, replaced in 1946 by the wooden Comet we all knew.
Read more in the second website below for what happened in the history of that coaster, which I do not remember or never knew.

In 1940's the Ferris Wheel and more rides and concessions were added. That helps us to date the photo above, as you can clearly see the roller coaster in the background.

 In the 1980's the owners passed away and the Park was sold.  A lot of us remember seeing that old site with the big FOR SALE sign on the fence, and another indicating that condos were to be built there.  The wooden skeleton of the Comet could be seen disintegrating against the sky.  A group was formed to try to save it as it was one of, if not the only, wooden roller coaster left in the country.  Within this past year, the rest of the skeleton was taken down and carted away.

                         Do you have more memories and photos of Lincoln Park to share?

               
  Meanwhile, for more information to tickle your memories
check out these web sites and do watch the two videos,
they will really spur those memories into action.














Monday, November 26, 2012

Were we Little Rascals?

                                                     Little Rascals Spanky and Shorty
                                                               You Tube video

Continuing with our discussion of playing in the Village, it seemed this video fit. One gets the flavor of wandering kids passing the time of day in their own adventures.

I have some good story telling pickings here from my husband Norm, who is older than I by two years. Norm was brought up as we were but in a French Canadian neighborhood  (did not attain"village" status) in Ocean Grove, part of Swansea,MA.  He, too, hung with a little gang and here are a few of their "little rascal" adventures.

Seaside there were great places to explore, such as where great chunks of ice gathered and flowed in an ocean inlet. The boys, of course, commenced to jump from one ice floe to another til Norm fell in. Looking up he saw only a ceiling of ice. He thought he was done for but managed to get out with the help of the other boys.  However, when he hit the cold all the water froze on him.  Like a  real  Little Rascal he somehow managed to walk home encased in ice. His brother had gone ahead to tell his mother that Norm had "fallen through".  Upon reaching his house, he walked up the one flight of stairs. He said he "had a little trouble with that as he was a block of ice"! His mother, so glad he survived just wrapped him in blankets, tucked him in bed after giving him a "hot toddy." He never even caught a cold!

His other story was playing that old favorite hide and seek. The boys (as did we) played this endlessly in a patch of woods nearby.  They never could find this one boy.  Turns out he dug himself a foxhole and covered himself with tree branches.  Now there is an expert hide and seeker...they did not discover his secret for a long time!


Our parents did not need science to tell us how to let our children grow and develop.  Dr. Spock had published his first book in 1946.  I do not think it was a big seller in the Village.  Our parent's instincts and their own memories let us loose with tethers of love, though it could be nerve wracking.

One must let children fledge and fly or they stay moored in fear, their creativity stunted.






Sunday, November 18, 2012

MOVIE THEATRE PEARLS...


It was only when the lights flickered and the newsreel began that we kids started to quiet down.
As I looked at some of the newsreels we watched on You Tube, I wondered  if
 that is where our love of history started.
Here we were, little kids, getting a good dose of world events...

The newsreel was not enough to assure total quiet, I can still hear the chatter and shuffling of little feet back and forth from the refreshment counter and or the elegant rest rooms 
                                                (at least the Ladies, done in pastels)                                                          
                                      If you are a movie theatre historian check this website:
                                                              http://cinematreasures.org

Here are a few facts I found about our theaters:
The Park Theatre was listed in theatre publications as early as 1927.
  On August 26, 1927 a Wurlitzer Theatre organ Opus 1712
 was installed there, 
 Interestingly, the first talkie movie: Al Jolson in the Jazz Singer
 came out that year.  Prior to that only silent films prevailed.

An online movie buff from the Taunton area remembers a tiny blue patch on the screen
at the Park...and as soon as I read that, I remembered it, too.  Do you?

This is a photo of an old 40's movie theatre....not one of ours, but you
"get the picture"
sorry, could not resist that.... 

The aisles slopped down, so we all did
that aisle stoop walk back up and ran back down.
 Elegant light fixtures, red carpeting for the aisles,
seats whose bottoms came up and back, and the satisfying drop of your bottom
as you settled in to the seat, even before the seat finally touched down.
The ornate rococo decor along the side faux balconies. The swish of the wine colored
 velvet drapes swinging open to start the show. The smell of popcorn.

Graduations and special
events were often held in local theaters as did my 1957 high school graduation.

Works of art, my fellow memoirists....works of art.


Now back to the facts, just the facts...
The Park was known for having one of the largest stages in New England.  
Owned by
Mrs. Bentley, Mrs. Margaret Lawson, and Mrs. Rosemary O'Neill. 
 it was demolished April of 1971 along with the Strand.  
According to some, the last film 
shown at either one was
Children of the Dammed.

Some cities and towns have saved their beautiful old theaters using them for art
centers and the like or even to continue showing old films. 

 Sigh.....

Another interesting face is that at one time there were more theatres in Taunton. 

*  The Star at 107 Main St. (above Goldstein and Antine...remember them?) 
The Star had 600 seats and did not survive The Talkies. The Star was built
in 1897! it is 140 years old....still hanging in there, but too far gone to be saved.

*The Whittenton theatre had 1200 seats.

*The Biltmore...well, no information about that one. Anyone?

Also, a reader has reminded us of the State Theatre on Court St.
Could find no info on that one....can anyone help with that?

******
Graduations and special events were held in local theaters. Mine high school
graduation in  1957 was held at the Strand.







Friday, November 16, 2012

LET'S ALL GO TO THE MOVIES

On Saturdays, our goal as kids was to get to the movie matinees,  Girls helped with housework.
Who knows where the boys went, off to some secret club house. Then every kid in the neighborhood went to morning confession at Church.  I can still hear the whispering and kids nudging each other as we all lined up to recite our itty bitty transgressions. Do you think the priests took cat naps as we chanted our soft litanies?  A priest I knew said that hearing children's confessions was like being nibbled to death by ducks...

But, back to the subject at hand as there is lots to tell. After the morning's activities the procession of kids would begin at one end of the Village, and like the Pied Piper more and more would join in, the matinee calling to us like a mermaid's siren. 
 No adults included, thank you very much.  Just us kids.

In the 1950's there were two movie theaters in our small city, about a mile from the Village.  One was the Park Theatre, the other the Strand.  They were right next to each other down on Broadway at the edge of downtown and very near to our majestic public library.


Do these photos jog your memories?
Notice something about these photographs?
           




My earliest recollection of those theaters was being taken by my grandmother Delphina when I was still very young to see Snow White.I  think it was showing at the Strand. It's second release was in 1944.  I would have been 4 years old. 
I do know that the witch scared me  (in Snow White....not my grandmother).

Once inside the theatre, there was a steady hum of chattering as everyone jostled for seats.
Frazzled ushers tried to keep everyone calm.



Old ticket stub from the Park Theatre from Marty Martin...precious momento.




Next post: a whole lot of interesting facts about these theatres and their ancestors.
Of course, more about us, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

THE VILLAGE FRONT PORCH PHILOSOPHY

One very special sound plays in my mind : the soft sibilant sound of the Portuguese language spoken all around us as children.  It traveled on the breeze, no harsh sounds to absorb it.  After all, often only the click clack of a manual lawn mower broke the quiet.

I connect the music of that sound to our front porch on School Street in the Village.
 When I looked at the photos of that front porch over the years, 
I could trace the loss of community we took so for granted.

  Take a peek.

Here is my late cousin Jack Bernandino in front of the Souza homestead porch on School Street. It is totally open, big and wide. Its entrance was a  wide stoop of stairs perfect for sitting, for chatting.  Notice the wicker chair over on the right?  That was where my Grandmother Delphina would hold court.  Often there would be another elderly person sitting next to her discussing things of importance: always in Portuguese.  My grandmother went up to the second grade in Madeira; knew how to read and write. As the unofficial Village secretary she was adept at writing or reading letters for folks who could not do it for themselves.  Sometimes though these visits were about pure remembering, no agenda except to share, to remember, to laugh...perhaps to cry. Sometimes just to share Village happenings.

Sometimes my grandmother sat alone working her Madeira embroidery 
remembering her own stories.




Lots of events took place on the porch: weddings were launched. 



 Here is my Aunt Alveda on her wedding day in 1946.  I am happy to announce
that in 1978 my sister Mariellen left that porch for her wedding reception across the street,
probably as our Aunt Al did. 


Since the house was smack in the middle of School Street, people would stop and chat with my grandmother, with my father or mother, with us.  You had to pass our house since then everyone walked everywhere: to Church, to downtown or just for a turn "around the block". No one was in a hurry.  Menfolk going to the Portuguese American Civic Club across the street always gave a shout out of greeting to whomever was sitting on the porch,



As we got older and times changed,  the porch was closed in a bit.  Here my sisters Kathy and Mariellen and I sit with a friend  in the 1950' as we went off to Girl Scout camp, the porch now screened in.

In the 60's 0r 70's the porch was entirely enclosed creating a room with louvered curtained windows. It documented the changing times in our Village. It was no longer as inviting, but perhaps folks were not walking as much, playing freely as they used to or just moving away.  

There have been two owners since we lived there.  
Now there is a wrought iron fence closing off the yard.

                                                                      ................
Soudade is the word used in Portuguese for nostalgia, but it goes far beyond that, more like a deep yearning.  When I hear Portuguese being spoken, that is what I feel. I tried to look up translations for thte greetings I remember, they did not seem right.  I leave it up to your own memories.  Spending long hours working on my Grandmother Isobel's history, I would play Portuguese Fada music to put me in the mood.  I recommend this beautiful Fado video.

                                    Listen and close your eyes. This is my gift to you today.



Monday, November 12, 2012

SOUNDS WE PLAYED BY.....

Memories spark more memories....that's how this post started out. My husband and I tried to remember the sounds of our youth. Sweet moments as each one came to mind filling us with the sound it evoked.  I am hoping that you can play this game, too, and share it with us.
 We could savor those sounds then
since it was before the cacophony of leaf blowers and the like.
 It seems now that it is hard to find a moment
 when there are not a whole lot of harsh sounds drowning out
the precious ones meant to be savored like the single notes of a bird.

I will be doing another blog just on this topic.

  Help me write the next one?
This is just a start.



The sound of a wooden screen door closing. 
              This is one of my favorites: if  I am watching an old movie and hear this sound:  
  whoosh it brings me right back!

The sound of clothes on the line snapping in the wind.
There was an art to hanging clothes, and a good line was a woman's pride.
They all loved a good warm wind that would dry the clothes beautifully.




The sound of roosters in the morning. 
Our next door neighbors had a chicken coop
for years and I still love hearing that boasting rooster sing his song.
 Remember the busy communal clucking 
of chickens?


The long sound of the rotary phone being dialed.
Each number had a good distance to go before you connected.



The clack of an old typewriter as each letter pounded into the keyboard. 
My sister and I had the job of typing
statements for my Dad's business so even
my fingertips remember this one, I recently saw
 an episode on the TV program Sunday Morning that
talked of young people rediscovering old typewriters and the
satisfaction of control and simplicity of that old style of writing.






Sounds coming from open windows.
No air conditioning meant that household noises could be shared
by neighbors and the street. Laughter, yelling, the clank of
pots and pans and meals being prepared...we heard it all. 


The sounds of music from radios or record players. 
Here  is a precious You Tube musical interlude to
put you in the mood.  We had this 78 record of Jan Pierce singing
The Bluebird of Happiness.  Would you believe I still have it?
As a child I loved it. It may be the first music I remember.

Click on the arrow, close your eyes and enjoy.




NOW IT IS YOUR TURN TO CHIME ON IN...
WE CAN DO ANOTHER POST WITH A LOT MORE!!!  RIGHT???
If you remember other songs I can get them from You Tube....














Saturday, November 10, 2012

WHAT WE DID FOR FUN...

When I look back at my memoirs, stroll through photos, vintage web sites and so on I find it difficult to try to capsulize what folks in the Village did for entertainment.  Distilling it down, however, I find a lot of it centered on the art of conversation, impromptu gatherings by children or adults.  We learned the art of banter at our parent's knees.  We learned to rely on ourselves, our imaginations to pass the time.  I invite you all to help me with your own comments and memory banks as I set out to do these posts justice.  I thought I had written them sufficiently but there is always the challenge to dig deeper.


        Dr. Seuss wrote: "If you never did, you should.  
These things are fun and fun is good."


                                                                     Here we go:

Gaggles of children could be found all over the byways of the Village. You started with a few, then
others linked on and the days search for fun could begin.  It might start in someone's backyard, or at
an empty lot. Maybe a stop at Jigger's or Bernadino's.  But, the times were few and far between when a child was spotted alone.  You were known and knew each family in each house.  You felt safe and
secure as did your parents who let you roam about. You left the house in the morning and other
than lunch stayed out til late afternoon when the calls of mothers could be heard in the Village.

David Semas sent us this photo: he is in the second row first from the left.  A good example of the little groups of children we were all part of in those days.  I find it heartwarming that the friendships we made as youngsters still warm our hearts.  




You remember this favorite summer past time? A good way to cool off and laugh a lot, too.
Thanks to Pinterest for this photo.  Hours could be spent in noisy fun right on your front lawn.
With luck your Mom would come out with Koolaid (the right kind) and some homemade cookies.



Hours could also be spent with your roller skates. This was made even more interesting
as the sidewalks in the Village were not exactly smooth but rather rutted and bumpy.
That meant skinned knees and elbows 
and then it was time for this:


I stil can see and feel the glass applicator that when applied to your wound of courage
would sting but what a glorious red badge to wear the rest of the day!
If you needed a bandaid it would come from this tin.  I can still
hear the satisfying click when it shut tight.  




Much more to come in the What We Did For Fun Series.  I have been looking forward
to these posts.They were a joy to research.  What's more, as an increasing number
of comments are coming in, it helps to keep my fervor going.  Although I am using my memoirs I
am still researching such great web sites as the history category of Pinterest and
online memoirs by others. Everytime I find something new, or you send in a comment
and even a photo, it helps to enliven the blog,  Keep it up!

PLEASE PLEASE jump in with your photos and memories.










                                                   






Friday, November 9, 2012

READ THE COMMENTS !

Just a little note: more and more comments sharing memories are coming to the blog. To get the most from the School Street Village blog, read each and every one.  The best way is to click on the
comments at the end of each post which appears on the right.

Thanks and enjoy. 


your blogmeister age 4 years
School St in the Village