Once settled in the Village, as we have often written, our grandparents created a melting pot of their own, melding people from the Azores, Madeira and from the mainland into a coherent and supportive community. In essence, another kind of village. As generations came along, the kinship they wove supported each of us as we lived our every special childhoods.
Immigrants landing in New Bedford, MA in 1912
source: Portuguese Spinner: An American Story
Stories of History, Culture and Life....Southeastern New England
A charming bit of this history was that all of the bakers in the Village, were without exception, from the Continent. Many of the Azoreans would have loved to farm, but had to settle for their large backyards. These did feed their families, as well as somewhat satisfy their love of the land.
New Bedford boasted many immigrants from Madeira, Fall River Sao Miguel.
Arlene also related that women from the same Village would often gather to bake their bread.
There was a brickyard in the Village, on Longmeadow Road. Both my grandfathers worked there for a time. Later, my Paternal Grandfather would go on to his business and real estate career at which he seems to have excelled.
Creating a life: of faith, of culture, of mutual support, the Village folk coalesced. They formed music groups such as the Taunton City Band, they formed credit unions, a Portuguese American Civic Club.
They organized their Church so that it flourished with many types of religious as well as recreational activities. And all the while, they assimilated, digging new and nourishing deep roots. There is so much more to this story, but little space and time to tell it.
I leave it up to you to wander where you will.
This subject has been dear to me. I am like a thirsty soul always wanting more of who we are and who came before us. It is encouraging to know that you all are just as thirsty.
The Village has, of course, changed in composition over the years. Immigration patterns evolved.
When mills and factories closed, immigration from all of Portugal more often went to New Jersey where a large Portuguese population exists today. A rising standard of living in Portugal, also slowed the migratory flow.
St. Anthony's is still very much an immigrant Church with at least two weekly masses in the Portuguese language. I still enjoy going there when I am in town, not just hearing the language but all of the echoes which surround me.
Next: Back from the history trail to more anecdotes of living in the Village.