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.


Monday, December 28, 2015

PAYING HOMAGE TO EMMA

Just before Christmas a Village light went dark. There is little doubt, however, that it shines in a far better place.  At age 101 years of age,  School Street Village's  own Emma Andrade went to her rest. As she rarely rested prior to that it must have been quite a surprise.

As a friend and blogger, Mary Jane Fernino wrote:

                                                  " ...Emma. A force of nature
                                                     we all thought invincible
                                                      is at rest  after 101 eventful years.
                                                      Emma was the stuff of legends."

         
Emma died just before Christmas, quietly but in the midst of caroling, glitter and the color red. In her own fashion she went out of the world as she inhabited it - legendary. It is my honor to dedicate this post to her in hopes I can share the wonderful story of her life as it affected all who knew her.

The Village was known for its strong women. Yet Emma stood out.  Women today continually attempt to rise above, to be respected, to attain the heights. Emma did all of that while never leaving the Village.

This is a photo of Emma, taken in her very later years. I believe that it captures her essence -her sharp witty gaze, direct and true but always, always kind. The smile that was ever prepared to share or tell a funny story or just to cheer you up. When Emma spoke her words tingled with cheer and a kind of ringing that let you know you were in for a safe and happy good time. Her attitude in the photo is of a woman getting ready to hit the dance floor!



If you grew up in the Village  born in the 30's, 40's or 50's and someone said the name , Emma Rico \Andrade, her image would just pop right into your head.  That image is wrapped in a smile that lit up a room, a Village, and even a child's spirit.

That smile lit up my own spirit. I was a skinny, gawky teenager feeling my way to growing up with a great lack of self-confidence. One day I met Emma on the street in the Village and her words to me gave me such a dose of belief in myself that they became etched into my heart . Emma never had a daughter but it seemed she adopted the young daughters of the Village and cheered us on. Her niece shared that her joy was seeing the children of the Village do well with their lives.

Emma was a native born Villager, born Sept, 12, 1914, the fourth child of Portuguese immigrants: Frank and Pauline.  Like all the rest of us, she went to Fuller School as a child and eventually graduated from high school in 1930, voted the best athletic.  Until moving to Marian Manor, a Nursing Home in Taunton,  she never lived anywhere but in the Village.  She did, however, travel to many countries and to every state in the country.

She proved the description of being the most athletic at her high school graduation. As a teen she was a member of the Village girl's softball team. Rumor has it that they were very good, playing down on the fields near Ventura Grain on Longmeadow Rd. off School Street.  We can imagine she and her teammates looked like this. I found this photo on Pinterest, the car in the background pretty much dates it.



















Emma proved her pep and athletic abilities far into her later years. I attended a family wedding where she, in her early 90's, was present. When a toe tapping dance number started  she jumped up, hoisted her skirts above her knees and begged other to join her on the dance floor. Vintage Emma!

Back even in the 30's and 40's and onward Emma was a vibrant and vital part of the Village. In her teens she volunteered to canvas the Village and nearby neighborhoods going door to door seeking donations to the American Heart Association, the Red Cross and United Way. She must have paved the way for us, I remember doing that as a teen myself.

Emma founded the Question Mark Club in the 50's in the Village where young women could get together. She stayed a member for over 65 years.  In those days there were more male associations than those for women.

At the age of 19 Emma was the first President of the Portuguese American Civic Club Auxiliary on School St.  She remained active there for 25 years.

In 1942, Emma married Aristides (Aris) Andrade.  I remember him,  He had a smile as big as Emma's. They had one son, Peter.  Below is Aris when he served as President of the P.T.A. at Fuller School. He is with our beloved Principal, Sophia Dupont. He was as quiet as Emma was energetic and like yin and yang they made a perfect couple. Emma would lose her dear husband in 1964 when he died suddenly of a cardiac condition.  Tragically, for Emma and their son, Peter, a high school senior then, and for their extended family, his death occurred one day apart from one of their young nieces, a mother of two small children.  They had a double funeral at St. Anthony's and there were so many cars, School Street was closed off.




Emma's faith and her ability to look outside herself and go on helped her to heal.
 She got up from her sorrow and went out and got involved.

St. Anthony's Catholic Church was the faith center of the Village and Emma was always at its heart.  She served on the Pastoral Council, the Holy Rosary Sodality, the St. Anthony's Feast Committee.  She would be a member of the Parish Centennial Committee, the Centennial Parish History Committee.   She was active in the Diocesan  Council of Catholic women,  elected President twice. By special appointment of the Bishop at that time, she was appointed on the Bishop's Pastoral Council and was recipient of the prestigious Marian Medal for exemplary service to her Parish.




She went on to serve as Chairperson for the Bishop's Charity Ball. She was once heard talking to the Bishop who chided her that she might be the first woman priest, Emma responded, she would rather be the first Bishop and take his job!

Emma was an active member of the Business and Women's Foundation society.  She was a member of the Quota Club, on the Board of Trustees of the Morton Hospital Corporation as well as the Old Colony Historical Society.

Emma had a heart as big as her spirit. Her niece recalls that her Aunt once took an early lunch from her work as an Assistant Clerk to Clerk Magistrate, William Grant to go to Fuller School. There she cheered her young niece on for her part in a Christmas play.

Perhaps my favorite story of Emma is that when a resident of Marian Manor she continued to "hold court" as it were.  She held her own "salon" serving a group of friends refreshments each Friday afternoon.  She would insist that the ginger ale be chilled to properly accompany the cookies and crackers and cheese that she set out.





One of this writer's joys was that early on when I was researching the history of the Village, I wrote to Emma asking if she would share her memories, particularly as to the small businesses in the Village.  She gathered together her Friday group (also from the Village). They put their heads together.  Soon after I received a very impressive large envelope with their findings.  Typewritten pages gave me all I had to know...and more.  

Tucked in at the end -  "there was a house ill repute " at the edge of the Village.  I imagined the laughter they must have enjoyed when they attempted to describe it.

I knew of the house but never of its nefarious purpose....the fact was proved out when I did further research.  Attached to the presentation was a card telling me that her son had written the note as she had broken her wrist when she fell from her walker.  I dare not ask what she may have been up to...

That following Christmas I received a greeting card with my address in shaky handwriting. It was from Emma and I felt so pleased that she remembered me.  Emma, still making people feel good about themselves.

She was very well read and a member of a book club at the time of her death. She was writing a paper on The Kennedys from a book she was reading and preparing to share it.  I think of my own mother. When she died there were unfinished crocheted handbags, gifts for friends.  Village women keep on going right to the end, When they move on to a better place they are probably still busy watching over all of us.

In September of 2014, Emma turned 100.   Many friends and relatives joined in the party at the Marian Manor.   She quipped silly jokes and stories and sang songs for her guests.

 She told hem;
" Now I want to thank all of you.  I can't stand and I can't walk 
but I can do everything else that's bad!" 

She added, 
"I am so glad you are here, and that you are making a lot of racket
she said, "I like the noise."  

After the singing of Happy Birthday, she issued 
another one liner,
 " It's time to stop kissing and start eating."
.............................................
        
               I end this post with an excerpt from a Poem by Maya Angelou: Phenomenal Woman



"It's the fire in my eyes
 and the flash of my teeth
the swing in my waist
and the joy in my feet.
   I am a woman- phenomenally."
...................


                                           Heaven is happy you are there, dear Emma!
But, we sure will miss you!

 .....................



Sources:

Narratives of the Village as shared with my by Arlene Gouveia

Taunton Daily Gazette: Obituary of Emma Andrade

Taunton Daily Gazette: : "Two Remarkable Taunton Women..."

Reminiscents of Her Aunt by Cynthia Mendes as shared with this writer. 

Saltwater Influences: a blog by Mary Jane Fernando

Pinterest


.................







Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A BUCK A DAY: MORE ABOUT TAUNTON AND VILLAGE C.C.C. BOYS



 I began the last post with the fact that we had celebrated Veteran's Day just the month before. A few days ago we remembered Pearl Harbor which ushered 
in U.S. involvement in W.W. II.

Today, the country faces a different threat and we look back at our heritage and our history for the answers to facing our future.  Just something to keep in mind as we read here of the history that helped shape who we are today.


Driving through the Blue Ridge Parkway one has to think about all the hard work that those young men in the C.C.C.'s did to fashion and shape the roads that give us such joy today.  That is true about so many locales throughout the country, that never would have been restored and we may take for granted.


A view of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
Photo:  Sandra Pineault


Young men from the ages of 18 to 25 years were eligible to apply to the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.'s).   Each work camp held around 200 men.  Later any Army veteran could apply.  The men worked 8 hours a day.  By the time the U.S. entered W.W. II more than 2.5 million men had served in more than 4,500 camps throughout the country.  

 On May 19th, 1933, Taunton had an initial quota of 75 men, most from E. Taunton, MA  who went to Fort Devens. MA.  They would be paid $1 a day to fight forest fires, beach erosion, develop state and national parks and help in national emergencies such as hurricanes and the like.  From 1933 to 1938 Taunton had 1,190 enrollees.  Over the years these young men sent back $16,000 back annually to their families.



Around 9,000 men a day were recruited in the country as a whole.  There soon were floating libraries for them: chaplains, radios, games, baseball, football and basketball. It was a great opportunity for further educational  endeavors, too.  My Dad, Frank Souza, learned to barber in the Camp he was in and though that was not his avocation, he always cut my kid brother Frank's hair. The photo below was taken in the side yard of 20 Blinn's Ct. in the Village, 1948.  My Uncle John "Bunny" watches and chats.Whatever Camp my father was in, he said it was very cold, and often 
when he started to shave someone he had to shave off the ice first...



My father was in a camp in Massachusetts. He tried to enlist in the Army but was 4F due to stomach ulcers.  It is interesting to note that many of the young men enlisting in the C.C.C.'s were malnourished and suffering from nutritional conditions.  One writer indicated that not only were they under nourished and under developed boys, but many of them did not know what it was to work. The C.C.C. offered them a healthful way of life among other positive things.  As far as we can recall our Dad may have been in a Camp in Pittsfield, MA. 

There is a possibility that my father is in this photograph, second row fourth from left. My Dad did say he was at a camp in Massachusetts and his posture really looks like him.




We do know that John Richard is in the first row and Matthew Wasylow as well (numbers 6 and 7 respectively - from the Nowak booklet). Maryan L. Nowak , a resident of Taunton researched and compiled many names of Taunton men who served in the C.C.C.  His was not an exhaustive list but it is a good one. His booklets were published in 2002 .

C.C.C. records have proved a boon for genealogists as there are many photographs such as the ones included in this post.  However, there are less photos of Massachusetts men than in other states.  Here, though, is a great one from a Camp in Chicopee, MA, clearly in the winter.



                         A photograph of one of the barracks of the Camp in Chickapee, MA.


                            White Pine Camp, Idaho, probably what all the camps looked like.



From the Village, these names and where they were stationed can be found in Nowak's booklet:  James Aleixo, Great Barrington, MA, Theodore Aleixo, Warren, NH, Joaquim Bernadino, Freetown, MA, Antone Cordeiro , Suncook, NH, and then in two camps on Colorado, Jos. Costa, East Wallingford, Vermont, Joseph Dias, Antone Mello, Jr, Danbury, NH, ,Joseph Nascinemtno, Freetown, MA., Manuel Silva, East Wallingford, Vermont, Albine Vierra, Wilmington, Vermont.

I have only skimmed the surface of this vast subject. If you have had someone in your family involved in the C.C.C. you can find a plethora of information.  Here are just some of the sources. State sites contain photographs in most cases.


RESOURCES:

A Buck A Day- Taunton men in the Civilian Conservation Corps 1933-1942. Find this booklet and another supplement booklet at the Bristol Country Historical Society.  There are many names of Taunton men here and a few photos.
........
Into the Woods: The First Year of the Civilian Conservation Corps: Joseph M. Speakman 
Find this online.
.......
National Association of the Civilian Conservation Corps...Online.
.......
MA Dept of Conservation and Recreation CCC. Online.
......
C.C.C. Legacy- Online. An incredible amount of information including photographs state by state.
http://www.ccclegacy.org/CCC_History_Center.html
.....
"Hard Times Legacy": - Boston.com, May 17, 2009
http://www.boston.com/travel/explorene/articles/2009/05/17/hard_times_legacy/
.......
Elderweb- "1930: The Great Depression."
http://www.elderweb.com/book/appendix/1930-great-depression
.....
Taunton Daily Gazette: "Fall River: 1938: Rebounding from the Depression." May 21, 2014http://www.tauntongazette.com/article/20140521/BLOGS/140529125
.......
Heritage Zen: C.C.C. in New Hampshire
http://heritagezen.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-civilian-conservation-corps-in-new_19.html
.......

A History of Taunton: William F. Hanna.
.......

             Photographs from my own archives as well as from many of the sites listed above.











Tuesday, December 1, 2015

DIPPING INTO THE PAST: OUR DADS AND THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS : PART I

Last month here in the U.S.A. we celebrated Veteran's Day. The following incredible photograph taken after the U.S and Allies retook Paris shows the faces of these men whose road to get there was far from easy. There is a whole series about my Uncle Ziggy (right front row, second in from right) and my Aunt Alveda in site listed below the photo as well as those before and after it.




World War II has its own tale to tell.  But, prior to that event there is another
story.  It speaks of the resilience of this country and the leadership of a President faced with enormous problems.  It is about the young men of America and the history of the country itself,  the story of the Civilian Conservation Corps. It would become known as the C.C.C's.  In many ways the story helped to create the courageous spirit of the men we see in the above photograph. 




While in New England this past summer I made time to visit the
Bristol County Historical Society. Browsing through the shelves  I found two small booklets about the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Remembering my Dad had been part of the C.C.C's  I added the booklets to my treasures.  I figured I would do a little post one day on the subject.  Like anything else, the little booklets were only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  The subject was not only 
relevant to my family and the Village but to the country as a whole.

I was in up to my ears and learning every minute of my research.
Because the subject is so vast,  this is the first of a series,  the first being an introduction.

Often TV interviews demonstrate, our young do not know their history. I generalize but it still seems to woefully be the case.  Perhaps a member of your family was part of the C.C.C.'s  or perhaps you will just learn something fascinating about the resilience this country.  It was not always the divided and worrisome place it appears to be today.

This  dedication of this statue of  a  CCC worker took
place in the Freetown State Forest in Massachusetts in 2002.
Freetown Forest is between Taunton and Fall River.  It is noteworthy for
the fact that is considered by many to be haunted....

 Alongside the statue in the photograph below is my nephew Peter Nascimento.
Peter has two grandfathers who served in the CCC: Frank Souza, my father
and Joe Nascimento, Peter's other grandfather. both of them
Village boys. Peter has his own story of courage to tell, but right
now he is listening to this one and finding one more reason why he 
loved those two grandfathers so very much.
  




The tale of the C.C.C is a fascinating one.

The Village played a part in this National endeavor.  Faced with the same
extremes of a debilitating Depression beginning in 1929  people in the Village ,as always, helped each other. We read earlier that the Portuguese American Civic Club on School Street was founded to help families in the Village that could not make ends meet.


The P.A.C.C. , as it is still called, helped its members find employment on many levels, including the federal.  They likely helped them, including my Dad and others, to get into the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Keep in mind the national income was cut in half and a quarter of the work force in America was unemployed.  I am proud that my Village stood up and helped its people.  

 Soup lines and queues for employment snaked throughout the country.  In Washington D.C. you can find the impressive memorial to FDR remembering those lines.  My husband got into the spirit of the moving monument by standing at the end of the line of men whose posture speaks volumes.



In 1927 my Grandfather Souza, age 42 years, drowned leaving behind my Grandmother and seven children in the little house on School Street.  When 1929 rolled around and the Depression started it must have hit them like a bolt of lightening.  My grandfather had been a successful businessman and suddenly the life of that family was turned upside down. 

In the late 20's  mill owners in Taunton with the means to moved south.  The textile industry was not as strong as before. One reason is that women's fashions had changed.  As shorter skirts became vogue material for their clothing changed from 19 1/2 yards in 1913 to 7 yards in 1928.  Six Taunton mills closed and the job situation went from employing 235,000 in 1923 to 96,000 in 1932 .

From 178 mills in Massachusetts, the number dropped to 57.

In 1932  20 tenement houses built on Middleboro Ave to house mill workers were auctioned off for $5, 850. a per  house total of $142. 50.
It was estimated that in those years there were people near starvation in Taunton.

The P.A.C.C. gave priority to those families most in need in the Village.


Here is an interesting aside....did you know?
Here is a bit of history I bet you did not know- I surely did not.  When FDR ran 
for President in 1932, William Foster was the Presidential nominee for the
 Communist party in that election. His vote was minuscule. 
 However, he was  born in Taunton ,MA in February of 1881!



The plaque at the base of the statue is Freetown, MA


The story of the C.C.C. is amazing on many levels. The first is its speed of inception. In our time, there is deepening stagnation of ideas and solutions to so many problems.  
Not back then. "Shovel Ready" meant something in FDR's time.

March 9, 1933- mere weeks after taking office, FDR ordered his senior staff to draw up a plan to put 500,000 men to work.

March 21 - a modest proposal for 250,000 jobs was sent to Congress.

March 31- Congress approved and signed into law the plan giving broad discretionary               authority to the President for setting up the "Emergency Conservation 
Work Program." It got its new name in 1937.

Incredibly, the C.C.C. was successfully supervised by four Cabinet Departments: the War Dept for housing administration and housing and discipline. The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior planned and organized work and the Department of Labor selected and enrolled applicants via state and local relief departments.

Here is an interesting document.  FDR tried to get the amount of money 
it would cost per day perworker down from $1.92 per day.  



Boom!  "Bringing an army of unemployed into healthful surroundings," Roosevelt argued, "would help eliminate the threats to social liberty that enforced idleness had created."  Keep in mind that this was not a welfare program it was a WORK PROGRAM.

None too soon.  


Above: FDR visiting a C.C.C Camp in 1933. Skyland, Virginia.


Below are some of the boys from Taunton who were in the C.C.C.'s
 taken March 12, 1937. Location unknown.
Front Row center: Joseph Murphy, Back Row: Louis Robino.
Perhaps you recognize others. There are none of the
Village boys that I have found. I did find their names
and they will be in the next post.



Lots more to come!



Sources: I will list sources in the next post.







Saturday, November 7, 2015

FALLING BACK INTO THE LEAVES OF MEMORY





Photography by Ryan Smith


I am no longer in the region of glowing Autumns. Yet, just recently visiting
the mountains of North Carolina my memory taste buds received enough to
stir my memoirs. Some of the photographs from there appear in this post. The 
above was taken by my nephew who has inherited his grandmother's photography genes.

I have taken to bringing a little red notebook with me on trips.  I write when
the spirit moves me. I absorbed the ghosts of the autumns from my childhood while in the mountains this year. The ghosts were benign and kind and spoke to me of misty autumns. 

Now, in these November days even in the
South the crickets have an autumn sound waking my long gone 
 childhood experiences.

I remember....

the feel of gardens entering their winter slumber.  Are we meant during the days of autumn to go into some quiet protected place as well?   Those of us who were fortunate enough to live back in another time may well feel that we are called to do just that.  

"The magic of Autumn has seized the countryside; now that the sun
is not ripening anything it shines for the sake of the golden age, for
the sake of Eden, to please the moon for all I know."

Elizabeth Cutsworth


Autumn in the Village where I spent my childhood was a magic season. It entered the turning paths of our imagination where we found myth and possibility. There was enough silence in the Falls of my childhood that the drying leaves played by the wind created a scintillating sound that was a music unlike any other.  The pines plucked their needles to
produce their own lullaby, especially right outside a child's window.

The child's imagination could be slowly nurtured by the night wind rattling old
wooden sashed windows and gently nurtured by shadows of big trees in the backyard.

As children we collected the bright leaves, ecstatic in their dying.
They were used for collage, for tracing and then coloring, for
dry bouquets for our mothers.

Sweaters and jackets kept us swathed in the scent of mothballs where
they had been hidden all summer.





                                     We began to nestle into our dreams of paths yet to come.
                              Nothing like shushing one's feet through dry leaves on the way
home from school to nudge such dreams.  They gathered in great piles
against old tall wooden fences waiting for a child
to plunge into them with laughing glee.




The elegance of autumn in New England.  Color upon color reaching high, like a dowager in her finest garb. A last hoorah! The leaves must touch each other to play their Fall song.  Many softly let themselves join Mother Earth.  Mellowed and wizened they gracefully slip silently to sleep.












Even back in my childhood Autumn held its own traditions.  It held the promise of Halloween. It made you hold your breath passing by a cemetery, expecting to see the Headless Horseman come galloping through.  The violence of today's video games and movies were not around to stifle our imaginings. Even before us,  poets like Robert Frost had created poems that nurtured our childhood creativity. There was silence abounding to let all of that pass through. Cell phone were way in the future and everything let us be.

The creativity of the Autumn palate.  The creativity of Halloween and how we were part of it. Simply a part of it.   The safety of the Village on the eve of Halloween. A gaggle of children slowly processing from house to house. Hooted Trick or Treats (never a trick...) and giggles upon giggles as we spied who some masked child really was.  The fained surprise of the adults greeting us at each house. All the porch lights were lit to welcome each and all.



                                                          boysandghoulspodbean.com


Innocence wrapped in the colors of Autumn. Costumes were patched together with our own old clothes or that of our parents. Black mascara worked wonders. We were who our imaginations wished us to be and we acted accordingly. A bedsheets with eyes cut out was perfect. An old mop made a wig for a witch, Cardboard was always helpful.  Pillow cases made the bags for the candy we collected. An old soft hat of our dad's pulled down over a cheap paper mask, one of his jackets so big on a little boy that the sleeves dragged along the ground.




Autumn is a time to wrap oneself up in the memories of a childhood in the 50's hiding oneself from the noise and anger of the world around us. Values were clear back then, like the shine of red leaves and the gift of an apple from a neighbor on Halloween Eve.  How blessed those who can go back and pull out friendships and trust their remembering.




     Milkweed in Autumn
photography by my mother
Angelina Motta Souza






Tuesday, October 13, 2015

WE HAVE LEARNED MORE ABOUT THE TAUNTON OLD LADIES' HOME !

 It is clear that a lot of folks enjoyed the last post's story of the Taunton Old Ladies' Home. It is gratifying to hear that it definitely rang a memory bell.  Also, it was a surprise to hear  from Peter Roache partner at Donellon, Orcutt, Patch and Stallard, Certified Public Accountants who now own and occupy 96 Broadway, the former Old Ladies' Home. The building has been lovingly restored with photos and stories of the Home on display in their Office.  Mr. Roache sent in a short history written by one of the Founders of the Home.  This allows me, along with another article from the Taunton Gazette from 1969, to add another post on the subject.

A great big thank you to everyone who has helped to add more history to this Taunton historical tale.


A History of the Taunton  Female Charitable Association
by S.R.B.
1959

In this post I am paraphrasing the above history of the Association and its work adding some touches of my own.The Ladies' of the Association will kindly forgive me for doing some enlightening and connecting. The initials on the history are S.R.B. so it is assumed that Susanna Brewer wrote the paper although it is a dated very late for that.

Mrs. Brewer tells us there were 35 members and a printed Constitution for the Association. The officers were: Mrs. Susanna Brewer, First Directress, Mrs. Abby West,  Second Directress, Mrs. Sally Shepard, Treasurer, and Mrs. Harriet Leanard, Secretary.  The managers were Mrs. Sally Carver, Mrs. Eleanor Hodges, Mrs. Anna Ingell and Mrs. Mary Bush.

(One site elsewhere says that Mrs. Morton was First Directress, but we will not quibble. They were both early involved.)

The Taunton Female  Charitable Association had its beginning with tea table chats after the war of 1812.  The women organized in 1816 and dreamed of sponsoring a comfortable home for the elderly needy women of Taunton.  (a 1969 Taunton Daily Gazette article wrote that they were planning on caring for elderly Protestant women in the Home, but that did not come up in Ms. Brewer's writeup. Still, as there was rampant anti-Catholisism about for many years in the country, this would be no surprise.)

Early records of the Women's Association were lost but not the treasurer's information.  Susanna Brewer tells us that the gentleman from Savannah who donated $2,000 was Edward Padelford. (It is interesting to note that many streets in Taunton bear these names.)

In November of 1870 a house at 1871 Franklin St. in the City was bought for the sum of $4,000 from Philander Williams for the purpose of opening the Ladies' Home and in January 1871, it was opened with "appropriate exercises".  It served as the Home for 15 years.

Water came from a well in the front yard and a cistern was there as well.  In 1871, the Association  "voted to sell the outhouse as it was no longer used." The Matron received $5 a week and the servant, $3. There was no dearth of applicants for admission. "One was denied entrance until she promised to give up smoking."

There was a Board of seven gentlemen elected as advisors with one acting as auditor. There were annual fairs held at Wilbur's, The Armory or Music Halls. Sometimes these were run for 2 days and brought in a "goodly sum."

The Taunton Armory 
1907 postcard
https://www.cardcow.com




The Admission fee to be admitted to the Home was $150 in 1887,  $200 in 1903, in 1907 $250, in 1910, $300, in 1924, $400, in 1958  $500 and in 1959, $800.

The gift of a lot by Mrs. Sarah King spurred on the desire for a new building and eventually enough was raised to construct the Home on 96 Broadway.  Meanwhile, a man "paid $6 for the privilege of pasturing his cow upon the lot."

The original contract for building the Home was $8.800, the contract is now at the Office at 96 Broadway. The $65 for the fence was extra. The contract is dated 1885 which is not in line with other historical accounts but no matter. Storytelling  certainly does not always purport historical accuracy.



Broadway as to probably looked in 1878
One can imagine a cow grazing here.
Not the Broadway as it looks today.
Source: Cardcow




In 1885, writes our historian, a contract was signed with Franklin D. Williams to build a fifteen room house with heating and grading by Walter Park, Architect,  for $10,000 on 96 Broadway.

When the building was done the "family" moved in.  Six of the city's well known physicians inspected the Home to insure its safety from a sanitary standpoint.  They were Drs. Presbrey, Hubbard, Murphy, Paige, Jones and Hayward, ( Two names stand out for me: Presbrey was the last name of the Director of Nurses at Taunton State Hospital in the 1960's and Murphy was the physician related to the first women surgeon, Dr. evelyn Murphy, in Taunton written about in the post cited below, you will find it a delightful read and includes information on the Murphy physician line, we assume it was the father-in-law of Dr. Evelyn Murphy alluded to in the history here):

http://schoolstvillage.blogspot.com/2013/11/another-taunton-medical-luminary-dr_10.html).

During the war years an astonishing amount of canning was done from the vegetable garden at the Home.  When Susanna Brewer wrote her history in 1959 she said that a bequest had meant there was an elevator,  a television and that the Home was comfortable for all of its residents and staff. (paraphrased). To comply with state laws a fire alarm system was installed then as well. A reader tells us that growing up nearby she remembers that the Ladies often made fudge for the neighborhood children.

The photographs below are from a Taunton Daily Gazette article in April of 1969 when the Taunton Women's Association celebrated its 140th anniversary and the Home was still thriving.

A  Golden Tea was occasioned for this anniversary, the festivities
patterned set in 1829 by the first fundraises of the Association.

Recognize anyone?


 

                                                            Below is  Rachel Morse
who was feted on this occasion for her years as a
member of The Taunton Female Charitable Association
following in her mother's footsteps.
It was women like Rachel and her mother who made it all possible.
She was given an orchid for the occasion. Rachel Morse joined
the Association in 1909.

.

The article tells us that an exquisite red and white quilt done by the Home's very first residents was
exhibited. Each square was embroidered with a verse and the initials of the woman who composed them.  It was given to the Bristol County Historical Society. I would guess that it is still exhibited there and kept with great care.  If you go there, take a photo for me.. 
That would round up our history beautifully!
         

I am so pleased to be able to add more to our Old Ladies' Home story and that of the Taunton Female Charitable Association that founded and managed it. There are many,  many stories of the Village and the City of Taunton that just pop up here and there begging that to be remembered and told.  I almost never know what is coming next!






Sources:

From the Research Dept. at the Taunton Public Library

Taunton Daily Gazette Article in April, 1969
Rachel Morse Feted at Anniversary Tea
......

Peter Roache CPA
Donellon, Orcutt, Patch and Stallard
Certified Public Accountants
96 Broadway, Taunton, MA

From their records, the last person
to leave the Home passed away in 1984.

                                                                             .......
      Visit the Old Colony  Historical Society on Church Green in Taunton 
for more information about the Ladies' Home.

                                                 http://www.oldcolonyhistorymuseum.org



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

ONCE UPON A TIME IN TAUNTON: A LESSON IN CARING FOR OUR ELDERS

Let's face it,  the times today are complicated for all of us,  especially so for our seniors.  Navigating the pitfalls of  Medicare/Medicaid and the like can be hazardous for anyone's health.  Grown children often live far from their parents and grandparents. The need for assisted living or nursing facilities can become a necessity, and a frustrating business for all concerned.

Not everyone today can live in a place like the School Street Village of yesteryear or on one of the Sardinian Islands in the Mediterranean remaining in the bosom of family and friends.

 As I mentioned in the last post, it was nearly unheard of for an elderly parent or grandparent not to live with family in the Village when I was a child in the 40's and 50's.  Like a cocoon or an oasis, the Village cared for its own.  Somehow, that family value endured for years. The times were conducive to that, they were softer, more family oriented and families were strong and intact.  Now, our American culture is sometimes almost unrecognizable.  The elders of our time are no longer a priority for inclusion.  This is a unavoidable fact of life for many reasons.

That transition took years and years to change as family, individuals and society morphed into one that was more egocentric, less concerned with honoring its elders and treasuring their gifts. Recently, Pope Francis said, ..."children are the future of a family, grandparents are its memory."

Looking back we see the factors early on.  In the late 1880's the great migration West took place in the U.S.A.  Families often left parents behind who could not cope with the arduous trip. The Civil War would mean that fathers and sons would disappear leaving a tremendous hole in family life.  Also, there was a movement into more urban areas which accomplished the same leaving behind.  To cope society did what it could. There was the rise of the poorhouse where mentally ill, and destitute were often thrown together in a terrible mix with those simply to poor to cope and with the elderly who were alone.  But, also, in the American way back then there came the advent of benevolent societies who tried to help in a more humane and genteel way the plight of left behind parents and grandparents and the single and widowed elderly.

A benevolant society did come forth in in that tradition with a group of determined women in Taunton. A sign of those years of yesterday was the gracious way that needy elderly ladies were helped by this group in the City and in many cities and towns throughout the country.  Back in those days, government intervention was not nearly as invasive as it is today.  Then, charitable groups often assisted those in need of services making that charity more personal, and most likely, more cost efficient.

In 1815, that group of concerned Taunton women became aware of the fate of the population of single elderly ladies in the City. Many of those elderly were alone and in those days had no old age  assistance programs.  The group of charitable women held teas and fairs managing to pay for rent and food for needy single women in their later years. Finally, in1829 they obtained a state charter and were called The Taunton Female Charitable Organization. It is still listed as a non-profit in Raynham MA with a corresponding post office box number.

       Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives in General Court
       assembled and the authority of the same as follows: The Taunton Female Charitable
       Association, in addition to the powers now vested in said corporation, is hereby
       authorized to establish and maintain in the City of Taunton a home for the relief of
       aged and indigent women; and said Association is hereby authorized to receive
       grants, devises and donations for the use and purposes herein specified, etc.

Donations were generous. Mr. Edward Padelford, of Savannah, Georgia, giving two thousand
dollars, the Ladies went to work to find a house suitable for their purpose.(Who was this gentlemen?).  In January, 1871, they opened their doors at 96 Broadway and during that month and the following ones, they received 8 members to the Home. Twelve Founding Ladies took turns supervising the Home.  Matrons and domestic help were obtained.


This is a lovely postcard of the Old Ladies' Home,  probably from the 20's or 30's by the look of the car.  I love this postcard, the sepia tones just exude genteel elegance and softness.


Applicants had to be born in the United States, be residents of Taunton for ten years preceding the application and be at least sixty years of age. They paid an entrance fee (often $100) which secured their care for the rest of their days.  A dozen ladies were able to live in the Home at any one time.  Eventually, throughout its existence 171 women were cared for there.  In the last two years that the Home existed there were only two ladies and the Home stayed open just for them fulfilling its mission to the end.

The yearly expenses of the Home amounted to $2,000 and were met by the Corporation. The first officers (elected yearly, a form of term limits, it seems) were:  Mrs. Erastus Maltby, Mrs. Samuel Southgate, Miss Mary L. Hartshorn, Mrs.E.U. Jones. There was a Board of 21 ladies 
as managers and six gentlemen as advisors who met monthly.

The Home on 96 Broadway was simply known as The Old Ladies' Home. Early on the Home was called the Home for Aged and Indigent Women..that was how it was listed in the City Listings.  I like Old Ladies Home much better, don't you?  This photo below is from a 1969 article in the Gazette when the Home was closed.   There was never a sign, there was no need, everyone knew what it was.





                   Elegant and lovely, one of those spearheading the Old Ladies' Home in Taunton


Charlotte Hodges Morton (wife of Marcus Morton, Judge and one time
  U.S. Vice Presidential Candidate).  Mrs. Morton was the first Directress
                     on the Taunton Ladies Home.  She was a busy woman, she had 12 children and had time for this as well as being involved with the Remonstrance Society in Boston
which wasanti-suffrogate (against the vote for women). She lived from 1801 - 1850.
Morton Hospital in Taunton is named for the Judge and the main
building was once their home.

The portrait is from the Frick Collection.
                   

We can close our eyes and see in our imaginations that the rooms in the Home looked like those below. This photo was taken in an Old Ladies' Home in New York state during the 1880's.   The residents often had teas and enjoyed hosting visits with friends.
What an antidote for senior loneliness. I am intrigued by the fact that the
victorian manner of decor we see here has come back, as people look for warmth in their surroundings. I also know of a lovely widow Village lady in her 100th year
who now lives in Marian Manor in Taunton who, until recently, 
hosted teas each Friday with her friends. Only now it was ginger ale and cookies. 
But, the warmth and camaraderie still shines on.


                                                                      Flickr photo



The Home had all the hallmarks of "a home". I do not say all such homes were perfect but they were surely an improvement over "warehousing" (a term used today) of the elderly today. Here is another photo of the Home in N.Y. The Home in Taunton would have had warm touches such as the fresh flowers, thanks to the Women who organized and ran it.




                          Below is the bedroom of one of the residents in the Home quoted above.
                  The Home for Old Ladies' in Taunton closed its doors in 1969. A person who grew
up nearby in Taunton remembers long befor that the ladies peacefully
 rocking in the rockers on the front porch.

   
                         


This is a photograph of ladies giving a fund raising tea circa 1930's for the Graham Old Ladies' Home in Brooklyn, N. Y., the closest home to the one in Taunton I could find.  The Home has been restored and refurbished and still could accept elderly ladies....for $800,000!




Over the years of its service, the Home never once had to place a resident into a Nursing Home,  Even if they had to engage a private nurse they kept the resident in her own surroundings at the 97 Broadway . The residents considered themselves a family. Nearly every day there was a visitor, a clergyman or a member of the Home's Managers who made sure no one went without attention.

Such a lesson to be found in this history, a lesson of local people caring for their own in the community.  A lesson dedication and hope.  Fortunate were those ladies of old, both those in the Home and those who served them.

It was delightful researching this post and once again reaching back to find a treasure that still teaches us today. The rise of bureaucratic rules for Homes for the Aged meant that the elderly were protected, but it also meant that such homes as we write about here could no longer exist.  Hence the loss of an opportunity for smaller homes much like anyone's homes where dignity and friendship abided. In the meantime. what a gift for those women who were able to live there.

" The (Women's) Charitable Organization has gone steadily forward with its good work- providing a comfortable and happy home for the homeless, providing themselves friends
to the friendless and take the best care of the sick, ministering in every way to the good of all in the home, and being a great blessing to the Community."

                                                           A HISTORY OF TAUNTON...SAMUEL HOPKINS EMERY





                                         96 Broadway today, renovated for a business.
                                           Are  there memories imbedded in those walls?







                                                         SOURCES FOR THIS POST:

           As always, thanks to Aaron Cushman, research librarian at the Taunton Public Library.
                   Taunton, MA. I loved that library as a child and treasure it still.

                Taunton Daily Gazette, Archives: Old Ladies' Home: Just a Piece of History:1969
                        Old Ladies' wouldn't Recognize the Place Now; Nov. 24, 1989.

........

Vintage Postcard of Old Ladies Home, Taunton, MA
http://www.uspostcards.com/Item/ma_taunton_0121
also see Facebook Page:Taunton,Ma-Postcard History
https://www.facebook.com/Taunton-MA-Postcard-History-138237093178247/timeline/

..........

The Ladies Repository:Vol. 35, Issues 3-6  Documents that a Mrs. King gave $5,000 to the Ladies' Home at an early date. 

                                                                         .........

                                                     Lists of Old Ladies' Homes in the U.S.
                             http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wdstock/old11.htm
                           
                                                                            ........

  History of Taunton, Massachusetts from It's Settlement Until the Present Time (1880's) by Samuel  Hopkins Emery. If you are doing any type of Taunton history, this is an excellent source. Samuel  Emery was a minister and provides an excellent history.  Now out of print, it is available free online.
............

The Social Welfare History Project from 1877 to 1893.
...............

Taunton City Directory: 1899 pg. 392
.................

Women Anti-Suffragegists in the 1915 Campaign.

.................

The Graham Old Ladies' Home in Brooklyn, New York.


Monday, September 28, 2015

WANT GREAT LONGEVITY AND HEALTH? LIVE IN A VILLAGE

This past May, the Wall St. Journal published this article:WANT GREAT LONGEVITY AND HEALTH? IT TAKES A VILLAGE. For me, now a very grown-up Villager, it was fascinating reading. It was easy to make comparisons to The School Street Village of my youth. Also, I know of at least two School Street women who have reached 100 years of age. One is my Aunt by marriage who lived in the Village in her early married life, she had married my Uncle who was been born there.  The other grew up in the Village and until recently spent all her life there.

The subtitle of the article in the WSJ is "To make it to 100: plenty of community, exercise, beans."

In our School Street Village, elders were honored and lived as fully integrated members of their extended families and the Village as a whole.  Most every child I knew as I grew up had a grandmother or grandfather living with them. Those were not the days of Nursing Homes as we know them today.

The WSJ article focuses on a series of Villages in Sardinia which boasts 21 centenarians for every 10,000 people.  Only about 4 in 10,000 Americans make it that far.  These Villages are part of what scientists and physicians call "Blue Zones" around the world where there is far less chronic illness and a longer life span. Below is the cover photograph for the article.




One of the cornerstones, says the article, of dietary issues is the humble bean.  Portuguese people love beans, especially the fava bean.  Beans are inexpensive, easy to grow, and can be cooked with a variety of meats. Meats, though, do not account for large servings but accentuate the bean. When my grandmother Isobel was a child in St. Miguel she earned money for the family by working in the bean fields.

But, the dietary issues were not alone in explaining longevity and health status.  A hallmark of the Villages was their closeness.  Remember some time ago, I mentioned that in the School Street Village, women who grew up in the same Villages in the Azores or Madeira would gather to bake their bread together?  So here in Sardinia where 5 generations of a family would get together to share their knowledge and experience in bread making and pass it on.  But, the women in Sardinia did more, they chopped the wood and stoked the ovens. Perhaps, in the Azores and Madeira our grandmothers and great-grandmothers might  have done the same.  But,  did you ever try kneading bread with your hands and arms...without the help of a food processor?  Who needs Pilates if you are doing that for 45 minutes?

Here is one of our School Street Villagers from probably the 40's or 50's kneading bread. Her home was on Floral St. and she is sitting in the doorway of her summer kitchen working the dough. I love the intense expression on her face as her hands expertly turned and forced the dough into food to feed her family.  Tradition carried from her original Village in the Azores or Madeira went into this simple act.




Life in these Sardinian Villages was/is very social, and that is where the big similarity comes in with my School Street Village.  Our elders (I smile because our grandparents were probably younger than I am now) had their own social strata.  These women  would roam the Village, walking in sturdy shoes and in the summer perhaps their distinctive cover-all aprons. They would walk to a friend's house and sitting in the kitchen, or perhaps the porch would share stories of their childhoods or what was happening in their circle currently.  My grandmother and her friends (sometimes a grandfather ) would spend hours like that, breaking out in laughter, maybe even tears and sighs.  Then the visitor would gather her big black pocketbook and be off to the next house.  They did not need stair masters (sometimes it was a second or third floor climb) or a treadmill.  The would often gather at our Church.  Church was a great place to meet and greet for our elders. Wakes always provided another occasion.

The next photograph is my Nana Delphina  (left) and two of her friends back in the 50's visiting in our family home on School Street.  The lovely lady in the middle often visited my Grandmother.  They were both from Madeira. This lady lived with her son and his family down a very significant hill. She would have been into pretty good exercise going back and forth on her visits.  My grandmother (as I mentioned elsewhere) was sort of a Village secretary to the elders. Often they could not read their letters and she would do it for them, or help them write back. She would perch her hat on her head, gather her bulky handbag with her supplies and set off.  It would take her quite a while as she would meet and chat with other friends on other porches along the way.

I noticed on the WSJ newspaper photo: the hair pulled simply back in a neat bun. These elders, there and in my Village had no time for hair stylists, nor for shopping sprees. Neither the time, nor the money.  Anyway, their days were too full of social events. A sweater thrown over a shoulder was enough to go chat over a neighborhood fence or during an evening walk.



Some statistics from the WSJ- "In the U.S.you are likely to die eight years earlier if you are lonely compared with those with strong social networks."   The article goes on to say that in those villages in Sardinia, "...parents and grandparents move serenely into old age, secure in the knowledge that their children will care for them." Like our parents and grandparents in the Village, there were/are no treadmills, health gyms, dietary counseling organizations. A robust, active life took care of all that. My mother spent time cooking, hanging clothes on the line in all kinds of weather and then picking them afterward, gardening,  canning and sewing...and on and on.  When I say gardening I mean Gardening with a capital G. Putting up grape juice and grape and blueberry jam, cooking pies in big batches so that they were available all winter (and entertaining the friends of her four children). My grandmother had her walking/secretarial route, she washed and ironed and delivered (on foot) the altar linens for our Church for years and years. She made her way to wakes and funerals of friends gone before her. That meant a long afternoon at the wake socializing and remembering the dear deceased. The WSJ write-up stated that every 20 minutes the folks in Sardinian villages were nudged into physical activity.

It seemed then as in the Sardinian villages that there was no rancor that an elder grandparent lived with the family of a son or daughter.  It just was expected and normal.  As children were cherished, our elders were cherished.

No over the counter supplement can substitute for family.  When my elderly mother-in-law knew that her health was deteriorating and she lived alone, she decided to go into a Nursing Home right in her town.  She was one of 14 children.  Though her failing mind was slipping, one or another of her siblings came every single day, most days taking her to lunch, or just for a ride around her beloved neighborhood. She was always part of the family she knew and loved.  Her children were there as well, cherishing her and motivating her to share her many stories, and just to love her.  Love makes the difference, and faces that are so often there it becomes hard to forget them.


My husband and I are far from family (thankful for Facebook cell phones, etc.) but we are blessed. We live on a small island off the coast of northeastern Florida.  Small island - tight friendships and support groups.  Our new parish has become a haven for many of us seniors, our talents are appreciated, our voices are heard. Happily, technology helps us all to stay connected and sometimes (wow) a written note gives us delight and connectedness.

We in the USA and perhaps elsewhere are part of a throw-away culture...too often elders find themselves in just that situation.  Growing up in the School Street Village, I learned as a small child as I was passed from the arms of one Aunt to another with loving hugs, that it is cherishing that we all need- from one end of our lives to another.


                Funny, back then, nobody thought of retiring and leaving for another place.


                                                         
                                                                         SOURCES:
                                                       The Wall Street Journal Article:
        http://www.wsj.com/articles/want-great-longevity-and-health-it-takes-a-village-1432304395

                                       
                                  Related Past Posts on this subject you may find interesting: