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.
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.
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 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.
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!"
"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!
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