Spinner: People and Culture in Southeastern Massachusetts, Volume V

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9780932027306: Spinner: People and Culture in Southeastern Massachusetts, Volume V
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Spinner V is the latest addition to the award-winning Spinner series. It contains 12 beautifully woven tales with historic photographs and original illustrations.

Drawing on oral history, old newspapers and family scrapbooks, "Judgment Day" brings back the days of New Bedford's colorful Mayor Edward C. Peirce, who was convicted of gambling related crimes. It is the story of a man who reached the pinnacle of success, only to be brought down by the opposing forces of his time. In "Between Heaven & Hell," witness the devastation and resolve in the Flint neighborhood when Fall River's cherished Note Dame Church burned to the ground in 1982.

Spinner has uncovered two extraordinary journals of local and international interest, each with it's own reflections on war and America. In "Unforgettable Days," Natalie Kaplan recounts her girlhood in Russia, her work as a young nurse in the Red Army, and her emigration to New Bedford. "The Fall River Nanny" is the diary of a young Englishwomen, Annie Ward, who came to America in 1914 to work in the house of a mill owner. Her bittersweet journal recalls the romance and gaiety of Fall River, but is laced with anguish as her homeland and her loved ones are drawn into World War I.

Two area institutions remind us of the strength and character that can be developed as a result of childhood struggles. In "At St. Mary's Doorstep," Raymond Rivard tells about his teenage years as a resident of St. Mary's Home for Children in New Bedford. "Children of Sol-e-Mar" is a fond recollection of life at a South Dartmouth hospital for crippled children in the days before penicillin.

In "Heritage Harvest," the culinary Worlds of the Indians and settlers mix, bringing us the johnnycake, the clambake and more. A special feature, "Milton Silvia: As I Saw It," showcases a treasury of photographs taken during Milt's long career with The Standard-Times. In "Trolley Days," pictures and personal accounts bring back city streetcars, while "The Progress of Bloomerism" tracks the coming of the new fashion in the 1850's. Finally, "Rum Running in Westport" tells what life was like in Westport during Prohibition.

This is the world of Spinner: words and photographs, oral history and journals. It is a world we all have in common as human beings.

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About the Author:

Marsha McCabe, senior editor and writer at Spinner Publications a national award-winning columnist for The Standard-Times She is the author of Not Just Anywhere: The Story of WHALE and the Rescue of New Bedford's Waterfront Historic District. Her novella, "The Woman Behind the Counter," is featured in Spinner IV.

Joseph D. Thomas, publisher, editor and contributing writer at Spinner Publications, is a professional photographer and is responsible for art editing and design at Spinner. He has published eleven books and numerous small publications about the history and culture of southeastern Massachusetts.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From At St. Mary's Doorstep, Author Raymond Rivard.

I came from a family of eight children, five boys and three girls, and we lived in Presidential Heights in New Bedford. Originally, there were nine children but a baby boy died from crib death. Times between my mother and father were rough. I didn't know the great trouble my mother had. Hey, with all those kids, we didn't really mingle in it.

The year was 1948. When I was 13, I was out caddying at the New Bedford Country Club on the fifteenth hole, when my older sister, Audrey, came and told me I had to go with her. The next thing I knew, I was walking through the front doors of St. Mary's Children's Home.

I was shocked at losing my parents and being put in a Home. I later learned that when my parents got separated, we all got separated. We lost track of my mother and eventually heard she'd moved to California to live with one of her sisters. The older children went to live on their own, and three of us ended up with my father - me, my five-year-old brother, Bobby, and my seven-year-old sister, Particia. He took us right to St. Mary's Children's Home.

My father was a sewing machine repair man and went to all the mills to repair machinery. he had a good job but he had drinking problems. I only saw my father twice after going to St. Mary's. Years later, we learned he had died when the funeral home called and asked who would be making the arrangements.

At St. Mary's Home, my sister had it rougher than my brother and I. She was so small, she took alot of abuse form the other children. The girls were isolated from the boys so we weren't allowed to see her. I could see her but I couldn't talk to her long enough. We would talk in school 'cause we were in the same classroom, but that was about it.

At the time, there were 110 kids who lived at St. Mary's, many more girls than boys. We had like an imaginary line out in the playground, the girls on one side and the boys on the other. I think they had to separate us because there were a lot of 16 and 17-year-old boys and they were rough. I had to make sure I was their equal so we had fights constantly.

We had only ten Sisters and they took care of everything. I was scarred of the Sisters at first because I had never seen a nun before. All I saw were these big people standing there with white collars and all-black clothes. After seeing the first nun, I wanted to run out the back door, but after a while we got along pretty good. Sister Agnes St. Joseph took care of the boys and Sister Lois Gregory took care of the girls. Both were over six feet tall and close to 250 pounds.

We would have assemblies in the auditorium and if you did anything wrong, Father Thompson would hit you in front of everybody to show the others that he was the boss and you had to follow his rules. He used to say he could punish you in his office, but by punishing us in front of all the kids, they would see what will happen if they disobey.

We got up at 6:00, went to Mass at 6:30 and did our chores before breakfast. School went from 8:30 to 10:30, then we went back to finish our chores. After lunch, we went to school again from 1 to 3:00 and had playground until 6:00. From 6:30 to 9:30, we went to school for study hour - a quiet time. So we went to school three times a day.

There was no talking. We just took out books and did our work. I did not like school, I'm sorry to say. The major problem was going from a public school with individual grades to a Catholic school with one teacher for three grades. Grades one through three were together and grades for through six were together.

We had a dirt yard and there wasn't much we could do there. There were so many kids. I played baseball even though it wasn't my sport. We had a Boy Scout troop at the Home but the farthest we went was to South Dartmouth, where we camped at Holy Cross Fathers, a retreat for priests. We also played soccer and the custodian Al Mayo was our coach. Mostly, we built model airplanes and ships in the big playroom in the basement. There was also a playroom on the second floor. In the evening sometimes, we listened to the radio. The Sister made the choice on the program. Sometimes we'd hear "The Green Hornet" or "Roy Rogers."

When I first arrived, we didn't have showers so we had to take sponge baths. We had only three sinks along the outside wall of the corridor for 70 boys, so it was a little rough trying to get in there to wash. When we got showers, six on the girls' side and sic on the boys' side, the world changed. It took a year to get the showers in. It was done by the Diocese with volunteer help.

Our dentist came down from Boston once a month with three volunteers who were dental students. We used to complain about the students to the Father but he would say not to complain since it wasn't costing him a penny. Then one day he had a toothache and had to have his tooth out. Well, that was the last time we saw that dentist since Father was in agony for three days.

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