Tag Archives: Fall River

Our month on Cape Cod—day 24

~Monday~ We made the 1.5-hour drive to Fall River and back where Vivian and I showed Jeff and Bob many of the places we lived in that city.

Fall River is where both of our parents and their families are from, and we moved around a lot in that area as my dad did a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam and then was on “recruiting duty” (for the United States Marine Corp) and moved to wherever they needed a recruiter next.

Here are the houses we visited today:

914 Eastern Avenue | Fall River, MA | February 1961 – January 1963. While we lived here, John was 4-6 years old and Vivian was 1-3 years old. The street to the left side of the house (in the first picture) seemed like a very steep hill at the time, and John rode his new bike down it one time, gaining so much speed that he made a sharp turn into a driveway to try and slow down, lost control, and crashed with the handle bar going through his left (face) cheek. He still has the scar to prove it, because dad didn’t think it was worth going for stitches about it and just taped it together.

Front entrance
Side entrance

72 Dover Street | Fall River, MA | November 1964 – December 1964 and June 1966 – July 1966. We lived here the first time was when John was 7 and Vivian was 4, and the second time was when John was 8 and Vivian was 5. Our vovó (“vah-voh”) and vovô (“vah-voo”) owned this 3-story house—where they lived on the first floor, our aunt Vivian (my dad’s sister) lived on the 2nd floor, and our uncle Eddie and Aunt Laura lived on the 3rd floor—and we stayed with my grandparents for these 2 short periods of time until we found a house of our own to live in while dad did each of his 1-year tours of duty in Vietnam.

The 3-story view
This front porch used to be screened-in, and my grandfather sat on it a lot, sometimes playing his mandolin
Apparently a Martin (no relation) still resides on one floor of the house
We used to get “penny candy” from “Mr. Harris” at this store a hundred years ago

22B Carver Street | Fall River, MA. Our mémère and pépère, our maternal grandparents, lived here for a while, and it was virtually “around the corner” from my paternal grandparents’ house on Dover street. Their address was “22B” and it was the bottom right apartment.

56 Howland Street | Fall River, MA | July 1966 – December 1968. While we lived here, John was 9-10, and Vivian was 6-7. We remember a “mean landlord,” Mr. Daniels, who lived on the first floor of this house, while we rented the second floor from him. We went in that door to the right, which had the stairs to the upstairs just inside of it. Vivian remembers friends of hers while we lived here named “Norene and Dorene” and whose fingers were fused—two of their own fingers fused together, not one of Norene’s fingers fused to Dorene.

45 Breezy Lake Drive | Coventry, RI | December 1968 – December 1969. While we lived here, John was 11, and Vivian was 8. We lived in this split-level house for a year while my dad was in Vietnam the second time. My aunt Annette (my mother’s sister) and her husband, Uncle Frank, lived in the downstairs, which had been closed off as its own apartment. All the while (and for a total of 30 years), my uncle was building the house next door. He was a stone mason, and he cut each individual stone of the exterior of the house to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. There are a couple of other pictures of the house in this old posting of John’s. Breezy Lake was behind these houses and we had lots of fun ice skating on it.

The split level next door
The house that Uncle Frank built

Other places from our childhood that we visited today included:

This is a hot dog place we lived for as children, and one of the things we missed most moving down south. Sad, but true.

St. John’s Club
St John’s Club is “the Portuguese club” that my dad belonged to for years and years, and where he was sort-of a “local hero” (being a Marine, going off to war and back). There were 2 sides to the club, the bar (where only men could go), and the restaurant side, which included a jukebox that Vivian and I used to do The Salty Dog Rag and a line dance to a couples dance to Winchester Cathedral. Today, we ordered some steamed clams and some chourico (Portuguese sausage) sandwiches, 2 of our childhood favorites.

Notre Dame Cemetery
We brought Vivian and Jeff by to visit our grandparents, who Bob and I had visited the first week we were here.

Paternal grandparents
Maternal grandparents

We had a full day and completely forgot about visiting the Lizzy Borden house, about which we’re okay.

Back at the house, we played a game of Scrabble, skipped dinner in favor of appetizers, and later played some Catch Phrase.

Bob, John, & Vivian’s Scrabble game
A peach and jalapeño cheese ball

On our way out of Fall River, we dropped by to see our Aunt Vivian and Uncle Nibby, spending about a half hour sitting in their driveway catching up with them. So nice.

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 18

~Tuesday~ I had no work meetings today, but I did have a 5- to 10-minute impromptu video chat initiated by a colleague who’s good about keeping in touch.

We both took walks today, Bob’s earlier in the day and much longer than mine. I did mine after work, and, no, I didn’t purposely walk a route that would look like an erect penis in the MapMyWalk app. It just happened—like good, morning wood.

Bob’s walk: 2.9 miles
John’s walk: .65 miles

Before I set out on my walk, I checked out the laundry and book exchange building, which Bob has been in several times now, but I hadn’t yet seen.

In checking out the book collection, I saw the book Bob just finished reading (highlighted in red) beside the book he contributed (highlighted in green) to the collection.

This was my first walk just to get some exercise (which I had planned to do every day while we were here since we don’t have access to an elliptical machine, but I haven’t done it), and I went into the US Post Office, which Bob also has been to several times, just to check it out. It’s much bigger than I had imagined.

I also noticed that this building that I thought was a house is actually a bank. Other than the mention of an ATM (and, admittedly, the “Member FDIC” notation, if you know what that is), it’s not at all obvious it’s a bank. Maybe if instead of the “5,” it said “nickel,” or the “5” was paired with “& Dime,” it’d’ve been obvious.

Bob made a “Fall River staple” from my childhood for us for dinner tonight. It was “beef chow mein,” as we added ground beef to it along with the sliced celery and chopped onions. Yummy!

It’s time to brace ourselves for the evening (and probably days to come) with some bourbon and champagne on hand (for various outcomes) as Election Day 2020 unfolds.

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Our month on Cape Cod—day 9

~Sunday~ At about 9:30, we headed to Fall River, which was about a 1.5-hour ride. This is the city I grew up in until a year before we moved to North Carolina when I was 13. For the year right before we moved, we lived in Coventry, RI, which we’ll visit when my sister gets here early in November.

Our first stop in Fall River was to the Notre Dame Cemetery, where both sets of my grandparents are buried. We had a hell of a time trying to find my paternal grandparents’ grave (just like I did last year—and never did find it), and it turns out the person in the office had given me the wrong plot information—think way off, like on the opposite side of the cemetery.

Thanks to my cousin, Sandy, who volunteers there and who was in touch with us yesterday with a picture of the headstone, and who provided us with the correct section and plot number by text today.

Another of my cousins, Patsy, met us there, and together we located the grave. We’d brought some cleaning materials with us, and Bob ingratiated himself to my grandparents by spit-shining their headstone.

And as it turns out, my grandfather did have a middle name, which means my father really wasn’t a junior, but since I seem to be the only one devastated by that, I’m just going to let it go.

We also found (and cleaned off) my paternal grandparents’ grave, where I said a quick, socially distanced prayer.

Our next stop was for lunch at one of our favorite childhood eating haunts, and we passed Fall River’s “flat iron building” on the way. Doesn’t every big city have one of these?


They had a buy-5-get-1-free special, which we couldn’t resist. I got “sauce and onions” on mine (they don’t call it chili; they call it sauce), and Bob had ketchup, mustard, and dill pickles on his.

We wanted to stop at Amaral’s Portuguese Bakery while we were in town, but they were closed today. Fortunately, while at the cemetery together, we’d ask Patsy about places to get some sweet bread, and she said they actually sell Amaral’s products in the grocery stores, so we stopped at a Stop & Shop and bought some of my Portuguese/Fall River favorites:

On the way back to the Cape, just outside Fall River, we passed an exit that was very close to my Aunt Rita’s house, and I wanted to make sure she and Bob met, so I gave her a call to see if she was home and up for a short hello from outside.

She was, and we did. Love her to pieces.

An hour-and-20-minutes later, we were back in Eastham, just in time for happy hour, after which I had to have something for dinner on those sweet rolls we’d just bought. And what could be better on a Portuguese sweet roll than some chourico (Portuguese sausage)!

I know you’re glad this day and blog entry are over. If I say Portuguese one more time…

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