Monday, June 16, 2014

Philip, an older man who has lived on Portuguese Hill for many years

November 21, 2013

            As I walk down the hill from my house on Perkins Street, I can’t help but reminisce about the good old days on this street. I remember when I first moved here, fresh out of the Portuguese navy (which made me serve for about three years too long), with my wife in one hand and suitcases in the other. I was finally starting a new life in America. I left Mozambique, and I went to New York, and from there a buddy of mine in the Navy, helped me get to Gloucester. Now it’s just me, my wife in our house on Perkins Street. Some of my family still lives around the area, and we are for the most part a fishing family. My kids, Aria and Paul didn’t have a hard time fitting in this once completely Portuguese neighborhood. Even my wife was able to make many friends here, and go to the stores in the neighborhood without needing a translator. There were so many Portuguese people here, as well as Azoreans. I remember a time in Portugal where Azoreas were treated as dirt, and not as true Portuguese people because they come from the Island. How stupid was that! Anyhow, I’m glad times like that are only memories. I took a different route than most of my family, and became a maintenance shop machinist. Shortly after that I become a CNS operator over at Gloucester Engineering. I remember how it was when I first worked there. It was fresh, and new, and exciting, and I had never been more proud of the education I got in Portugal. Even though we were new in this town, we never felt any less than any of those old timers. We are and always be Portuguese and Proud. Now it’s about thirty or forty-something years later, and I’m retired and  I’ve been married for 52 years. As I make my way down the street, I look over where my sister’s house used to be, on the bottom of Perkins Street. After she moved, they later on changed it into an apartment building. That building caught on fire once, which caused some damage, so they had to tear it down and now it’s just a hole in the ground. But I will never forget those long nights me and my family spent in that house, telling stories about our childhood, laughing really loudly because of drinking too much wine,  and the short walk back to my house afterwards. A lot of my Portuguese friends have moved away for some reason or the other. Some have died and now, there all kinds of people from different countries living on the Hill. It’s still nice over here, except for those screaming matches drunk people sometimes have on Saturday nights. But the neighborhood kids, and their biker gang remind me so much of kids and their friends back in the day , so I don’t mind them. Now I’m going to dinner with my wife. 

Arthur, a fisherman living on Portuguese Hill

Paul, a young boy living on Portuguese Hill

Maria, a young girl living on Portuguese Hill

Introduction to the blog

Me, Gloria Kabulo 

 June 15, 2014

            Dear Diary

            Today, I finished my research project on Portuguese Hill.  I can’t help but think that although I wrote journal entries for my project, I can never truly capture the essence of the neighborhood that is Portuguese Hill. The purpose of this project is to show how life was on the Hill, and to show how it has changed over the years and answer a bigger question of whether or not America is a true melting pot. The characters in each of the journal entries are completely fictional, and they are based on the experiences of several people, who used to live on Portuguese Hill.  After reading narratives of how life was on Portuguese Hill, I can’t help but envy the way life was for the people on the Hill during the 1950’s or so. I don’t see the same “open house” concept during Christmas, nor the children sledding down Mt. Vernon Street during the winter, or the summer. I can see the neighborhood kids biking up and down the street during the summer time, or spending a day in the Green Street playground. The Hill is now filled with all types of nationalities, who still get along, because we are at a time and a place with little true ethnic tensions. Yes, the Portuguese were somewhat in their own world on Portuguese Hill, but they still were part of Gloucester because they had ties to the fishing industry. That is beauty of living in America. The ability for cultures to form their own communities and still be connected to the larger American community. The Portuguese were still a part of the community in Gloucester, by simply interacting with the community through working on Gorton’s Pew or going to school with other strong cultures in Gloucester such as the Italians. Even with the many changes that have occurred over the years, there still some things that haven’t changed. My Portuguese friend, Sabrina still goes to Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, and is a member of DES Portuguese Club. She also takes part in the Crowning Ceremony each year, as part of the procession that makes it’s way through the streets on a Sunday. The Portuguese community in Gloucester still maintains the same togetherness even as Portuguese people have moved out of Gloucester for various reasons. The Hill to me is a good neighborhood, although far from perfect in it’s cracked roads, and houses and apartments with paint peeling off, or the screaming matches between neighbors every once in a while on Saturday nights. Yet, you can stumble onto a lovely yard with a small vegetable garden, or enjoy a peaceful afternoon in the Green Street playground surrounded by tall dark green trees. If you are facing the right side of certain houses on Friend Street, you can still see the view of the boats sitting lazily in the ocean, just as they would in the Azores.