Fort Taber Flag to honor George E. Patisteas, KIA during WWII Aboard the USS Bunker Hill

During the month of May, the 21st Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of George E. Patisteas, killed in action at the age of 19, during WWII aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Bunker Hill, while serving in the United States Navy.

George Evangelos Patisteas was born on January 10, 1926. He was the son of Greek immigrants, Evangelos and Olga (Bakakeas) Patisteas and was the brother of Arthur, James, Stella and Aphrodite.

George was seventeen years old when he decided to leave New Bedford High School in his Junior year to enlist in the United States Navy on February 26, 1943. He received his training at the U.S. Naval Training Station in Sampson, NY and was assigned to the USS Bunker Hill as a Fireman First Class.

During his “nearly two years overseas, Patisteas had taken part in 10 major battles and 12 engagements. Then came that dreadful morning, May 11, 1945. While supporting the invasion of Okinawa, Japan, the USS Bunker Hill was attacked” by two Kamikaze planes. “George, along with 346 other crew members, perished in the attack. Another 246 were injured and another 43 were reported missing. The attack came just 4 months before WWII would end. He was buried at sea,” as detailed in a podcast by Linda Roy of the Standard-Times, in a series entitled Traffic Island, which profiles the veterans behind the names we see on highways, bridges, overpasses and traffic islands that are honored throughout the city.

It is fitting that Mr. Patisteas is being honored during the month of May, marking the 76th anniversary of the attack on the USS Bunker Hill. Over the years there have been many ceremonies honoring F 1/c Patisteas, who died at the age of 19, while serving his country heroically.

On July 4, 2007, the city of New Bedford honored Patisteas by naming the overpass on Route 195 and Route 18, the George Patisteas Memorial Overpass. Scott Lang, the mayor at that time, attended the ceremony stating “He was a true American hero. George went to war to protect us and he gave his ultimate. He gave his life.”
George’s brother, James, a Navy veteran himself, was quoted as saying “The whole family is so grateful. It goes to show that no matter how many years go by, the memory of the sacrifice they made never dies.”

According to a Standard Times article, Kenneth G. Monteiro, George’s nephew, who led the effort to have Mr. Patisteas honored, choked with emotion as he addressed the gathering. “I had the idea, the dream,” he said. Monteiro described how meaningful it was to have his uncle remembered along with the other men who lost their lives in the attack that took the USS Bunker Hill out of commission for the remainder of World War II.

On December 8, 2014, 73 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, veterans were honored at Battleship Cove in Fall River. The ceremony marked the moment of the devastating surprise attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor 73 years earlier. Navy military and museum leaders aboard the Battleship shared the history of that day and their appreciation for those who died in the attack, moving the large crowds to both silence and applause in honor of their country and their lost veterans.

“That history bears repeating on each anniversary, so that each subsequent generation will know what happened there and will never forget what that terrible day meant for America,” said Adm. Gardner Howe, President of the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

The Massachusetts Medal of Liberty Ceremony was held on May 22, 2019, when Representative Hendricks joined Governor Charles Baker and Major General Gary Keefe to honor service men and women from the Commonwealth who were killed in action or died in service. Veteran’s next of kin received the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty to recognize their family member’s service and sacrifice. According to a Standard-Times article, Stella Monteiro, George’s sister, accepted the medal on behalf of her brother.

Private 1st Class George E. Patisteas is memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where his name is inscribed upon the Tablets of the Missing in Honolulu, Hawaii. He received the following commendations for his service to our country: the WWII Victory Medal, the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the American Campaign Medal, the Navy Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy Good Conduct Medal the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the Navy Expeditionary Medal.

Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com.




Fort Taber – Fort Rodman flag honors WWII veteran George Gomes

During the month of April, the 20th Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of George Gomes, a WWII veteran from New Bedford.

Gomes not only served his country as a member of the United States Army during WWII, he also served the city of New Bedford, working as a firefighter for 26 years. Gomes was assigned to station #9, located on Ashley Blvd. and retired from firefighting in 1980.

He was well known for his musical ability, as a talented drummer and singer. Gomes played for various local establishments and was a member of the Vin Perry Orchestra, playing at the Venus DeMilo for 20 years. Gomes was also a member of Gene Oliver Quartet and the choir at the First Congregational Church at Lund’s Corner, in New Bedford.

Gomes was born on March 2, 1920, the son of the late George Sr. and Mary E. (Haddock) Gomes and passed away at the age of 94 on June 14, 2014. He was the husband of Sharon L. Gomes with whom he shared 21 years of marriage. He is also survived by his sister, Paula Barros of Wareham; his daughter Renee Dumond of New Bedford; four grandchildren: Jessica and Jennifer Dumond, Kailyn Lord and Julie Hitch; nine great-grandchildren and two nephews. He was the husband of the late Doris (Hayden) Howland and the father of the late Patricia Gomes. He was the brother-in-law of the late Charles Dumond.

George was involved with many organizations including the National Federation of Musicians Local 214, a life member of Disabled American Veterans Dr. C.E. Burt – Chapter 7, a member of the Heritage Country Club of Lakeville as well as the Retired State County and Municipal Employees Association.

Mr. Gomes participated in an oral history project in 2012, conducted by Jasmine A. Utsey of the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, entitled “Having our Say: From Civil War to Civil Rights,” which will serve to preserve his legacy. Lee Blake, President of the New Bedford Historical Society arranged the interview. Blake explains, “I am so pleased that this is another opportunity to highlight George, who was a kind man dedicated to his music and public service.”

According to Mr. Gomes, he was of Cape Verdean and West Indian descent and faced discrimination and segregation throughout his life. He explained that during his early years he was fortunate to live on Park Street were “the people in the neighborhood were very good and friendly.” He said that there were many different nationalities living in his neighborhood including West Indian, Irish and Jewish. He did however have to deal with discrimination and segregation later in life including in the military, trying to find housing once discharged from the military, as well as his initial experience working for the local Fire Department. While reading through the transcript of Mr. Gomes’ interview, you get the feeling that he was a very humble man and took things in stride.

When he was young, he enjoyed taking part in social activities that included music, such as singing in the church choir and playing the horn. “I always admired the trumpet players and I finally, after begging, managed to get 50 cents down a week (for lessons) at the Clarence A Cook School. The instructor was Mr. Parks. He taught me the scale and I went from there mostly on my own.”

Gomes left high school at the age of 17 to join the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). He explained, “It took young men off the streets. When I joined, you were just put on a train and they take you off. I went to Connecticut thinking I was the only one. To my surprise, I met three other of the fellows that I knew from New Bedford. I remember sandbagging the Connecticut River during our first hurricane in 1938 for 24 hours. That was the program that helped during the Depression.”

After serving in the CCC, he was drafted in the U.S. Army and served for 3 years as a Forward Observer and an Entertainment Specialist. “I was the entertainment Director for Lt. Brooks who was my officer in charge.” Gomes played in a 12-piece orchestra doing USO shows in Boston and Springfield, MA. When he was sent over to Europe, he did shows in Macedonia and Italy.

Gomes received the Bronze Star for his service. When asked about the significance of receiving the medal he said “Well, it meant that we gave our all for our duties and we fought hard to receive it. It wasn’t that we were fighting for recognition, we were fighting for our country.”

Upon his return to New Bedford, Gomes joined the Civil Service and became a New Bedford Firefighter. During his interview, he explained that he was met with opposition regarding segregation at his first job. After roll call each morning, his Captain would call out orders to all the men, except him. His orders were written on a piece of paper and left on a desk for Gomes to read. “I never said a word, I just picked it up and did what I was supposed to do. One day he thought he had a dirty job and he called me by name. That’s when I told him off in no uncertain terms.” Gomes explained that the other men, “white fellows,” started clapping. “That made me feel good. I knew that I was accepted as part of them and respected by them. We never had any problems (after that).”

After some time, he was promoted as a senior man on the apparatus and worked on the Rescue Boat. Eventually, he was assigned to an Engine. “I was like the utility man, so I knew I was doing alright.”

He responded to calls during the 1970’s riots. During one of those calls, he was singled out by one of the rioters and told him “we know where you live Gomes. In other words, they had been burning buildings and they were letting me know because I was a fireman that they were going to do something to me. But they never did.”

Gomes served as a New Bedford firefighter for 26 years, from Oct. 5, 1954 until his retirement on Feb. 7, 1980.

Many thoughtful comments were posted on dignitymemorial.com to honor Mr. Gomes including: “George was a wonderful, kind and talented man,” as well as, “Mr. Gomes was a member of the Gene Oliver Quartet for many years and performed as a talented vocalist and drummer. We were all blessed to know him,” and “the choir in heaven now has one of the most beautiful voices I have heard. George touched the hearts of many of us in a very special way.”

Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com.




Flag to honor Veteran Walter LaBerge of Swansea flies over Fort Taber

During the month of January, the 17th Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of Walter LaBerge, who served with the United States Army from 1959 to 1965. LaBerge entered into the military on November 4, 1959 and did his basic training at Fort Dix, NJ. He was attached to Company B, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry as an infantry soldier assigned to Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.

Wintertime temperatures in the area around Fort Richardson can range from 80 degrees below zero to 40 degrees, according to militarybases.com. Soldiers stationed at Fort Richardson are required to learn and master unique skills that are taught in few other places. Winter survival, tundra crossing, river lining, snow and glacier travel, snow combat and cold weather vehicle operation are all part of the normal training program at the base. According to his family LaBerge spoke of the rigorous training known as “snow baths” which required soldiers to rise in the morning in their skivvies and boots, using soap and snow to bathe themselves. He also spoke to his children of his time in the Army, sharing his adventure of rock climbing and repelling as well as training maneuvers to secure Kodiak Island.

LaBerge was born in Fall River, the son of the late Walter and Ernestine (Boucher) Laberge. He also resided in Swansea and was a graduate of BMC Durfee High School, attended Bradford Durfee Technological Institute and received his Associates Degree from Bristol Community College.

He served in the active duty Army from 1959 to 1962 and went on to serve in the Army Reserves from 1962 to 1965. He was honorably discharged from the military on September 30, 1965 at the rank of E4, by the order of D.D. Spahr, Colonel, AGC. Upon arriving home from serving in the military, Walter married his high school sweetheart, Gail D. (Cloutier). He was employed as a Quality Control Engineer for Princess House in Dighton for 15 years before his retirement in 2000. Prior to that he held the same job with Providence Pile and started his career with Pratt Whitney in Connecticut.

He truly enjoyed donating his time and served as a Docent for both the Fort Taber Military Museum, as well as the New Bedford Whaling Museum, providing tours to the public. Walter had many interests. He was an avid bird watcher, sports car enthusiast and enjoyed traveling to Maine, cross country skiing and kayaking. He loved to watch football with his sons, especially the Army/Navy football games! He also enjoyed taking his daughter on trips with friends.

LaBerge passed away on October 21, 2015 at the age of 74. In addition to his wife Gail, whom he was married to for 52 years, he is survived by his four children Mark Laberge and his wife Maryellen of Dighton, Bradford Laberge of Swansea, Dawn Butterfield and her husband John of Seekonk and W. David Laberge Jr. of Swansea. His children made him a grandfather of seven grandchildren: Jacob, Kelsey, Austin, Gabrielle, Kyle, Ryan and Dylan. He is also survived by his sister Georgette Levesque of Swansea; niece and nephews Diane, Rene and Donald; as well as a brother in law, Ronald Cloutier, of Colorado. He is also survived by his very best childhood friend, Max Marum, who he remained close with until his departure.

Walter was always very witty and was known for his wonderful sayings; including: “I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays!” or “You’re a gentleman and a scholar and there’s not many of us left!” When asked how he was, he would often answer, “I’m fair to midlin!” He attended church every week and was a devoted Catholic man. According to his family, Walter could be a stern man with his children, at times, but it was all to teach them good solid morals. “Above all, Walter was a family man. He is loved and missed deeply and will always be carried in our hearts, as a Veteran and a father.”

Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber – Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com​




Massachusetts Senate to vote today on moving abortion age to 16 years old

By Michael P. Norton
State House News Service

The House approved an abortion access budget rider last week by a barely veto-proof margin and the Senate may vote on the matter Wednesday, potentially giving those following the issue a clearer idea of whether it might survive a possible gubernatorial veto.

An amendment (180) proposed by Sen. Harriette Chandler of Worcester is among the more than 140 amendments to a $46 billion fiscal 2021 budget that has yet to be considered as senators look to possibly wrap up annual budget deliberations in just two days of mostly behind-the-scenes activity.

The House approved its abortion amendment, which closely mirrors a bill known as the ROE Act, 108-49 on Thursday. The amendment would allow abortions after 24 weeks in the case of lethal fetal anomalies and lower the age from 18 to 16 that a minor can choose to have an abortion without parental or judicial consent.

While Gov. Charlie Baker stopped short of saying whether he would veto it, he joined other Republicans in registering a process complaint: they don’t believe the policy measure should be part of a budget.

“I do share some of the unhappiness that was raised by a number of members of the Republican Party, that putting policy in the budget was something that both leaders in the House and Senate said they would not do,” Baker said at a press conference Friday. “And it’s pretty hard to argue that this isn’t a major policy initiative that is now in the budget.”

Baker said “folks on our side” took policy initiatives off the table because of the no-policy message that Democratic leaders had communicated earlier in the budget process.

The governor noted that he has joined Democrats in the Legislature in the past to “strengthen” laws governing access to reproductive services and “have cleaned up a lot of the historical issues that we had here in our existing laws” to bring statutes in line with court rulings. He didn’t want to comment on the bill because legislation “tends to morph a lot between the time people start asking me about it and it ultimately lands on my desk,” he said.

Pressure to codify or expand abortion access in Massachusetts ramped up after the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a President Donald Trump nominee, with Speaker Robert DeLeo saying in a statement that there is a “threat to reproductive rights for women on a national level.”

Advocacy groups like the ACLU of Massachusetts praised the House for “removing medically unnecessary barriers to abortion care,” while opponents like the Catholic church took particular issue with lowering the age of consent.

“Abortion at any time, from the moment of conception to birth, is in direct conflict with Catholic teaching and must be opposed,” Archbishop of Boston Sean O’Malley, Bishop of Worcester Robert McManus, and Bishop of Fall River Edgar da Cunha said in a statement Tuesday.

In an interview at the State House, House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz said after Thursday night’s vote that the issues had been aired at a public hearing and that Judiciary Committee Co-chair Rep. Claire Cronin has been working on the measure and talking to members about it for 18 months.

“This was a much-needed debate and discussion,” Michlewitz said. “We felt it was necessary for us to take this step now.” He added, “I’m very proud of the vote that we just took. I’m a strong a staunch supporter of pro-choice, and a woman’s right to choose and I’m glad that we took this step today, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Senate do the same next week.”

Nineteen House Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the House amendment.

“This is a very difficult issue for many members that are on both sides of it and I think that’s why it took so long to get to this point to take that vote,” Michlewitz said. “There was a lot of meticulous work done on this discussion. For some members, it was a bridge too far to cross and I think that when you’re talking about abortion rights, it can become very private, a personal conversation. I have a lot of personal beliefs in it, from family history and other things and I think that a lot of people carry that into that into that type of vote, much more extensively than you get from maybe some other votes.”




Massachusetts declares “Juneteenth Independence Day” as a state holiday; America’s second Independence Day

On January 1, 1863, almost 3 years into America’s Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared “that all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free.” with his Emancipation Proclamation that officially made slavery illegal.

However, the enforcement of slavery depended solely on how deep Union troops advanced into those states that allowed it. The last bastion of these states was Texas and until that state was reached slavery would continue to exist. Texas would eventually fall to Union troops almost 2 1/2 years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. From Galveston, Texas Union General Gordon Granger would issue General Order No. 3 on June 19th, 1865 which declared the Union’s authority of the state of Texas, finally putting an end to the practice of slavery.

The order stated:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, ‘all slaves are free.’ This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. All acts of the Governor and Legislature of Texas, since the Ordinance of Secession, are hereby declared illegitimate.”

155 years later, on Friday July 24th, 2020, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation that officially declared June 19th as Juneteenth Independence Day, a state holiday and an action to “recognize the continued need to ensure racial freedom and equality.”

That leaves only Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota who do not recognize Juneteenth as a holiday and only Texas observing Juneteenth as a paid holiday.




An Open Moment for Ernestina-Morrissey and for all of us

As we approach the celebration of our Nation’s beginnings 244 years ago, we must consider where we are now. The statement below, shared by Laura Pires-Hester, past Chairwoman of the Ernestina Commission and Julius Britto, President of Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, reflects on Ernestina-Morrissey’s place in history, and her place in the present and in the future.

An Open Moment
Most Americans today would agree that this is a momentous period for us—as individuals, as a country, and as a people. We have seen too many senseless deaths of African Americans, especially African-American males, at the hands of police officers.

While several of these names are now well-known, we have also been reminded of the names of those less well-known or totally forgotten. We have seen how this moment has brought to the forefront our country’s centuries-old “Black/White” challenges, and how the phrase and movement Black Lives Matter has crystallized those challenges. Corporations, community organizations, educational institutions, sports associations, faith leaders and faith-based institutions and others have acknowledged the painful reality of this moment and the need for change, including within their own walls. Some have also declared their own specific action commitments. Different sectors of our society are not only demanding “what must be done” but also resolving “what we will do.”

What does Ernestina-Morrissey have to do with the age of Black Lives Matter? What can this 1894 Gloucester Schooner now being reconstructed to resume active sailing tell us?

Ernestina-Morrissey returned to the state of her birthplace as the extraordinary gift from newly-independent Cabo Verde in 1982, in explicit acknowledgement of the centuries-old ties between the African country and the “people of the United States”. Her return crew, composed of a diverse crew, citizens of Cabo Verde and of the U.S., men and one woman, and led by Cabo Verde’s Captain Marcus Nascimento Lopes, demonstrated and honored the diversity of her history and future.

Over the decades between her birth and repatriation, hundreds of people and organizations played significant roles in her history. Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey is alive today because Black People and White People listened to and learned about each other’s histories, hurts, and aspirations; challenged each other; acknowledged their similarities and differences; and collaborated with each other.

We believe that at this critical moment many are seeking opportunities for bridge-building, boundary-crossing, and more authentic listening to each other, especially toward the goal of building a more just society for all. We believe that Ernestina-Morrissey’s return to sailing can help provide such opportunities, especially for young people of all ethnicities but also for people of all ages.

This conviction comes not from wishful thinking but from actual experience of utilizing Ernestina-Morrissey as educational platform, cultural ambassador, intercultural and interracial relations educator, youth developer, etc. In the fast-changing environment of 2020 and beyond—with issues of social justice and local and global survival concerns at peak level—Ernestina-Morrissey’s powerful potentials are limitless.

This is a powerful “open moment” in our nation when people from all perspectives and histories are listening to, and hearing, other people and experiences perhaps for the first time. There is much to be done and no one person or entity can do it alone. But everyone and every entity can do a part. We are excited about Ernestina-Morrissey’s sailing again, educating again, bringing people together again, telling her distinguished story again, and playing her part to help unite people of all colors around the world.

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This Project to rehabilitate Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey, the official vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is being supported by a public/private partnership with funds from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The Lenfest Foundation, the Hildreth Stewart Charitable Foundation, The Manton Foundation, the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts – Mary Morley Crapo Hyde Eccles Fund, the City of New Bedford’s Community Preservation Act Program, the Carney Family Foundation, the Island Foundation, other grants and many individual contributions.




Who Remembers … New Bedford’s Del’s Drive-In?

Here is another installment in our Who Remembers? series. You can browse previous articles by using the search bar on the right or by clicking here. These articles are strolls down memory lane. In some cases, the buildings, but new businesses have replaced them. In other instances, the buildings or even the properties have been razed. Instead of a building, it may be a TV show, personality, or commercial that no one longer exists. Either way, it can’t stop us from taking the Memory Lane stroll!

As always we would rather this be a discussion. No one knows this area better than those who grew up here! Please, leave constructive criticism, feedback, and corrections. We’d love to hear your anecdotes. Please share!

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Today a mention of payphones, cassette tapes or 8-tracks, the milkman, et al can bring up confusion or disbelief among the young generation, there are some memories that we will never forget and never get bored of reminiscing about.

One of the memories that is a favorite of those of us that grew up in the 1950s and into the 1970s in greater New Bedford was Del’s Drive-In owned and run by Adelard & Clara (Choquette) Millette, known to everyone as Uncle Del and later owned and operated by brothers Norman and Raymond Choquette.

Del’s was a go-to spot for families as an inexpensive way to feed everyone, as well as a place a large number of locals had their first job at. Located on Acushnet Avenue where the touchless Rubber Duck Car Wash is now, the orange building featured carhops, the best frostiest Root Beer (served in ice mugs), root beer floats, skinned hot dogs and best-fried clams around.

Other favorite items on the menu were the “Swampwater” drink which was a mixture of root beer and orange, onion rings, and cheeseburgers. During Lent, families would head to Del’s to pick up fish and chips – surely no kid ever complained about getting their fish then!

Del’s also had locations in Fairhaven and Dartmouth across the road from Lincoln Park and many people have specific memories of the carhops (one girl had a gold front tooth and stood out), making 90 cents/hour in their first job, and of course, the miniature, shot-glass-sized A&W mug.

The popular thing to do after your family ate there was to head on over to the nearby Frates Dairy & Ice Cream later for a sugar cone of maple walnut ice cream or a banana split.

Do you have memories of visiting Del’s or working there? How about interacting with the family? Leave a comment or share your pictures!




OPINION: A nation divided – an optimistic west and a pessimistic east

During the Civil War, in 1862, the United States created a piece of legislative history entitled The Homestead Act. This important piece of American history served many purposes and essentially said that any U.S. citizen or an intended citizen could claim a parcel of land up to 160 acres in the western parts of our early nation for a mere filing fee.

The Homestead Act served many purposes and worked to put people that had never before been eligible to own property into ownership positions. For the first time, freed slaves, as well as women and even unnaturalized immigrants, were given the opportunity to become landowners.

The reasoning behind this act of incredible generosity by the U.S. government was excessive population on the eastern-most cities was leading to density levels that were becoming a problem for our growing infrastructure, and with newly acquired and cleared land in the west, the government saw an opportunity to gain a little breathing room.

Another reason was that the government felt that if the land won from wars with the Native American Indians wasn’t soon settled, the tribes would return to claim their land, the battles would have to be refought or the U.S. would lose ground that they had successfully taken from the Native inhabitants.

Upon hearing of this offer of free land, and what could only be described as the bargain of the century, the densely-packed residents of the east coast and Massachusetts specifically could probably be described as falling into one of two categories: the naysayers, and the go-getters.

The naysayers looked at the Act with skepticism. They didn’t trust anything that seemed too good to be true, and since never before had the government done anything but take from them, they saw this as a scam and a trick. Likely, many of them made statements like ‘if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.’ They probably saw people that were going west to take advantage of the opportunity as gullible, idealistic or maybe even downright foolish.

The go-getters, being gullible, idealistic and maybe even a tad bit foolish, didn’t even hear what the naysayers had to say about the matter. They, having just heard the news, were too busy loading up their families and all their earthly possessions into large, covered wagons to set off on the greatest adventure of their lives. They believed that opportunity for fortune and stability and innovation lay in their future, and they were going to seize that opportunity. They were likely the type that trusted blindly, were often taken advantage of, but were the dreamers of society, envisioning change and growth.

While many times things that seem too good to be true, are false, this rare and special time in history, it wasn’t. The effects of this have, quite possibly, had some of the furthest reaching changes and developments our nation has ever seen.

Because the go-getters had their dreams come true, had trusted blindly and been rewarded for the trust and faith that they had in their government, and because they were able to see their dreams and goals reach fruition, they developed an ultimately optimistic outlook. They went on to raise their children with that optimism and the general thought that you can do and have absolutely anything you put your mind to. They taught their children to trust first, that dreams do come true and that if they take chances, though they may fail, they have the possibility of achieving any goal they set before themselves.

Because means of communication over long distances was in its infancy, and because nobody likes to hear about opportunities that they missed out on, the information of the government’s claims being true were either poorly communicated to those who had remained in the east or were largely ignored. The naysayers went on naysaying, raising their children to be cautious and not immediately trusting of others. They encouraged rational and logical planning over extravagant and possibly foolish or unobtainable dreams and goals. While they wanted to see their children succeed in life, they were more realistic and limiting of their assertions of the future their children could realize.

This one simple act effectively split our nation into an optimistic west and a pessimistic east. The results of this are still seen to this day, not only in the general attitudes of people you will meet and interact with on either coast of our nation but also in the ventures that have come from these regions. The west has been responsible for nearly all of our technological companies and continues to lead the nation in new innovations.

The west coast has more start-ups and more failures than the east, but there is a higher percentage of people willing to take that risk. It could be argued that the west is full of gamblers, constantly rolling the dice of life. Some of the largest west coast companies include Google, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, eBay, Expedia and Amazon. The businesses seen on the east coast are more of an ‘old money’ origin, focusing on banking, investments and securities. These are traditionally seen as the safer, more conservative entities, less likely to take a risk and always requiring proof before offering faith and rarely taking a gamble.

Some of the largest East coast companies include JP Morgan, Berkshire Hathaway, New York Life, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Bank of America and Prudential. Although there are exceptions to this, and this is in no way anything more than mere speculative theory, having lived on both coasts, owned properties in both places, and begun businesses on both the west coast and the east coast, this is the most significant difference I’ve noticed between the two.




What’s in a name? A travel through history, culture, and ethnicity through New Bedford’s surnames: “Cabral”

Intro to Series: Skip, if you just want the “goods.”

People are fascinated by their family’s background and asking someone what they “are” will uncover a lot about a person’s identity, family history, and their sense of identity – or lack of it. America being a melting pot more than any country on earth, a person’s surname, ethnicity, or heritage is a popular topic of discussion.

When you tell someone you are Irish, German, Kenyan, Wampanoag, Mexican, Brazilian, et al you are sharing a quick symbol that describes a lot about you. Even if it’s not accurate, or you call yourself “a mutt,” are “half” this, a little “this, that, and this” you still say a lot about who you are. Often you will hear two sets of identity: “On my mother’s side, I am ‘x’ and on my father’s side, I am ‘x.'”

It may come as a surprise to many Americans, but this is something very…well, American. The rest of the world thinks it’s odd or even make us a butt of their jokes. The American fascination with heritage and ethnicity goes even further than that – we love to spend money on DNA kits, to debate and argue over race and/or skin color, and no political discussion is without it.

It’s hard for most Americans to not filter everything through these things. A surname is more than just a person ethnicity and identity: it’s also a connection to the “Old World,” the history of those nations, and the cuisines. Those things make surnames an interesting topic of discussion!

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The Surname Cabral, its origin, variations, and history

The surname Cabral has etymological roots in the Latin “Capraria,” and you will come across variations like Cabrallo, Cabrales, Cabrera, Cabrini, Cabrone, Cabrotti, Cabrilli and many more. As the more astute of you have already figured out or can see, the name has links to nearby Spain because of the close proximity and history of the two nations. However, it is Italy, specifically Aragano, Sicily, that it has its origin going back to 1040 A.D. where history records a Ponzo Cabrera who was Viscount of Cabrera, Girona, and Anger.

Being primarily a surname that is job descriptive, anyone who speaks Portuguese, Spanish or Italian can see the root “cabra” (“capra” in Italian) meaning goat and the obvious job description would be that of a goat farmer, or even one that lived near a goat farm. While that might sound strange and one may think “Who would be so high on living at a goat farm that they would adopt it as their last name?” we should recall that many of the first surnames meant “Son of” e.g., “Steven-son,” “Ander-son” or they meant “from,” e.g, De la Hoya, D’Augustine, De Cervantes, De Balzac, van den Vondel, von Goethe, etc.

The entire reasoning for the adoption of surnames was to specify which John one was referring to. Was it John the son of Anders? Or the John the son of Steven? As one might surmise, it would take long before there were multiple Johns that also had fathers named Steven. This led to using a person’s city, town, village or, in this particular case, their job as a way to discern between the many Johns who also shared fathers with the same name. Combine them and you can get even more specific – John Stevenson Cabral, would then mean the John whose father is Steven and is also a goat farmer. Phew, that’s a mouthful, so surnames were utilized for a very practical reason.

Alternatively, or fictitious John may not have been the farmer or landowner, but simply a worker. This highlights the idea that up to about as late as the 14th century, surnames initially were not used as actual names but part of a long sentence used to describe who a person was specifically by who their family was, the village they were from or their occupation. Eventually, out of practicality, that long sentence about who your father was, what you did for a living, or where you were from, was shortened and all the “fillers” removed. Point being, that the surname was just used as a descriptor and not hereditary or a source of family pride as it is today. So, being “John, son of Steve, who works at a goat farm.” served a very useful function and wasn’t tied to your family outside of identifying your father.

Besides, what’s wrong with being a goat farmer or worker? Society is comprised of a myriad of parts and the quality of its whole is determined by a balance among those parts. Centuries ago, the goat farmer was a very necessary facet of society and was often a beloved one – he was the person who brought the community yogurt, cheese, milk, and meat. At one time in Europe’s history, the goat farmer was one of the most important jobs in any village, town or city! Especially during times that disease or viruses would sweep through cattle who served a similar purpose as the goat.

One of the interesting times in recorded history that the surname crops up is, believe it or not, 18th century Mexico with the name Ybanez Cabral. Spain was, of course, trying to colonize Central America and parts of South America and start a New Spain, and a new line of the name was forged and found in high concentrations in Spanish speaking Mexico, Peru, and of course, Portuguese speaking Brazil. By this time European governments fell in love with the idea of a surname because it meant they could find you when you didn’t pay your taxes and so they began to force the idea on citizens.

By the 19th century, the name began to spread north into the US, first through Puerto Rico and then into the continental mainland. I think it would be redundant to mention that the South Coast of Massachusetts was one of the very first places to have Portuguese communities of any size, but many Portuguese also made Hawaii home and you will find many Cabrals there as well.

In summary, Cabral is a name that has its origins in Sicily and from there spread into Portugal and Spain before arriving in the New World across both continents. While today, the surname is common here on the South Coast and is equated with being Portuguese, it is actually Sicilian and it is likely that those Portuguese Cabrals living on the South Coast will find Italian DNA if they use any of the tests that are popular these days. Some of those tests will only generalize and will show up as “Iberia” on those tests, which refers to the Iberian Penninsula of Spain and Portugal, but that spills into Italy and interestingly enough, France.




Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE (WHALE) to restore the historic The Capitol Theater building

“WHALE is thrilled to announce another new restoration project: The Capitol Theater building, located in the North End on Acushnet Avenue. We have partnered with the Community Economic Development Center (CEDC) on the transformative project, which will restore and rehabilitate the 1920 mixed-use film theater and commercial building for use as a resource hub for the North End. CEDC recently became owner of the building and WHALE is the development partner to assist CEDC on their first historic preservation bricks and mortar project.”

Get involved, become a member, click here.

Read the history of the Capitol Theater and see some historic images in our article New Bedford’s Forgotten Theaters: The Capitol Theatre.


Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE Facebook photo.

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