Artist: Emily Balivet
Sounds like an idea whose time has come again, right ladies?
This was followed by a big pan of Baked Cod, smothered in onions, garlic and tomatoes and cooked with carrots and turnips and potatoes from my grandfather’s garden. It was served with baskets of my grandmother’s freshly baked bread – crusty on the outside, soft and yummy on the inside and thickly slathered with butter.
(You don’t think I got these hips from eating salad and drinking Diet Coke do you?)
She took a look around and saw her father and her brothers and understood exactly what her future looked like.
So, she convinced her father to allow her to spend the summer with some of her aunts, her mother’s sisters, who had moved to America and were working as domestics on Beacon Hill in Boston.
|Saudade (1899), by Almeida Júnior|
She packed a small bag with a few changes of clothes and a few bits of some food, slung her guitar on her back and boarded a ship which carried her into Boston Harbor. She never returned to Portugal.
It was a rumor of a story, really, that was so amazing that it brought a hope that burned so bright it formed its own light.
Her brothers lived in poverty in Portugal because there was no work. Her husband and sons and daughters at least had jobs – hard work – in the many mills and factories of New England.
When there were strikes and negotiations were stalled, my grandmother would make big pots of soup and great loaves of bread and I would go with her as we fed the men – and, eventually, their families – who were fighting for their part in the great story of America.
Although she often felt melancholy for what she left behind, she never regretted her decision. Every election day she would get dressed in her Sunday clothes and walk to the polling place, taking a few of her grandchildren along by the hand. “I couldn’t do this in Portugal,” she’d say, “but in America . . ah, in America. . . even I have a say in the governement.”
And, they looked at her children and her grandchildren as ‘less than’ because our skin was darker and our hair curlier and our food looked and smelled different.
|Wise Women Also Came - Jan Richardson|
"Jesus Christ, is it you, again?"