Maria da Conceição Gouveia Borges
December 8, 1934
When I think of my mother, the word that always comes to mind to describe her is "loving".
She was always happy so long as she was surrounded by people, especially her family.
She was the one who always needed a kiss, a hug, and that was enough to make her feel good.
She lived for her family.
When she was sad, her tears would flow very easily.
My father, on the other hand, may have seemed not as expressive as her,
but he was a man who also felt a very strong love for all his family.
When I think of him, a few words come to my mind very easily to describe him.
All his life he was a man who placed integrity and honesty above everything else.
He was a very hard working man, someone who felt fulfilled at work.
He started working at the age of 14.
His father passed away when he was very young, and he became the man of the house.
It is a great feeling to think of your parents and come up with nothing but warm feelings.
They were great parents, and I am what I am because they always loved me and raised me well.
I was born in the house where I lived for 12 years in S. Miguel, Rua da Boa Nova 33.
My life there was indeed very nice.
Life was simple, but happy. I wish I could remember a lot more about my years in S. Miguel,
but most of what I do remember is linked to pictures I have.
However, the following things are very clear in my mind. I loved our house. It was big and confortable.
The attic was an added attraction because many good things took place there.
My friends and I created and acted in many skits which we would then show other friends,and family.
During the warm months, a section of the yard used to be covered with greens (like a canopy)
and our dinning room table moved there.
We used to eat there, it became the main gathering point to receive friends,
to play cards, to spend time with family and friends.
Who could ever forget the games of "king",
our friend Urbano laughing when he would be stuck with "the King",
and so many other happy moments. Christmas was also very special.
Our "presépios" used to be beautiful.
My father used to buy rolls of grass, which, with sawdust, we used to build our beautiful "presépio" (manger).
The smell of incense, the greens, oh what a time!
And we were happy with very simple presents.
We always had friends over the house.
My mother loved being surrounded by her friends. Fun times.
However, the one thing that stayed in my blood forever was the ocean.
Across the street there was another row of houses and behind them, ...that gorgeous ocean.
The hours we spent in the "calhau", the rocky coast!
I'm amazed to this day how we were always there and we had no adults supervising us!!!
The "poça das lagostas" was our natural pool.
The crazy things we used to do! But somehow we never had any serious accident.
A few close calls,...but nothing major.
The Holy Ghost festivities,
the streets all decorated,
and of course,
the Corpus Christi (Festas do Sr. Santo Cristo) the annual festivities.
Hearing that hymn to this day brings tears to my eyes.
When I'm retired I hope to go there during that time and "relive" happy past years.
What else do I remember clearly?
Sundays,... our small allowance would buy a pocket full of pumpkin seeds and a ticket to go to the movies,
the Cinema Maritimo.
Renting a bike from the store right across our house!
The many times that we organized excursions to Furnas, Sete Cidades, etc.
What LONG trips!
The memories just keep on streaming through my mind.
The days I spent in Lagoa and Ribeira Grande with family, ...always family, the most precious thing in life.
However, one thing stands out above all others,
... the "saudades" (longing) for my two older brothers who were studying in Coimbra.
Oh yes, that feeling still is very strong in my heart.
My two older brothers Renato and Luis were the center my life, and I missed them a lot.
When they used to come home for the Summer, life was beautiful again.
The family was complete again!
In 1958 my father decided to move to Lisbon.
He got a nice job as the treasurer of a big ship building company, and he left.
We stayed behind to sell the furniture and other belongings.
A couple of months later my mother and Jorge left.
I had to stay alone for a few days to complete my 7th grade exams (segundo ano).
I then joined them with a full smile in my face because!
I had passed those miserable exams!
The trip in that old ship ... was also a miserable experience (7 days), but I got to Lisbon safely!
A bit of my family history.
MMy maternal grandparents:
José Cândido Borges and Maria Estrêla Gouveia
My father's mother - Maria da Conceição das Neves
His Maternal Grandmother: Maria Guilherme das Neves
His mother's sister: Teresa Emilia das Neves
| Maria Estrêla Gouveia
my maternal grandmother.
She lived with us in Ponta Delgada.
She was the only grandparent that I ever knew.
She still remains as one of the
greatest loves of my life.
I was frequently her companion,
especially during the Summer,
when she used to go to
Ribeira Grande to visit her brother,
as well as Lagoa to visit her son, João Pedro,
and her other daughter, Mariana.
Carreiro Gouveia (Priest)
This man had a profound influence
in my young life.
He was a man of the church, a true man of God.
|João Pedro Borges
and Maria Eduarda Mota Amaral
That's my mother's brother, João Pedro and his wife (Tia Amaral).
These people were like "our second parents".
We always felt at home in their home because they were very loving people. Their five children were like our own siblings:
Jorge, Natividade (Titaia), Margarida (Guida),
Francisco (Chico), and João (de Sales).
I have great memories with them to last a lifetime,
both in Lagoa and in my house in Ponta Delgada.
(alias, John Pedro Sousa)
|| Here are a few shots that will show how the family grew.
born on September 7, 1935.
From the left: My brother Luis, my mother, Conceição, my brother Jorge,
my father, Antero and my brother Renato.
| First complete
family portrait - I'm on the left side (Momma's boy)
My brother Renato wearing his white tuxedo, and Mr. & Mrs. Leite,
good friends of my parents, who ... turned out to be my father and mother-in-law.
That's right, that's me (left), Stella, Iolanda, Mary Alice, and my brother Jorge.
Avó Leite had already left to America.
(Campo de S. Francisco - 1956)
My brother Jorge, our friend Rui, and me.
My brother Jorge and I were the ONLY ONES wearing gray!
|July 17 - 1955
It was not fun being the only ones not wearing black!
My mother insisted on it ... because the gray suit could be used for other "not so formal" occasions.
Who would say? That's my Stelinha!
Finally, ...that's me on the way to Lisbon.
All my family had already left to Lisbon.
A cute "geek" holding on to his "academic briefcase"!
I guess I earned the right to start wearing long pants!
I was the last Sousa to leave S. Miguel.
Here I am with my neighbor and friend, Rui Pacheco,
ready to travel in the "great" Carvalho Araujo.
What a trip!!! (a nightmare)
Talking about school and exams ...
I had to stay behind alone with family in São Miguel
because I had to take the
6th Grade National Exams
required to enter the Academic High School.
These exams were based on
we had learned during the 6 first years of school.
Memorization ...memorization ... memorization ...no games ...no fun!
(I think my anxiety began at that time!)
It took one week to complete the Written Exams,
5 subjects (all essay style),
wait for the results, (praying a lot)
and if successful,
proceed with the
in the same 5 subjects (another week).
Anyway, I survived those "hateful" exams, and in September I entered
Pedro Nunes High School
where I completed Grades 7, 8 and 9.
Then, National Exams again, written & oral.
(no True or False or Multiple choice. All recall.)
These were very difficult.
All of the following subjects were mandatory - no electives!
Each of these 3 years were comprised of 2 parts:
Portuguese (Language & Literature),
History (Portuguese & World),
French and English (all 4 skills)
Various branches of Math,
Biology, Botany, Mineralogy, and other ..."gys"!
Physics and Chemistry
Geography (Portuguese and World)
9 mandatory subjects with grades
(0 through 20 - always had to have a minimum average of 10)
Religion, Physical Education, Music and Civics
(mandatory but no grades - met 1 time a week only)
Most classes only met twice a week.
No teacher ever helped you.
Most students (like me) needed a tutor in their weakest subjects.
My CROSS was always MATH.
But I always got the minimum grade to continue!
But ... I LOVED geometry!
High School was "open campus".
If you did not attend a class ... no one cared,
because all students were allowed to miss any class
the number of times the class met a week times 3.
At any point in the year if you exceeded that maximum number
(6 times for the ones with grades, but only 3 for music, religion, etc),
if you exceeded the maximum allowed number in any subject ...
you flunked for the year in every subject.
They would send you home no matter when and you had to
repeat the grade again ... all 12 subjects!
We grew up fast!
The 9th Grade National Exams were based on the entire content
of each subject for the 7th, 8th and 9th grades.
Again, Written and Oral Exams ... I was not finished until mid Summer.
I then continued in the 3rd phase of High School (10th and 11th)
which was Pre-College.
Students would have to opt for
Pre-Med, Pre Engeneering, Languages, etc.
I did not have the "pleasure" to undergo the last National Exams which,
if successful, provided you Free College.
When I came to America I was in the last last year of High School.
I left Portugal legally on December 1st of 1964,
way before Christmas vacation (school was still in session)
to spend Christmas with the Leites who had invited me.
What "connections" can do!
In all honesty I did not enjoy school in Portugal.
There was nothing to enjoy.
You were treated like a number.
It was hard, discipline, no real "free expression" at all.
You produced results or you were out of luck.
Which was why Portugal had the highest rate of illiteracy
in Europe at that time.
It was a convenient way for a tyrannical government
to control the masses.
Anyway, it was very hard, but it payed off later as I came to America.
I was no brilliant student but I worked hard and succeeded.
I did much better in Liberal Arts than Sciences.
However, I am still very grateful for my education in Portugal
because it helped a lot with my education in the USA.
PS: I almost forgot to tell you I flunked the 8th grade.
Not good enough grades. Didn't study enough!!!
I had to repeat all 12 subjects all over again.
Other than school ... life was good and enjoyable in São Miguel
and in Lisbon, especially the Summer of 1964.