Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Maria Natalia Moniz

Maria Natalia Rodrigues Neto Moniz 
This document says that the book of registration of births in the year 1889 on the sheet 8, nr. 3, 0 shown following: In the church of San Pedro, Funchal, was named Mary, who was born in that village the day 12:15, 24/12/1888, legitimate daughter of Manuel Rodrigues Neto, laborer, and Mary Elizabeth, domestic, both natural of the parish and county of San Vicente, but were residents at the site of Ribeira de Sao Joao (Funchal) and parishioners of the church of St. Peter. Father was the grandson of Jose Rodrigues Neto and Maximiana of Jesus. Mother was the granddaughter of Manuel Ferreira and Maria de Jesus. The groomsmen were Manuel Fernandes Camacho, dealer, married, and his wife, Helen Camacho, residents of St. John Street. 
Maria Natalia Rodrigues Neto, would become grandfather's second wife in 1918, seven years after the death of his first wife, Maria do Rosario. She bore him seven children as well. She was listed as a domestic on the birth records relating to her children. John, Joseph, Joseph, Maria Gloria, Maria Alice, Maria Judith and Elvira. This was her second marriage. She lost her first husband and three children to the dreaded influenza that swept across Europe. 
Maria Natalia would make the journey to America in 1920 along with grandfather and their one year old son, John and four of grandfather's children with Maria do Rosario. 
Maria Natalia was my maternal grandmother. I remember her fondly and mostly that she spent her life in the kitchen, caring for her grandchildren, while their parents worked and sitting on her front porch in the very little leisure time that she had. In her later years her eyesight would fail and she would sit in a chair, quite close, hunched over to enjoy TV. Quite a novelty at that time. 
Grandmother wore gold wire rim glasses, always in a dress, with nylons rolled around her knees. Her shoes were black leather with a slight heel and laced up the front, usually untied. Her ultimate accessory, a full apron, that slipped over her head and tied in the the back around her waist, with long tails, usually a child tugging at them. 
Her front parlor would open at Christmas and housed old fashioned, large horse haired overstuffed, sofa and chairs. They were navy blue and maroon as I can remember. The fabric was an indestructible mohair, kind of like a coarse velvet, carved wooden panels and legs as a decorative touch in a mahogany tone. A room off limits any other time, closed off by two large mahogany french doors, unless one was going to the front porch for a while. Their home was a three decker. Grandparents lived on the first floor directly across from the Immaculate Conception Church. 
Grandmother would become a citizen of the United States, on June 25th 1942. She was fifty three years old. My mother says that she studied for the test for many hours and received a perfect score. 
It is said that she could read tea leaves and was very intuitive. My mom says she made a table lift in Madeira. Not sure how true this information is, but it was not the kind of thing that anyone discussed in the old days. One might be labeled a witch and she definitely was not. She once asked me for a glass of water and some eggs. She broke the eggs and when they rose to the top it would determine how many children I would have. She told me two, a boy and a girl. She was correct. If I could only have those moments back. As a young teen I did not give her prediction much credence and had no idea of her abilities. 
The arrogance of youth! 
Grandmother would pass in 1965 at the age of 76. A life filled with hardship and sorrow, she would lose two more of her children born here in America before the age of eighteen. Yet, a fruitful life which gave birth to an incredible work ethic instilled in all of her children. 
Cousin Hank writes: I met your grandmother and my grandfather in 1953 when my family, including Uncle Ralph, took the California Zephyr from Oakland, CA to Chicago, then another train from Chicago to Boston, and another one car train from Boston to New Bedford. That was the first and last time that I saw our grandparents. I remember a glorious time meeting the “back east” family for the first time, and all we did on that trip. My cousins were all about 5-6 years old at the time. I was 14. My mother’s brother, Joe Pallotta (Uncle Peep as we called him) wired my dad some money to buy a car for him.  We bought a new 1953 Plymouth station wagon and drove it home to California. I got to drive many miles across the desert of Utah and Nevada with no license, etc. A trip I will never forget. Hank  
Many more stories can be written here and they are all welcomed. If any of my older cousins would like to share a few please let me know!

From left to right: Cousins, Susan, Myself, Carole, David and Barbara, Grandmother looking proudly over. This photo was taken probably at Christmas in 1949. 
Hey, no apron and her nylons do not seem to be rolled down. It had to be a holiday!!!!!!

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