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 Graciette Leocadia “Grace” <I>Gouveia</I> Collinson

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Graciette Leocadia “Grace” Gouveia Collinson

Birth
Death
29 Dec 1998 (aged 89)
Provincetown, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial
Provincetown, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID
113977025 View Source

Birth & Death dates come from Social Security Death Index.
*****
Graciette Leocadia Gouveia Collinson (1910-1998) was a teacher, a Peace Corp. worker, the town's first council on aging director and a tireless supporter of the community.
*******
Reminiscences of Grace Collinson

Many in the Portuguese community will have fond memories of Grace Collinson. While searching some archives I came across an article written for the Provincetown Advocate in July 1975: "Reminiscences of Provincetown, Collinson: and Immigrant Recorded." At the time the article was written, Grace Collinson was the director of the Council on Aging. She was in the process of collecting a series of reminiscences of the town from elderly residents. The newspaper thought it would be interesting to turn the tables on Grace and ask her for some of her recollections. It was interesting, and I thought it would be fitting piece to revisit during the week of the Portuguese Festival.

Grace Gouveia Collinson, long-time teacher, and aide to the elderly died in 1999 at the age of 89. Her obituary records that she graduated from college with highest honors. She paid for her education by picking blueberries, with the help of her parents, brother and friends. During World War II she volunteered to tutor more than 80 local immigrants from Portugal, Greece, Italy, and Spain in English to help them earn their United States citizenship. Her teaching career in Provincetown began in 1936 and continued until 1963. Anyone who went to school in town will remember her. Grace Collinson's service to the people of Provincetown earned her wide and lasting respect. As a tribute to her, in the 1980s, the former Cape End Manor Building was renamed the Grace Gouveia Building.

The following are Grace Collinson's memories of coming to Provincetown as a young girl.

"I remember that we landed in Providence, and I looked down from the boat to find my father. I had never seen my father, because he had come ahead. He had been fishing aboard a schooner on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland where he had talked to some of the Portuguese sailors who told him about Provincetown. He jumped ship, and in 1905 came to Provincetown. My mother had described my father to me. My father had brought with him an interpreter, a Mr. Manta, who had done more for people who were immigrants in this town than any other that I know of. I had visualized what my father would look like, and when I came down from the boat, I went straight to the other man. Mr. Manta was the epitome of what I wanted a father to look like.
"We went to Provincetown by train. That was the only way to go then. There were very few cars. I remember my first impression of Provincetown. I was frightened because the houses were separated, and there were yards. I had never seen yards. In the village of Olhao where I lived in Portugal, on the street there was just one straight façade, and the houses were separated only by the structure of a door and a window.

"I remember my first days in an American school. It was at the Community Center building, and my first teacher was Angie Swett, the mother of Robert Patrick who owns Marine Specialties. My mother, with the utmost respect for education, always dressed me in my best pinafores. I was isolated by the language barrier, dressed in a special way, and was the object of abuse and ridicule.

"One of my best friends was the mailman, Charles Rogers. He used to take me with him, and I learned to read English just from reading the envelopes. Dr. Cass used to help me, too, how to speak English. He gave me a little mirror, and he would give me exercises on pronounciaton. The b's and the v's were very difficult, and the final consonant sounds.

"The train … we used to play near the railroad tracks at Pearl Street. Many a penny did I put on the rail. We used to listen for the trains coming by putting our ear on the rail. Then we used to have a very nice man by the name of Baker, I think, who was the engineer. He would give us rides from where Conwell Street is today. (He stopped there because it was a through street.) We would get into the cab, and just ride the rest of the way and some of us were bold enough to ride on the cow catches. I did that until my mother saw me. Somebody must have reported to her, and that was that.

"My father, meanwhile, was sailing aboard the vessels that were Grand Bankers, and would be gone for months at a time. My mother would get word that the vessel was sighted off the back side, and without stopping for anything, she'd grab me by the hand, and take me down to the beach, where other women were gathered. They waited in silence for the two-masted ship to round Wood End and the Long Point light, and watched to see if the boat was coming in at half-mast. Once they saw it was not half-masted they knelt and blessed themselves, and went home to prepare for their men. If the ship came in at half-mast, as it often did, there was weeping and wringing of hands, and prayers were offered to the Holy Mother and St. Peter."

[Laurel Guadazno is curator of education for the Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum.]

Birth & Death dates come from Social Security Death Index.
*****
Graciette Leocadia Gouveia Collinson (1910-1998) was a teacher, a Peace Corp. worker, the town's first council on aging director and a tireless supporter of the community.
*******
Reminiscences of Grace Collinson

Many in the Portuguese community will have fond memories of Grace Collinson. While searching some archives I came across an article written for the Provincetown Advocate in July 1975: "Reminiscences of Provincetown, Collinson: and Immigrant Recorded." At the time the article was written, Grace Collinson was the director of the Council on Aging. She was in the process of collecting a series of reminiscences of the town from elderly residents. The newspaper thought it would be interesting to turn the tables on Grace and ask her for some of her recollections. It was interesting, and I thought it would be fitting piece to revisit during the week of the Portuguese Festival.

Grace Gouveia Collinson, long-time teacher, and aide to the elderly died in 1999 at the age of 89. Her obituary records that she graduated from college with highest honors. She paid for her education by picking blueberries, with the help of her parents, brother and friends. During World War II she volunteered to tutor more than 80 local immigrants from Portugal, Greece, Italy, and Spain in English to help them earn their United States citizenship. Her teaching career in Provincetown began in 1936 and continued until 1963. Anyone who went to school in town will remember her. Grace Collinson's service to the people of Provincetown earned her wide and lasting respect. As a tribute to her, in the 1980s, the former Cape End Manor Building was renamed the Grace Gouveia Building.

The following are Grace Collinson's memories of coming to Provincetown as a young girl.

"I remember that we landed in Providence, and I looked down from the boat to find my father. I had never seen my father, because he had come ahead. He had been fishing aboard a schooner on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland where he had talked to some of the Portuguese sailors who told him about Provincetown. He jumped ship, and in 1905 came to Provincetown. My mother had described my father to me. My father had brought with him an interpreter, a Mr. Manta, who had done more for people who were immigrants in this town than any other that I know of. I had visualized what my father would look like, and when I came down from the boat, I went straight to the other man. Mr. Manta was the epitome of what I wanted a father to look like.
"We went to Provincetown by train. That was the only way to go then. There were very few cars. I remember my first impression of Provincetown. I was frightened because the houses were separated, and there were yards. I had never seen yards. In the village of Olhao where I lived in Portugal, on the street there was just one straight façade, and the houses were separated only by the structure of a door and a window.

"I remember my first days in an American school. It was at the Community Center building, and my first teacher was Angie Swett, the mother of Robert Patrick who owns Marine Specialties. My mother, with the utmost respect for education, always dressed me in my best pinafores. I was isolated by the language barrier, dressed in a special way, and was the object of abuse and ridicule.

"One of my best friends was the mailman, Charles Rogers. He used to take me with him, and I learned to read English just from reading the envelopes. Dr. Cass used to help me, too, how to speak English. He gave me a little mirror, and he would give me exercises on pronounciaton. The b's and the v's were very difficult, and the final consonant sounds.

"The train … we used to play near the railroad tracks at Pearl Street. Many a penny did I put on the rail. We used to listen for the trains coming by putting our ear on the rail. Then we used to have a very nice man by the name of Baker, I think, who was the engineer. He would give us rides from where Conwell Street is today. (He stopped there because it was a through street.) We would get into the cab, and just ride the rest of the way and some of us were bold enough to ride on the cow catches. I did that until my mother saw me. Somebody must have reported to her, and that was that.

"My father, meanwhile, was sailing aboard the vessels that were Grand Bankers, and would be gone for months at a time. My mother would get word that the vessel was sighted off the back side, and without stopping for anything, she'd grab me by the hand, and take me down to the beach, where other women were gathered. They waited in silence for the two-masted ship to round Wood End and the Long Point light, and watched to see if the boat was coming in at half-mast. Once they saw it was not half-masted they knelt and blessed themselves, and went home to prepare for their men. If the ship came in at half-mast, as it often did, there was weeping and wringing of hands, and prayers were offered to the Holy Mother and St. Peter."

[Laurel Guadazno is curator of education for the Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum.]

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