An amazing life story

Mary experienced an amazing long life, she was born on July 31, 1919, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the daughter of Maria Pereira Campanario and Francisco Abreu Santos; she had 4 brothers and one sister. 

At 3 years old her family moved to the island of Maderia Portugal where she lived until she was 12. Her father then decided to move the family to a small rural farm located near Taubaté Brazil. Mary’s mom then passed away at the age of 44 and her father shortly thereafter making Mary the effective mother, breadwinner and caretaker of her family. 

After the war with all her siblings being married and Mary being single with her USA citizenship, she decided at the age of 29 to return to the USA to live with her uncle’s family in New Britain Connecticut. She worked first as a seamstress and as a factory worker and eventually met and married George Teixeira in 1954; who was from the same village in Maderia and whom she knew from her childhood. 

She then traveled back to Maderia and had her first son George at the age of 39, and also had her son Daniel there at age 44. 

The family moved back to the USA, to Hollywood Beach, Fl in 1963 where they owned and managed the Bella Vista Apartments near the ocean where Mary raised her two sons. At age 56, Mary received her driver’s license and continued to drive until she was 96 years old. 

At age 61, in 1981 she sold the business and began her retirement years by traveling. She enjoyed her family and especially the birth and care of her grandchildren. She finally moved to Fort Lauderdale Beach in 1988 to return to a life she loved, with a residence by the beach so she could walk by her ocean. She was actively involved in the Leisure House condo board and was adopted as ‘mom’ by her condo family. 

Mary always had a love of animals from her first dog, a dachshund to her many cats named Seba, and later in life her beloved companions, her Yorkie Bella and her Himalayan cat Baby.

Living independently and still cooking

Maria enjoyed making her Portuguese kale soup, polenta and fish meals. She even cooked up a meal the day before she passed. Recently she showed me how to properly prepare kale (video snippet attached) for the soup. Btw, being someone who lived through the depression, it was interesting to see her pantry which contained over 25 cans of Tuna and Salmon, multiple bottles of olive oil, plenty of beans, rice, potatoes and cornmeal and her fridge was stocked with recently caught whole fish which she cleaned and filleted by hand. She always remembers the times when food was scarce and therefore always remained grateful for the plentiful food in our lives in America so she liked to stock up, just in case ;-) 

Maria in 1985 becomes a grandma (Vovazinha) to twins Chris and John

Maria in 1985 becomes vovazinha and helps Diane and George raise the twins Chris and John

Lot of traveling and cruising during the 1980s and 1990s

Maria enjoyed doing a lot of traveling with her cousin, friends and family. Maria like to say that after she sold the business, divorced and retired that it was the best time in her life.

Living on Hollywood beach running the Bella Vista Apartments

From 1963-1981, Maria owned and ran the Bella Vista Apartments (10 units catering to weekly, monthly tourist rentals) on Hollywood Beach. Maria, who never attended school, but learned to read and write on her own, wanted to return to the USA to make sure her sons would learn english and go to college. 

Maria and her sons George and Daniel

Maria pictured her in 1964 in Hollywood Beach with her sons George and Daniel.

Maria and family 1962 family photo

Maria and the family were living in Lugar de Baxio, Maderia on the Teixeira family's banana farm. The family bought new clothes for the photo which was taken in Funchal in 1962.

Maria's mother died young but she always said she had two wonderful adopted mothers who she deeply loved, first her aunt in New Britain, Conn who helped her adjust to America and her mother-in-law who was nicknamed 'Salsinha' who helped her during the birth of both George and Daniel who treated Maria in every way as her daughter.

Living in Maderia

A picture of Lugar de Baxio where Maria was raised until she was 12 and also where she had her sons George and Daniel. Farming, vineyards, growing bananas and fishing life...Maderia island in the 1950s and now...

Maria was married from 1954 to 1981

Maria married George Teixeira during October 1954 in Peabody, MA.  George was from the same village in Madeira and in fact they knew each other as small children.

Maria arrives & works in America as a seamstress and then Stanleyworks factory

Maria cerca 1949 lived with her uncle's family in New Britain, Connecticut. Coming from the warm climate of Brazil, it was a big shock to experience New England winters. Maria arrived with a small suitcase with everything she owned which was a few precious photos, a nice pair of shoes and sun dresses and she had no jackets (she arrived in February, the dead of winter). It took her 3 days to get from San Paulo Brazil to New Britain in 1949, Maria flew propeller planes first to Manaus, then to Costa Rica, then to Miami, then to NYC and then by train to New Britain Conn. Maria did not speak English instead, she had a note pinned on her dress with her uncle's name and address.

Maria was an extremely hard worker and outpaced all others as a seamstress and eventually she got a job at the Stanley Works factory where she was paid for 'piece work'. She produced so much output that the Union came to talk to her to slow her pace down since it made others look bad ;-) Maria did well for herself and the first thing she ever did for herself, after sending money back to Brazil for her family, was to buy her own fur coat and a pearl necklace.

1946 After the War and being one of the first to use Penicillin

Its hard to believe but Penicillin and antibiotics are relatively recent, Penicillin was marketed for the first time after the war in 1946. 

Maria contracted a serious infection in 1946 and was expected to die since she fell into a coma state. A friend of the family knew a friend who knew a doctor who had acquired a new wonder drug that had been used in Europe late during the war. Penicillin was available in very limited quantities and dangerous to administer since they were still trying to understand correct dosages. Maria most likely was one the first people in Brazil to get Penicillin, it saved her life but the way it was administrated caused Maria to lose all her hair and it took her months to recover.  

Btw, when she lost her hair she learned to wear hats which she did all her life thereafter...

Maria travels from New Bedford, MA to Maderia in 1922

Maria with a bow on her head is 3 years old in this picture. Maria, her parents and one brother returned to Maderia in early 1922. Later in 1922, after the birth of a new brother, they traveled from their village to Funchal to take one of the few pictures we have of the family.