Barbara Elaine Camara Passmore

Barbara Elaine Camara Passmore

Born 1931

Barbara Camara Passmore, 2020. Portrait by Serena Parente Charlebois of Serena’s Studio.

I was born on Wednesday July 1, 1931 at Union Hospital in Fall River, Mass. weighing 5 pounds.  My parents were Manuel Peters Camara, (who immigrated from Sao Miguel, Azores) and Jennie Barker (Durfee) Camara of Tiverton, R. I.

My new home was Red Top Farm on West Main Road in Little Compton.  This farm was owned by Joseph F. Sherer and my dad was the foreman of the farm for 30 years.  I had a sister Carolyn Jane who was 15 months older. Five years later another sister, Jane Lee, was born.

Life on the farm was a wonderful experience.  We learned and watched planting, weeding, haying and how to prepare carrots, beets and turnips for market. We had a farm cat named “Fanny”.

We learned to drive, climb trees, run the stone walls, swim, bike ride and played “Kick the Can” Sardines”, “Hide and Seek”; we played jacks, jump rope; we roller-skated and ice-skated, skied downhill and cross country; tobogganed and went netting for herring and picked periwinkles.  Periwinkles are a Portuguese favorite snack.  They were boiled and with a sharp pin you picked them out of the shell.

There were ice skating gatherings on Simmons Pond, Sisson and Adamsville Ponds with friends.  When we had enough cold weather, we could skate on a large puddle along and over the wall at Red Top Farm. We also enjoyed sliding down Peckham Road hill and being pulled along on sleds by car.

Growing up on this farm we had fresh vegetables, fruits, heavy cream and raw milk, wild grapes and lots of fresh air and the joy of watching and learning about hay stacks, corn stalks, bales of hay.  There was plenty of hard work and many lessons learned. 

I played on our school softball and basketball team.  We practiced basketball at the gym at Fort Church because we did not have a gymnasium.  I played volley ball and ping pong, tried tennis and one and only one game of golf.

My memories of World War II were of a large barrel of a gun coming down the road.  Air raid drills and blackouts. Our windows had to be darkened at night so no light would show through.  When the sirens blew and you were out in the car at night, you had to stop, pull over and turn the lights off until the drill was over.  There were airplane spotters at different areas of town.

Near Fort Church there were many pup tents set up along the roadside where the soldiers camped until the barracks were built.

I remember postage stamps costing three cents and were purple for a sealed letter.  A two-cent letter was green and was for an unsealed letter; Post cards were one-cent; A cone of one scoop of ice cream was five cents.

We were given coupons to use for food and gasoline.  Foods were rationed during the war such as sugar, flour, gasoline and butter.

Each summer our parents would take us to Lincoln Amusement Park.  That was a big treat! We looked forward to our annual Bazaar at St. Catherine’s Church and the Portuguese Feast held at the Flores’ on Swamp Road.

During elementary school years we enjoyed hanging May Baskets “on” our teachers and exchanging Valentine cards on February 14th.  I took ballroom dancing lessons at Fort Barton School in Tiverton.  When we were in high school, we went to the monthly dances at school and danced to the Ernie Canfield Orchestra.  It was fun to go out to sell the tickets when we were seniors to raise money for our class trip to New York City. I was a cheer leader for the boys’ baseball games and was a drum majorette for the school band.

I graduated from J. F. Wilbur School in June 1949. There were 5 girls and 10 boys in our class.  I took the Academic classes because I thought of becoming a nurse, then a laboratory technician, a religious sister, and then an airline stewardess.  I reconsidered and attended Massachusetts Institute of Beauty Culture in New Bedford, Mass. and became a beautician.

In 1947 I met my future husband, a navy man from Bellaire, Ohio.  He was stationed at Charlestown, R.I. Naval Air Station.  We met at the “Old Meeting House” on the Commons where I worked. We were married in December 1950 and I started a new life as a Navy Wife. As a Navy family we have lived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Cape May, N.J., Beeville, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida.

We had six children:  Peter Clarence 1951 – 1991; Stefan Forrest 1952 – 2015; Jay Edward 1954 – 1992; Penny Star 1957; Priscilla Elaine 1960; Letitia Marie 1963 (still born). I have 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

I have travelled extensively to 82 countries and to 45 states in the U. S. by train, airplane, helicopter, cruise ships, clipper ships, horseback riding in Mexico, donkey in Santorini, Greece, submarine in the Cayman Islands, and parasailing in Mexico and Bermuda.

I have had wonderful experiences on a sea turtle safari and zip-lining in Costa Rico, sailing the Nile in a Falucca, underwater walk in Bermuda, wild animal safari and feeding giraffe in Kenya, rode a camel and entered the pyramids in Egypt, dog-sledding in Alaska, riding an elephant, and holding a lion cub in Florida.

I had fun making decorating gingerbread houses and sold them at Wilbur’s Store one Christmas.  I also made and decorated birthday and wedding cakes.  I have taken classes in travel and tourism, tap dancing, Introduction to aviation, Bagpiping, mixology, cake decorating, Introduction to Interior decorating, teacher’s aide, belly dancing and Nurses’ Aide/Home Health Aide.

My work places have varied: Douglas Drug, Cherry & Webb and Grants Beauty Salons in Fall River; Miss Medary’s Tea Room at the Commons, one of the first three aides for the L.C. Visiting Nurse Association in L.C. for 21 years, L.C. Housing Trust, and the US. Postal Service in L.C. for 14 years.

I have served as Public Welfare Director in L.C. and the L.C. Housing Trust.

I am a past president of the White Hat Navy Wives Club, the Navy Wives Club of America, Altar Rosary Society of St Catherine’s Church, and a member of the Rose Island Lighthouse, Old Colony Railroad and 4- H clubs of Newport County.

I am a present member of the L.C. Medical Emergency Temporary Distribution Center, American Red Cross, Sakonnet Chix, Natioinal Wildlife, R.I. Dahlia Society, L.C. Historical Society, L.C. Community Center, Sakonnet Preservation Association, Portsmouth Senior Center, St. Catherine of Siena Church, Sogkonate Garden Club, East Bay Community Action Committee, and the Nature Conservancy.

I presently volunteer for Circle of Friends, Charlton Memorial Hospital, Visiting Nurse Service Home and Hospice and Sakonnet Preservation Association.

In the past I have volunteered at St. Anne’s Hospital, Habitat for Cats, collected 107 blankets for the Linus Project, Project Awareness, HIV Starr Program (Hope House). I have collected 53 hats for Hudner Oncology patients, 1755 Christmas cards for servicemen, children’s books for the women’s Department of Corrections, 300 Bears for Children’s Services, 791 scarves for troops in Iraq, food for Forever Paws and Habitat for Cats. In 2018 I spearheaded the Little Compton Community Dinner.

Life has many twists and turns, hills and vales, but memories keep us going with the grace of God.

Barbara Passmore

 April 9, 2020

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