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Friday, January 29, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Brief History of the American Consulate in the Azores

The Consulate
Used with permission, ©Chong Farquhar, 2004

The American Consulate in the Azores
A Very Brief History

The ties between the Azores and the United States go back to the beginning of our country.  The Continental Congress maintained contact with the islands to coordinate the travel of our emissaries seeking to gain European support for our Revolution, and in 1777 Thomas Truxtun and the Continental Navy sloop “Independence” took three British “prizes” off the coast.  President George Washington appointed the first official U.S. Consul, John Street, in 1795, when Thomas Jefferson was our Secretary of State.  We've had representatives here ever since, and the U.S. Consulate in Ponta Delgada is the oldest continuously operating U.S. Consulate in the world.  At first, the main American Consulate was located on the island of Faial, and we had branch offices in Ponta Delgada and, for a short time, a Consular Agent on the island of Flores as well.  In 1917 all Consulate operations moved to Sao Miguel (St. Michael).
After John Street was named Consul in Horta, Thomas Hickling was appointed Vice Consul in Ponta Delgada, also in 1795.  Thomas Hickling was a young American businessman who moved to Sao Miguel in 1769, after a falling out with his conservative father over the younger Hickling's active support for the Revolution.  Hickling was an energetic entrepreneur and left mementos and stories that survive to this day.  One is a rock with his name carved into it and the date "1770" that is situated near one of the bubbling volcanic pools in the city of Furnas.  He also left other tangible reminders: a summer palace he called "Yankee Hall" in Furnas which became the genesis of the now world-class formal gardens of the Terra Nostra Hotel and the first U.S. Consulate building in Ponta Delgada, which is now the Hotel Sao Pedro, a school for hoteliers.  His principal residence, in severe disrepair, can still be seen in the city of Livramento, a suburb of Ponta Delgada.
Thanks to the efforts of former Consul William F. Doty (Principal Officer 1924-1928), the Consulate has a list of all Consuls and Vice Consuls who have served here since 1795.  This is a small Consulate and always has been; the list spans 200 years, but only three pages.  Nonetheless, the Azores and Azorean-Americans have figured prominently in American history, and stories and reports in Consulate files provide intriguing glimpses into the contributions they and the American diplomats posted here have made during great historical events.
During the 19th Century, representing the United States became a tradition for the Dabney family.  Three generations of Dabneys served the U.S. here, until the family departed in 1892.  In 1807 President Thomas Jefferson appointed John Bass Dabney American Consul on Faial Island.  During the war of 1812, he kept track of British naval movements through the archipelago.  Toward the end of that war, the Azores became a battleground for U.S. and British warships.
On September 26, 1814, an American privateer, the “General Armstrong,” was in Horta harbor on Faial Island to re-supply.Portugal was neutral, and the “General Armstrong” was given permission to stay for 24 hours. Suddenly, three British man-of-wars arrived at port, and Dabney sent his 21-year-old son to notify the “Armstrong’s” Captain, Samuel Reid. The British set upon the “General Armstrong,” but Reid and his men fought back tenaciously, inflicting over 200 casualties. In the end, Reid scuttled his ship to keep it from falling into British hands, but he caused so much damage to the British squadron that it delayed its mission to link up with the expeditionary force poised to attack New Orleans. Accordingly, the British were not able to land there until four days after Andrew Jackson took possession of the city. Meanwhile, Consul Dabney used his offices to help the surviving Armstrong crew get back home via a Portuguese merchant ship.
In 1826 Charles Dabney took over as Consul upon the passing away of his father and continued to protect American interests in the Azores for almost half a century. During his last years as Consul, he diligently kept track of Confederate naval activity in Azorean waters. The Confederate raider Alabama sank 10 Yankee whaling ships around the Azores, and its captain vowed to target Dabney's chandler enterprises because of his refusal to supply coal to Confederate ships. However, the rebel raider was not able to make good the threat before being sunk off the French coast in 1864 by the USS Kearsage.
The Dabneys were renown for their philanthropic work in the Azores, and Charles was called "Father of the Poor" by the local community. The family was also key in developing the New England whaling industry: six U.S. fishing vessels were recorded in 1827, peaking to several hundred toward the end of the century. In fact, the term "skeleton crew" has been linked to this era, wherein the hardnosed Yankee skippers would leave home with barely enough crew to sail in order to save on wages, picking up the bulk of the harpooners and crew in the Azores (particularly from the islands of Corvo and Flores). Herman Melville's masterpiece Moby Dick makes several references to the Azores (see in particular CH 27). It is no wonder, then, that the epicenter of the U.S.-Azorean community to this day is centered in New England. Other groups of the Azorean-American diaspora stretch to California, starting with the Gold Rush of the 1850's, and to Hawaii, bringing construction and cattle raising know-how when those islands were still an independent kingdom.
The Dabneys also remained linked with American social and intellectual life of the times. The Longfellows (poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's brother was a longtime tutor of the Dabney children), J.P. Morgan, artist William Morris Hunt and Samuel Clemens (aka "Mark Twain") were all guests at "Bagatelle," the whimsically named Dabney home in Horta, which still stands to this day.
Shortly after the U.S. entered World War I, the U.S. Navy set up what became known as the Mid-Atlantic Naval Base in Ponta Delgada. A young Assistant Secretary of the Navy named Franklin Delano Roosevelt traveled to Ponta Delgada to inspect the facility. The base eventually hosted a squadron of American destroyers supported by submarines, a company of Marines, and some very early seaplanes to defend against the U-boat menace that attacked allied shipping around Azorean waters. U.S. military headquarters was set up in the building that had been Thomas Hickling's home.
The American presence in the Azores has also helped defend it on occasion. On the morning of July 4, 1917 a German submarine surfaced outside Ponta Delgada's breakwater and began firing on the city and our ships, killing a young girl in town. The American coal carrier "Orion" returned fire, and the U-boat fled. The captain of the Orion became a local hero, and they even named a brand of cigarettes for him. After the war, on December 10, 1918, the ship that carried Woodrow Wilson to Europe for the peace conference passed just beyond the city's seawall. The passing President was saluted by the town's residents and, most likely, by the American Consul.
The Azores again became hosts to American military forces during World War II when there was an urgent need to move massive amounts of men and materiel across the Atlantic. First on the island of Santa Maria, and later on Terceira, the U.S. established important air bases. During the Cold War, the base at Terceira played a key role in logistical planning for possible hostilities in Europe, in anti-submarine warfare operations, and in important actions in the Middle East.
Woodrow Wilson, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt were not the only American presidents to visit the islands. President Nixon came to the Azores to speak with French President Georges Pompidou and Portuguese PM Marcelo Caetano about international monetary issues. More recently, in March 2003, Portuguese Prime Minister Durrao Barroso hosted a summit meeting on the Iraq crisis on Terceira Island. The meeting included American President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blaire and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. The summit was held at the Portuguese facility known as Airbase 4; we call it Lajes Field. Former President Jimmy Carter has also been a visitor to these islands during his peace missions to Africa. 
Today the U.S. Consulate continues to provide full consular services to the many American citizens on all of the islands that make up the archipelago. The autonomous Azorean regional government has its own elected president and legislature, and the Consulate in Ponta Delgada serves as the U.S. Government's main point of contact with the regional government and handles issues related to the U.S. presence at Lajes Field. Other essential missions include trade, cultural exchanges and immigrant and non-immigrant visas. During the summer of 2003, after almost forty years of operation in a waterfront building in downtown Ponta Delgada, the Consulate moved to a new building. Even though we are in a new facility, pictures of former employees and applications of former Azorean emigrants adorn office walls. We have not forgotten our past. We expect that the three-page list of officers assigned to the Consulate in Ponta Delgada to continue to grow as the Azores continue to play a role in world events. We will carry on the 200-year tradition of defending American interests and citizens in these nine islands, in the center of the Atlantic, where the American, European and African tectonic plates all come together.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ser Português - Unknown Author









I found this poem in my old papers. It was given to me by Cecilia (Cardoza) Emilio, who was the author of Azorean Folk Customs, with the above note.
The book was the result of Cecilia’s research at the Portuguese Historical Center Library and a trip that I was able to secure for her to attend a summer session at the University of the Azores, on culture, history and customs of the Azores.
The book has been reprinted and is available from the PHC, San Diego.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Immigrants By Chance - Chapter 1


On a Saturday, in the fall of 1956, my mother Ana Maria, as was her custom, went to the hair dresser. My father, Gil, and my brother Francisco Jose, had gone ahead to my grandfather's summer home in Calhetas, a small village on the north side of São Miguel Island, in the Azores.
For those who are not familiar with the Azores, it is an archipelago in the Atlantic, bathed by the Gulf current, about 900 miles from mainland Europe and about 2400 miles from New York. It is now an autonomous region, with its own government. This was not so in the 1950's when it was a forgotten part of Portugal.
As my mother was getting her hair done, the hairdresser, noticing her blond hair, asked if she was Portuguese, to which she replied that she was, but that she had been born in Germany. As it happens my maternal grandfather, Mauricio de Freitas Lomelino, who was a Portuguese from the island of Madeira, had gone to work in Hamburg and married Bertha Johanna Felgenhaur. From the marriage, several children were born, the oldest being Mauricio, followed by Ana Maria. Soon there after, as WWI broke out, my grandfather found himself in enemy territory, as Portugal was now at war with Germany. His choice was to be imprisoned or to leave Germany and return to Lisbon with his family. And so, the family came to Portugal.
Let's go back to question and the answer that my mother gave to the hairdresser and to the question that followed. “Why then, don't you go to America?” to which my mother replied, “I am not going to America, because I cannot”, to which the hairdresser retorted, “I think that you can!”. My mother rushed out of the hairdresser's, to call my father.
After locating him, she proceeded to ask him,”Gil, queres ir para a América?” “Gil, do you want to go to America?” My Dad, knowing how enthusiastic my mother could get over things, told her, “Não brinques comigo”,”don't kid with me”.
My father always dreamed of coming to America, however, in those days, there was a quota system in place, established by the government of the United States, and the quantity for Portugal was around 550 persons per year. Therefore, it was almost impossible to immigrate. To make matter worst, if one had applied for immigration to America, it could take 15 to 20 years for your number (request) to come up.
As a young man, he wanted to come to the United States to become a naval architect. Much to his disappointment, my grandmother, Catarina, would not let him do so, since in her words, “nunca mais te vejo se vais para tão longe” “I will never see you again", if you go so far away”. He became traumatized with the idea of not being able to come to the United States, since he had learned English, in the hopes of realizing his dream. So he did the next best thing, he applied to immigrate to the island of Santa Maria, 55 miles across from São Miguel, where there was an American Air Base, that operated there during WWII. After receiving the approval and having gained a “carta de reponsabilidade”, a “letter of responsibility” from a friend on Santa Maria, he went to work at the American PX. There he could at least be in contact with Americans, live some of the American experience and continue to practice his English.
All of this is in a manner, an explanation for my father's answer to my mother's question, about going to America.
After some give and take, he came back from Calhetas to Ponta Delgada, where we lived, and proceeded to contact the German Consul, Leo Watsenbaur, who as it turns out, was a childhood friend if my father's. Together they had sailed on Sete Cidades lakes, many a time.
After explaining what had just happened, my dad asked “Leo, come sabes, a Ana Maria é Alemã, podemos ir para a América? “Leo, as you know, Ana Maria is German, can we go to America?” His answer was “Sim”, “Yes”.
The answer was so simple yet so far fetched!
I don't remember, however, I don't think that we went back to Calhetas to spend the remainder of the weekend, for it was time to let the family know and to start making plans. There was one more step to take, getting the confirmation from the American Consulate that it was possible.
Monday morning, my father and mother were at the American Consulate's door to speak with Carlos Alves, who was also a friend. After listening to the the inquiry, and checking the statutes, he confirmed that, in deed, it was possible. He stated that he would request the required immigrant numbers from Washington DC. The timetable was about three weeks for the paperwork to be generated, and the Alves family would be immigrating to America, not as Portuguese, but as Germans under the immigration quota numbers established for Germany, at that time, around 24,000 per year. The month was November, 1956.
Christmas was approaching, and plans were formulated on how to separate the family household goods, for many of them were to to come with us to America.
Weeks were going by, and no immigration numbers had come from Washington. Plans were made for my mother and brother to go say good bye to my grandparents, that lived in Carcavelos, just outside of Lisbon, on the ship, Lima. I was to go with my father later on, on a TWA Super Constellation,via the airport on Santa Maria, the only air gateway then, from the Azores to the world. The trip to Santa Maria, was made on the ship, Arnel.
The family returned two weeks later, on the ship, Carvalho Araújo, via Funchal, Madeira. It gave us an opportunity to say goodbye to one of my mother's cousins, Viscondessa Gerais de Lima.
It had been some time since most of the Lomelino family had left Madeira. The majority had gone to Brazil, to continental Portugal and to the Azores.
We arrived at Ponta Delgada in March of 1957 and continued with the preparations for the move. The numbers still had not arrived. Panic set in, since the expectation was to leave as soon as possible.
My father, returned to the American Consulate to check on the status of the numbers and he was informed that the best thing was to ask a new set of numbers. The request was made.
Meanwhile, we had been to the medical inspections, had the needed vaccinations and were ready to travel, even though no booking had been made because there was no definite date.
My mother had decided that she would bring all of the linens, the good china, the silverware, the silver and collectables, clothing, my father's paintings, his hobby tools. All was carefully packed in a custom made box, with a dimension of about 60”x60”x30”, and weighed several hundred pounds. There were also a trunk and several suite cases. As these were packed, they were moved next door to a ground floor storage area, in the home of our neighbor, José Horta, now a tourism store by the name of Capote e Capelo.
Some two weeks after the new request for immigration numbers was made, the numbers arrived, including the original requested numbers. Now it was certain, we were leaving for America.
The decision was made that we would take the next available ship to New York.
My grandfather, José Inácio Alves, who was the book keeper for the steamship line Carregadores Açoreanos, booked the passage for all four of us on the Monte Brasil, a freighter, that connected the Azores to Europe and the United States. The freighter was equipped to take nine passengers.
On May 9, 1957, we were on our way to Pier 29, East River, New York, with stopovers in the Island of Terceira and Faial in the Azores. The trip's duration was nine days.

José Mauricio Lomelino Alves
Vista, California
© 2010

New Years Eve 2010 Snack

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cabrillo, E Porque Se Escreve Assim

A pregunta é, porque se escreve Cabrillo e não Cabrilho?
Acontece que o nome Cabrilho não se encontra em nenhuma parte em Portugal. Cabril sim. Todos os peritos sobre o caso, incluindo o Visconde Lagoa e o Dr, Castelo Branco, aceitam o nome Cabrillo por ter sido uma alcunha dada a João Rodrigues pelos espanhóis, ao português ao serviço de Espanha, oriundo de Cabril. Em referencia a nuestros hermanos, relato a minha experiencia durante os meus 4 anos como presidente do Festival Cabrillo em San Diego. Tive ocasião de lidar com as mais altas entidades em representação dos Estados Unidos, Espanha, México e obviamente Portugal. O interessante é que todos eles consideram Cabrillo como "un portugues al servicio de España". Também interessante, é o facto de que o Festival Cabrillo nao ser uma actividade da comunidade portuguesa. A verdade é que tem como grande parte dos participantes, membros da comunidade portuguesa, mas na realidade é uma activdade da diaspora americana, em que participam muitos luso americanos. No entanto, deve-se salientar que tanto a Miss Cabrillo Festival e a personagem de Cabrillo, são sempre representados por membros da comunidade portuguesa local.
Houve sim, uma tentativa à uns anos, pelo historiador, Harry Kelsey, de provar que Cabrillo era espanhol. Não o conseguiu. O seu trabalho principia por citar que não se pode estabelecer que Cabrillo não era português, mas tão pouco se pode estabelecer que era espanhol. Como diriam os hispanos, "se queda portugues y así lo aceptamos".

J.M. Lomelino Alves

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Azorean Alliance - Historical Synopsis Aliança Açoreana

Azorean Alliance - San Diego
A Community Socio-Political Organization

The Azorean Alliance  (Aliança Açoreana) was founded in San Diego, in 1975. The new organization’s aim was to support the political, economic and cultural interests of the Autonomous Region of the Azores as well as to assist all Azoreans living in California to better their socio-economic status. The Azorean Alliance never supported any independence movements and was, and is today, all encompassing to Portuguese from all parts of the Portuguese-speaking world.
From the onset, its by-laws created a dual faceted organization, political and social, allowing it to participate and support political activities in California that it deemed productive in the advancement of the community. It is believed, that the Azorean Alliance was the first Portuguese organization established in California with such high socio-political aims.
Its founders, immigrants and sons of immigrants from the Azores represented various facets of the community.
Today, the Azorean Alliance is singly a social organization. It maintains alive many Portuguese traditions, especially those of the Azores. The make up of its membership made up of immigrants, and second and third generation members of the Portuguese community in San Diego.

José Maurício Lomelino Alves
In Capelinhos – a Volcano of Synergies – Portuguese Immigration to America

Founders Aliança Açoreana
José Maurício Lomelino Alves
Olinda Bretão Dias Arnold
Manuel Bettencourt Domingos
Benildo Dinis Ferreira
Mary Alice Rosa Goncalves
Paulo R. Goulart
Pedro R. Goulart
Fernando Manuel Machado
Arnaldo L. Neves
Manuel Quaresma Machado
Mário Telles Ribeiro
José Machado da Rosa
José Martins Serpa
José Vitorino Silva
Rui Cesar da Silva
Francisco R. Soares

Cabrillo Festival San Diego - A Portuguese Perspective

Cabrillo Festival San Diego
Set high on the Peninsula of Point Loma, the statues of Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo overseas the entrance to San Diego Bay and Ballast Point the historical location where Cabrillo landed. Sculpted by the Portuguese artist Alvaro de Bré, the original weather beaten sandstone statue, was replaced in 1988 by a replica authored by the Portuguese sculptor Charters de Almeida.
In 1964, Cabrillo Festival was formed by the Jr. Chamber of Commerce and latter the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, the Portuguese American Social and Civic Club in collaboration with Cabrillo National Monument and the Portuguese community at large. The Cabrillo Club #16 was to join latter and became a co-sponsor of the Cabrillo Banquet.
This new organization was formed to commemorate and perpetuate the voyage of discovery by the Portuguese explorer at the service of Spain; Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo who was the first European to reach what is now the West Coast of the United States.
Annually, Cabrillo Festival brings together the official representatives of Mexico, Portugal, Spain and the United States as well as local Native American Groups.
The Festival is supported financially in part, by the County, City and Port of San Diego as well as entities from Portugal. The Festival’s organizing committee with the cooperation of the community at large and the Casa de España organize additional fundraising.
The Portuguese Navy is also one of the major supporters of Cabrillo Festival. Tradition dictates that the Portuguese Navy Chief of Staff is the High Commissioner from Cabrillo Festival to the Government of Portugal.
From the Cabrillo Festival’s inception, the Portuguese community has been the backbone of the organization. With its dynamic support, Cabrillo Festival grew, and is recognized as the premier multicultural and multinational festival in California.
In the mid 1978’s the committee invited the Spanish community in San Diego, to actively participate and support the Cabrillo Festival. In the late 1980’s the Native American Community became an integral part of the Festival.
At the suggestion of members of the Portuguese Community, in 1976, an “Arraial” was organized, first at the Portuguese Hall and later was transformed into the “Open House” event at Cabrillo National Monument.
The weeklong Annual Cabrillo Festival’s main activies are the re-enactment of Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo’s landing in San Diego Bay, the Cabrillo Banquet, the cultural, culinary, and the living history events as well as the visits of the Cabrillo personage and Miss Cabrillo Festival to the City Council, Board of Supervisors, Port District and the San Diego Unified School District. For the last two years, the public events have been held at the Submarine Base In Point Loma.
The influence of the Portuguese community in Cabrillo Festival is best exemplified by the leadership of members of the community, especially, Mary Rosa Giglitto, President Emeritus and the force behind the success of Cabrillo Festival as well as by several past presidents of the festival. Additionally, Miss Cabrillo Festival and the personage of Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo are members of the Portuguese community.
Special mention must be made of the support and collaboration that exists between Cabrillo Festival the National Park Service, and the Superintendent and Staff of Cabrillo National Monument.
José Maurício Lomelino Alves
Vista, CA
In (Capelinhos - A Volcano of Synergies - Azorian Immigration to America)

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Capelinhos Eruption Influence on SanDiego

The Capelinhos Eruption Influence on SanDiego
San Diego, as many other communities in the United States, received some of the refugee immigrants as a result of the volcanic eruptions at Capelinhos in 1957. Unlike other places, the numbers were few, yet, their influence was to affect the Portuguese community in San Diego in ways that became the norm, introduced new ideas and dispelled old myths.
Most likely a dream that these families thought could not be realized, they immigrated to the United States, with expectations that were conceived from the letters of family members or friends, who had for generations immigrated to America.
Although their financial contributions may have not been as great as in other communities, because of their reduced numbers, these immigrant refugees became well respected and entered several trades, including the tuna fishing industry, so much at the pulse of the Portuguese community until the mid 80’s.
Even though not all were directly impacted by the Capelinhos eruption, all, in one way or another, had a connection to the Island of Faial, thru family, study, business or employment links. Their background in the Azores represented a varied numbers of trades, from small businessmen, to workers in commerce and light industry, to agricultural workers to the proverbial fisherman, the wrongly acknowledged single trade of the Azorean islander.
Because of their different level of education from previous immigrants, they were able to enter a more varied number of trades, professions and business opportunities, and to influence daily community life.
Traditionally a male work force, heads of families entered into the inevitable occupation in San Diego, tuna fishing, and distinguished themselves along their compatriots from the islands of Pico, Madeira and mainland Portugal. Some, influenced by family and friends, accepted this new calling, even though they had never practiced it before. Others stepped into the profession with great ease, since it was a natural extension of their more artisan fishing methods. They achieved levels that previous opportunities did not grant, including becoming navigators, chief engineers, crew chiefs, tuna boat captains and owners.
There were others, who found that their work on shore, as they were more accustomed to, was more fitting to their newfound life in a new country. These men became boat builders, assistant designers, finishing carpenters, welders and general laborers.
Few others, that continued their education as an extension of the formal education they received in the Azores and elsewhere, went into banking, real estate and finance.
This latter groups, includes both men and women, for women found new opportunities, that allowed them to distinguish themselves along with their male counterparts. Times had changed, new norms were accepted and forward thinking women took advantage of new challenges.
The sons and daughters of the Capelinhos immigrant refugees influenced even more the community. They continued what their parents had started and with their parents’ support and encouragement, went into many of the same professions and expanded to new ones, such as law, law enforcement, architecture, engineering, medicine and the information technologies.
In a community that was well established, even entrenched in its ways, and not used to change and even less, to challenge, these new immigrants were to, with difficulty,  create a newer, fresher and more progressive way to do things.
A difficult task, yet not forgetting their traditions or the respect for the earlier immigrants, these refugees and descendents, along with their influence continue to affect their new home.
In San Diego, a community with many local chapters of statewide Portuguese organizations and local clubs, the new immigrants along with other members of the Portuguese community, founded the Azorean Alliance, the Portuguese Historical Center and a new community band and  soccer clubs,
These organizations met the needs and ideals brought by the mix of new immigrants, from Capelinhos and other places, becoming the vehicle for forward thinking and the gathering place for safeguarding tradition and culture.
Today’s San Diego’s Portuguese community is a mix of many forces and influences  brought by Portuguese immigrants, starting with Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo, then by the early whalers from Pico, and on to the tuna fishermen from all parts of Portugal, who created an industry without parallel,  to the modern and latest group of immigrants from Capelinhos and even Portuguese speaking Africa.
The Capelinhos immigrants who came to San Diego may have not made the area into the financial success that other areas became due to their limited numbers, however, their influence in the socio, cultural and work areas have left an impressive imprint in the make up of this Portuguese community in the extreme south of California.
José Maurício Lomelino Alves
Vista, California
In Capelinhos – A Volcano of Synergies
Azorean Immigration to american