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  Field Notes From
ZipUSA: 02860



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ZipUSA: 02860 On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

Karen E. Lange



ZipUSA: 02860 On Assignment

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From Photographer

Jacqueline Mia Foster



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Brian Strauss (top) and Patricia Zacks


 

ZipUSA: 02860 On Assignment ZipUSA: 02860 On Assignment
ZipUSA: 02860

Field Notes From Author
Karen E. Lange

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    Cape Verdeans welcomed me into their hometown and homes with an easy hospitality. One afternoon I visited Johnny Pina, 74, a Pawtucket resident since 1953 and a musical institution in the city. Sitting at the oval table in the lace-curtained dining room of the second-floor apartment he shared with his wife, I could have been visiting my own relatives.
    Johnny remembered a string of past performers who had brought Cape Verdean music to southern New England, many of them making their own instruments. Then he picked up an electric guitar, strummed a few chords, and began to pick out a breezy tropical tune. "I play every day," Johnny said. "It's my medicine." Before I left, Johnny, who worked for years as a chef, went into the kitchen and got me a bowl of cachupa, a traditional Cape Verdean stew of corn and beans, along with slices of homemade bread. "With Cape Verdeans, it's home cooking," he said. "We don't like to eat in restaurants." The ingredients for cachupa—dried hominy and yellow samp made from ground hominy—are sold in corner stores throughout the Cape Verdean sections of Pawtucket. But you won't find the stew on any restaurant menu.


    I was two months pregnant when I visited Pawtucket and suffering from nausea morning, noon, and night. The best treatment is a full stomach, so early and late in the day in my room at the Comfort Inn, I sipped lemonade from the vending machine and ate plain, slightly sweet Portuguese bread torn off loaves I'd picked up at a Pawtucket bakery. At breakfast I filled up on cereal and toasted bagels, washed down with apple juice. But I often felt woozy rushing about from place to place in a city with a limited number of restaurants. I remember missing dinner one night and later sitting on my bed with a take-away box of spaghetti I got at the motel bar, forcing myself to eat so the nausea wouldn't keep me awake when I tried to go to sleep.

    You'd never guess what is made in Pawtucket. One factory turns out the shiny gold and silver electroplated tops of trophies. Another weaves the elastic used to make bungee cords. And a third produces New Age kitsch, like miniature wizards cast in imitation pewter.

   


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