I was Papa’s favorite grandchild. Yes, I said it…because it’s true. I know I was his favorite… and so were my sisters. That’s what made Papa the best grandfather in the world. My sisters and I can debate all day about why each one of us was his favorite and we’d all be right.
My favorite memories are of Papa taking us for rides in the back of his big yellow station wagon through the streets of Brockton, MA back when no one knew what seat belts were for. Not that we were in any kind of danger, for that matter, with Papa behind the wheel… You can’t do much damage driving 15 miles an hour. A ten minute drive through D.W. Fields park took 30 minutes for us and we enjoyed every minute of it. I can remember being sick when I was younger and staying with my grandparents. I had an upset stomach and throwing up that night. Papa put me the big yellow station wagon to get some fresh air and before I knew I felt 100% better… as he drove 15 miles an hour down S. Leydon St.
It probably wasn’t until he passed away that I even knew his real name. He was known as “Nho Popinho” or “Popinho de Nho Djedje”. According to Papa’s birth certificate, on the 16th of March, 1915, Maria de Barros, 30, and natural of the Fogo and resident of Relva, declared that at 3 o’clock on the afternoon of September 30, 1913, her son, Joao, was born in Relva. He was the legitimate son of Jose Antonio Lopes, 36, who was also a native of the island of Fogo. He was the paternal grandson of Roberto Jose Lopes and Catarina Lopes de Barros, both deceased. His maternal grandparents were Pedro de Barros (Abreu) and Maria Miguelina Lopes (Friere), residents of Relva. The certificate states that the family surname is “Antonio Lopes” and his godparents were his uncle, Cristiano de Barros, and Olimpia Fernandes. The most surprising bit of information on Papa’s birth certificate is that it says that his parents were married in the parish of Nossa Senhora de Ajuda on June 6, 1908.