The Most Special And Unique Place I Have Lived

Mortgage and Lending with George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages NMLS #65149

This month Paul S. Henderson is hosting an ActiveRain contest/challenge titled "March 2017 challenge, Tell me the most unique or special place you have lived."  Because of the story Paul shared about living aboard the USS Ethan Allen SSBN 608, a 410 foot long submarine in the South Pacific Ocean in the 1070's.  I thought about sharing my story about living on an Aircraft Carrier, the USS Ranger for 3 1/2 years in the 1970'.  During that time I did 3 cruises to Vietnam, got to see Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Hawaii, and the Philippines.  But as interesting as it was living aboard an Aircraft Carrier with 5,000 other guys, I think The Most Special And Unique Place I Have Lived is where I was born.

In was born an a small island in the Azores, Portugal called Santa Maria. My family lived a very comfortable life there.  My father was a Fireman, and since all the house were made of stone, he did not have a lot to do.

In the late 1950's the island my father was born on, Faial, had a major volcano which destroyed a significant portion of the island.  Because of that the U.S. made it possible for anyone born on Faial to come to the U.S.  So in 1959 my father began the process of processing the required paperwork for me, my brother, two sisters, and mother to the U.S.  This also meant we had to go from Santa Maria to Faial for my family to go through the process of applying for, and completing the necessary documentation for us to come to the U.S. 

Santa Maria was one of only two islands at that time in the Azores that had an airport, unfortunately Faial was not the other island.  The only mode of transportation to get to Faial was by ship.  The ships did not travel very fast, and the rooms were very small.  Making it very tight quarters for a family six.

Unlike Santa Maria which was fairly modernized, Faial was not.  Santa Maria had electricity, and inside plumbing.  Faial did not, at least not the part of Faial where my father's family had a house.  So during the time my father was processing the paperwork for us to come to the U.S., as the oldest it was my job to help gather wood for cooking, and draw water from the well outside the house.

Kerosene lamps were used to provide light at night, and cooking was done in wood furnace oven.  Also the roofs of all the houses were packed with volcanic ash from the volcano.  So we had to nail lager paper bags, like the type of bags cement comes in today, to the underside of the roof to keep the volcanic ash from failing though the cracks into the house.  These bags had to be taken down periodically as the volcanic ash built up on top of them.

I wish I could share more about this time in my life, but I was young, and only have spotted memories of this time.  However, I do remember, that in March of 1960 all of the necessary documentation for us to come to the U.S. were completed, and in early April my family and I left all we had behind, except for some cloths and boarded a plan for the U.S.  I had just turned 8 years old in March, my brother was 3, and my two sisters were 7 and 1 1/2 years old.

We flew into Logan Airport in Boston, MA and were picked up by one of the Catholic Priests my Aunt worked for in Providence, RI.  She had come to the U.S a year earlier, and worked as maid, and cook for a Catholic Church in Fox Point, a small section of Providence.

We lived in a 2 bedroom, 3rd floor apartment, with half a bath.  There was no hot water, and we used a large tin tub to bath in.  We had to heat the hot water for baths in a very large pot, and then empty the tub manually when we were done.  We also did not have a working refrigerator, so the Ice Man would deliver a huge block of ice every couple of days to keep the food cold.

Because there was only 2 bedrooms, my mother and father had one bedroom, and my brother and I, and two sisters shared the other bedroom.  We could only fit two twin beds in the room, so my brother and I shared one twin bed, and my two sisters shared the other.  This as you can see was also a unique experience, and there is a lot more to share about my early years in the U.S.  But I will share this story at another time, because there is a lot more to tell about the transition we went through here in the U.S.

I have never been back to the Azores.  So this year my wife and I have decided that after 57 years it is time I go back to see where I was born.  I still have family in the Azores, so it will be a special trip for many reasons, and I hope to write a blog or two later in the year about my trip, and share pictures.




 Info about the author:

George Souto NMLS# 65149 is a Loan Originator who can assist you with all your #FHA, #CHFA, and #Conventional #mortgage needs in Connecticut. George resides in Middlesex County which includes #Middletown, #Middlefield, #Durham, #Cromwell, #Portland, #Higganum, #Haddam, #East Haddam, #Moodus, #Chester, #Deep River, and #Essex. George can be contacted at (860) 573-1308 or

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 Info about the author:

George Souto NMLS# 65149 is a Loan Originator who can assist you with all your #FHA, #CHFA, and #Conventional #mortgage needs in Connecticut. George resides in Middlesex County which includes #Middletown, #Old Saybrook, #Middlefield, #Durham, #Cromwell, #Portland, #Higganum, #Haddam, #East Haddam, #Moodus, #Chester, #Deep River, and #Essex. George can be contacted at (860) 573-1308 or


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Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

What a great contribution to Paul Henderson's contest, George!  I have a son-in-law, whose family hails from the Azores - Sao Miguel!

Mar 18, 2017 05:45 PM #5
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

George,  First off ... thank you for your service. 

What a story to tell. How humbling to have come to the U.S. at 8 years old and create what you have created in your life.  

Mar 18, 2017 05:56 PM #6
Alexander- Slocum
Premiere Property Group, LLC - Vancouver Washington - Vancouver, WA
Realty Team- Vancouver WA Real Estate

Hi George, that is a wonderful story, and thanks for sharing it.  As a youth I thought volcanoes were fascinating but, when St. Helens went off in our area, and gave us a huge dusting or two, the reality of their danger can change one's feelings about them!  John and Kat 

Mar 18, 2017 06:25 PM #7
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

George, you are like so many others that come here to start a new life but never forget where you came from

Mar 18, 2017 06:34 PM #8
Noah Seidenberg
Coldwell Banker - Evanston, IL
Chicagoland and Suburbs (800) 858-7917

What an excellent story George. I learned something about you today.

Mar 18, 2017 07:20 PM #9
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

I noticed you served with 4000 of your closest friends aboard the USS Ranger. I have dreamed about the Azores as many of my Norwegian relatives vacation there each winter! Thank you for this entry in my March challenge George Souto! Well done!

Mar 18, 2017 09:40 PM #10
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond

George Souto what a fabulous share of your life and I am so glad you are returning to your roots this year...can't wait to hear about it.  Friends of mine went a year ago and raved about it (they're traveling the world from A-Z!)...

Mar 19, 2017 03:46 AM #11
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Fascinating story, George.  I fondly remember staging through the Azores in the 1970's when I was in the Air Force.  Lots of great pistachios on those islands.

Mar 19, 2017 04:59 AM #12
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
Realty One Group - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

That is a moving story of your 'hard-scrabble' young life and it is no wonder you have the humility you do. Enjoy your visit to your roots!

Mar 19, 2017 05:17 AM #13
Nina Hollander
RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi George, loved your "immigrant" story and being one myself, I could truly related. I was 28 when I first went back to German where I was born and 32 when I went to Russia where I have lots of roots, as well. So I know your trip back is long overdue and that it will be the experience of a lifetime.

Mar 19, 2017 06:33 AM #14
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi George -  That's a great story, and also a uniquely American one. I'm looking forward to hearing about your upcoming return trip.

Mar 19, 2017 01:27 PM #15
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

George how interesting your life and mine parallel.... we came to JFK in 1967:)) and you became a Yankee fan and I became a RedSox Fan:))Endre

Mar 19, 2017 04:46 PM #16
Lauren Williams, CPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

George Souto Thank you for your story, not only as a personal memory, but as a reminder of a time when America understood what it meant to be generous.

Mar 19, 2017 06:42 PM #17
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

George Souto what a wonderful story and adventure your family shared.  You are perfect examples of the American Dream and how to become American citizens.  I can't wait to read your future blogs on your trip to the Azores!

Mar 19, 2017 07:50 PM #18
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
"Franklin MA Homes"

Good morning, George Souto what a fantastic story to read .... and I'm looking forward to reading about your trip back to where you were born... wonder story to read...

Mar 20, 2017 02:49 AM #19
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I've never been to the Azores, but I used to work with several people from there that went back every other year or so to visit family. My daughter recently went for a vacation there and said it was absolutely gorgeous. She loved it, and she had been all over the world. I'm so happy you are going and can't wait to hear about your visit.

Mar 20, 2017 09:09 AM #20
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Hi George, I am so looking forward to reading more about your arrival into the U.S. and your trip back to your homeland. Good for you doing it now and wanting to know more about your heritage.

Mar 21, 2017 07:00 AM #21
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Thanks, George, for sharing your story and look forward to reading more about the Azores and your trip.

Mar 26, 2017 05:44 PM #22
Kaye Swain
Keller Williams Real Estate Roseville CA - Roseville, CA
Your Roseville Real Estate Agent

Lovely post! And how fun you get to go back. I'm still hoping to return to a favorite vacation spot one of these years so I can imagine a bit just how excited you must be. Enjoy!!!! 

Mar 29, 2017 08:45 AM #23
Mick Michaud
Distinctly Texas Lifestyle Properties, LLC Office:682/498-3107 - Granbury, TX
Your Texas Lifestyle is Here!

Quite an interesting experience, both leaving the Azores and living in the US as a child.

Apr 17, 2017 06:12 AM #24
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