National Geographic : 1975 Jan
New England's "Little Portugal" ARTICLE AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY 0. LOUIS MAZZATENTA NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STAFF IT IS NO SMALL FEAT to retain grace and dignity while edging through a crowd with a heavy suitcase. But somehow Catarina Alves was managing it on that golden afternoon at Boston's Logan International Airport. Using sign language, I offered to carry her luggage to an immigration booth. She smiled a silent thank-you. A tall woman with salt-and-pepper hair and the brown skin of a Cape Verdean, Catarina is one of more than 100,000 Portuguese who have immi grated to the United States in the past decade. Others had arrived even earlier, of course. Many Portuguese-Americans firmly believe that a Portu guese explorer-Miguel Corte Real-and his crew lived among the Indians a century before the Eng lish landed at Plymouth. Over the years an increasing flow of Portuguese came to settle-mostly in New England. A quota system adopted in 1924 restricted the flow, but a law passed in 1965 opened the gates again. With limited land and opportunities at home, Portuguese have been arriving since then in greater numbers than ever. Thousands still head for New England -including Catarina Alves. Her immigration form indicated that she would stay at first with friends in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The next day, with Professor T. Steven Tegu Portuguese folklore blends with Yankee patriotism when Bristol, Rhode Island, celebrates the Fourth of July. These whirling dancers perform before a model windmill that symbolizes the Azores, Portugal's mid-Atlantic islands. New England's flavorful Portuguese-American community -counting only European-born immigrants and their children-now numbers roughly 150,000.