The year was 1940. It was the marrying month of March. At least, it was for teen bride Alice Machado who just exchanged vows with the love of her life, Joe Machado, at St. Anthony’s Church in Manteca.
Alice’s father, an immigrant from the Azores and a dairy farmer, was a very well-known active member of both the Manteca-Ripon Pentecost Society (MRPS) and the Festa do Espirito Santo (FESM) Portuguese organizations. The organizations’ halls – at 133 North Grant Street and 240 North Main Street, respectively – were, then as now, popular venues for such life-affirming events as the Machado wedding reception. As a matter of fact, recalled the still very alert nonagenarian, her father was approached by the leaders of both Portuguese organizations offering their respective halls as the venue for his daughter’s wedding reception.
But her father diplomatically told the representatives of both groups that he was very grateful of their offers but that he did not want to cause any “differences” between the two groups and that he wanted “to be independent.”
“They all went to our house and offered the (use of their) hall. That was beautiful. But dad said, ‘I don’t want to; I’ll (continue to) be a member of both your associations,’” recalled Machado.
There was an underlying reason for her father to turn down the offers from the two Portuguese organizations. At one time, there was only MRPS. It was founded in 1919. In 1932, MRPS split and some of its members founded FESM. Some members, Machado’s father included, joined both organizations in the spirit of cooperation and camaraderie.
In that same spirit, her father made the decision to hold his daughter’s wedding reception at the IOOF Hall, one of downtown Manteca’s oldest buildings located next to the vacant lot on the northwest corner of West Yosemite Avenue and North Main Street.
The “small” wedding banquet was just for “very close friends” as well as family members, Machado reminisced.
She also remembered the narrow and steep and high stairway flushed onto the east side of the building. Navigating it was a challenge.
“I don’t know how I made (the ascent),” she laughed. “But I was 18 then, so I could easily run up there.”
Twenty-nine years after her wedding day, she was a widow. She and her husband were married on March 10, 1940; he died of a heart attack on April 10, 1969. He passed away the year after they moved in to the big sprawling new house that he built for her, the same house in the bucolic south Manteca countryside where she still lives today.
Richard, the oldest of their six children of four boys and two girls was 22 years old was already married and living with his wife and two children when Machado lost her husband. The remaining siblings still lived at home – 6-year-old Joe, Jr.; 10-year-old Alyce; 13-year-old Eddie; 14-year-old Ronnie; and 17-year-old Cecelia.
“I never remarried. I was too busy taking care of my children and my business,” said the Machado family matriarch.
Memories of her wedding 73 years ago came rushing in after reading about the historic building in Manteca’s business district downtown in a recent Manteca Bulletin article.
“When I saw that in the paper, I thought, ‘Oh, my God! That’s where I had my wedding reception, where we had a wedding dance in the evening.’ That brought me a lot of memories. I thought, ‘Oh, God. That building is more than a hundred years old!’ It must have been new when I came to Manteca in 1938.”
From Mountain View to Manteca
Her family had been living in Mountain View before they came to the Valley.
Machado’s life story is quite unique in terms of being the daughter of immigrants. While her siblings were born in the United States, she was born in the Azores, on the island of Terceira. There were four boys and two girls in the family – coincidentally, Machado and her husband also had four girls and two boys. Son Ronnie is deceased; he died in an auto accident when he was 23 years old. Her sister, Mary Borges, was seven years her senior and was married in 1933. Their brothers were John, Tony, Frank, and Joe J. Machado.
“My dad went back to the Azores in 1919,” taking with him her older brothers and sister who were born in the U.S., Machado said.
“Dad went back because during the (First World War) and after the war, he could not get help for the cows,” she said.
Her father had a dairy at that time. “So we sold everything, the property and the cows.”
“I was nine years old when I came to the United States,” Machado said, recalling the time the family returned to America. It was 1930. Her parents and her siblings did not have any difficulty coming back to the U.S. because they were all American citizens, she said.
Today, Machado remains the matriarch of her five-generation family. She has long retired from running the family dairy in south Manteca. In fact, she said, “we don’t have the cows anymore. All we have now are (almond) orchards.”
She can’t help laughing and sighing at the same time as she talks about her large family. “Oh, my God!” she exclaimed as she counted – marked by long pauses – the members of her five-generation family that now includes 12 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
“I’m a very lucky person. I have beautiful children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, and they all love their avo. We have such fun!” she said with a youthful happy laugh.
Machado and her late husband were among the stalwart pillars and supporters of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Parish and St. Anthony’s School. Her family and the extended Machado family likewise have been longtime dairy farmers in Manteca and surrounding areas for generations. The Cow-munity Mural on the west side of the building that used to be Mars Department Store on West Yosemite, facing the parking lot of Athens Burgers, is a nod to the Machado dairy family. The mural, one of more than two-dozen gracing downtown Manteca, was painted in a day as part of the annual Pumpkin Fair celebration.
She still manages to move around.
“I do nothing,” she said laughing, talking life at home these days. “I have wonderful people that take care of me. I push a little walker around, that’s it. But I’m walking, and my doctor is surprised. I could go to church if I have somebody to drive me. But Sister Ann (of St. Anthony’s Ministry of Caring) comes to give me Holy Communion.”