Today we remember George and Rosanna’s son, Bernard Vaughan Swales, on his 107th birthday. In his honor, we’ll look back at Bernard’s early years from birth through his early adulthood.
Born on February 23, 1907 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, Bernard was the youngest of three children, all sons, born to George and Rosanna Swales. Bernard was the only one of the couple’s children to survive through childhood.
Just months after Bernard’s birth, George and Rosanna emigrated to Fall River, Massachusetts, a city which was already the home to George’s sisters, Rose and Eliza. Fall River also offered the couple hope of steady, high paying employment in the city’s numerous textile mills. While his parents worked the arduous hours of mill operatives, young Bernard was cared for by his Aunt Rose, Rose’s daughter Ellen, and Aunt Eliza. Based on the 1910 census where three year old Bernard is mistakenly listed as the grandchild of his Aunt Rose, I believe he often lived with Aunt Rose during the week and spent the weekends with his parents.
Because George and Rosanna both worked throughout Bernard’s childhood, they earned enough to ensure that Bernard was able to attend grammar school and go on to high school, no small feat for the son of immigrant mill operatives. Upon his graduation from Fall River’s B.M.C. Durfee High School in 1925, George and Rosanna had hoped to send their “bright boy” to college. However, economic hard times hit the Fall River textile industry in the years following World War I and to make ends meet, the couple was forced to use the money that they had saved for Bernard’s education.
With college out of the picture, Bernard, had to find a job after graduation from high school. His keen mathematical mind was well suited to the clerk position that he landed at the Mechanic’s Mill, located at 1082 Davol Street in Fall River. After a two year stint at the Mechanic’s Mill, Bernard moved on to a similar job at the Weetamoe Mills, just down the road at 1290 Davol Street. By 1931, Bernard was married and had changed jobs again, working as a clerk at the Arkwright Mills. You can read about his frightening run in with armed bandits in a previous post on the Arkwright Payroll Robbery.
Pictured above are a number of photos of Bernard during the 1920’s.
- The top picture shows Bernard with his beloved dog.
- The second is from the B.M.C. Durfee High School Yearbook for 1925.
- The third photo shows Bernard with his soccer team, the Oaks. Bernard loved to play soccer, but saw limited playing time due to heart problems resulting from a bout of rheumatic fever in his youth.
- The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh photos show Bernard among his many friends during the “Roaring 20’s”.
- Lastly, we have two of the mills were Bernard worked. The Mechanics Mill is on the left and the Weetamoe Mill is on the right. For those of you who know Fall River, you might recognize the Mechanics Mill as the home of the popular restaurant, Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill.