John Figuerido was born in 1941 to a Portuguese American family. He grew up in Massachusetts during World War II. Later in life, he used his Portuguese language skills to help other Portuguese people who came to America to work.
In this interview, Figuerido discusses his Portuguese heritage, growing up in Massachusetts, the food they ate during World War II, and the war’s effect on his childhood. He also details the experiences of his father-in-law, who participated in the Normandy invasion.
Telling Veteran Father-in-Law About Buying a Toyota
RD: Did you hear any stories that adults told? Did they say anything, like even after?
The only one that could have told stories would have been my father-in-law. And he never talked about the war. He mentioned some things, like hunkering down under a bridge and seeing the bullets fly by and that kind of thing. But it was something he didn’t talk about.
And matter of fact, I bought a Toyota, and I was really happy about that. A nice new car, was 1991, I think it was.
RD: Hey, it’s a good car.
And I went to Florida and I was anxious to tell my father-in-law. Wow, he was upset! You know, “We defeated those guys and now you’re buying their stuff!”
RD: Japanese brand car.
Right. I was like, wow. Like I say, he never showed that distaste for the Japanese and stuff.
RD: But when you bought the Toyota—.
Oh boy, [laughs] what a mistake that was! No, it wasn’t a mistake—it was a good car.