Francis J. “Jack” Picanso Oral History Interview
Oral History Interview with Francis J. “Jack” Picanso, March 3, 2017
Francis J. “Jack” Picanso was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1936; son of Rita R. (Stillings) and Anthony Picanso, who were also born in Lowell; the fraternal grandfather, Manuel C. Picanso (1868-1937) immigrated from the Azores (most likely the island of Graciosa), settling in Lowell in 1887; Manuel Picanso was one of the founders of Lowell’s first Portuguese Catholic church (on Gorham and Congress streets) and subsequently helped found Saint Anthony Catholic Church on Central Street; he worked in the Appleton Cotton Mills as weaver and later in the skilled position of loom fixer; Manuel Picanso also purchased a house—most Portuguese immigrants at this time rented in tenements—near Lincoln Square in Lowell in a part of the city where few Portuguese lived; Jack Picanso attended parochial schools in Lowell, graduating from Keith Academy in 1953; he then matriculated at Boston College, graduating with a bachelor of arts in Greek; Picanso returned to Lowell, taught at Keith Academy, followed by two public schools in Lowell, the Varnum elementary and the Daley middle schools; after teaching math at the Daley, Picanso was appointed assistant to the principal at the Daley and also served as president of the employee’s bargaining unit of Lowell’s school administrators.
Scope and Contents:
Interview conducted by local historian Mehmed Ali; focuses on the Picanso family history, notably Manuel C. Picanso, a prominent member of Lowell’s Portuguese community in the late 19th century; also includes information on the small businesses operated by Picanso relatives, as well as marriage and family life with non-Portuguese spouses in pre-WWII and post-war Lowell; part of the interview also focuses on parochial school education in 1940s in Lowell, and Jack Picanso’s career as a teacher and administrator in Lowell’s public schools, beginning in the late 1950s.