Patricia [Santos] Nickles Oral History Interview
Oral History Interview with Patricia (Santos) Nickles, February 25, 2017
Born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1950; daughter of Ruth E. (Cassidy) and Charles R. Santos Jr. (1923-1990); both born in Lowell. Ruth (Cassidy) Santos (b. 1923) was from an Irish-American Catholic family. Charles R. Santos Sr. (1901-1964) was born to a Portuguese immigrant family on Charles Street in Lowell. His father (Nickles great- grandfather) Alberto(Albert) Santos, born in the Azores (likely on the island of Graciosa), married Aldina Silva. Charles Sr. attended Lowell public schools but left upon completing elementary school. He married Mary Farley of Lowell(1903-1939)who was of Irish-Catholic heritage; worked a few years in a small foundry in the Ayer’s City section of Lowell, and purchased a house near the foundry on 32 Marriner Street. After employment as meat dept. manager at Saunders market on Gorham St. in Lowell, he began a successful family-run wholesale meat company, Charles Santos & Sons Inc. The first of seven children (two girls and five boys), Charles Jr. was educated in Lowell public schools. He graduated from Lowell High School in 1940, after which he worked briefly as a welder at the Charlestown (Massachusetts) Navy Yard. During WW II he left to servein the U.S. Marine Corps in the South Pacific. After sustaining combat injuries related to his participation in the liberation of Guam, he returned to Lowell, graduated from Northeastern University, and worked as manager/president in the family meat business. At this time(1950’s), Santos became involved in local Democratic politics. working as campaign treasurer for the campaign of Attorney James L. O’Dea for District Attorney of Middlesex County and then for John F. Kennedy’s Senatorial and Presidential campaigns. From 1962-1967 he was employed with General Services Administration as a liaison officer for the federal government. He was appointed U.S. Postmaster of Lowell in 1967, serving in this position for 12 years before promotion in 1979 to District/Mgr., Middlesex- Essex, Mass. He concluded his career with promotions to District Manager/Postmaster of Honolulu and the Pacific Region (1981), and then to District Manager of the Boston District (New England States) in 1983, before retirement in 1986.
Scope and Contents:
Interview conducted by local historian Mehmed Ali focuses almost exclusively on family history, primarily on the Santos (paternal) branch, with some reference to the Cassidy (maternal) family. It includes the experiences of marriage across ethnic lines, education, and occupational roles of family members in Lowell. It also includes information regarding the operation of business in a local family company, as well as that of local and state politics in the 1950’s and 1960’s, including the John F. Kennedy Senatorial and Presidential campaigns.