Friday, May 17, 2013

18150. Bernice James de Pasquali


So, picture little Hull. In 1850, barely 250 people lived in town, finally rebounding to its American Revolution era population after nearly three quarters of a century. Joshua James was born at the low point, in 1826, when the town numbered just about 125 souls.

Yet he grew up to be the greatest, or at least the most prolific, lifesaver in American history.

Fast foward a while. The town is growing again, mostly because the seashore has been discovered as a popular summer resort. Lots of things at play - Industrial Revolution, the separation of classes, the start of the "week-end" getaway, more. Still, Hull had fewer than 500 year-round residents, even until 1890.

One of those residents, though, had a voice, and a damn good one, She grew up at 30 Main Street, the niece of Joshua James (and who wasn't?), and went on to follow her calling: "Renowned coloratura soprano, noted both in Europe and America for her marvelous voice, her wonderful art, and charming personality." Bernice James De Pasquali hit it big time, performing with Enrico Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera House. She sang professionally until she could no longer, wearing herself out and dying while on a tour in 1925.

Her remains were brought back to Hull, where on Christmas Eve, she was known to sing "Silent Night" at Elm Park, just for the locals. She was buried in the "old cemetery," with so many of her ancestors, with the words "With deepest sorrow we mourn and cry, 'until we meet again' goodby, dear heart, goodby."

Not bad, for a local gal.

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