Holy Ghost Society will honor islander for 70 years of service
Ed Morinho has spent all of his 89 years living in Jamestown, aside from the years he spent serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II. For 70 of those years, Morinho has been a member of the local Holy Ghost Society. The society will celebrate his contributions over those 70 years with a lunch that will follow its regular monthly meeting Sunday.
Morinho joined the Holy Ghost Society in 1942. He had just turned 18, graduated from high school, and was planning to enter the service. His decision to become part of the society was based primarily on the fact that his grandfather, father and uncles were members.
“I was just a young kid, so I thought I’d join up and be with the gang,” Morinho said. “There wasn’t that much to do in Jamestown in the old days. There was no TV or anything.”
According to Joan Dupee, society president, the Jamestown chapter was founded by a local group in 1924 and the hall on Narragansett Avenue was built. At one time, when Jamestown had a large Portuguese population, there were hundreds of members. (Portuguese heritage is required for membership.) The group provides scholarships to deserving students and helps out needy community residents. The nonprofit holds fundraisers that provide the resources for the group’s giving initiatives.
After returning from the war, in which he served as a crew chief and flight engineer, Morinho took a government job. He worked at the naval base at Beavertail for about a year before landing a job as an aviation engine mechanic at the Quonset naval base. He eventually became an aeronautical production controller. Morinho remained at Quonset until the base closed in 1973, at which point he retired.
“They said I could get a job in California or somewhere else,” Morinho said, “but I would have had to leave my house and everything I owned to go out there for a year or two and then come back here. It was just a big headache.”
Morinho has been involved in a number of different activities for the Holy Ghost Society over the years. He’s helped out with the annual feast day, served as a fillin bartender serving nickel beers, refereed basketball games when the hall was the only place in town to shoot hoops, and even performed on the drums in the Willie Parquette Orchestra that played on Saturday nights.
Meanwhile, Morinho was also serving the town of Jamestown in a wide variety of roles. He served on the Town Council in the 1950s and 1970s. He was the civil defense director for 10 years, and also spent a decade as campground supervisor at Fort Getty. For 45 years he was a member and training officer of the Fire Department. As if all of that isn’t enough, Morinho has been an American Legion member for 67 years, and he is a life member of the Elks.
“One thing about Ed is that he’s always there to help everybody,” Dupee said. “He’s a nice guy.”
Morinho and his wife have been married for 63 years. The couple has a son and daughter, three grandchildren and four greatgrandchildren.
“We’re still hanging in there,” Morinho said. “We’re not in the greatest of health, but we still get around everyday.”
Dupee said that Morinho has been a loyal member of the society.
“He could be on his deathbed and he’d still show up for the meetings,” she said. “He and his wife have always been there to help out. He’s done a lot for the town in his years.”
Dupee’s grandfather was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and was part of the drum and bugle corps. When he returned from the war, he taught others to play the drums. One of his students was Ed Morinho.
“I know he taught a lot of people.” Dupee said. “He used to give lessons at the house, but I was surprised to learn that Ed was one of his students.”
According to Dupee, there had been some concern about the dwindling membership in the society. Holy Ghost officials were uncertain whether enough young people would be attracted to the organization. However, recently there have been some positive developments in that regard.
“I’ve got 23 new people signed up, and they even put their children and grandchildren in it, which is good,” said Dupee. “We’re going to do more and more to bring young people in.”
One other interesting tidbit: At one time Morinho’s parents purchased a cafe that was located where Jamestown Designs is today. At the time they bought it, it was called the B&M Cafe, using the initials of the owners: Burgess and Morinho. Since there were new owners, a new name was needed. It was Morinho who came up with the idea of calling it the Narragansett Café because of its location on Narragansett Avenue. The name has become iconic in Rhode Island, although the cafe moved up the street some time ago and has had several owners since.