Three cheers: Triplets celebrate 80 years with surprise party

Jul 10, 2021

Growing up on Fisher Road during the 1940s, Dartmouth-raised triplets Joan Garganta and Jim and Fred Borges lived in what Garganta said was “a very busy household” with a father who drove trucks and a mother who would take in other children to earn extra money.

“No time to play favorites then,” she laughed.

As the years passed, the triplets would start their own lives and families — with Jim and Fred remaining in the area, while Garganta moved to Florida a few years ago.

This weekend, those very triplets were reunited to celebrate their 80th birthday together in a surprise party with friends and family at the Smith Mills Church.

“It was wonderful,” Fred said.

Family members devised a plan to surprise the brothers: They were told to go to the church for a baby shower for one of Fred's great-grandchildren.  

The brothers were “very surprised,” they said, to see their sister at the party. They didn’t even know she was in the area.

“[Jim] was the one I was worried about,” Joanne Borges, Fred’s wife, said with a laugh about Garganta’s grand entrance. “He wasn’t moving for a second and I thought ‘Uh, oh.’”

Fred said that growing up, it was nice to have two other siblings that were the same age as him, adding that it “always gave me someone to talk to.”

Jim also had fond memories of growing up on Fisher Road, noting that he was especially close with his brother, often going to Lincoln Park or going on bike rides to Westport. 

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. 

Garganta had a slightly different recollection of things.

“Those two always fought together,” she said. When the two would play-fight outside, she’d go to her room and read.

Garganta noted that she was also the subject of the typical sibling rivalry with Fred and Jim, with the usual brotherly teasing.

“Yeah, we always picked on Joan,” Jim said.

Both Fred and Garganta would eventually graduate from Dartmouth High in 1959 — although Jim did not attend high school with them. He said only went as far as the eighth grade, which he repeated twice before he said he “got out at 15 and joined the Navy.”

“Two years active duty,” he said.

After his time in the Navy, the Dartmouth resident spent a few years delivering oil “house to house,” and working maintenance for the town’s public schools.

“There was always something to do,” he laughed. 

Much like her brother, Garganta also held a variety of jobs, working in Hasbro’s accounting department, for a wine company, an auto dealer, and writing vouchers for underprivileged youth.

“It was a nice job,” she said.

Fred, meanwhile, spent much of his life working in law enforcement. He first started as a police officer in Acushnet before spending 32 years working in various roles for the New Bedford Police Department — including undercover work dealing with narcotics.

Now, all three are enjoying retirement by spending time with family and reminiscing.

“The years flew by,” Garganta said. “But that’s life, you do what you have to do to survive.”