The “Who am I”
Edited, just to correct the link of “Alegria, Alegria”, that I marked with a *
Attending to requests from friends. If you’re not one of them, you should spend your time on something better.
Reading theirs and many that are published here, I had to try to make one, not as good as all of them, at least that would not annoy my readers, that would stop reading after some paragraphs.
I do not like this one, but I tried hard, believe me!
To recall what I thought that could be interesting, so many histories, facts, things that happened in my life and put in reasonable sequence…
Yeah, and it happened too: I ended up, very old, enjoying writing books, chronicles, and becoming a poet; and old as I am now, so I continue.
I would have a lot to tell, but I will try to write firstly what seems interesting to me from this childhood phase. If Dona Bebé, my mother, were alive, for her this would be a chapter with 200 pages or more.
And it’s true, on May 8, 1935, at Rua Affonso Celso,
Here, where now is this condominium, it is where were the four little row houses, one in which I was born,
right behind the Colégio Arquidiocesano,
on May 8, 1935, at 4:35 AM, Dona Romilda, a midwife, helped my mother to expel me into this world.
I know that I was well-liked, pampered, and well educated by my proud parents.
Look at my mother’s joy:
God! How ugly I was!
And daddy’s too
A few months later, look at the clown starting his profession
And mom is always excited about the brat
But things got bad indeed when I was being pampered and taken as a genius by grandparents and uncles. A distant beginning of my problems, which I only solved and got rid of in my late thirties or early forties, for almost ten years of psychoanalysis.
Perhaps I was more advanced for the age, used vocables learned with my mother reading books for me, that allowed me to describe and comment scenes and… make mistakes, like the ones that I will tell later on.
Yes, what they thought doing me well, involuntarily did me bad.
Much later, look at me practising, seriously, to get a driver’s license
Everything that I am, I owe to the best possible care and education that my parents could offer me; and to their example of uprightness, honesty, hard work, humility and love of the other without prejudice.
For an overview of my professional life here is my resume
And didn’t I say I was going to make shit?
1 — Mom and Dona Conceição, wife of Dr Rheinfrank, Dad’s head in the Department of Statistics, met and became friends; Mom often went to her house, at Largo da Liberdade, a large front, I believe it was 20 meters or more, about 50 meters deep, as it ended at Rua dos Aflitos.
Ground floor in Brazilian colonial style, wide terrace in front on which one reached by three wide and low wooden steps, which continued along the entire length of the left side of those who looked at it from the front; I can’t quite remember the interior, just the front parlour and the kitchen, the one we reached through a normal wooden door (certainly hardwood) on the left side. I try, but I can’t “ask university students for help”; the two can no longer answer me…
My mother took me wherever and whenever she went, on foot, bus and tram; for pleasure and for not having anyone to leave me with.
The first time the little brat went to see the house, he walked along the front terrace, went to the end of the side, came back and, in front of Dona Conceição, said to the poor mother: what a quantity of plant, and vases! Looks like a house of the black negro.
My mother yelled at me, she became a ripe tomato, Dona Conceição was almost dying to laugh.
I don’t know what they talked, commented; surely my mother explained that it was the result of what her imbecile mother-in-law said, that my father was fighting her for this hateful prejudice.
Let’s face it, it’s common to someone who was raised at Casa Grande e Senzala.
2 — Another visit, I already knew how to keep quiet, just answering questions, but I had to say I was thirsty; there came a nice glass with a small plate, I drank it all.
In the end, he said: Yes, Mom, water sustains…
Poor thing, Bebé! The boy is hungry!
The result, you imagine.
3 — When older, on one of our trips to Rio, we stayed at Realengo, at Tia Maria and Uncle Paulo’s grange.
The aunt had to go to the Center to take care of something; she invited me and there we went by train, tram, back and forth; when the tram entered a large street, I asked aunt where we were, what the name of the street was. She replied that it is Rua Larga, and I: “In São Paulo, a wide street is called Avenida. Laughter in the tram, an old man pontificated: Paulista, since he is a boy, he’s prognostic!
The aunt went into a bar to have coffee (she smoked more than me today, sometimes cigarettes on the butt); she asked if I would like some juice; Grapette is yummy, she said. Delicious! This did not exist in São Paulo, nor was its existence known. It marked me; to this day I feel the perfume and taste of that nectar, I remember the “propaganda” of that time.
Do you see? I am lost in memories and not telling who I am!
In a “vol d’oiseau”, more or less following my professional employment changes:
I never dated, I didn’t know how to date, stupid shyness whose cause I only discovered when I was undergoing psychotherapy, much later.
I never dated, I didn’t know how to date, stupid shyness whose cause I only discovered when I was undergoing psychotherapy, much later.
Anyone who has read “In the Jardim da Saúde” knows that Darilma lived in the house as it was next door; she was pretty and cute, and I liked her.
Sometimes a guy would visit the neighbours and I would hear her talking to that someone, happy and laughing (the houses were almost glued together, from here and there we could hear everything) playing the piano for him, both even singing a song together; I was so angry that I slammed the window. My mother came to ask me what was wrong, I said that the loud sound bothered me (she certainly knew what it was, but she didn’t say it).
I was already attending the Faculty of Engineering, where I met Father Benedito Ulhoa Vieira with whom I became friends; one day, talking to him, I recounted the fact of my anger; he said that I was in love with Darilma, he encouraged me to meet her at the door of the Conservatório Musical de São Paulo on her way out. She saw me, she was glad to see me, I said that I was coming back from the post office, and if she was coming home, we could go together. On the way to the bus stop, I finally dared to tell her that I liked her a lot, I do not remember the way we went to the bus; I Only remember that she laid her other hand on mine, turned to me her face, her little inviting mouth, we kissed… lips closed.
We ministered to us the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Basil of Our Lady of Carmel, in the testimonial and blessings of the Vicar, on June 30, 1959.
Nineteen happy years, we raised three wonderful children, Thais, Celso and Thelma; of this wedding, I have four grandchildren and one great-grandson.
She was my wife, companion, supporter, that accompanied my life, problems and deeds in the CSN (National Steel Company, in Volta Redonda), Cosipa (Paulista Steel Mills, in Santos), São Paulo Metro, CAIAL (Action Committee for the Integration of Latin America), Comgás, and Vasp, the last three ones in São Paulo.
At the very end of my tenure at VASP, we concluded that it would be better for us to part ways; at that time, and already six years on psychoanalysis, I had managed to get rid of the crutch of religion.
I left carrying only a suitcase and a handbag; I left the home, car, my reserve officer’s sword, all my medals, everything, for her; it was more or less “no handkerchief or document” like Caetano Veloso says in “Alegria Alegria”*…
I lived in a small hotel apartment, bedroom, bathroom, eating and living room, kitchenette and a small balcony facing the square around the Igreja do Espírito Santo.
Those were hard times, living off the meagre reserves I had, consulting here, another there, paying for taxis when there were no buses that came close to destinations, helping Darilma and our children and their schools.
Jorge Hori, a wonderful person, a dear friend of mine and Darilma (the only one who, after our separation, was incontinent to visit her and offer her support when she needed it), came to my ward and asked me if I could take care of the house that the company Camargo Corrêa had given to him but he did not occupy it. What an amazing way to give me this gift! He really was an angel!
By March 87, I had to accept the invitation of Eric Carvalho, then President of Varig, to the anticipated commemoration of the ninety-fifth years of the company found that truly should be on May 6.
I was about to call my car at the front door of the excellent hotel I was in and I saw HER asking the attendant to call a cab to Santos Dumont Airport.
A little embarrassed by her slim and very well dressed body, her beauty, by my old age (I was 47, she should be about 30) I approached her and said that I had a car and was going there if she accepted I could give her a ride. She accepted and told me that she was going to the same reception as me. On the ride, she said that already knew a lot about me, but never had viewed me personally. I asked her to pardon me, but I didn’t remember having seen her.
− It’s normal, firstly because I don’t work on Vasp, but on Cruzeiro do Sul; second, big bosses cannot know all of its employees.
We entered the feast, she parted somewhere.
Eric saluted with a stupid joke on the fact that the Boeing 747 (that I ought to do due to the negative of the Minister of Aeronautic that Vasp bought the Airbus 320, saying that it would be bad for the competition… Can you believe?), I gave a sarcastic answer and run after the noisy and joyful group, where I saw HER in the middle; many men, my age or less, in the group, maybe one or two women; she waved to me, I went to her, she took my hand and pushed me away, said: “Let’s go by the bar, it’s too noisy and annoying here.”
She got a gin tonic, me a double scotch on ice, we sat close on a bench et the end of the room. She said her name was Julieta, Julie for close friends, was a stewardess and chief of the steward training centre of Cruzeiro do Sul, gave me a rapid glimpse of hers. I was marvelled at hers counting!
The dinner was the same of the same, I invited her to go dine in the marvellous restaurant of our hotel. My car was waiting, there we went.
Although her history of difficulties, suffering, till having the opportunity of entering, at seventeen, as a public attendant at the company’s headquarters, she was light, joyful, had many interesting histories of her flights. It has been a delicious chat, washed down with good food and great wine.
She asked various questions about me as a person, I answered all with fairly the very truth, even the embarrassing ones.
Drinking our coffees and digestives, I asked if she would accept to go to my suíte. “Of course” she responded.
It was a fantastic and delicious night for me; for both of us, she said.
We said goodbye at the main door, promising each other to meet again. I asked my driver to take her home. It took me eight months to be able to see her again.
I was then the representative of YPO (Young Presidents Organization) in Brazil.
The next YPO meeting, this time was in Rio de Janeiro. Paid tickets and accommodation, I called Julieta, rented a car and stayed in her two-story loft in Vidigal, in a complex where many movie and television stars lived, some were her friends.
I attended the Opening Ceremony, participated in the welcome lunch, and to some of the meetings in the afternoon. It was my last year term of the two each one may be representative.
I didn’t go to the meetings on the other days anymore, we went out and went for walks around the nearby beaches and bathed, we went to have lunch at the restaurant, also nearby, the Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort, to other beaches, Leblon, Leme, Copacabana, where we had lunch, other occasions to drink a draft beer in the afternoon…
When I returned to São Paulo a few days later, she arrived in a taxi laden with things; two complete sets of double beds attire (Thais’s had also a double bed), addresses for home, and a bunch of different coloured ceramic butterflies, gifts for Thais and me. She tidied and decorated our house.
She saw what we had in pots and dishes, took Thais to the market, bought what she thought we didn’t have and were needed, also groceries, meat and fish, wine, scotch for me, tonic water and gin for her.
Many butterflies were broken, in so many changes of address we made, but here we have the ones that are still left in our current home.
Jorjão (Jorge Bartolomeu da Cunha) — a friend of Jorge Hori and mine, who, with Jorge Hori and Paulo Teixeira Demôro introduced me to Sebastião Camargo (that is already written in a draft “Pieces of my life” that I hope to write the last chapter before someone will have to…), lived close by and came to visit us every Saturday; he always brought a flower for the Julieta Other to Thais, a bottle of gin Gordon and a bottle of Noilly Pratt; Julie and Thais made snacks,
I made Dry Martini following what I learned at Harry’s Bar in Venice:
“The Montgomery cocktail is more than a just simple cocktail, it is a legacy Ernest Hemingway has given to the world of Mixology. When he visited Harry’s Bar, the writer used to order a Dry Martini with a slightly modified recipe, yet with precise proportions. “He preferred that the Vermouth, in respect to the Gin, not exceed a proportion of one to fifteen. The same proportion — Hemingway would say — with which the famous English General Montgomery was fighting his battles during the Second World War: fifteen of his soldiers against each of his enemy’s” (source: “Harry’s Bar Venezia, Le ricette della tradizione”), Arrigo Cipriani)”.
I prepare it with a little difference that, to my taste and to everyone who tries it, is equal to or better than the “Montgomery”:
The cups are already in the freezer, I fill the mixer with ice cubes, I put a teaspoon dose of Lilly Pratt, I mix it with a wooden or stainless steel to adhere its perfume and taste in the ice, then I pour all the liquid through the sieve; then, yes, I put enough doses of Gin (I prefer Gordon’s) for the number of glasses to serve, mix, slowly with the stirrer, put in the already chilled glasses, with Italian lemon rings or green olives, according to the like each one.
Julieta always came with gifts and useful things to further furnish and beautify the house. I only came to know, later, where she got so much money: she was selling jewellery that she had received from her Portuguese grandmother!
At a certain point, she and I, I already as President at Máquinas Piratininga, went to a congress in Joinville, Santa Catarina, on new uses of coal, in particular for the production of oil and gas, which interested the company.
There, we met with Plínio Assmann, then President of Cosipa, who told us that a Brazilian trading company, Duferco, needed someone like me to complete its team; I authorized him to indicate my name. If you have read my professional resume, there is proof of the success of my participation. In the beginning, we were four partners: Pedro Lopes, owner of Dufer reforming and steel products distributor, Bruno Bolfo and Mauro Testino, Italian founders of Ferco Internacional, head office based in New York, with representation in Lugano, Switzerland.
I was accepted and made a partner of it.
From the beginning, I added three more Steel Mills, besides Cosipa, and Brazil’s largest pipe producer as suppliers of Duferco, and created and put in operation, on my own, with my money, Duferco Japan, that became so important, one of the best of our offices. Then, I included it as one more of our offices.
Duferco grew to have sixteen offices or representations in sixteen countries.
This growth led Siderbrás, the Brazilian state-owned iron and steel holding company at the time, to insist that Duferco enter the new Cofavi Privatization Notice (two previous ones had no interested parties).
At that time, Duferco’s partners were just Bruno and me.
An Italian company, known to Bruno, was so keenly interested that it sent his technicians to visit the facilities, concluding that they would buy all the lead steel production that was produced.
To make a long story short, Duferco Brasil bought Cofavi.
The tragedy, of its long and inevitable collapse, since it was abandoned by the Italians, until the bankruptcy. It was a nightmare!
A case worth noting:
After the declaration of bankruptcy of COFAVI, at the suggestion of my friends and excellent lawyers, Professor Arnoldo Wald and his sons, I should ask to come to São Paulo a reputed and notorious lawyer specializing in bankruptcy in Rio de Janeiro to expose the situation and ask for his help.
At that time, as I no longer had an office, the meeting was held in the office of a friend and companion of mine, Laércio Gabrielli.
After all the explanation by everyone present (there were 4 people on our side; Daniel Marun and Gabrielli spoke, I was mute and sweating), the experienced lawyer told of his fees and costs of the Process.
I was perplexed and humbly said: “But Professor, I have no money…”.
His response: “But how? A bankrupt who has no money?”.
So it is, a scandal for lawyers who specialize in saving rich and unscrupulous people.
But, in the meantime, I got very rich. I travelled to many countries besides the ones where we had offices, in several Julieta went together. Every time it was possible to take vacations, we went, with the kids, to NY, FL, to many of the best islands of Caribean.
My origins, heritage, and wisdom, made me not feel the lack of money and facilities: I only bought Brazilian cars, not the marvellous imported ones, never a yacht or helicopter.
I just went ahead.
Long before that, I had selected and interviewed about 70 college-educated professionals with recognized competence in their fields; and among them, I hired nearly 20 to compose the top echelon of the São Paulo Metrô staff.
I can say, with some immodesty, that I was one of the main creators of the São Paulo Metropolitan Company — of course with the approval of Quintanilha Ribeiro, then the Secretary of Finance of the Muinicipality, and the approval (sometimes reluctant…) of Zé Vicente (Faria Lima).
I wrote its Bylaws; I scribbled what would be the Human Resources Policies; the salary table; the company’s purpose, which today would be part of the commitment to ISO 9,000 certification.
Meanwhile, my compadre and dear friend Plínio and I were trying to undertake something that could be a more permanent source of sustenance.
I don’t remember who introduced us and why we got to know two characters, also looking for the same goal, much less who discovered the graphics whose owner was already tired.
We bought the graphics and spent, each one as we could and in the short time available, organizing the business and picking up orders. We started to get excited.
Two of my subordinates, and friends, on the Metro, were arrested. One disappeared for nearly six months; the other for three weeks.
Our two partners in the print shop (a print shop in these times! What lunacy!) were arrested too: one disappeared for two or three weeks, the other for about six months or more. Both were more than involved with the Dominicans of Perdizes, from that Convent that I had attended assiduously in my days as a Catholic and member of the JUC (Catholic University Youth), where many priests lived, among whom were some very close friends of mine. Ah! How I miss Fra Michel Pervis!
All this happening, and in those “Years of Lead”! I couldn’t eat, ate very little and pushed the food through the mouth; I slept little, I was terrified at any siren noise: now it’s my turn! It was great for the silhouette: I lost about 10 kilos in a few weeks.
An ineffable moment in midst of fear and anguish.
And then, one day João Carlos (de Souza Meirelles) gave me a ride to my house and stopped his big car (I don’t even remember what type or brand it was); I was about to jump when it started to play (at Rádio Eldorado, I think) the 1st Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, of Brahms without interruption.
We didn’t move or exchange any words until the end.
In those many minutes we were — together and in solidarity — in another country, another part, where everything was harmony, beauty, peace…
Other ineffable moments
1 — We got home, my then-wife and I, I don’t know if it was from a dinner, a movie or theatre.
We entered the garage and, having parked the car, a pianist, unknown to us at the time, began to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the radio (I think again that in Eldorado).
An interpretation of immense strength, lightness and poignancy, of limpid clarity and in “slow slow” progress such as we had never heard.
The engine already turned off; we couldn’t exchange a word. For what?
We were one and one, together as always and never, on the edge of an impossible lake, where each key dripped, slowly and tenderly, drops falling from the sky, from a full and silvery moon, full of our same passion.
2 — When we had (so long ago!) a tiny rented apartment in Leme (Rio de Janeiro), every sunny Saturday and Sunday afternoon, I would climb the cliff on the “Fisherman’s Rock” and sit, apart and alone — from the top of the cliff — wait for another “trumpet sunset”, as Emília, in Monteiro Lobato’s, “Picapau Amarelo” would say, way behind Copacabana and Arpoador.
That late afternoon the sea was more choppy than usual; the waves were already breaking their crests from afar and breaking with wild fury, spilling kaleidoscopic and colourful embroidery almost to the top of the beach.
The sun, already very low, close to sunset, caused its rays to focus in a special way of the moving waves that themselves reflected all the colours of heaven summoned by the trumpets of the angels.
Suddenly beautiful steeds, manes flying, many steeds, in cavalcade, they ran in a sprint from far away, where the crests of the waves began to break until they disappeared below the beach.
I don’t know how many seconds that living masterpiece was exposed, down there, for me, just for me. The cavalcade disappeared fast, as in “fade-out”.
I didn’t even try to look for the steeds, as I already knew that a hallucination never identically repeats itself. But I stayed there on the rocks, sitting in the same place, until long after nightfall. I don’t remember looking at the sea or at the horizon as they undressed their multicoloured garments.
Impossible to describe those moments, the beauty of what I saw, the ecstasy I experienced. I, who have such an incompetent memory for the past, keep everything very clear and, from time to time, like now that I remember it to tell you, I revisit the masterpiece with great tenderness.
As I wrote above, yes, I just went ahead, participating in projects in the sequence described on my curricula.
Here now, Julieta and I, live in Águas de Contendas, a District of Conceiçao do Rio Verde, State of Minas Gerais, wherefrom I wrote this thing.
If you endured reading this long history up here, congratulations and my thankings!
And, if you may want to comment, criticise, even say that you regret losing your time with such a messy and boring history, please help yourself.
As I wrote in the beginning, I did make the effort and tried to produce something acceptable.
Sorry, this is the outcome.