Chapter 10 - The Snows of Boston
“Winter is the time for comfort, for
good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:
is a time for home.”
- Edith Sitwell, 1887 – 1964.
“Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night
will always fill my heart with sweet clarity.”
- Novala Takemoto
“People need to be made more aware of
the need to work
at learning how to live because life is so quick
and sometimes it goes away too quickly.”
- Andy Warhol
Period of time covered: 1964 to 1968.
Locations: Boston, USA.
In the sixties, a great many young people in Brazil werre in love with the idea of Communism, as had been the
case in Europe after the First World War. I suppose they all thought this was the road to social justice ― though I think a misguided theory, which is still being contested today. More people in the world have suffered under the banners of religion and political
creeds than because of pestilence. But I do not want enter here into actual numerical research.
By contrast, from a very young age I was instructed
by my father in the virtues of Capitalism and Free Trade, I am happy to say. My father and I used to talk a lot about these subjects while I was still living at home in Belo Horizonte. I was very close to my father and consequently adhered to many of his beliefs
on the most varied subjects such as religion, politics and principles. He was really quite strict. In England, he would have been described as a true Victorian or a puritan, as far as his family was concerned. We, the brood, had to be kept on the straight
and narrow and every aspect of good behaviour and manners was required, especially of young women.
My father always had to know who the parents
of my girlfriends were. Later on boyfriends had to be sanctioned by him, and very few were. My friends of the time recall all this and remember him with affection, as he was always kind to them. My second husband Albert, who actually worked with my father
for a while, would have been approved of because my father thought he was a person of good character, hard-working and from a local family. That was what it took. he would say, “Marry your daughters to your neighbours’ sons.”
The universities of Minas Gerais in the sixties, as elsewhere in the country, were breeding grounds for communist militancy. As my father was renowned locally for his
wealth, his three children were not likely to be welcome in them. I was already singled out for unwelcome attention in my schools, though I could just manage to ignore it. But I found the idea of further, possibly more intense or aggressive scrutiny at university
I remember at times even my teachers calling me by the name of Luciana. As that was not my name, but my father’s
middle name, and it was feminine, I got the message that it meant Dr. Luciânia’s daughter. So when the time came for me to choose a university I told my father that I would not expose myself to further harassment, and wanted to continue my studies
I saw the United States as the most wonderful capitalist haven and just the place for me. It is possible that in larger Brazilian cities
like Rio and São Paulo students from wealthy families would not have stood out so much but in Belo Horizonte we certainly did. Later, when my brother and sister reached the requisite age, they even opted for private tuition, as opposed to continuing
their education locally.
I never believed in giving up any of my rights, which most definitely included going to a university where I would be judged
according to my diligence, not my socio-economic status. And I have never found a challenge that was too big for my large measure of determination. So I approached the task of being accepted into an American University with a winner’s frame of mind ―
‘I can do it’- and I dedicated myself wholeheartedly to my studies until I achieved my aim. Being accepted as an undergraduate in an American university was definitely my dream, and when I got there I was so happy to be a part of the system that
I loved every moment of.
I took my obligations very seriously, never missed a class, and had no time for socialising for at least the first two
years. I realised that to start with foreign students carried an extra burden because they worked in a different language, so to compete with the Americans I had to work much harder than they did. I studied relentlessly and never failed in any subject, though
sometimes I found it very demanding. But not for one moment did I regret my decision. This was, therefore, an extremely happy period of my life because I saw what I was doing as a great achievement.
While at university in the US I corresponded regularly with my mother, who kept me informed of all that happened at home, and also with my cousin Sandra Giffoni. Sandra is the daughter of my mother’s youngest sister, Aunt Branca. Sandra and I had played
together almost birth, she being only a little younger than I, and we both at first frequented the same school, Sacre-Coeur de Jesus.
In a letter
to me Sandra once related how she had gone with a girlfriend to some American Institute where students could take the tests to get scholarships in the US. This was the American Field Service. She said that her friend had tried to talk her into taking the test,
but she thought it would be a pointless exercise because her parents would not be able to pay the fees. However, when she arrived there she decided to try once it had been explained to her that she would be under no obligation. About a week later Sandra was
astounded to hear that she had succeeded, while her friend had not. I was not at all surprised at this when I heard about it because I knew what a lovely, bright person Sandra was.
The original AFS began in 1915,
shortly after the outbreak of World War I, as the America Ambulance Field Service. It was transformed, from a wartime humanitarian aid organisation into an international secondary school student exchange. This intercultural learning organisation had a noble
vision, which was to help build a more peaceful world by promoting understanding among cultures.
I promptly answered Sandra’s letter encouraging
her to take this opportunity, and enclosed a one hundred dollar bill to help her pay the fees. In 1963 that was worth a lot more than it does now. Meanwhile Sandra had also told my mother about it, and she offered to pay all expenses and, hardest of all, to
persuade Sandra’s parents to let her go. Sandra and my mother had always been very close. As a matter of fact, they were similar in very many ways, both physically and in temperament.
Though we had grown up together, there had always been an enormous difference in our economic status. My father was very affluent and Sandra’s parents lived very simply, as her father was a minor public official. For this reason my father paid for her
to attend Sacré-Coeur, and Sandra very often wore my hand-me-down clothes. She used to say that she had a poor person’s body as everything fit her!
Consequently, at the beginning of September 1963 Sandra went to live for one year with a family in the northern state of Minnesota. That was the greatest adventure of her life as she had never been outside Brazil. I was at the time studying at Rosemont College
in Philadelphia, and during 1964 Easter holidays I went to visit Sandra in Minnesota. It was during that visit we heard on the radio about the revolution in Brazil. I remember how happy I was that the military had countered the threat of communism.
Sandra’s American family loved her and they remained on ever more friendly terms. It was as a result of this experience that Sandra became an English
teacher. She now owns an English school in Belo Horizonte and has for many years accompanied groups of students to the US. It follows, therefore, that Sandra was a most successful outcome the American attempts at ‘Entente Cordiale’.
In June 1964 I moved from Rosemont College to Boston for Summer School at Boston University to catch up on some credits, and in the Autumn embarked on full-time
studies in Business Administration. For the first two years I lived in the new dormitories in Bay State Road where I shared a room with another girl. The ground floor of this building was open to visitors as was also the cafeteria in the basement. But from
the first floor up only girls resided and no man was ever allowed up there. We were only two blocks away from the School of Business building, which was situated on Commonwealth Avenue.
In Massachusetts Nature delighted me in every season. In autumn the variety of trees that turned various shades of red, yellow and orange was overwhelmingly beautiful. Leaves are green because they contain chlorophyl. When this pigment is abundant
in their cells, as it is during the growing season, the green colour of chlorophyl dominates and masks the colours of any other pigments that may be present in the leaf.
In late summer, as daylight hours shorten and temperatures cool, the veins that carry fluids into and out of the leaf are gradually closed off and the chlorophyl begins to decrease. Often the veins will still be green after the tissues
between them have almost completely changed colour, while the yellow and orange hues are caused by carotenoids.
This is common in many living things
and it is what gives the characteristic colour to corn, canaries, buttercups and sunflowers as well
as egg yolks, carrots, bananas and oranges. Their brilliant yellows and oranges also tint the leaves of such hardwood species as hickories, ash, maple, birch, sycamore and sassafras, among others.
After the autumn season dominated by rich tones of red, there came another, so different and especially characteristic of Boston, which was completely white, gentle and silent. It was the one I liked best. A time to retreat
into the warmth of our homes. After all these years I still long for the snow. I miss the snows of Boston! For almost six months after each glorious red and yellow autumn there was a large amount of snow. I thought the city became so beautiful under that layer
of white over the parks and streets. And the Charles River was so enchanting when it snowed. I could see it from my bay window while I studied. In a way, the tranquility of this scene reminded me of my room in my parents’ house, the Chácara. There
I had also loved watching the rain from my bedroom window while I studied. That window faced a large tree, my favourite, the Paneira or Bomtax tree. The Chácara was my first paradise, and snowy Boston was the second.
There are various known species of such trees in Brazil but the best known is the Ceiba Speciosa Ravena, indigenous to the forests of Brazil and Bolivia. It was initially described in
1828 by St. Hilaire, and later by Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton (19 March 1821 – 20 October 1890) in their writings. Sir Richard mentions the Bomtax Tree in his book ‘Exploration of the Highlands of Brazil, published in 1869, with a Full Account
of the Gold and Diamond Mines’. And in this book, he mentions having met in Minas Gerais Dr John Lucie Dayrell, my grandmother Teresa Dayrell’s English grandfather.
When spring arrived, light green leaves sprouted, shyly at first, but becoming ever more daring. One by one they slowly appeared until little flowers bloomed, adding all possible hues to an exuberant landscape. Fate often dictates where we are to live, and
in my case I could have been accepted into university elsewhere. But life in Boston most definitely left a mark on my personality. I still miss the snow in cities, but not in the country or the mountains.
Snows of Boston
I miss the snow!
It filled my vision
And entered my soul.
I want it back,
I miss it so.
The days of Boston
Are long gone but
I have forgotten none.
The fluff, the slush,
The flakes dancing
Down my window view
Of the Charles River!
Boats tugging up stream
Carrying loads while the
Snow waved and circled.
I want them back,
My days of snow!
Is it because of the
Memory of the times
dreams came true?
Or is it because I cannot
Forget the love I had,
For whom I still sigh,
Too strong ever to die.
I cannot forget those days.
I think of them and dream
Of the happiness I lived.
Though love I found again,
I choose not to forget the past.
© ALP Gouthier, October 2013
My mother came to visit me in Boston once to see my university, when she went
to America with her cousin Niná Bittencourt. They spent most of the time in New York where I joined them on the weekends. During the first years of university I also went to The Big Apple a few times to meet up with my friend Neville d’Almeida
who was living there at the time. Neville is also from Belo Horizonte and on his return to Brazil became famous especially in his role of as a cinema director, as well as actor, writer and photographer. But most of time I spent the weekends at school studying.
While I was in America I went home every year at Christmas, and on one of these trips I remember going to a New Year’s Eve party at the local Yacht Club,
situated by the Pampulha Lake. I was with two girlfriends, Ligia Ximenes and Teresinha Dollabela, and Tereza’s boyfriend Humberto Carvalho, who was a young solicitor. After the party they decided to stop at a nightclub called the Chat Noir to eat something,
as we were all hungry.
I had never been there before, but they served a good Picadinho. When we were about to leave Humberto asked me if I would
drive his car to the Avenida Bias Fortes because he wanted to drive his friend, Alvaro Batista de Oliveira, home. Alvaro had been at the club far too long and was too drunk to drive safely. I surmised that the other two girls could not drive, so I agreed.
Humberto took off and I was to follow him, but I soon lagged behind. I was not concerned because Tereza knew the way.
Then I noticed a car driving
far too close to ours and as I watched it in the rear-view mirror it bumped into us, obviously on purpose. In those deserted streets before dawn I realised that I could not allow it to overtake us as we could then be forced to stop, and its occupants clearly
had bad intentions. So I swung from right to left each time they tried to overtake me, and in this manner managed to arrive outside Alvaro’s house, where Humberto was waiting for us.
The other car parked across the street. The two girls were crying and told Humberto what had happened, while I exchanged places with Tereza, in the back of Humberto’s car. Humberto told us he knew one of the boys in the other car, and went to talk to
them and ask why they had behaved so badly. After a short while he came back and told us they meant us harm. Suddenly they came over and attacked Humberto, and a fight started in the middle of the street. Fortunately, Humberto’s friend Yeyé heard
the commotion from inside the house and came to the rescue. Soon the attackers gave up and drove away, but poor Humberto emerged from the scuffle with a broken hand.
When I finally managed to get home my father was furious with me for staying out so late, but I told him to stop shouting and listen to my account of what had happened. When he heard the story he was even more furious, but at least not with me. He called his
solicitor, Dr Lellis Silvino and they went together to Humberto’s parents’ house to talk to him and inform the police.
The two young
men were arrested and played innocent, saying they had not done much, merely chased the car driven by Dr. Luciânia’s daughter. It became abundantly clear that I was considered fair game and did not deserve respect. My father told me about this
with such sadness in his eyes that I thought it best never to mention the subject again.
I soon returned to university in Boston, quite happy to
be away from that city, and all proceedings were handled by my father and Humberto’s legal advisors. Many years later Humberto Carvalho was married to my cousin Claudia Faria, the daughter of Aloisio Faria who owned the Banco Real, and my cousin Clea
Dalva. Claudia and Humberto now live in New York.
It was during the time when I was studying in Boston that the contraceptive pill became available,
or at least that is when I first heard about it. This development, meant to give women control over their lives, was largely the result of a campaign initiated by Margaret Higgins Sanger, 1879 – 1966. She was an American birth control activist,
writer and nurse who used her writings to promote her ideas. She was prosecuted and persecuted in America, not least by opponents of abortion, and consequently fled to Britain. She felt that in order for women to have a more equal standing in society they
needed to be able to decide when to bear children.
In September 1965 I moved from the dormitory to a lovely apartment, also in Bay State Road, that
I rented with my American friend Judy Shaper. This was a great novelty for me, but life continued at the same pace, with classes and hard work. By by the end of that term, in December, I was at last feeling more at ease with my workload.
When I try to think of the time I first saw Joseph Eros I recall two particular occasions. On the first one I was standing on the major hall located on the ground floor
of the Business College, probably in between classes, when I noticed someone walk swiftly across the hall in the direction of the lifts. I watched him and found him so different from everyone else, so obviously not American. I remember asking someone nearby:
“Who is that? And, I wonder where he is from.” “He is from England”, I was told and the moment. On another day, as I walked down Bay State Road, my attention was suddenly drawn to the loud revving of a passing car. Looking in the direction
of the sound I noticed that it was again the Englishman.
The months passed and winter descended on the land. One afternoon I was studying in the
library with a friend of mine called Panos Geuras. I do not remember if Panos was an American Greek or actually from Greece. After a while we decided to go into the lift hall to smoke a cigarette, and there was the English boy leaning against the wall near
the lift, also smoking. Suddenly he looked at me and said, “Where are you from?”
I looked at him and said: “I am from Brazil and you are English, I know!”
He smiled at my implied admission that I had noticed him before. This exchange earned the irritated glance of my Greek friend who soon suggested that we return to the library.
Winter darkness fell early. We worked on, hunched over our books, in an incessant battle against time. Tuesday the 9th of November promised to be no different from any other day for this Boston University student. At five in the afternoon I again
found myself in the library of the Business College, when all of sudden the lights went out. Everyone looked at each other wondering what had happened and went to look out at the windows to see if it was only in our building. It appeared to be all along Commonwealth
Avenue, but it was difficult to tell the extent of the problem due to the glare of headlights. After waiting for a while to see if power would be restored, the students, decided to venture out in the direction of their digs. Some happened to have a torch handy
and helped those who did not. We streamed out into the street, brightly illuminated by headlights, and only then did I notice that the street lights were out, and the heavy traffic at the intersection was actually being directed by students.
The Northeast blackout of 1965 was due to a substantial disruption in the power supply, caused by the failure of a protective relay on one of the transmission lines
from a hydroelectric power station in Queenstown, Ontario, near Niagara Falls. It affected parts of Ontario in Canada, and Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Vermont in the United States. Over 30 million
people and 207,000 km2 were left without electricity for up to 13 hours.
I finally decided to go down the dark stairs from
the fifth floor and was happy to find someone with a torch willing to help me, first to my locker on the first floor to get my coat, and from there we reached the street. The capriciousness of youth known no bounds, and, far from being concerned, everything
seemed a great adventure to us. But I must say that the natural sense of order and caution of most people was very impressive, and the heavy end of day traffic was calmly following the direction of the students who had ventured into the darkness to help out
as temporary wardens.
I walked down Commonwealth Avenue to the end of the University buildings, turned left, then right into Bay Stay Road, passing
my old dormitory, The Towers, just past the International Student Centre. There I crossed the street and entered the building in which I shared the second-floor flat I with my friend Judy.
There was not a light to be seen in any of the buildings along the way, but at the same time there was a sense of calm and order which did not fail to impress. Feeling the way in the dark entrance of my building and carefully up the stairs, I finally reached
the flat and was happy to see that Judy was already there and had a transistor radio tuned on to the news. It was only then we realised that something really dramatic was happening. To our amazement it was announced that there would be an address from the
We soon heard Lyndon Johnson ask the people of the affected areas to keep calm and refrain from going out, so as not to exacerbate
to the general chaos. He said the power cut was the result of a still unidentified failure in the supply system and no one yet knew when power would be restored. He also informed us that all military personnel, police, fire departments and hospital staff were
ready to help in any emergencies such as people stuck in elevators, as well as traffic emergencies. The news also informed us that hospitals were operating with emergency generators, and there was no call for alarm.
At that many students decided it was all great fun, and as no one could study in the dark we might as well enjoy ourselves to the sound of music on the radio. As we had a fire place in our flat we decided to roast marshmallows and sausages on the fire. We
were soon joined by my Greek friend Panos, who brought me a big flower arrangement that he had picked up at a restaurant where he had been when the black-out started.
The next day life returned to normal of classes and interminable hours of work. But by mid-December I was for once feeling calm and ready to face the exams, so much so that one Sunday afternoon, with a friend called John Dewey also known as Jeep, I actually
took the time to go for a drive to the seaside to watch the wondrous spectacle of snow-slides cascading down onto the waves crashing against the shore. Parking the car at a little bay, flanked on the right by an old house on a cliff, we gazed for a while at
the beauty of the white scenery. I remember jeep with great affection; he was in love with me though I did not reciprocate. We went our separate ways, but I saw him once again many months later, when I was struck by the sadness I saw in his eyes when he looked
In the middle of December 1965, on the Friday evening after end of term exams, and just before the Christmas recess, I went
to a party with a French friend where I ran into the Englishman again. This was our first opportunity to talk briefly, ask each other’s names and exchange telephone numbers. As I was leaving the next day to spend Christmas with my parents in Brazil,
we arranged to meet again when I returned.
Joseph Alexander Eros Martinez Dallarosa’s family was British, of Italian ancestry, and lived near
Winchester in the UK. Probably as a result of his foreign background, Jo was in many ways more English than the English. Or that is what appeared to me. Having been born in Rome where his father was posted during the war, Jo had been brought to England, where
his father’s family lived, still a baby. As customary in England he was sent to boarding school at the age of nine to Downside School.
was a leading Catholic boarding school, at the time only for boys, and one of England’s oldest and most distinguished institutes. Downside Abbey is located in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, in Somerset. It was founded by monks from the monastery of St Gregory's
in Flanders, who settled in Somerset in 1814. During the 19th century Downside remained a small monastic school, but the 20th century brought about expansion of the school buildings
and school numbers — over 600 boys at one point.
After Jo finished his studies at Downside Jo went on a Grand-Tour. He had learned Italian
from his parents and French in school, so he headed to Germany to learn German. In Koln or Munich, the young, affluent and handsome Joseph Eros learned German and met Ulla Larson who was a good looking Swedish woman over ten years older than him. Ulla had
an exotic background. At an early age she had been thrown out of her parents’ home for getting pregnant and had found employment in a circus, caring for the elephants, and as a result she was then nicknamed Jumbo.
When Jo returned to England, to his parents’ home, he brought Ulla in tow. His father then proceeded to pack his son off to university in America, as soon as it could possibly
be arranged, fed up with his galivanting about Europe and especially for crashing cars, as he was fond of speeding. His father told me that he had thirteen minor car accidents in the period of one year. And Ulla settled down in London where she eventually
became a very good friend of Jo’s sister Luciana.
At university in the US Jo stood out from the Americans in every possible way. And he also
broke many university rules, for he had no intention of adapting to the American ways and norms. In his second year at Business School, he gave a party with some American friends, also students at BU. But the university found out that alcohol drinks had been
served on this occasion and requested to appear before the disciplinary board to explain their actions, considering that alcohol purchase was forbidden for under twenty-one’s in the State of Massachusetts.
Jo told me later that he arrived at the university tribunal with a careless attitude as he hated America, the university and the Americans. So when questioned whether he was in the habit of drinking beer, the usual alcoholic transgression of young American
students, he declared that he did not drink beer, as he preferred whiskey or wine. And when questioned where he obtained his alcohol beverages he said that his father brought them to him every time he visited. As a result, his American friends were thrown
out of university while he was not, for they surmised that he had simply acted in accordance with his cultural habits.
Jo also dressed very differently
in his habitual English style of jacket and tie, which I thought so elegant and much more to my liking than the casual American dress code. He had dark hair and eyes, had striking features, was very self-assured and sophisticated and he had bought a black
Mustang which he drove about with music blaring, which never failed to turn the girls eyes. But his quality I admired most was his kindness.
started going out together in January 1966 when I came back from Brazil, and Jo soon surmised that I was still a virgin. I had never felt the slightest desire to have a sexual relationship with anyone before, but to me Jo was different. I had always hated
men’s attitude of thinking that everything was permissible to them and condemnable to women. But I perceived that Jo did not suffer from the usual chauvinistic concepts by the attitude he expressed about the sexual experiences of his two sisters.
But before we ventured into an intimate relationship we spoke about it, though I found the subject extremely embarrassing, and Jo told me that I had to take
contraceptive measures. This meant going to a doctor and asking for a prescription for the pill, but as I was shy we decided that Jo would go with me to give me confidence, posing as my fiancée. I was grateful for his care and consideration, but I was
also not the type of person who took chances. We were in love for many years and treated each other with affection and tenderness.
While I was still
living with my friend Judy, Jo would take us to the supermarket in his car and meet me at university whenever we had some free time. And on the weekends Judy often went to New York to stay with her boyfriend, Richard Levine, whom she later married, and Jo
spent the weekends with me. For the first time since I went to university, I enjoyed a social life. I armed myself with beautiful clothes purchased at Bonwit Tellers - an upscale clothing boutique housed in a grand redbrick building - in central Boston. And
thus, properly attired, we went about town in style in Jo’s sleek black Mustang car.
I still remember my favourite restaurant there, the Anthony's
Pier 4, located on the South Boston waterfront. It functioned on a riverboat, the Peter Stuyvesant, a former New York City riverboat built in 1927, which in the blizzard of 1978 had broken free and sank in Boston Harbor. It was in 1963 purchased and restored
by restaurateur Anthony Athanas. And Jo on an occasion also organised a surprise party for my birthday, the only one I ever had in my life. But I really do not like surprises.
But in the next semester I moved on with Jo, who then lived then in a two-bedroom flat and he rented the extra room to a Canadian man who worked in town. I was at first disconcerted by James living there but Jo told me that he was sorry for him because he
was always short of money, worked all the time and thus would not be on our way. I thus accepted James there for I was touched by Jo’s kindness.
I remember a particular Saturday morning overhearing James go out of the flat to work, when we were still in our bedroom chatting. And in the evening, when we were again chatting and giggling in the bathtub, when James returned from work and on his way out
for the remainder of the weekend gently knocked on the door of the bathroom and said. “Hello children, if you can play the whole day long you should get married!”
Not long after in the year, Jo’s father came to Boston to visit and was going to stay with Jo for the weekend, as James was never there on the weekends. I intended to meet his formally, in my own flat, but Mr Martinez unpredictably arrived early in the
early morning, one day prior to expectation and when I was sleeping there. I was so embarrassed that I did not know what to do, but eventually I had to get myself together and meet him. He brought for me a big Teddy Bear That Jo’s mother had sent, which
I named Jojo, Jo’s childhood nickname, and which I still have.
I have many good memories of our life in Boston, of our first two homes together,
but the fondest ones I have were the occasions when I returned from an evening class and run up the stairs to fall into Jo’s arms. In the next year we moved to another flat by ourselves, and continued to live happily only for each other. Those two years,
while still in Boston with Jo were the happiest of my life. Our life was perfect, with no worries at all about the future. All we had to do was to study hard to pass our exams and be happy. Jo was not as a devoted student as I was, but I insisted that he also
work hard so that we could live the same pace. And any other differences we might have had did not yet matter.
“No, this trick won't work...
How on earth are you ever going
in terms of chemistry and physics so important
a biological phenomenon as first love? ”