Alf Gunn BadgeBrasulista #137


Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #137
September 28, 2011


In this issue:
This issue is all about bondes. The comments just keep coming.  If you are interested, as I have been, read about Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter’s experiences with bondes as told by his son Cory, as well as others’ recollections. And the last article is all you would ever want to know about bondes, and perhaps more.


Sam Morrison (BM 61-64) of Sandy, UT, former president of the Brazil Curitiba Mission, shares these thoughts:  Alf, Thank you for all you do to remind us of the great privilege we have had to serve in Brazil. May I share a thought that President Hugh B. Brown shared with the missionaries.  Many of you will be called back to serve again. President Brown said, “These are your people. See that you serve them well. I don’t just mean now. You will be responsible for their eternal ordinances both on this side and the other side of the veil. Then he paused and looked at the missionaries and one of the missionaries said to me, “Did you feel that?”  We all felt the prophetic power of his words.
  We enjoyed your stories about bondes and I remember riding them in São Paulo and Santos.  When I first arrived in Brazil in January 1961 President Bangerter needed one of the new missionaries to stay with some missionaries nearby and the other missionaries could spend the next couple of nights in the mission home.  I volunteered to go to the Elders’ apartment. They took me to the mission home early the next morning, but the following day they told me I could just go alone and find the mission home. Their instructions were to take the bonde at the corner and go two lights to Avenida Americana where I would get off and take any bus going to the right and go two more lights and get off. That would be Rua Itapeva. Then I was to walk down Itapeva about 2 -3 blocks and I would be at the mission home. When I arrived at the mission home the office Elders were amazed that I made it and surprised I had been left on my own. The two Elders had given me just enough money to pay the bonde and the bus. Had I not gotten off at the right places I would have been lost, without phone numbers or addresses. I remember that there were also bondes in Pinheiros, and we lived near the balão do bonde which was the place where the bondes turned around to return to town.
  Later when I served in Santos there were also bondes running parallel to the beach reaching from Ponta da Praia to São Vicente. It was a beautiful sight to ride the open air bondes, feel the breeze and see the beautiful praia. One time there were four missionaries going to a meeting. We decided to get off the bonde at São Vicente between stops and the first three missionaries ducked under the handrail and  got off okay but by the time they had gotten off the bonde had begun to pick up speed. I jumped off, took two or three giant steps and went sprawling. I ripped a hole in the front of my suit coat.  Thank goodness for suits which we always wore in those days. The hole in my suit could have been a hole in my skin.   
  Isn’t it amazing that we have all of these pleasant memories? The mission was a wonderful experience and adventure and it built adult servants of the Lord.  
Sam Morrison  (  

From Cory Bangerter (BSM 66-68) of Alpine, UT, son of Wm. Grant Bangerter and himself a former mission president in Rio de Janeiro:  Alf, You recently asked about stories of bondes. Here are some memories... When we arrived in São Paulo in 1958, bondes were everywhere. You could ride them forever to all parts of the city. However, even before we arrived, Dad told us fascinating stories about bondes when he was a missionary. He told us of finding his apartment in Porto Alegre as a new missionary. The instructions he received were: "Get on the streetcar number such and such and watch the men on it. When they have taken off their hats three times, then get off at the next stop." He wasn't sure what it meant but followed the directions. He noticed that each time the bonde went past a Catholic church, all the men would remove their hats. After the third time, they got off and found their apartment.
  In 1958, many of the open air type were still around, and they were similar to what Dad rode in 1939-41. I recall watching five tiers of people hanging on to those "open air" types going down the street and slowly make their turns at the corner... only to scrape off three layers of people against the telephone pole, strategically placed on the very edge of the sidewalk. No one was ever hurt, but it was magical to see them peel off, only to adroitly jump off, slip around the pole and resume their original position on the other side! I loved riding the open-air types much more than the more modern enclosed ones. Perish the thought of trying to get off one that was super crowded!
  Often we would catch the bonde on Avenida Paulista and ride it down to the center of town to our meeting place at the Center branch on Rua do Seminario. It was a great way to get to know the city. You could go to Penha, Santo Amaro or Santo Andre on the bonde if you wanted. It was a popular and effective system.
  We also learned early on that the smoothest ride in the car on those rough cobble-stone streets was to position the car tires on the tracks as you traveled down the road. The best car for this trick was the old Willis Jeep we had as the wheelbase fit it perfectly.
  To this day I can still hear in my mind the "clang-clang" of the bell the driver would sound as he came to an intersection or a car in his way. This was their only horn and the driver would pull the rope connected to it as many times as necessary to get the attention desired. The screech of metal against metal was an attention-getter as they would turn around a corner on those embedded tracks in the street.
  Memories are long-lasting and poignant as we recall those neat bondes in every major city we visited.  Cory and Gayle Bangerter

Alf, FUN, FUN, FUN article on the Bondes! Elders Duke Cowley and Dave Hibbert taught me how to grab onto and off a moving bonde in Rio in 1961. Since they were jocks par excellence, they were masters at it! The friendly "deng-deng" sound of the bonde bell when it started up, was how I helped folks pronounce my name, Elder Degn (BMxxxx). Tudo de bom, Ralph (   

Note:  Brother Degn and his wife Mary Ann of Logan, UT, presided over the Brazil São Paulo North Mission 93-96 and served a PEF mission in Recife 05-06. He will become the next president of the CTM, São Paulo, in January 2012.

From Clinton Lingren (BM 58-61) of San Diego, CA:  Alf, thank you for your marvelous work of keeping us informed and remembering our mission experiences. My first six months were in Porto Alegre, and it was necessary to learn to get on and off the bondes safely.  Getting on was relatively easy since a person could run until he was going almost the speed of the bonde and catch hold of the vertical handle and step onto the running board. However, getting off was more precarious because you had to be running at the speed of the bonde in the same direction at the instant you touched the ground. You needed to stand facing the direction the bonde was traveling and jump away from the bonde. If you jumped forward, your jump speed was added to the speed of the bonde, if directly sideways the bonde speed was preserved, but the secret was to jump backward and away with as much speed as possible. Then the backward speed of your jump was subtracted from the speed of the bonde and your speed when you touched the ground was much slower making your stop much easier and avoiding embarrassment.  I also rode bondes for ten months in Santo Amaro in 1959-60, however, those were enclosed bondes that didn’t offer the thrill of getting on or off between stops. There are still signs of where the bonde lines were in Santo Amaro, but, of course, there are no longer any bondes.  In spite of the fun aspects of riding bondes, I knew of several very sad accidents where persons were killed by accidents with bondes. Those leave memories of sadness.
  In one of your previous emails, you had mentioned gelatin copiers.  I didn’t know that they were used in other branches, but when I was in Santo Amaro, I asked my mother for the recipe for a gelatin copier that she had learned to make with the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and had used with DUP, Relief Society, and Mutual assignments. We were able to find the needed ingredients in Santo Amaro, and I used such copiers for Sunday programs for the rest of my mission. We made a Mimeograph original and laid it on the gelatin surface. After a couple minutes we removed the original and laid succeeding pieces of typing paper on the gelatin surface and were able to make about 20 readable copies. This was a helpful tool as we called members to plan and lead the auxiliary organizations. Um abraço,  Clinton

I got to know Doug Dalton (BSM 68-70) of South Jordan, UT, and his wife Arlene on our cruise from Italy to Brazil last November. He shares a little history here: Dear Alf, I went to high school in Rio de Janeiro from 1963 to 1965. My father was building the first chapel in Rio (Tijuca). I rode Bondes all the time. Some of them still had the original paint and signs on them which said, “Salt Lake City.” Doug Dalton (

Ron Lines (BM 56-59) of Pima, AZ, writes: Alf, Thank you for your continuing efforts to bring us the Brasulista. What memories it brings of great times I had on my Mission and especially the latest, that of riding the Bondes. I remember they were always an experience in deftness and strategy getting on or off. For myself, I found it somewhat exhilarating hanging on with one hand, with only one foot on the running board. What an experience that was, and yes, we all had a tumble or two along the way. Something akin to some of my horse riding days! It is so good to hear about and from all Brazilian Missionaries! Keep up the good work. Ron Lines (

Rick Winterton (BSM 65-67) came up with this link to info including the origin of the word “bonde.”  It also verifies that there was a bonde at Santo Amaro in São Paulo until 1968. Also, the bonde at Santa Teresa in Rio is the only one I have known of that is still running, maintained as a tourist attraction.

Rick writes, I was told that the word “bonde” came from the name of the company that made them.  When I first got to Porto Alegre, I was shown a metal plaque on the inside front of each bonde in Porto Alegre that had, in big letters (in English), “The Bond Company, Boston, Massachusetts”.  As all Brazilian missionaries know, Brazilians would pronounce “bond” as “bonde”.  

Elizabeth Silva Hales (BSPS 73-75) of Taylorsville, UT, writes: “Dear Alf. I read the last two Brasulistas and both touched my heart with muitas saudades.
  First, your article on the bondes. I was born in Porto Alegre and grew up riding them. I took the bonde to go to my grandma's house and to my cousin’s house and to go downtown. I remember how much I loved to ride them. Reading the article and looking at the pictures brought back my wonderful memories of my childhood and I thank you.
  Second, I want to comment on the passing of Patriarca Lombardi. He was a great man who I had the privilege to have known for a big part of my young life. We were in the same Pinheiros Ward when the stake was organized and he became our first patriarch. I remember how excited we were to be part of that important step for the Church in Brazil. Again, just thinking about him and that particular time of my life brought back very fond memories. Sincerely, Elizabeth Silva Hales (BSPS 73-75) of Taylorsville, UT (

I am Elder Richard L Jones (BM 52-55). There were six of us who went down to Brazil together. For some reason we were called the 'famous six'. One day three of us missionaries were riding a bonde hanging onto a pole while standing on the running board. I was standing about half way from the front while the bonde started to turn a corner. There was a truck with a flat bed parked too close to the corner and as the bonde rounded the corner the very back edge of the truck's bed got closer and closer to us who were standing on the running board. All three of us stood as tall as we could and drew in our stomachs. I was not as lucky as the other two elders and a piece of thin medal on the truck struck me right in my middle and tore my suit coat, shirt, and garments right down to my bare skin. Luck was with me. There was no blood.  Lynn Jones, Salt Lake City, UT (

Here is another recollection of the bondes of P.A.  I was assigned there from late in 1961 thru early 1962. The chapel for our branch was in a high-rise just up the street from the Praça de Bondes. The bonde line that we used came down the hill approaching the chapel and had to slow down for a curve prior to reaching the praça. One day I was riding the bonde with a “greenie” or at least an Elder new to P.A. (I don’t remember who) who had never dismounted from a bonde in motion. He was carrying an armload of laundry so it seemed like dismounting on the curve would be a great idea to avoid a longer walk with a big load. I explained very carefully to the Elder exactly how to dismount to make the process relatively safe. I rode at the front of the bonde and the other elder a little further back. I told him to watch me carefully as I dismounted and then to copy what I did. We came to the curve and the bonde slowed. I did a smooth dismount and turned to watch the other Elder. Apparently my explanation had not been clear enough. I watched as he began the maneuver correctly except he swung forward which effectively increased his touchdown speed. The results followed all the laws of physics. With his increased speed, he touched down and began taking GIANT steps as fast as he could. After about three giant steps, his upper body was still traveling faster than his legs could go and he ended up falling forward and scattering laundry for several feet. I hurried to help him pick everything up while I apologized profusely. I just wish we could have filmed his maneuver. We could have easily won $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos. I wonder if he’s ever forgiven me. Sorry, Elder. Bruce Allen (BSM 60-62)

Larry and Cheryls Stamps, my travel friends on some of our Brazil tours and he a retired Amtrak employee, have the definitive information about bondes. “Alf, It was great to get together in Washington last month. I enjoyed reading the latest discussion on the bondes. I rode them in PA in 67 and 68. I had heard that they were named after a company or person, so I contacted a fellow, former “Amtraker”, friend who is a train and trolley car buff.  He checked and found the following links. This history of rail and trolley in Brazil is extensive, but I found it interesting.  I pulled out a few paragraphs that I felt were significant.  Hopefully you find some of it interesting.  Seu Irmão, Larry Stamps

The Portuguese word used in Brazil for tram or streetcar is bonde; formerly spelled bond; diminuitive bondinho. Its origin is uncertain. Residents of Belém claim that the vehicle was named after James Bond, the American who built the first street railway in that city. Most historians believe that it came from the English word bond that was used for the tram tickets issued by the American-owned Botanical Garden Rail Road in Rio de Janeiro: there was a drawing of a tram on the ticket and the word came to be used for the vehicle itself.
Street railways soon opened in other cities. A Frenchman inaugurated a mule line in Porto Alegre in 1864. An American opened a tramway along the waterfront in Salvador, using trams bought second-hand from Boston, in 1866. The Brazilian Street Railway Company, founded in London in 1866, inaugurated a steam tramway in Recife in 1867; the locomotives, built by Manning Wardle & Company of Leeds, are believed to have been the first constructed exclusively for street railway purposes. Another steam tramway opened in Maceió in 1868 and an American named James bond built a steam tramway in Belém in 1869. Belémers believe that Bond’s name was the origin of the Brazilian word for tram. Passenger cars for both the Recife and Belém tramways, as well as the Boston cars that ran in Salvador, were built by the John Stephenson Company in New York.

In the 1880s there were at least three experiments with electric tramways. A battery-powered car, apparently of local design, ran from July 1883 until early 1885 on the outer end of the Fonseca tram route in Niterói. [Battery trams were first tried in Paris in 1881 and in London in 1882. See J. H. Price, A Source Book of Trams (London, 1980), p. 40.] In 1884 Emperor Pedro II attended a demonstration in Fonseca of “bonde elétricos com fios subterrâneos” (electric trams with underground wires). These Niterói operations, unfortunately, were not well documented and the only information available on them comes from brief newspaper accounts. Across the bay in Rio there were several electric tram demonstrations at the Brazilian Railway Exposition of 1887. On 2 July 1887 the Ferro-Carril do Jardim Botânico (reformed as a Brazilian company in 1883 after Greenough's death) operated a tram powered by a storage battery designed by Edmond Julien of Belgium.

Electric Bond and Share Company – “Ebasco” - was formed in New York in 1905 to supervise a group of traction, light and power companies in the United States. In 1923 Ebasco created a subsidiary, American & Foreign Power - "Amforp" - which during the next decade acquired control of utility companies in 1,134 communities in Latin America. 333 of these communities, with a total population of six million, were in Brazil. Amforp's Brazilian division, Empresas Elétricas Brasileiras, took over electric tramway systems in 13 cities: Vitória, Vila Velha and Petrópolis in 1927; Porto Alegre, Campinas, Piracicaba, Curitiba and Recife in 1928; Belo Horizonte and Salvador (both systems) in 1929; and Pelotas, Maceió and Natal in 1930. In some cities, e.g., Niterói, Ebasco acquired the electric power company but not the electric tramway.

1965 was the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city of Rio de Janeiro and the CTC announced that it would rid the city of trams except for the Santa Teresa and Alto da Boa Vista routes, which it would turn into tourist operations. New silver and blue cars with upholstered seats - the first closed trams in Rio in 100 years and precisely what the tourists did not want - went into service on both lines in January 1965. In January 1966 a hurricane knocked out all tram and trolleybus lines in the city. Parts of the Alto da Boa Vista and Santa Teresa lines were rebuilt but, incredibly, were put out of service by another hurricane in January 1967. The Alto da Boa Vista line, the first electric railway in South America, closed permanently on 21 December 1967.

Most of Brazil's remaining tram systems closed during the second half of the 1960s, a period when many were ridden and photographed by tram enthusiasts from North America and Europe. The latter seem not to have known about Campos and Lavras, which were not only still operating but received new equipment from Niterói and Belo Horizonte. The Campos tramway closed in 1964, Ilha do Governador in 1965, São Luís in 1966, Rio Grande, Campo Grande, Lavras and Vila Velha in 1967, São Paulo and Campinas in 1968, Juiz de Fora and Piracicaba in 1969. Trams continued to run in Porto Alegre and Nova Lima until 1970 and in Santos, on the last major tram system in Brazil, until 28 February 1971.
Trams had run in Santos almost 100 years. They had run 106 years in Porto Alegre. In 1971 streetcars were still running on the Santa Teresa lines in Rio de Janeiro, on interurban lines at Votorantim and Campos do Jordão, and, unknown to tram enthusiasts for several more years, on the private tramway at the Itatinga hydroelectric plant near Bertioga

The early 1970s was the period of Brazil's "economic miracle." Gasoline was inexpensive and official tram sentiment was at low ebb. But forced to travel on hot, smoke-spewing buses, the public became nostalgic about the breezy old trams and citizens' groups gathered and placed them in parks all over the country. Several of these, complete with trucks and controllers, can still be seen today in São Carlos, Juiz de Fora, Porto Alegre, Curitiba and Sorocaba. Trams have been restored and are displayed in museums in São Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Recife. Thirteen Brazilian trams are preserved in the United States: in 1964 the CMTC in São Paulo sent an open car to Carillon Park in Dayton, Ohio, and in 1965 the CTC in Rio de Janeiro shipped 12 cars to American tram museums. Americans can ride Brazilian trolleys without going to Brazil.  
Perhaps the most extraordinary act of self-preservation in Brazil - and one of the most remarkable projects of its kind anywhere - was the construction of a completely new tram route around a lake in Campinas. Four restored cars went back into operaion in that city in 1972 ans still run there today. Similar tourist tramways have been announced in Belo Horizonte and São Paulo, but have not materialized.

Well, there it is folks. The last word in bondes.

Stand by for future Brasulistas, or better yet, share things that you think would be of interest to others of us who love Brazil and the saints there.

Um abraço,

Alf Gunn  (BSM 62-65)  
Gig Harbor, WA   



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