Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #136
September 23, 2011
In this issue:
Passing of Patriarch Jose Lombardi
Called to Serve
Navy Seal killed was a returned Brazilian missionary
Recollections of the bondes of Brazil
Reprint: A patriarch finds “his missionary”
Elder J. Roberto Viveiros, Church History Library, SLC, alerts us to this:
We just received information on September 21 from the Brazil Area regarding the passing of Patriarch Jose Lombardi on September 17, 2011. Brother Lombardi was the first Patriarch of the Church in the Brazil Area (and South America). He was also in the first organization of the First Stake in South America on May 1, 1966, served three times in a mission to Portugal in the early 1970’s, and was also a Regional Representative in Brazil. He served two more missions to Brazil Santa Maria and Brazil Brasilia and was also an officiator and a sealer in the São Paulo Temple. Patriarch Lombardi was 91 years old.
Called to Serve
Brother Gunn, A note to let you know that my wife and I anticipate arriving in Curitiba Brasil on October 4 from the Provo MTC to begin an 18 month mission in the Missão Brasil Curitiba. We are very excited after waiting seven month from receiving our mission calls. Reed W. Davis (Brazilian Mission 63-65) and Joan M. Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Item: Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, UT, one of the 30 Americans killed in the crash of a Chinook Helicopter shot down in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011, had served in the Brazil Fortaleza Mission in the mid 90’s. Media sources quoted friends and family saying he had a reputation as a compassionate guy who worked hard and loved sports. KSL-TV quoted family friend Rick Eldredge saying, “He would do anything to help the guy across the table from him. … He was just willing to do anything for anybody, (as) he's proven by giving his life to this country.” Late last year, His family released a statement saying he loved his job as a Seal and was “the best of the best.” He left behind a wife and a 21-month-old son.
John Beck (BM 65-67) of Provo, UT, writes, “Dear Alf: My companion, Elder Robert Dionne and I arrived in Fortaleza in December, 1965. I remained there until I came home in January, 1967. There were no missionaries north of us at that time. We were the last outpost. I was asked by President Hicken to survey the possibility of missionaries being sent to Belem. When President Beck sent us up north, he said "You have a one-way ticket going home." I visited the Belem on my way home and gave him a positive report. We were the first missionaries in Fortaleza. Best regards, John M. Beck” (email@example.com)
BONDES, BONDES, BONDES
Okay, move over youngsters; here are some fond recollections from the old-timers, of the streetcars of Brazil that ran until about 1970. Remember, for perspective, that the Brazilian Mission was the only mission in Brazil until September 20, 1959, when the Brazilian South Mission was formed, comprising the three southern states of Brazil. So comments below are from missionaries who served in the BM and the BSM.
Nobody has verified this for me, but I recall being told that the word “bondes” came from the fact that the first purchase by Brazil of old streetcars from other countries was financed by the sale of bonds.
(For fun and to see some historic photos, read about “Os Bondes de Porto Alegre” at http://www.tramz.com/br/pa/pap.html You can read it in Portuguese or English by clicking on “English version” at the end of the article.)
From Elder Dick Silver (BSM 61-63) of Frankfort, KY: “Alf: Thanks for the article on the bondes in Porto Alegre! I was transferred to Porto Alegre in December 1962, and was located in an apartment with five other Elders. The apartment was smack downtown, where all the bonde lines came together, circulated around a block, and then separated to go to their various routes out from the centro. For about a week, I got no sleep! The bondes made quite a racket, with steel wheels on the tracks and their rudimentary speed controls that were simply stepwise switches run by the motorman who stood in the front of the car. The apartment was on the 1º andar (that's the second floor as we reckon it in the States), and our windows were right above the passing bondes. As far as I could tell, the bondes ran all night, and just as I would get to sleep, another would come along the track, screeching and rattling. However, after that first week, I became accustomed to the noises and gratefully began sleeping the night through.
“My parents had moved to San Francisco when I was six years old, and I had already become accustomed to riding streetcars there. The San Francisco lines had older streetcars that were much like the bondes of Porto Alegre, as well as newer ones that were smooth, comfortable and quiet. In Porto Alegre, there was always a conductor on the bonde collecting the fares from the passengers. He would fold the cruzeiro bills lengthwise, and loop a bunch of each denomination around each finger of one hand. Then change could be made quickly, as there were lots of people getting on and off. The bondes were jammed at rush hours and still full most of the time otherwise. The conductor was in charge of the electrical pickup mast that was spring-loaded up against the 600 volt overhead wires. Every now and then the pickup would get off the wire and the bonde would go dead in an instant. There was a rope tied to the top of the pickup mast that came down to a spring-loaded spool on the rear of the bonde, and the conductor had to get out and pull the rope to get the electrical contact back again. His duty at the end of the line was similar, as there was no turn-around. The motorman would lock his controls at what had been the "front" and go to the controls at the opposite end. The conductor would pull the mast at what had been the "rear" down and lock it under a hook, then go to the mast at the other end and pull it loose, engaging it on the wire above. Until I read the article on the bondes, I had forgotten most things about them, but my memories came flooding back! Dick Silver (BSM 61-63, couples Mozambique 02-04, Angola 2006, Lexington KY 2010) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ralph W. Thompson (BM 55-57) of Rexburg, ID, writes: “Dear Alf, I really enjoyed riding the bondes in Brazil. Was what I remember from my youth true or even possible? The bonde was always crowded. I don't believe I was ever seated on one, just clung to a pole, with at least one foot on the running board--and it was a "running" board. When the bonde was crowded--nearly always--it seldom stopped to pick up passengers. So we always waited at a corner, where it slowed down, apparently leaning precariously, just enough not to tip over. We began to run, eyeing a bare spot on one of the upright poles, grasped the pole, put a foot on the board, and swung aboard. Most of the time it worked. It was always satisfying to have boarded successfully and to experience the continued rush through the city. Debarking was just the reverse of the process. As soon as the bonde had rounded a corner, we stepped down on the proper foot and hit the ground running. It always took several steps to cease our forward motion and be able to stand erect and stop our feet. Riding the bonde seemed an easy skill to master, but as with many such masteries overconfidence sets in or one experiences one careless moment. ‘Getting off on the wrong foot’ is more than just a metaphor. I recall more than one nasty tumble when I alit on the wrong foot and lost my balance. I practiced and stayed focused to ensure my safety. When I did so, my landings were smooth, but always exciting. ‘Getting on on the wrong foot’ could be just as dangerous, with the added prospect of perhaps falling beneath the wheels of the bonde. What memories of carefree youth. At my age and in my condition, I could probably not board a standing bonde, let alone a moving one.
“p.s. Wednesday was fresh meat day in the open-air markets. Of course there were always huge sides of salted fish hanging from poles--but one day a week fresh beef was available. Choose your piece and have it cut from the side of beef. In that open-air market, there were always flies buzzing around, and if one shopped for beef on Thursday or Friday, the meat would be covered with a successively thicker coating of flies. We always hoped our pensão mistress shopped on Wednesdays. Such trust was essential--though most missionaries would eat anything. Saudades are wonderful.” (ThompsonRalphWSr@aol.com)
Nick Rust (BM 65-67) recalls, “I rode bondes in São Paulo and Santos. I once tried to get on an ‘open’ one in Santos while it was going a bit too fast and ungracefully slammed into the post with the grab handle. The conductor (with his hand full of bills) just shook his head and moved to the front of the bonde. We rode them a lot and they were more fun than "o ônibus." Alf, this newsletter is such a great service to us all. Muitissimo obrigado!” (email@example.com)
My friend Michael Dyal (BSM 62-65) of Springville, UT, recalls the summer of 1962 as I do as the hottest summer of my life. We were both from the Pacific Northwest and I arrived in Brazil two weeks after him and went to Canoas, RGS, a suburb of Porto Alegre. Mike writes, “I arrived in Brazil October 17, 1962 and my first assignment was Porto Alegre for almost six months. Frequently we traveled on bondes usually in the evening to get to our appointment family or person. Those were summer months and at that point in the mission we were still wearing suit coats at all times. I remember getting on bondes in the late afternoon during rush hour. In the humidity and heat it was already uncomfortable physically but that was only enhanced at rush hour as we were packed into a bonde so tightly we could not move an arm, standing there with a flannel board, etc. I repeat: you could not move an arm. I don't remember how we paid the fare. One of the results of wearing suit coats was the white crooked salt lines on the arms of your jacket where sweat had come out of your pores and into the sleeves of your coat; interesting patterns which I didn't see again until I trained at Ft. Knox, KY during the summer after my mission. After a bonde ride it was always a pleasure to get off the bonde and enjoy the free movement of arms and legs again. One final observation is that there were so many Brazilians who wanted a ride on a bonde that usually there were a few who hung on to the end, outside of the bonde, and rode it by hanging on to whatever. I always wondered if they paid the fare. Someone back then should have done a contest to see how many persons could be stuffed into a bonde--you know, for the Guinness Book of World Records. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mark Zaugg (BSM 64-66) of North Salt Lake, UT, writes: “Alfred, Riding the bonde was the highlight of going into Porto Alegre’s city center from Tristeza. We'd often ride the bus to the closest bonde stop and then ride the bonde into the center. The cobrador took your money and gave you change with the bills folded in half lengthwise and stuck between his fingers by denomination. Then he would pull on one of the leather straps hanging down from the rod that ran the length of the bonde to the mechanical counter, one pull for each passenger from whom he collected a fare. During rush hour, the bonde would be jammed with people. How the cobrador could wiggle through the crush of people to collect each fare was always amazing. One of the little jokes that the Brazilian teenagers thought was hilarious was to ask the missionaries how many people could fit on a bonde. When the missionary gave his answer, the jokester would grab hold of his tie and start jerking down on it while counting out the number of passengers on the bonde. Best regards, Mark Zaugg (email@example.com)
Keith R. Waldron (BM 55-57) of West Point, UT, recalled jumping off a bonde in São Paulo and ending up on his back on the cobblestones in the middle of the street, with knees of his pants torn out. Also, “One day on a bus I had given a lady my seat and was hanging on to the strap while standing up in the aisle, to avoid being thrown out of control. I had been distracted for a couple of minutes, and felt something inside the lapel of my suit coat. Some guy was trying to remove my wallet or whatever from my coat. I let go of the strap and grabbed his hand and tried to force him to the floor, but he overpowered me and ran to the front of the bus and fled on foot before I could get off the bus.” (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cloyd Gatrell (BSM/BM 67-69) of Carlisle, PA, recalls, “I rode the bondes in Porto Alegre from September 1967 to January 1968. It was my first city. I had been told it was like San Francisco, presumably because of the bondes. Like most greenies, I asked lots of questions of my senior companion, Elder Kirt M. Kimball. He answered most of them patiently. But one day, as we waited at the end of the line for a bonde, he got a little exasperated at being asked, ‘How many bondes are on this line?’ He explained that he had only been in Porto Alegre a couple of months longer than I had, and there were some things that even senior companions didn't know.” Cloyd Gatrell (email@example.com)
Sister Nancy (Denhalter) Cropper of Salt Lake City, UT, writes: “There were bondes in one part of São Paulo, too. I think it was in Santo Amaro, my first area, around November of 1966, but I could be wrong. My companions would have been Renae Bywater and Marilyn Hartog. Probably others will remember the bonde if I am right about where it was. I do remember that at the end of the line there was a little cafe with almost-American hamburgers, long before you could get such a thing anywhere else except maybe the cidade. Nancy” (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Barry Maashoff (BSM 59-62) writes: “I have some vivid memories of the bondes in Porto Alegre circa 1960. The most famous route went up a hill and made a turn just in front of a large Catholic church. The test for all green missionaries was to see if, as the bonde made the turn with a packed (and I mean packed, like hanging off the front and back) load the greenie could step off the bonde as it as moving. Very few made it without a spill and of course the rest of us would laugh our heads off.
“My other experience was with Elder Michael Henry as my companion later in our missions taking the bonde along the docks to our home. We had a regular routine where one of us would go to the front and the other to the back and at somewhere near top speed see which of us could jump off and not fall down. The secret was to lean into the direction of the bonde when you stepped off and begin running while still in the air. Most of the time we made it, I think Elder Henry always made it, but one time I was at the back and stepped off with my brand new suit and tried as hard as I could to stay up, but just couldn’t. I hit the cobble stones and rolled over several times and stopped right at the feet of this pretty young lady who was standing at the side of the road. I brought myself up with dignity and holes in both knees, straightened my suit and told her we were missionários da Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Últimos Dias. She and Elder Henry could not keep a straight face; in fact I think Elder Henry was doubled over.
“Thanks for all you do to keep us in love with our mission country. Without your work we would just be old men telling great stories about our missions every time we got a chance. Barry. (BarryM@tsctracking.com)
Elder maashoff’s note reminded me of one from 2005 that is worth sharing again for those who have subscribed since that time. Reprinted from Brasulista #55:
Elder Barry Maashoff (BSM 59-62) of Stockton, CA, shares this special experience regarding his visit to Brazil with the BSM tour in April, 2005:
"When Brazilian South Mission was formed in 1959 there were mainly only members in some of the bigger cities. There was a chapel in Joinville, one out in the Pampas that the members had built and that was it. Our mission from 1959 to 1962 was one of opening up cities to the gospel and laying the foundation for what would come after us. When I left Curitiba in 1962 there was one district and three branches. Now there are 10 stakes and a temple being built.
“In April 2005, when our group of returned BSM missionaries returned to the south of Brazil, my heart was touched to see the growth of the Church in places where I remembered the heat, the sweat, the tracting, and the love for the people that I had way back then. I began to realize that perhaps we really did do some good.
“Then our group was invited by President David Webster of the Curitiba Mission to a fireside in the Portão Stake center at Curitiba. Some of the old members, learning of our visit, came in and sat in the back of the chapel as the fireside was conducted for us in English. Ken Nielson and I were seated in the last row in the center of the Chapel. I noticed a sister with her daughter and granddaughter come in and sit across from us. Soon an older brother came in carrying a white binder and sat with them. Sometime during the fireside President Webster invited these pioneer members to come up front and occupy the choir seats. At the end of the meeting I was called upon by name to give the closing prayer. I came up and said the prayer and was about to go over and greet some of the members that I didn't recognize, when the brother with the white binder came up to me and said, "Are you Elder Barry Clinton Maashoff"? I said yes. He said do you remember me? I said no. He said come over here, and proceeded to the sacrament table and opened up the binder to the first page. On the right side was a picture of Elder Richard Alan Mitchell and next to him was a square drawn about the size of a picture and my name was written in the center. On the other side was his baptismal certificate showing that we had baptized and confirmed him. I could not hold back the tears as I realized that Walter Cordeiro e Silva had been taught the gospel 40 years earlier by Elder Mitchell and me. He showed me a picture of his family, all 22 of them, four sons who had served missions, two that were serving as bishops. His granddaughter wrote on the back of the picture a great testimony and thanked me for teaching him the gospel so many years ago. He and all his family had stayed active and he was serving as the Patriarch in the stake. I know that each of you can understand the blessing it was for me to come back and learn that yes the work had been worth it and some good had been done. I could have left the trip at that time and have been fulfilled for coming back.
“It doesn't end there however. They asked me where Elder Mitchell was. I promised them I would find him and tell him. I did, and this past summer I went to Des Moines, WA, and visited with Elder Mitchell. I had called him and told him of my spiritual experience with the Cordeiro family. He went to his journal and read about an incident which had happened when we were teaching the family, very early on in his mission and at the end of mine. He told me that Brother Silva had told us in one of the cottage meetings that he couldn't go to church because he had leprosy. Elder Mitchell said he had expected me to say we could give him a blessing, but instead I promised him if he would come to church the Lord would cure him. He did and He did. I had forgotten this story until Elder Mitchell reminded me from his journal.
“So to all of us who were called to serve in the Brazilian South Mission I want to bear testimony that our work was not in vain and that the Lord has blessed us and those we taught all our lives. What a choice opportunity it was to serve in that country at that time." Barry Maashoff
Thanks to all who contributed items to this Brasulista. I enjoyed them so much.
Alf Gunn (BSM 62-65)
Gig Harbor, WA