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"Saudade . . . e isso que a gente sente"

This is a new feature of the EA Homepage.  We would like to receive letters from all of you who have saudades do Rio, Brazil, and your days at the Escola Americana.  Here we hope to publish letters about what you remember and miss most about your EA days.  We take it upon ourselves to record the "historical" events of the Escola Americana  and to preserve them for future generations (sounds ambitious).

Please make sure you return to send those historically important and not so important events!   You can leave a record of your saudades here.   You may also leave them on the book below.

Letter from Richard N. Brown (My Memories of Rio):

I am sending you my memories of Rio and EA. Perhaps others may find this of interest and be stimulated to look into their memories and write to you.

I have been thinking of my time at Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro and wonder if you and others who are or have been at EA might find my memories of EA and anecdotes about Brazil in the 40´s and 50´s of interest. I will discuss EA, World War II, German submarines, flying boats, theology, gasogenos, public safety, status symbols, verandas, Marshal Zuhkov, transistors, romance, shoguns, the Hitler Youth, Sears & Roebuck, General Mac Arthur, the Gripsholm, the Titanic, Imanja, Billionaires, Cinemascope, Carnival, the Templars and Peking Man.

I entered EA´S kindergarden in 1944 and graduated from the 12th grade in 1957. since EA founded in 1937 two years before I was born, I assume that I am one of the few who spent 13 years at the EA in the 40´s and 50´s. I read most of the books in the library as there was no television. Because of German and Italian submarines (Including the Italian Leonardo Da Vinci), my parents and I had to fly to Rio in 1944 from Miami. The flight on a Pan Am Sikorsky S 42 flying boat took 5 days. On the second day we stopped at noon in Trinidad so the adults could play golf or go to the beach. At the end of the trip my father tipped the purser. He later explained new technologies copy old technologies. Since you tipped pursers on ocean liners you also tipped airline pursers. You might go to the Google site "Planes Aviation in Rio de Janeiro" that explains that because no air fields existed sea planes were the way to fly to South America in the early 1940´s.

Because of the submarines Rio had no gasoline in 1944 and the Esso stations sold Esso brand bags of charcoal for the gasogenos. Gasogenos were large ovens bolted on to the back of cars that burned charcoal which generated gas to run the flex fuel cars, buses, and trucks. My father who was a US Diplomat said at cocktail parties men would come up and say "Excuse me, Emerson I have to leave in 45 minutes" the man would go to his car place the charcoal in the gasogeno light it come back to the cocktail with dirty hands - wash his hands have a whisky and thirty minutes later looking at his watch he would say" I have enough gas - we have to leave, good night". It took about 45 minutes for the charcoal to generate enough gas to run the cars.

We spent our first night in Rio the Paineiras Hotel on the rail line up to Corcovado and then we moved to the Hotel Gloria. The ruins of the hotel Paineiras can still be seen on the way up to Corcovado. My parents found an apartment near the U.S Embassy more or less where the Casa de Franca is. After we moved, I went downstairs to play on the street and was attacked by a mob of three or four five-year-old Brazilian kids (I was chubby, blond and had green eyes), shouting "Olha o menino Alemão, vamos bater no menino Alemão. I replied "Nao sou Alemão, sou Americano. Sou Amigo." This was met with a short pause then, "Vamos bater no menino mentiroso Alemão."

Brazil had declared war on Germany and Italy because the German submarines had sunk many Brazilian ships and had killed over 1,000 Brazilians. Consequently there was a great deal of anti German sentiment in Brazil in 1944.

My father was the minerals attaché at the U.S Embassy. One of his functions was to obtain monazite for the A bomb. After the war he remained at the Embassy as minerals attaché and was not transferred because of his know how and because there was only one other minerals attache of the U.S State Department. Because my father was not transferred I spent all of my 13 years at EA. As a result it became the norm to make close friends and lose them when their parents were transferred. Of my kindergarden class only Jorge Paulo Lemann and I stayed 13 years at EA. The last time I spoke to Jorge Paulo was twenty five years ago, before he moved to São Paulo. I lost touch with all of my classmates and only recently through the internet was able to regain contact with Tim Kemp and Nelson Schmitt. I was shocked to learn that out of the 1957 class of twenty Daniel Johnson and Hans Tijan have died. My guess is today's graduates with the help of the internet will remain in contact.

To get me to Leblon my parents put me (Age 4) on a public bus sitting next to the driver who deposited me at the end of the line (some 20 kilometres) in Leblon where a friend's empregada walked me to EA. As I got older I took either a bus or a Bonde to Leblon from Miguel Lemos in Copacabana. It is obvious Rio was much safer in the 1940´s.

When I was in primary school my best friend was Finnish. Tapani Kalle Samulei Poika Aapro´s father kept his Iron Cross in a cigar box on his desk. The Iron Cross was received from the German Air Force for flying a Finnish ME 109 against Russia in World War II. Russia had invaded Finland in 1939 and was stopped by the Finns until Marshal Zuhkov brought in his Siberian tanks. This practise with tanks helped Zuhkov win the battle of Kursk. When Hitler invaded Russia, Finland became a German Ally and gave Finland some ME 109´s, one of which Tapani´s father flew.

Our Portuguese teacher Mr. Frederick Garcia told us that Americans had very poor knowledge of geography. He related that on a trip to the U.S in the late 1940´s his plane stopped in Dallas. As he had seven hours to wait for the next flight he decided to take a bus into town and sightsee. Because of his lack of familiarity with Dallas he checked at the bus stop by asking "does this bus go to the airport" He was answered by "You all aren't from here, are you?" "No, I am Brazilian". He was met with a blank stare and said "Brazil, you know coffee and Carmen Miranda." Another blank stare and then, "I am sorry Sir, there have been so many new countries after the war that I cant keep track."

Although we never got out of school because of snow days, we did however enjoy the golpes de estado because there was no school and we could go to the beach.

EA was full of refuges from WWII. The atmosphere was like Rick's place in the film Casablanca. A Russian Princess ran the cafeteria. Our gym teacher, Mr. Beck, was a former Capitan in the Hungarian Calvary. He gave me private lessons in the epee and sabre. My twenty classmates were born in Rio, the U.S, England, Germany, Mexico, China and Japan.

About ten years after graduating from EA I worked at a New York law firm where Eric Offner was a partner. Eric was born in Vienna but went to EA for high school. Eric said he remembers that in 1938 he was seated at dinner when there was a knock on the door. According to Eric, dinner in middle class Viennese families was not a time when unexpected visitors were imaginable. His father sent the maid to the door. She came back and said, "Sir- It is the office boy". Eric´s father hesitated but said, "bring him in." Eric says he will never forget the sight of the 16-year-old office boy in his Hitler Youth uniform coming in and stating, "Herr Offner, I have just come from the party meeting and I have terrible news. You all must leave Austria tonight. I went to the office got the petty cash and bought these tickets for the 10pm train." Eric said his mother screamed "it was a trick" by the boy to take over the business, but Eric´s father said they would go, and that is how Eric Offner arrived at the E.A. I asked what happened to the boy and Eric said he was killed on the Eastern Front.

Air travel is faster but much less pleasant - public safety has become worse, but Brazil is still the leader in flex fuels. One of the books I recommend is "Silent Missions," by Vernon Walters - the real life U.S James Bond, who spent a few years at the Embassy in Brazil as Military Attaché, and one with the FEB in Italy. I also recommend the blogs on the EA web site about ship travel on the Moore McCormack lines ships. My parents and I travelled on the "Argentina" of Moore McCormack and the "SS Del Norte" of Delta Lines. Although I was too young to appreciate the romantic possibilities of ocean voyages, I recommend the Betty Davis film "Now Voyager" about a cruise to Rio, Pam Am flying boats, love at sea, and the wonders of psychiatrists.

One of my father's friends was Jack McCarthy, who had a small diamond mine in Diamantina, Minas Gerais. Jack was a South African who had been a Captain in a South African regiment in World War I. The casualties were so high that Jack was the only officer from his regiment to survive the war. His wife was one of two daughters of a pretentious banker from Tennessee. The parents scared away all of the potential suitors as not good enough for their daughters, but when the girls turned 30 they sent one daughter on a cruise to South America, where she met Jack McCarthy who she married. The next year they sent the other daughter to a cruise in the Pacific, where she met and married General Douglas Mac Arthur.

My romances in Rio were mostly outside of EA. I flirted with Jill Mokrejs and wrote poetry for Dorthy Lajta. However the fact that EA was so small probably served to inhibit the school romances as it would cross over into kissing your sister territory.

High school was a golden age. Drugs were unknown. Because of my carteira diplomática I started to drive at 14. We also were members of the Iate Club, and Dan Johnson and I co-owned a small outboard boat, the "Sexy." We would go all over the Bahía with Tim Kemp and the Takahashi brothers. One day we were fishing and Taki turned to me and said, "You know Takahashi is as common in Japan, as Brown is in the U.S." I said, "Brown is frequent, not common." Taki ignored me and said, "However our family is noble." "Do you know that Japan has an Emperor, but that the ruler was always the Shogun?" I said, "I knew that." He then said, "you know that the Samurai warriors swear fealty to their lord and commit Hari Kari, rather than dishonour themselves." I said I also knew that. Taki then said that there was only one case of a revolt against the Shogun. Here I acknowledged I did not know that. Taki then said, "the shogun in question was so evil and cruel that even the loyal Samurais revolted. To further show the Shoguns complete lack of honour he failed to commit Hari Kari, and completing his disgrace, dressed himself in women's clothing and ran out with his wives the back door of the castle and went to Hokkaido were he changed his name to Takahashi and founded our family," Taki said. It's a great story, and as the Italians say, "se non é vero é ben trovato."

My first reader was Dick and Jane. Since my name is Richard I thought it was appropriate that EA taught me to read with a personalized book. However in second grade spelling I was stumped by the word "Brown" - it was the only word I got wrong because I couldn't believe my surname was spelled the same as the color.

Christmas was wonderful as it was the beginning of three months of glorious vacation. Youthful lust was represented by the Sears Roebuck cataloge. After careful deliberation I picked the 1948 Lionel electric train set that had smoke pour out of its smokestack as my wish for Santa Claus. Christmas came and I asked my father why Santa Claus had not delivered the train set. My father said "the APO sent the train to the Emerson Brown in Cairo, Egypt at the US Embassy," and I learned there was no Santa Claus and Brown was a frequent name.

I think it was New Years 1948 when I woke up about 1 am and looked out at the mostly empty Copacabana Beach. These were few fires 400 to 500 meters apart, with 10 or 12 persons around the fire. The next morning I asked my father what it was. He said people from the favelas that are devoted to Imanja come to offer gifts to Imanja. the Goddess of the Sea, on New Years.

This shows the importance of fashion - fifty years later Copacabana Beach is packed on New Years by millions of people many with gifts for Imanja. However the New Year's offerings to the Goddess of the Sea seem to work as Rio has never been hit by a hurricane. On the other hand it could be the statue of Christ on Corcovado that protects Rio.

Fashion also affected my choice of beaches. Although we lived on Copacabana Beach, I would run the two kilometres to Arpoador to hang out with the "Turma" from EA. Since the Leblon school had no sports facilities -sports was a nebulous concept- for me and others at EA. I see one of my contemporary's yearbook entry under "sports" lists "smoking."

Copacabana Beach was considerably closer to be the apartment in the 1950´s before Copacabana beach and Avenida Atlántica were widened.

When Brazil won the World Cup in 1955, Rio went wild and the celebration spread to Copacabana's beach with people driving on the mosaic sidewalk. News of the victory came by radio. Radio was the key to international news and most expatriate households had Zenith Transoceanic short wave radios in the living room. Because they were large about the size of two shoe boxes, Transoceanic radios were useful after Castro took over Cuba. Power for the radios come from 12 D size (the largest size) batteries. A Cuban friend said his older brother had a Transoceanic with a brass name plate "Made expressly for Miguel Tarrafa." Castro had made it a crime to take money out of Cuba. The penalty was death. Mr. Tarafa took the batteries out of his Transoceanic and placed $ 10,000 in cash in the battery compartment. He was booked on the afternoon flight to Miami caring only his radio. The flight was delayed and Miguel was sweating with fear about being discovered and shot. Finally the flight was called and as Miguel settled into his seat he panicked as he realized he had forgotten the radio. After what seemed hours a Cuban officer appeared at the front of the plane calling,"Sr. Miguel Tarrafa." Barely being able to speak - Miguel said, "si." The officer came to him, radio in hand,saluted and said, "I am pleased to return your radio, Don Tarrafa. As a boy I was a shoe shine boy and shined your uncles shoes. When he built the airport he got me a job as a night watchman and now I am head of security for the airport. I am glad to able to do a service to your family, and when they bought me your radio and I saw your name, I had them stop the plane so I could personally return your radio to you." This illustrates the importance of class, family connections, and being nice to shoeshine boys in Latin America.

Looking back I am amazed at how precient the Carioca shoe shine boys were - they started calling me "Doctor" fourteen years before I received my Doctorate. As a 13 year old I received a Motorola transistor radio, which I used to listen to broadcasts of Armed Forces Radios of the Hit Parade. The transistor radios were the IPods of the 1950´s, the must have technology, as were hi fi sets. I remember how impressed I was when Luther Powell, the father of Johnny and Tommy Powell, played a stereophonic tape recorder through his big speakers.

Because of my inability with math I had a tutor who lived in an apartment on the Corte de Cantagalo. I noted he had a refrigerator in the living room and observed that it probably was a status symbol- as the most expensive thing in the house was always in the living room. We had a grand piano in our living room as we had an old 1935 GE refrigerator in the kitchen.

Other status symbols were the wearing of pens clipped to the front pocket of the suit jacket. Some of these pens were only the caps as the wearers of the pen caps were illiterate.

During the late 40´s the best way to travel to the states or to Europe was by passenger ships. I have mentioned the wonderful site for McCormack. One of our trips was made on the "Del Norte" of Delta Lines that sailed from Rio to New Orleans. Sea travel was not without problems. On April 25, 1949 I look out my window and saw a ship broken in half. At the base of the Sugar Loaf was the British "SS Magdalena," a ship built at the same yards as the Titanic, by Harland and Wollf, and which like the Titanic, also sank on its maiden voyage because the Capitan and first officers were at fault. However unlike the 1,517 dead from the Titanic, no one died on the Magdalena - Imanja, or the fact they were only 500 meters from Copacabana Beach.

The 1949 contact with Magdalena was my second contact with this saint. I had spent my first three years on the Rio Magdalena in Colombia. At that time my father - a mining engineer- was the assistant manager of a large gold mine on the river.

To illuminate how popular sea voyages were, one of the catch phrases of the British Sailing Club in Niteroi - was "missed too many boats" as in "Poor Richard, he is always late - he has missed too many boats and has gone native."

How good was the education provided by 13 years at EA? Jorge Paulo Lemann and I both spent 13 years at EA. Forbes states that Jorge Paulo is the second richest Brasilian with a fortune worth 4.9 billion US Dollars. On the other hand I am not on the list. I remember that I visited Jorge´s apartment he and his cousin had built. Jorge said they had sold his aunt's house on Viera Souto and built an apartment building, which they financed by selling the penthouse to the Comte de Chandon, the owner of part of Möet Chandon. Perhaps this is how Jorge Paulo developed an interest in the alcoholic beverage market. I asked Jorge Paulo if he had sent his children to EA - he said no, because when he got back to Brazil after Harvard, working in a Swiss Bank, and playing professional tennis, he felt like a "paraquedista" who had landed in a strange country. He didn't know anyone as all his friends from EA had left.

Jorge Paulo was a great surfer and - also won Brazil's amateur tennis championship while at EA and kept the title well into his 30´s. When he came back from Porto Alegre with his first tennis championship, Jorge Paulo Leman said, "I won, but what was great was the girl Maria Ester Bueno." Ms. Bueno, who went on to win Wimbledon. Jorge Paulo also played Davis cup for Brazil at Wimbledon but did not win at Wimbledon because of his other interests. One of his other interests was girls. I was impressed when I was at his house for a few hours and the phone rang three times - girls calling for dates. He made a date with each girl for the same time and place and then called two girls back to cancel with an extremely persuasive story, loaded with details, about how his favourite aunt had called to announce she would be in Rio to see him on that day. However, what impressed me the most was when Jorge Paulo would drive his standard shift 1949 Ford on Avenida Neimeyer to the empty Barra, he would shift gears without using the clutch by tuning his shifts to the engine speed, which he calculated by the sound of the engine as 49 Fords's had no sissy tachometers. The Barra was much much better and far more interesting when it was completely empty.

Obviously I did not pay as much attention in class as Jorge Paulo did. I learned to love history and how societies developed. I went to Florida State University and exempted a year of French, History and English so I was able to graduate in three years. Mademoiselle Vasconcelos had beat enough French into my head to enable me to exempt with credit two semesters of French. This helped keep me out of Vietnam since as I received my BA in three years, and I did not complete my four year ROTC course and become a lieutenant and go to Vietnam. I was delighted to receive Doroty Koqut´s (Lajta´s) email that she recently met Mademoiselle Vasconcellos who is still alive, well, and teaching at 104!.

Another friend who I met in Kindergarden, Joao Luiz de Alberqueqe, was sent to EA at four to learn English and was placed in a Brazilian school at the fourth grade. Joao Luiz became a reporter for Manchete and we met again in New York at a Cosmos football game where Pele was playing.

My views of Copacabana Beach and the ocean were always out of the living room or bedroom window. You will note there are few verandas on Avenida Atlantica. The reason is that the military were concerned spies would use verandas to spy on Forte Copacabana and thus the building code prevented ocean view verandas on Copacabana Beach. Until relatively recently foreigners could not buy ocean front apartments in Copacabana, and my father had to obtain a Presidential Decree allowing him to buy the apartment.

I do not know if it is the result of a changing economy, but I reflect that my father and the father of Dan Johnson, Tim Kemp, and Nelson Schmit, were all engineers who worked at making things or making things work. Nelson Schmitt's father had a foundry where we went on a class trip and saw bronze being melted and poured into moulds to make faucets.

Because we had no television the movies loomed large. As a twelve year old I loved the war pictures and dreamed of being a hero. I remember I was thrilled by "Flying Leathernecks," a John Wayne film, where he is a Marine pilot flying Corsairs over Guardacanal. I was twelve and went to the beach and met a friend Joao. I said, "Joao, quando cresco vou ser piloto dos fuzeleiros navais e matar Japoneses." He responded, "Ricardo, os Japonses podem te machucar." In my mind I saw myself screaming in the cockpit going down in flames. I said, "Joao, voce tem razão, que que voce vai fazer quando cresca?" Joao said, "Ricardo eu vou ser funcionario publico e ficar aqui na praia." A wise, if not patriotic, choice.

Cinemascope made a big impact on my adolescent mind when it came to Rio. I loved The Biblical epics but I missed the message as the dancing girls and golden calf's of the Pagans seemed much more attractive than Christian piety. This probably was a fault of mine and of having viewed the films in Rio with its hedonistic view of life. Perhaps my address had a bearing on my theology. If you go to Google and look up "Miguel Lemos" you will see he developed a highly unusual theology, churches, and liturgy, but no divine all powerful diety.

Apart from the dancing girls in the Hollywood epics Luz Del Fuego - a corpulent Naturista who lived on the Ilha do Sol and posed for topless photos with snakes was the epitome of youthful lust. It is interesting to see how 50 years changes reputations. In the 1950´s Luz Del Fuego was the most decadent woman in Rio. Today if you look at Wikipedia she was a Naturista Vegetarian fighting for woman's rights.

However the greatest impact made by the movies was the projection of Blackboard Jungle in 1955 which started Rock n Roll in Rio, because it had "Rock around the Clock" on the sound track.

Women's rights were not in the forefront of EA in the 1950´s. Girls took typing - boys did not. I still can't type and this greatly slowed my discovery of the Internet. However it should be noted that my step mother was a lawyer - she has gone to law school after college. Dan Johnson's mother Margaret Barni was one of four female officers in the U.S Foreign Service in the 1940´s. She had gone to Vassar and married an Englishman who was an officer of the Indian Civil Service. They lived in Delhi with 8 servants, Margaret had many friends in the U.S Diplomatic Service in Delhi and when her husband died of jungle fever her friends used the jeito so she could join the U.S Foreign Service as an officer.

Reflecting I think we were far safer and more innocent in the 40´s and 50´s. I had no idea of the religion of my classmates. When I arrived at Columbia Law School I was asked "what are you" and since at EA Nationality was the sole factor I said "American" and was answered", "No schmuck what's your religion" I told the story of my battle in 1944 with discrimination from the mob of five year old but met with no sympathy.

Rio in the 40´s and 50´s was great. When we moved to Miguel Lemos in Copacabana in 1945 ours was one of the few apartment buildings on the beach. Most of Copacabana was houses. On Sunday mornings men would leave their houses in their pyjamas to buy the newspaper, pãosinho, and drink a cafesinho with their friends. Posto 5 used to be in front of where the Meia Pateca is now located. After my parents died I inherited the apartment and still own it although I am rarely in Rio, as I live in Caracas where I am a partner in a law firm. On reflection the safety of Rio the 40´s may have been bought with social injustice. The police, it was rumoured would not let anyone who did not live in Copacabana use the beach.

However Carnival was free form street Carnival in the 50´s. One of the best blocos was that of Miguel Lemos. The idea of putting Carnival in the Sambodromo was than many years in the future. Somehow the Sambodromo and Carnival seem in courageous.

The Portuguese ambassador to Venezuela Vasco Bramão Ramos mentioned that the Knights Templar -who were featured in the Da Vinci Code - were partially responsible for the Discovery of Brazil. The ambassador said that when the Templars were expelled from France in 1307 they went to Portugal and formed the Order of Christ. The members of the Templars financed Henrry the Navigator and passed their knowledge of Arabic navigation and their maps to the Portuguese. The Portuguese Caravels had the Red Cross of the knights Templars on their sails and it was these ships that discovered Brazil and China.

The sole exception to the ban on passenger ships during World War II was the Gripsholm. This Swedish ship traveld between Japan and the U.S exchanging Western diplomats for Japanese diplomats. Our neighbour across the hall at Miguel Lemos was Embajadora Lago the widow of a former Brazilian Ambassador to China. She told me that in China they had been very close friends of the Jesuit theologian / anthropologist Teilhard Du Chardin and when they left China on the Gripsholm he gave her a package which he said contained the manuscript of his latest book. When Mrs. Lago arrived in Rio she was at a loss about what to do with the package but decided to entrust it to her Aunt, then the mother Superior of the Carmelitas in Rio. Later in 1946 she met father Du Chardin in Brussels and on her next trip to Rio she asked her Aunt for the package and related. "My aunt said -what package?. - you never gave me any package" It could be the conservative Mother Superior was offended by the liberal Jesuits book, or she forgot and the package is still at the convent. A fascinating possibility remains -it could contain the missing bones of Peiking Man. Teilhard du Chardin was the discoverer of Peiking man. No one knows what happened to the bones of Peiking Man and there is the remote possibility they could be in the package still in the convent in Rio. Perhaps some from EA can persuade the current mother superior to look in the attic.

Letter from Walt Perkins:

I remember the bondes as being the cheapest ride in town.  Bondes were very useful tools as well.  They were the best place to crush the glass to bond to kite string (with liquid glue) for cutting other kites out of the air.   The neighborhood kids would block off the street to string out the cord between lamp posts to dry.  Pissed off the people wanting to use the street to actually drive on...imagine that!

Bondes were also good for flattening pennies (US).  That made a distinctive sound- when the wheels rolled over the coin!  Flattening the aluminum and brass brasilian coins just weren't the same.

Riding a bonde required 'style'- the coolest way to get on and off was when the thing was still moving of course!  If you were a good judge of speed that was not dangerous but if you didn't get it just right when leaving off you could end up running for your life to keep from planting your face- not cool.  The really best technique, and the hardest to master was to get off facing backwards and let your feet slide to a stop!  Had to watch out for wet cobblestones if you were wearing leather sole shoes- slippery traction! And, you never sat down on a bonde - always stood outside and held on to the rail if the conductor would let you.

Bondes were always good for periodic traffic accidents when some yahoo in a hurry would try to cut one off.  Funny how bondes never moved out of the way for those nuts!   Those traffic jams (real or imagined) were good excuses for being late.

I think the traditional Carioca pace was disrupted when they got rid of the bondes.   Everything else moved too fast or to a schedule!  Not good in Rio.

Letter from Debbie Hardy (Binha) '84:

E como mágica que depois de 15 anos estando fora do Brasil, volto para a cidade mais linda no meu coração e o lugar mais especial do mundo: EA.  I remember walking through the front gates, last month and seeing all my classmates arrive ready to go to class . . . as if nothing had changed.   I walked by the concession and thought back to Cabral, and all his goodies.   As I neared the wall by the gym and the class buildings, I laughed because I remembered how awesome it was to just sit there with my friends and talk . . . Monica, Annette, Flavia, Ana Luisa, Claudia, Manami, Debbie, e muitos outros.

When I came back to the US . . . I found an emptiness.  How could I ever connect back to the Class of '84. Like our motto:
Big Brother is Watching, I also watched and began finding friends . . .soon, I connected with many of my classmates, who are living around the world.  It was so nice to hear from them and to find out that nothing has changed between us.  We picked up where we left off, many years ago.

EA had a magical feeling to it.  It was home, love, friends, companionship and many other things.  I boast about how we all left there with a different perception in life.  Talvez tambem seja o Rio, o Brasil e a magica desse pais tao guardado no meu coracao.  Throughout these years, I missed the connection with the one place who understood all of us while growing up and that holds so many wonderful memories.

Muitos beijos e abraços para o pessoal. . . sempre estarão no meu coracao.


Letter from Judy Sybert:

I attended EA from 7th grade until graduation in '79.  EA will always hold a special place in my life, but my senior year was sure a blast.  Mrs. Stanton was, of course, so very very special.  I remember being involved in the play South Pacific.  I was in charge of Costumes.  I was a lowly in the rank of things, but she still made me feel special.  There were also so many others.  I remember Ms. Pinho, my Portuguese teacher.  She was so proud of me when I finally studied and got an A!  And Cabral and his crew!  What a crew it was!  Dr. Brown, all I can say is thanks to him.   He helped my brother when we needed help.  My brother began to have serious problems in school and was since diagnosed with Bi-polar disease.  Dr. Brown was not only an excellent headmaster, but a great person.

I was a lousy student; barely got by!  But I can tell you all one thing, EA was a family.  I might have gotten lousy grades, but everyone helped mold me into who I am today.  The values instilled in me have helped me through life's bumps, and I have had my fair share.

Ah-h-h...The memory of the Class of '79's beach party . . . . Anybody else remember that? Afterwards, Dr. Beecher, the principal, made an announcement that if ANYONE from the next graduating class attempted to skip school and have another beach party, there would be serious repercussions!

And of course, graduation night.  It rained cats and dogs . . .but we still managed to have fun!

Thanks for giving us the opportunity for our saudades, Bruce.
Judy Sybert, May 20, 1998 

Letter from David Martin '69
A Rio Story
Good Bye Olga and Rio

Since 1969 I've wondered whatever happened to Olga Peters.  It seems hers was the last face of a classmate at the Escola Americana I saw before leaving Rio.  My last night in Rio turned into quite an adventure.  Seems we all ended up at that bar we hung out at down near Arpoador Beach for a good bye party.  I was 16 and believed I was cool drinking Tom Collins.  With the hour getting late and Saco 69's, the "tchaus," "keep in touch," and "good lucks" about over, I went to get on the #210 bus to
Leblon to head home, Jonathan Van Speir had to give me one last good buy hug.  Well the bus driver didn't have time for that, the money taker at the back laughed out "o viados" and they took off.

I had too many Tom Collins in me at that time and stumbled around from the street side of the bar toward the beach so I could run home along the beach at the water's edge.  Something I did everyday back then in training for track.  Though not always at that late dark hour with a stumble in my step.  It would be faster to just run on home rather than wait for the next bus.  It would be no problem that night.  I crossed the road stepping around the flickering Macumba candles and offerings along the curbs of the street toward the beach.  I was across the black and white marble mosaic sidewalk and down the short jump of the seawall and on to the sand.  It felt good to get my loafers off and feel the cool sand around my feet again.  One more run home before catching that plane stateside in the rapidly approaching day. It was not unusual for me to run before daybreak and watch the sun come up over the water at the rocks at Arpoador.  That is a part of the beauty of Rio that stays fresh in my memory. 

A restless adolescent night would have me up in the early dark of morning. I would watch the slow graying of the night from the beach before it spread over the bluing of the night into morning on the horizon.   It is the reminder of the flood of feelings of adolescence to be resolved.  The joy and wonder of the solitude of the morning in the glowing rush of color, with a lonely longing to share this beauty with someone.  The orange sparkle and reflection of the sun at water's edge.  The sheer joy of running through the lapping waves feeling the soft warm water bubbling around my feet in the quiet morning.  The steady rhythm of the rising passing waves at water's edge and my feet gently slapping the wet sand.   The day and I advanced as the rocks at the point between Ipanema and Copacabana drew near.   I would watch the sun rise sitting on the rocks at the end of the point.  The sun would crack the horizon and the cool night breeze rising rounding red, to orange to hot white over the deep blue water.  A giant manta would break out of the waves splashing down in the morning white glow. The city beginning to stir behind me in the advancing dawn.

This would be my last night in Rio and I could run home along the beach and watch the sunrise in Leblon before heading home.   Before I made it to the water's edge, three dark shapes appeared around me.  I recall something in my back, my grandfather's watch slipping from my wrist, and my near empty wallet with twenty cents worth of busfare and my track medal in it jerked from my pocket.  The thugs had followed me down to the beach and had decided to liberate my possessions from me.  Had they also spotted my class of '69 ring with the single red stone?  My fist was clenched tight trying to hide it.  One of them grabbed my hand as he attempted to open my fingers, the question was spoken.  Do you want to die, sabe, and another jab in the back opened my hand.  The ring was gone.

I was now down on the sand.  Then came a kick toward the stomach.  Well, in my young pride I showed them.  I was tough and strong from the daily routine of miles of running, and countless sit-ups and calisthenics, I just tightened up my abs and no harm done.  They were gone.    If I hadn't been so stupid drunk, I could have easily run off into the night and they would have never gotten close.   I ran on back toward Leblon barefoot in the dark at the water's edge.  The adrenaline was pumping, frustrated and angry at the whole situation with a thousand what ifs, playing the scene over and over different ways in my mind.  I ended up in the small square in front of her door at about some late hour in the A.M.  Karate kicking a tree, "that's what I should have done to them," and hurting my foot.  I needed to vent my frustration and anger.  I needed a friendly face.

She was a good friend, and we shared the prom and some walks and a kiss at the Jardim Botanico back then.   How to do this?   My last night in Rio can't end like this.  I couldn't be knocking on the door this late?   I picked up a large leaf and began to write a note on it.   Someone had noticed me and dad was at the doorway puzzled with this kid and not impressed.  No I didn't know what time it was, they stole my watch.  The details of our conversation are vague from there and I don't remember what we said to each other.   The sun rose on Leblon beach without me.  I walked home with the predawn light on the streets to explain the night to my parents.  A long flight stateside later that day and a new adventure from there.  Haven't heard from her since.  I still have the leaf.  The words stop after "a leaf would you believe.  If....." It is pressed in my yearbook and brown with thirty years.  Good bye Olga, Ate logo Rio.

Letter from Anonymous: A Typical Escola Americana Love Story...

Once upon a time a boy met a girl on Copacabana beach.  The day was nondescript- slightly overcast and not particularly warm- but the moment He first saw Her was magical and a ray of sunshine illuminated Her in His eyes.  It was obviously and truly 'love at first sight'- the kind of half puppy love and half hormonal excitement only a beautiful 14 year-old girl can generate in a 14 year-old boy.  After long minutes of observation and awkward introductions they discovered they had things in common.  Like younger siblings, their common citizenship, their love of the beach, and that they were to be EA class-mates.

They became buddies. They shared classes, friends, school activities, and a high school social life.  Try as He might, though, He could never convince Her to accept a date.  While they were often together there was a barrier between them He wished desperately to tear down and She worked hard to preserve.  In fact, they talked about it but nothing changed for several years (yes, years!) as they both moved though puberty and into adolescence.  She kept to her circle of girl friends and He developed hobby interests and a reputation as a practical joker.   They were typically well adjusted teenagers.   She had crushes on other boys they talked about and He had dates they talked about but the desire for a closer relationship was one-sided.  They stayed buddies. 

One day, as in most fairy tales, the end of their friendship was in sight.  His family was returning home in a few months (at the end of the school year) and they both realized this would alter their lives forever.   In his relentless way, He asked Her for yet another date (the millionth time).  He remembers Her cautious acceptance and His mixed feelings: on the one hand, He was overjoyed at Her change of heart but, on the other hand, He didn't want sympathy.  What they did or where they went on that first date is lost in history but He remembers that night led to the next... and the next... and the next...as often happens with people in such circumstances.  They fell in love.  They were inseparable.  They learned things they never knew.  He learned She had rebuffed his advances for fear of rejection.  She learned to trust.  He learned responsibility.  They both learned how to care for someone respectfully.  For three or four months they enjoyed each other's company all over the enchanted city- they saw every movie, ate in neat restaurants, roamed the city, and walked on the beaches.  They held hands in school, they went to the Prom, they stayed out late.  They looked deeply into each other's soul.  Their friends were amazed at their transformation.  He became responsible and shed his 'prankster' image; She became more outgoing and engaging.  He willing spent all the money he got from selling off his hobby assets on their adventure.  They blossomed as people.  When school ended they stayed out very late every night.  Their life was magic.   But it could not last forever.  

The scene at Galeão airport their last morning together was sad and touching.  Everyone knew life was ending a perfect dream and two children were separating as adults.  They wrote letters and kept in touch for a while but the distance between them was too great.  They went to colleges a continent apart.  Occasionally He heard bits and pieces about Her from conversation with mutual friends.  Then He didn't hear about Her any more.  He grew into a father with a wonderful wife and great kids.  He spends his days preparing his children for their own lives.   He has told them about Her and hopes they can one day have their own magical experience.

Letter from Stefan Sittig:

Wow! How can I start?  I was just bent over laughing at Debbie Ramos (Winkler)'s letter . . . since we were both Class of '90, a lot of the memories are similar. I remember too the nights at PAPILLON and CANECO 70 and the "zona" with Luis Felipe Marques (class clown) and Ricardo Guerra (class abusador...) during Collares' and Rabelo's classes.  I also remember with fondness Mrs. Flame, who taught me how to write; Mrs. Guimaraes, who is a legend and one of the sweetest, most caring teachers I ever met; Mrs. Souzinha, who taught me that Science could be fun (I was scared to death of science and math . . . still am really); Mrs. Storino, who taught me discipline and hard work; Mrs. Sa, who was a friend as well as a teacher, and many, many many more. It would take pages and pages . . . what a faculty!  Having been a student at EA from 1st grade all the way to my senior year, EA felt like a home to me, not a school.  Since my father was the high school guidance counselor, I also became friends with many of the faculty and staff.  I remember waiting in line at Cabral, staying at school until late for the musical rehearsals with Mrs. Chipe, the always original teaching methods of McFarland and Collares (time que nao faz convencao nao ganha o jogo!).  I also remember the many wonderful nights of parties and encontros with all my wonderful friends . . . especially Malena Comesana, Debbie Ramos, Kim Bobb, Dara Neeley, Luciana Duarte, Gunnar Lofgren, Adriana Nogueira and just the overall spirit of the school.  Sure, there were some hard times too, becoming an adolescent, with all those hormones raging and the acne and the awkwardness, being assaltado in Rio several times (eu tinha cara de gringo rico), and being called to Dr. Brown's office because I threw a student's backpack out the window of the school bus (it was not moving).  And then one of the worst days, I'll never forget this, was the day I learned Mrs. Stanton died.  I was sitting in my 7th grade algebra class (Mrs. Damm was substituting. . . wasn't she always?) and she told us what happened.  This was 1985 I believe, and I was 13.  Mrs. Stanton changed my life forever, and she didn't even know it.  This is how.  In 1983 the high school was doing L'Il ABNER and Mrs. Stanton needed some kids from lower school to play the kids in the show.  Well, somehow I got chosen (together with Yara Royster - who was already a veteran having been in PLAIN & FANCY a couple of years earlier).  It changed my life forever.  I had never been in a musical before, and this was my first chance!  From that first night of L'IL ABNER (and through that horrible storm that stopped the performance at intermission . . . remember galera, of '83, '84, '85 and '86?) I was never the same. That moment, as an 11 year old child, I decided what I would do with the rest of my life . . . theatre.  Well, those were some interesting years, and I lived through 4 years of high school doing all the musicals, plays, etc., everything theatrical I could get my hands on. I still have the tapes from all the productions.    [Webmaster - we'd love to get copies of those tapes for the website]

Then I went on to UVA and did theatre there, shocked that I was not the favorite and wasn't getting all the leads).  Then on to graduate school to get my Masters in Fine Arts-Theatre.  And today, in 1997 at the age of 25, after thousands of rehearsals, performances, auditions, I am still an actor, still performing, albeit professionally. (It's nice to get paid!)  And to think it all started that fated day in 1983 when I walked into Ruth Stanton's office.   Ah, saudades...Stefan Sittig

Letter from Michele Mancini:

Oi, gente, Eu ainda não acredito!  Depois de tantos anos eu achei um sito todo dedicado à Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro!  Eu estudei na EARJ de 1975 atè 1979.  Eu sou Italiano, e voltei em 1981 pra Italia, mas um pedacinho do meu coração ficou là no Rio. Quando penso naqueles anos que passei na EA, eu realmente sinto o que os Brasileiros querem dizer com "saudade!"  Desde o 1981 eu nunca mais voltei pro Brasil, pois a Italia não està "pertinho."  Poder ter notìcias da EA me faz sentir muito menos distante.  I was in third grade in 1975, and when I left, in January 1979, I had started the seventh grade.  Some of my schoolmates were: Andrew Brinn, Charlie Shick, Andrew Moreno, Arnaldo Fragni (he was Italian too), Greg Wadsworth, Marco Antonio Carneiro, Flavio Fefferman, Armando Dias, Luciana Braga Horne, Ana Paula Pessoa, Flavia Massari, Manami Osada and Paulo Lobo.   If some of you remember these names and if you know where they are now, please let me know.  Um abraço de quem està muito longe mais ao mesmo tempo muito perto de vocês.  Michele Mancini <mi.mancini@agora.stm.it>

Letter from Mary Ann Harvey ('80):

Now I am a person who can really say...Tô morrendo de saudades... EA was the best school anyone could go to... I used to be the first person to arrive in the morning on my senior year although I had first period free.  I loved hanging out in the AAA and just talking to all the great people who were in my class... Diana, Rosane, Tinka, Panos, Claudio, Cicero, Amy and so many others.  I was also the last person to leave school as I always had some kind of practice, volleyball, softball, handball, and what have you... Ingi, Christina Pons and even Dr. Brown were my great coaches!  I loved all my teachers and remember some of them fondly... Collares, Tori, Mr. Needham, Ingi, Mr. Joslin (in the 7th or eight grade), Ms. Silva. I could go on forever...

Our senior trip was a special time in our lives.  I am sure everyone in the class of 1980 remembers the great times we had in Campos do Jordão!  I couldn't leave out Cabral... he was really special and my brothers remember... um sonho e uma fanta uva... for brunch... I could have died when they said... and the class queen is... Mary Ann Harvey... I thought I wouldn't be able to survive leaving that wonderful place but here I am a happy alumnus with a happy family, a great family!  EA has contributed to my life in a beautiful way!  Thank you for creating such a beautiful homepage!  My siblings: Monica ('84), Mark ('85), Tony('88) and Michael ('82) feel the same way. maganet@ibm.net

Letter from Maria Cristina Herrera Arnold ('75):

Eu tenho saudades do Rio.  I miss o jeitinho brasileiro, speaking portugese, hanging out at the wall, and those carefree days of the past.  I miss shopping at the papelaria across the street from the old school and the smell and feel of the new erasers.   I miss window shopping up and down Copacabana Ave.  I miss my portuguese teachers, Miss Collares (loved her bobbey socks), Miss Pinho called me Maricota, and Miss Pinto for her wonderful attitude towards life.  I miss the constant workouts of climbing stairs and walking up and down the hill to get to school.  I miss going to school in a minature version of the United Nations.  But most of all , I miss the magic that engulf each and every one of us for having had the oppurtunity to go to school in such an enchanted place called, RIO.  Maria Cristina Herrera Arnold ('75) <sarnold@earthling.net> http://www.rain.org/~sarnold

Letter from Walt Perkins ('63):

A Balloon Story
Carnival was always full of adventures, I also looked forward to the Sao Joao holiday with equal anticipation.  In June, when the air is colder (relatively), you could successfully launch paper hot air balloons.  Street vendors sold small tissue models about 18 inches in diameter with wax-soaked cotton wicks.   It was always a challenge to light the wick without torching the entire balloon first!  On any given night you could see several floating through the air.  There were also more creative minds in Rio and you could spot some very interesting creations floating along.  If you got lucky, and were close when they ran out of wick and landed, they could be retrieved, re-wicked, and re-launched.  Usually, though, they were torn to pieces by roving bands of favela kids who were looking to make a profit by selling them (to whom we never knew- and they must not have made much because I never saw one survive the contest for possession).  Probably the same kids who chased loose kites off the beaches- but that's another story.

Anyway, someone learned how to make paper balloons from tissue and we did a few from colored tissue (the commercial version was always white).  After a couple of small ones we tried one about a meter in diameter- simple, just add more panels.  Then we got real ambitious and decided to make a giant model (the mother of all balloons we thought).  We pooled our money and bought a ton of tissue paper and glue, went to Pedro Haegler's house (because it had enough free space to lay everything out and a second floor balcony to allow inside final assembly- out of the wind), and went to work. I can't remember who was in on this project but the balloon seemed to go together pretty fast and before long someone was holding its top on the balcony while the wick assembly was added at the bottom.  The whole thing was, of course, big (really big!) and beautiful.   We used Pedro's Mom's vacuum cleaner to do a test inflation but there was some kind of problem launching it from there (maybe power line or trees??) so we packed everything up and took it over to EA to launch it from the basketball court...or some other local basketball court.  My memory gets hazy here because I know we did get it to go up a little but I don't recall it as a total success.  Either the wick was too heavy or we had used too much glue to assemble the paper.  In any case, it did fly but not for long or very high!  Like many things in life, the act of building the balloon was more fun and exciting than the final event of flying it! 

But that's not the only Sao João balloon story... The climax of the Sao João holiday was the monster fireworks display over the Lagoa and off Corcovado (they still do that don't they?).  It was never actually timed but it seemed like just the biggest and best display I had ever seen in my short life!  One year I was invited to watch the display from someone's boat on the Lagôa.  I don't remember who it belonged to but Artie Byrnes was there.  We went out early in the afternoon to run down descending balloons.  The trick was to catch them before they hit the water.  It sounds easy but as I recall the timing was tricky and the boat didn't move all that quickly on the water.  I think we got one successfully and saw other people doing the same thing.  At least we didn't have to worry about water-born bands of kids and there was a protocol- whoever was closest to the balloon was given room by the others to try and land it.  That was a lot of fun and the fireworks were spectacular that night when viewed from the middle of the Lagoa. Walt_Perkins@ccmail.orl.lmco.com

Letter from Debbie Winkler ('90):

Ever since June of 1990, when I graduated from EA, I have missed it.  People were and still are amazed when I tell them that I hated missing school days when I had to stay home sick.  Of course I didn't miss the school lectures, but I definitedly missed seeing my friends, my teachers, enjoying a free period at the "Smoking Area" or at the AAA (triple A).  My closest friends were and some still are Lucille Cooper, Malena Comesana, Isabela Nunes, Carolina Montero & Pincetic, Vicky Morales, Monica do Valle, Leo Zraick, Parrera, Felipe Marques, Julio Fefferman, Jaime Estupinan, Andy Abernathy, Patrick Schwartz, and many more.

Every friday and saturday night we were surely to be found having a beer at Caneco 70, dancing at Zoom and Papillon or having a batida de coco at the "rampa".  The most entertaining teacher I had was Ms. Collares, specially when she would fight with Ricardo Guerra when he would come with the flag of his soccer team wrapped around his body and singing the song of the team.  The coolest teacher I had was Mr. McFarland although he once made me pay a visit to Mr. Klumpp because my mini skirt was too short.  I ended up having to wear the longest skirt the drama club had for the whole entire day.   Although by the end of the day I had rolled it up so it was as short as my mini skirt.  Aside from this incident, Mr. McFarland was very cool - he used to tell me stories of the 60's and how he attended Woodstock and saw Janis Joplin singing.

Another great teacher I won't forget is Mrs. Rabelo - she used to fight with Felipe Marques all the time - specially when he turned his top eyelid inside out and this grossed her out so much she used to yell at him while he made excuses saying that he had a disease in his eye.  How could you not enjoy a school like this???  It was a mixture of fun and play.  Now I am married, living in West Palm Beach, Florida working at Motorola thanks to the great education I got at EARJ.  Thanks to all of you who made my days at EA as wonderful as they were.  I miss you a lot!!!  Love, Debbie (Class of '90 will always rule!) e-mail address: Brasil1812@aol.com

Send us YOUR saudade letters.

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