By David Bilgo
May 21, 2013

The mystery is: what talented South American goldsmith made this fabulous bracelet that Christies insists must be sold with the watch?

An elderly American would like to find the missing piece of a romantic story that began in 1948, on an ocean voyage to South America, on the S.S. Uruguay, when the now 65 year old was just months old. During the long voyage from New York to Argentina and back, Lawrence Tebo made a promise to his wife Verna that his newly purchased, prized watch would be willed to his first grandchild, David

David is now forced to sell the watch at auction and would like to learn the missing piece of the story.

1937: To carry out the President Roosevelt’s wishes for good will with South America, the California was renamed the S.S. Uruguay, and became the Flag ship of the Good Neighbor Fleet.

January 1939: The S.S. Uruguay was the first ship of the American Republics Line under Moore & McCormack as operators, to sail. The ship left for Barbados, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo and Buenos Aires, then northbound to Santos, Rio de Janeiro, and Trinidad.

1941-1946 Wartime: Served as troop transport

January 1948: The S.S. Uruguay returned to private passenger service, as control of the vessel was handed back to Moore-McCormack Lines by the Maritime Commission. She is the second of the company’s three “Good Neighbor” passenger ships to be reconverted for post-war service between New York and the east coast of South America.

The Uruguay comes back to private operation as one of the most beautiful vessels New York has ever seen, in the opinion of veteran company men. Interior designs were executed by William F. Schorn.

Feb 10 1948: A double ceremony as held at Pier 32 for the S.S. Uruguay. The vessel received the Naval Reserve Pennant. She is the eleventh unit of the Moore-McCormack Lines’ fleet to be honored by the Navy. Moore-McCormack leads all other American-flag lines in number of reserve pennants. The Uruguay is the 41st ship to be awarded since the war’s end, and the 32nd to be given in the Third Naval District.

The library was also dedicated on this day and was named for Thomas K. Locke, a company employee who as an Infantry Captain lost his life in World War II. Captain Locke, who was the son of the late Major Frederick S. W. Locke, a leader in American shipping, was one of the more than 200,000 American troops that were transported to all war theatres on the Uruguay.

Feb 12 1948: Under the command of Captain Albert Spaulding, the S.S. Uruguay made her first post-war run on her regular route to Buenos Aires.

November 1948: Lawrence and Verna Tebo depart New York for South America aboard the S.S. Uruguay and begin collecting menus printed on original artwork by artists C.A. Rosser and Ada Peacock during November ’48 -April ’49 (I have a dozen in my possession). Menu covers (click on link)

It is during the disembarkation at Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, or Buenos Aires, Argentina, when Lawrence purchases a Patek Philippe ref. 1593.

At the time of purchase, Jan. 26th 1949, the watch came with a standard leather wristband. Lawrence decided that he wanted a nicer bracelet, and chose a solid 14K gold serpentine band from the jeweler that sold him the watch.

The mystery is: What talented South American goldsmith made this fabulous bracelet that Christies insists must be sold with the watch?

The bracelet has a makers mark that looks like roses (which the jewelers from Christies is going to send me a close-up) for the article I hope to release in order to learn about the goldsmith.

The watch is going to be auctioned off by Christies, 0 Comments/by

By Larry Ludwig
May 21, 2013

A Beautiful Day in the Hood, Thursday Last, Sala São Paulo, Open Rehearsal, Orquestra Sinfnica do Estado de São Paulo (called OSESP for short, as in the São Paulo State Symphonic Orchestra).

Continuing a most pleasant habit, newly developed this two month visit to São Paulo, Thursday morning found me `bright and early` at Sala São Paulo, Brazil’s premiere classical music concert venue. There-at for yet another in a series of weekly open rehearsals” of OSESP, comfortably ensconced in the warm, bathed in golden and cream colored hues, wood paneled music hall. There-to enticed by, from a retiree’s point of view, most reasonably priced tickets (Five Brazilian Reals – R$5, $2.50 U.S. Dollars) and what usually is an easy four station ride via Metro and CPTM trains, combined with short walks to and fro each station.

This particular Thursday (May 9, 2013) found me in not so good humor. Somewhat dismayed by a week filled with frustrating bureaucratic idiocies at local banks and post offices, reports of increasing brutal and rising-in-number violent crime, reports of yet more scandals involving politicians, police and religious leaders, (yes, even paradise has its “issues”), and with increasingly serious news and concerns about friends facing life-threatening surgeries and battles with the “Big C”… not to mention an unusually atypical crowded pushy/squishy Metro ride to the Sala (think of Tokyo or New York City subways in rush hour).

Out on stage walked the musicians, the conductor, and the soloist seated at her grand piano alongside the maestro’s podium. With hardly a word other than a cheery “Bom Dia/Good Day” of the maestro to the orchestra, the downbeat of the baton began.

In an instant the opening fortissimo notes of both pianist and orchestra, of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto… out burst feelings/emotions of incredible JOY, pure BLISS… followed by more bars of sustained musical happiness. All cares, worries, sadness forgotten, dissipated by Ludwig’s creative genius. At once, memories of good-times-past flashed before my eyes, going back to the 1950’s. Feelings of warmth, an inner glow, a love for all of mankind enveloped my being. At peace, tranquil, a soothing of the angry beast. Perhaps, it would seem, Beethoven is the real paradise, be he performed in Brazil, USA, Europe, Asia and elsewhere.

I had forgotten how wonderful this concerto is, having been decades since last hearing it performed live. It is up there in the top five of my all time favorites list, with Beethoven and, as it came to mind during the second and third movements of the concerto, Verdi, my two most all-time favorite composers. (Think a reflection of my genealogical Italian-Germanic heritage, or?) Either composer, you cant go wrong.

The soloist was internationally acclaimed French pianist Hlne Grimaud (who it seems also has founded the Wolf Conservation Center in the USA), the conductor, also from France, Maestro Stphane Denve. The musicians of course, some 150 of them, professionals of OSESP. The orchestra played wonderfully, accompanied by the brilliance of Ms. Grimaud’s playing abilities. Her fortissimos were brilliant, sparkling, stentorian, clear. crisp and concise, her pianissimo moments exquisite, smooth, elegant, soaring, taking one to indescribable sonorous emotional heights. The contrasts between fast/speedy fortissimo-loud and soft, suave pianissimo-quiet all the more dramatic. You could hear a pin drop in the cavernous Sala during the slow solo passages, Hlne playing only a note-at-a-time. The audience captivated, breathless, in awe at her talent. Her arpeggios, her pyrotechnics in both fast and slow passages, stunning. Her entire performance a tour-de-force of piano virtuosity.

Yes, a performance wondrous, happy, joy, but tempered by the knowledge that like most things wonderful, they be ephemeral, the concert soon to come to an end, that savoured bitter-sweet moment… wishing it could go on for hours, but alas, not to be. (Albeit, did get to hear occasional snippets after the conclusion of the concerto. Maestro Denve rehearsed the concerto without interruption through to the final notes, working out kinks here-and-there after, rather than during, the performance of the work, as is often the case with other maestros.) Needlesstosay, those of us presence in the Sala gave Ms. Grimaud, the Maestro and the Orchestra a rousing ovation of appreciation.

A most beautiful, uplifting morning. THANK YOU, BLESS YOU BEETHOVEN, thank you and bless you as well Hln, Stphane and OSESP!!!!

(And thank you Mr. Rogers and his children’s TV show for the theme of my joy… “its a beautiful day in the neighborhood”)

Larry Ludwig spends six months in Brasil/São Paulo (Consolaão neighborhood), and six months at his residence in northeast Washington State, about 90 miles north of Spokane. Discovered Brasil in 2008 and has been back annually ever since. Retired from the US Department of Labor/Washington DC in 2003 (Economist and International Relations Officer, with specialty in agriculture/farmworker programs). Once retired became active as a volunteer with Washington State Democrats (State Committeeman and Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Caucus), with Spokane Opera of Spokane, Washington, where still serves as an Executive Board member, and teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) at local community college. In São Paulo, he is a Patrono of the “Coral da Cidade de S. Paulo”, and an occasional reviewer of opera performances in São Paulo and Rio.

Previous articles by Larry:

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By B. Michael Rubin
May 21, 2013

There are many ways for foreigners to get into trouble. Of course, it is wise for travelers to obey the laws of the country they are visiting. However, problems may arise when it’s not clear what the foreign customs are. For example, when entering a small waiting room in Brazil such as a doctor’s office, it’s polite to say Bom dia” to the other patients. When visiting someone’s home, as you pass through the doorway, you should say, “Com licena.” However, Americans never say “Good morning” to strangers in a doctor’s office or “Excuse me” to enter someone’s home, so they would be considered rude by Brazilian standards.

One evening I was having dinner in a restaurant in Brazil with my wife. We arrived at 7 pm because I was not yet accustomed to the Brazilian dinner hour of 8 pm, or even later on the weekends. As we were early, the restaurant was empty, so we asked politely first if they would allow us to sit down at this early hour. About fifteen minutes later, another couple entered the restaurant, and even though the entire restaurant was empty, they chose to sit at the table next to ours. As an American, I considered this rude. They were infringing on my privacy because they were close enough to hear our conversation, and there was no reason they needed to sit so close. I thought of asking the waiter for a different table. My wife, who is Brazilian, explained that when the other couple chose their table next to ours, it was a sign of friendship and closeness. In Brazil, strangers in a restaurant make polite conversation. For instance, they might ask for menu suggestions. Americans consider conversations with strangers as an impolite interruption.

A Brazilian friend who is from Manaus told me she considers southern Brazilians to be unfriendly. She gets upset if the people at the next table in a restaurant don’t talk to her. She says that in Manaus, it’s rude not to talk to the people at the next table, or anyone who is close enough to hear you.

When different customs intermingle, it is easy for a misunderstanding to occur, even if both families are from the same country. However, when two different languages are mixing, it’s even more dangerous. For instance, the English language is more direct than Portuguese. Americans, if they have a question or need a favor, will start a conversation by asking for the favor. Brazilians are offended by such a direct request. They are accustomed to the delicate meandering of a conversation that poses suggestions, or hints at the favor, rather than asking directly.

I have a Brazilian friend who is an English teacher. She was married to an American and lived in the US for many years. She moved there when she was young, and became comfortable with American customs. Having returned to live in Brazil, she is caught in a culture clash. For example, when Brazilians ask her about taking an English class, she knows they want the factual details: Where does she give her classes? How much do they cost? etc. However, in a Brazilian conversation, the talk doesn’t start out this way, but slowly gets around to the main point. To be polite, she begins all her conversations with Brazilians by saying, “Forgive me for being so direct…” In this way she provides the facts and tries to avoid being rude in Portuguese by speaking too directly.

Brazilians, in general, adore talking, so not getting to the main point of a conversation immediately isn’t important. In fact, not getting to the point is sometimes the point. Brazilian conversations more closely mimic reality, which is full of detours, disorganized, and messy. In long, rambling conversations, just as in life, we often end up someplace we hadn’t planned, moved by forces beyond our control. A circular or meandering conversation is more natural than the direct approach of Americans or Brits.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the Brazilian custom of long, indirect conversation. Brazilians are great conversationalists, great storytellers, which is a lost art in many countries. However, because Brazilians adore talking, they may forget about the documented danger and illegality of using a cellphone while driving. They also sometimes talk over each other, such that everyone is talking at the same time, making it difficult to understand what’s going on. By definition when a person is talking, it’s impossible for him to be listening because he can’t do both at the same time. Therefore, people who speak beautifully and are masters at conversation are often lacking in listening skills.

For people who are native English speakers and not familiar with the long, indirect style of conversation in Brazil, it can be difficult. Often when I’m listening to Brazilians talk, or when I’m reading an article in a magazine or on the Internet, I get lost. There are so many detours and extra details that it’s easy to lose sight of the heart of the story. The background details and the main point become inseparable from each other because they are mixed together, whereas in English, the main point is always stated first.

Another difficult language adjustment in Brazil for English speakers is understanding the difference between fact and fiction, truth and rumor. In a typical Brazilian story, fact and fiction are often mixed together. Finding the heart of a story can be difficult if we are not sure which elements of the story are true and which are rumor. In Brazil rumors are included in an article, implying they could be accurate. As a result, a Brazilian “story” is no different than “history”. Brazilians are quick to point out that the word “story” appears inside the word “history.” Thus, in Portuguese, história covers both of these worlds.

Facts, details, the heart of a story, and fiction all get mixed up together in Portuguese. This happens every day in conversations, and since people write the way they talk, the same mixture occurs in magazine and Internet articles. For Brazilians, history is a compilation of stories, so there is always an element of fiction or half-truth in every history or story. History is nothing more than a collection of life’s stories, and like any good Brazilian conversation, it is full of doubts, digressions, and mystery. Once a foreigner understands this, communication becomes easier.

B. Michael Rubin is an American living in Curitiba, Brazil. He is the editor of the online magazine, 0 Comments/by