By Chip Kishel
March 11, 2014
A story of a young American boy and his family living in Brazil from 1962 to 1964.
My life as a young boy in the small town of Strongsville, Ohio before the summer of 1962 was fairly basic. We lived on a dead end street that continued a short distance unpaved. I attended a local parochial school about 3 miles away, my newly married sister would visit during the evenings my father taught night class at Fenn College in Cleveland. My brother, Bill being 9 years older had a Vespa and a host of his own friends who would hang out at the house while the ole man” was teaching.
The end of the above life style ended on July 1, 1962. By August 1, 1962 we were in Brooklin.
Mrs. Beebe’s house (The Brooklin House)
The first home we moved into belonged to an elderly English women named Mrs. Beebe. She was a small statured, very proper individual. How my father found this home still remains a mystery to me although I’m sure Uncle Sam had some influence locating this property. Referring back to my basic upbringing in the States, one can imagine the shock of residing in a compound like home thousands of miles away from one’s country… and being 10 years old. Although I was with my parents and brother, inside I felt alone and scared to death. The Brooklin house was outfitted with maids quarters as well as a small residence at the end of the property. The small residence housed the chauffer and his family.
Each room had a buzzer to, which if pushed would turn an indicator flap in the kitchen and point out which room needed to be attended to. I recall pushing the button and trying to ask for chocolate milk. The maids spoke no English, but they knew some English phrases and figured out what I wanted. The idea of telling someone to get you something was very foreign to me, as I was taught to ask for what I wanted.
Streetcars ran parallel to the property. Stories of streetcars were told to me back in the States as remnants of their tracks remained embedded in Cleveland Streets. But now, they actually existed in Brazil. I was fascinated by these old relics that were very much active throughout São Paulo. I recall wandering outside of the house walls to look down the tracks both ways.
The Birth of the American Moleque
The Brooklin house was surrounded by walled houses of various social status including some empty apartments. The neighborhood across the tracks was run down and poor. The Brazilian kids who noticed me were not friendly. I remember a small wooden storefront nearby. I walked in to try to buy a Coca Cola. I did not return as I was swindled out of my money. Fortunately later that week we were visited by our American friends who told us about the dangers of being an American young man, so for the rest of my time at the Brooklin House I always had some kind of friend or escort.
My brother gave me an 8″ switchblade knife for my pocket if I ever needed it, and I did.
My American friend and I were walking down the Street Car tracks about miles from home. Three moleques surrounded my friend and I and wanted money. I pulled my switchblade from my pocket and snapped it open. The moleques picked up rocks. No one was stabbed or hurt, but we did walk away knowing that the next two years were going to be long.
My first fight and standoff transformed me into a moleque as well, and the rest of my stay in Brazil was peppered with fights and general misbehavior.
Chip Kishel and his wife Agnes reside in the small town of Sylvania, Georgia. Chip works for Houghton International as a contract Site Manager for Koyo Needle Bearing LLC. Chip’s hobbies include custom vintage Honda Motorcycle Restoration and his wife is an accomplished equestrian trainer specializing in dressage, cross country and stadium jumping.“