45th entry to the Colonel´s Scrapbook
Birthdates which occurred on your SELECTED date of September 01:
1854 Engelbert Humperdinck Germany, opera composer (Hansel and Gretel)
1866 James "Gentleman Jim" Corbett heavyweight champion boxer (1892-97)one of the greatest heavyweights 1875 Edgar Rice Burroughs novelist (Tarzan, Mars Saga),creator of Chitah
1922 Vittorio Gassman actor (War & Peace) ,one of the best masterpieces Italy has produced1923 Rocky Marciano heavyweight champion boxer (1952-56)too bad he didn´t get to celebrate his last birthday 1935 Seiji Ozawa Hoten Manchuria, conductor (Boston Symphony Orchestra),great musician
Deaths which occurred on September 01:
1159 Adrian IV only English pope (1154-59), dies .He was a walking headache1557 Jacques Cartier French explorer, dies ,we owe him so much1715 Louis XIV the great, king of France (1643-1715), dies at 76,telling his second wife Francoise that she shouldn´t have believed so much in his immortality as a living god
1988 dies Salvador Cardenal Arguello, foremost musicologist of Central America,of course, Nicaraguan, my teacher, my sponsor,my surrogate father
1838 William Clark 2nd lt of Lewis & Clark Expedition, dies at 68, he really did believe women should be barefoot and pregnant
1865 Joseph Lister performs 1st antiseptic surgery, something still unheard of in Nicaraguan hospitals 1870 Napoleon III captured at Sedan,lost his throne and finally stopped being ridiculous trying to imitate his famous uncle
1939 WW II starts, Germany invades Poland, takes Danzig,and sends all Jews “dancing” 1941 Yellow star becomes obligatory for Jews in the Reich to wear, and I would proudly wear mine if necessary in anti-Semitic Nicaragua 1945 Japan surrenders ending WW II (US date, 9/2 in Japan)aboard the Missouri, and this gave MacArthur the idea that he was a kissing cousin to god
“If you have the privilege of looking the way you do, then you must do everything to make your mind outshine that face”,were the first words said to me by Salvador Cardenal Arguello, foremost musicologist not only of Nicaragua but of all Central America. He had come to the National Conservatory to take the pick of the litter, only to seek two star pupils and I got chosen along with the future poet,composer and novelist Silvio Alejandro Cortez, who was one year older than myself. Both of us were teenagers considered by composer Julio Max Blanco as “very promising”. Who hadn´t heard of him, the owner of Radio Gueguense, the only classical music station in Nicaragua? We worshipped him, an accountant who had taught himself music.
Getting to know my teacher was a fascinating life experience, day to day. It was impossible not to love him. Stern and very scholarly, he was a marvelous human being.he adored his green-eyed wife,Ofelia, with whom he had a torrid lifelong romance which produced 10 kids.
I open a jar of jam and he is there,in all his sweetness and gentleness. How can I foget him jumping into the cookie jar when his wife wasn´t around,because he was a diabetic yet wasn´t immune to temptations. Little was I to know that I would also behave the same way when I got my diabetes diagnosed in my 43rd year of age. He taught me what it was about having an iron fist in a silken glove. Vivaldi shed his soutane for me through his words, and Beethoven became much more than a grumpy old man having a fit over a lost penny. Salvador became the catalyst for the fire of friendship to ignite between quiet,smiling Silvio Alejandro and myself. He had the charming knack of making you feel comfortable with yourself,while demanding the near impossible in order to achieve excellence. “Why get a 90 if you can have 100,” he would ask.
Never to be forgotten,when he became the first one to work towards getting me a scholarship so I could study in France. He stood firmly behind me Never stopped believing in my potential. Loved me as if I were his own daughter, demanded more excellence and gave his own example as something to be followed. I learned so many things through him that I can safely say that he melded stone and clay to create a new me.
Sometimes I would catch him gazing at me,unflickering dark currant eyes. A Renaissance man himself, he could paint,sculpt and do many things at once. One day before leaving opn my scholarship stage to France, he showed me a painting he had created. He had titled it Reina Planetaria.Planetarium Queen.and had inserted me into Saturn as if wearing a broad brimmed hat. He said he would finally give it to me after I had returned from competing my studies in France. He would need it to keep him company while I was away. He had never deserted me,something which I cannot say for load of men which have ornamented or hampered my life. When several members of a now well known but still deficient chamber group demanded the minister of culture to strip me of my scholarship because I was a rich man´s daughter and they needed to go instead, Salvador gathered all my documents and proved that I met all the requirements and more. The minister,a cousin of Salvador, just paid no heed to the envious half.boiled musicians and was happy to see me off. While on the Concorde that took me from New York to Paris, I chuckled over the anecdote of Russians´proverbial penchant for envy that Salvador had told me before Ileft Managua. Vladimir had a cow, he had told me, and he got yogurt,curd,cheese and butter from its milk. Vladimir´s neighbor Vadim was always angry to see how happy Vladimir was with his cow. So one day while God was having a picnic on earth, Vadim stumbled into Him while the deity was swimming naked on the Dnieper River. God asked Vadim what he could do for him while they had a shot of vodka together.A horse?A farm?A cow like Vladimir´s? No had said, Vadim.I want only one favor,I want Vladimir´s cow to die. More than Ruyssian envy, it spoke of some Nicaraguan´s intense desire for mediocrity. That was my teacher, my friend,my protector. So I promised Salvador I would write every day,something which I didn´t but which I tried hard,despite my hectic schedule as an exchange student. I sent the first cards to my parents and Salvador upon arriving in Paris.
When I had a chance at the National Conservatory of France, I handed in his Pequeñas Lecciones de Música Para Aficionados de un Aficionado.Small Music Lessons for amateurs from an amateur. What kind of amateur was that?I had translated his work and the people at the conservatory were amazed at the fine confection of his work. Amateur?He was a genius. I felt so proud the day I heard comments about his lessons,and I wrote to him about it. One day later I got a call from his wife,in joyous tears.”you have made my husband deliriously happy.” That is when I had an inkling of what true love could be if it existed. Ofelia and Salvador,blessed may they be, had it with them.
When I returned with my degrees under my armpit, he had a job for me. All my letters and postcards were tied in neat little piles with pink ribbons. Even though I was obligatorily drafted into the army as a translatress,something which he didn´t like, I always managed to have time to help him around in his radio. He would always call me when he had visitors who spoke no Spanish so I would translate for him. He refused to see me in uniform. So I always kept my Sunday best for him.
One day the Czech cultural attaché was coming for a visit.He spoke a tentative Spanish, but he also spoke good English, so I was there for the encounter. My teacher pronounced the last name of composer Anton Dvorak exactly as it was written,mispronounced. He continued to do so throughout the interview, although I emphasized on pronouncing it the way the Czechs do. I gently tried to nudge Salvador into doing the same,but he wouldn´t budge. When the visit was over, and mi professor led the Czech to the door, things changed. Salvador was furious,saying to me that I had dared to correct him just because I had a load of diplomas and he didn´t. He immediately took out his belt and took me to his office, where he administered three sound belt whacks on my ass. Arrogant, don’t ever forget I made you, he hissed. I was dumbfounded. He reminded me that army captain or not, he was still the guy in charge.
I fled in tears. He followed up the beating with a call to my parents,who were appalled at my boldness and temerity:correcting Salvador Cardenal in public!Who did I think I was? So back I went to his office and apologized, but after we had made up, I reminded him that Czechs indeed did pronounce it differently! He laughed and said I reminded him of Galileo Galielei, whispering angrily,”But it does move,” after the Inquisition had arm twisted him into recanting his theses about the earth moving.
Nowadays, I think he did well to smack me. He meant well. He always worried about my welfare,giving me sound advice for everything from eye makeup(get that black eyeliner off,Kitten,you look like a raccoon) to my taste in men(no,no,no,Kitten, he is an ignoramus and ignorance is transmitted like a venereal disease,in bed!get rid of him).
At least when I married(on his birthday,October 29th)he finally heaved a sigh of relief.When I got pregnant,I visited him and he started daydreaming about training mu child. But he was already very sick and depressed because his wife had died a year ago.
His diabetes was running rampant.
ON September 1st,1988, while I was on a trip with my husband to Chinandega and I was already 5months pregnant, he died. When I came back on the train I read the news on the papers,and was frantic to get back to Managua. I rushed to his house, a block away from mine. His funeral was already been over The pain was so great I almost lost the baby. One week later, his son Lorenzo,who would be in charge of the radio now, called me to ask for my help. That would be the beginning of one of the strangest yet sweetest relationships in my life,but let´s stick to the story here. Salvador was gone, but I would do anything necessary to honor the great man,citizen and musicologist he was.
For months, I would feel a warm hand run over my button nose-the kitty snout as he would call it while tweaking it softly- or his hand upon my shoulder. Love has a way of never letting you out of its viselike grip. I leave off here,dearest reader of mine.Tears are coming to my eyes as I write this. But I still smile.He would have never had it any other way.