Silly Things
The illiterate

Historically, European immigration made a powerful impact on Argentine society. Contrary to popular belief, the largest waves of immigrants brought only those who were just struggling to escape poverty and hunger (not a totalitarian regime, though). The immediate, logical aftermath: newcomers were those who had been expelled from the system, the outcasts, the dispossessed, the illiterate, the uncouth guys.

The man in the picture is Francisco Cabrera, my grandpa Pipo. In 1896, he arrived in Argentina in his elder brother's care. He had done through fifth grade but once he was here he did not go on studying and married my grandma, who at that time was 16.

You'd say what a tough guy he must be, how can he be so uncaring as to
have such memories of his grandfather, since deep down he is calling him an ignorant person. Quite the contrary, as this silly thing is nothing but a small tribute to that upright grocer (whom, by the way, I loved so much). Because my grandad, as well as the hundreds of thousands of ignorant people that were coming at the same time, were men of great wisdom despite the fact that they were all men of little education. A love of art, respect for knowledge, admiration for science... drove them to make their children study and get civilized... They could break their own ass slogging their guts out for a book, or a notebook, or the white overall, or whatever their kids' schooling required. And neither primary nor secondary education would content them: in an endeavor to have educated children they would encourage them to strive for the highest college degree.

My grandpa Pipo used to take my grandma out to the theater; my father and my aunts studied music: they played the piano and also the violin. The house had a large library where lots of books, paintings and sculptures were kept. Thanks to my aunt Dora, who had a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, I got bitten by the scientific curiosity bug.

On raising this family, that ignorant Galician provided a good model that should be followed by this tinellized, menemized, Argentina of nowadays, so drowned in short-lived, coarse values. I know
without a shadow of a doubt that many of those immigrants, although illiterate, were the greatest sages of Argentina.

Some Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any form is authorized unless fully attributed. Last Updated Jun-08. Buenos Aires, Argentina.