Thursday, October 04, 2007

E. Steel, Part III (American Confederates)

In the latter part of June of this year I reported the death of Eliésio Steel do Nascimento, descendant of George Steel, one of first American Confederates to arrive in Santarém in 1867. In the previous two blog posts, I referred to him as E. Steel because I didn't know how to spell his first name. Besides, I had never called him anything other than Steel over the years. I need not repeat what I wrote earlier, other than to say that we didn't get together very often until recent times when he got into the business of selling plants and vases. He would stop by our house occasionally and we would chat in English and, when I could afford it, I'd buy plants and vases from him. The plant arrangement in the attached image was one of his creations. Steel was actually pedaling it around the streets of Santarem on the back of his bicycle the day I bought it. Since his suicide on June 24, 2007, I felt it important that some record be made of this man, his family, his life and the historical link with the American Confederates. Unfortunately, time slipped away without my doing the research. I did encounter his sister, Edilce, once on the street where we live and we promised one another that we would get together in the near future. Then by chance, I met her sister, who now lives in Venezuela. I also had a call from Adilce's brother, who lives in Manaus; he thanked me for my friendship with Eliésio and for the blog posts I had written about his brother. But these were all fast encounters without opportunities to ask the important questions, like how do you spell Steel's first name? I was beginning to think that some of this history would slip into darkness when I came by Eliésio's job application among some old papers in a metal file cabinet that I was cleaning earlier this week. I couldn't believe my eyes. There was his application typed out on some fading bureaucratic-type paper, signed by him personally with both his signature and initials. I nearly threw it into the trash along with outdated receipts and other documents I no longer needed. I honestly don't remember his giving me this document. The fact that he spoke fluent English was good enough reason to apply for a job at a tour agency. Next post: the contents of the application.

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