Saturday, February 4, 2012

São Paulo, a 1920's video and my personal memories!

Gil and I found this gem and wanted to share with you!
It is impressive to see how busy Sao Paulo already was back in the 1920's.
We love to see how beautiful the architecture was and how dressed up Paulistas already were, hence the present formality in our way to dress in Sao Paulo today.
My grandma always told us how elegant people used to be in Sao Paulo when she was growing up, she thinks people dress up like crap nowadays and never wore a pair of jeans her entire life, she is as old school as you can be.
Bus drivers used to wear perfectly clean polished shoes, white gloves and every one wore nice hats. She also noted that everyone smelled nice in the bus, French colognes were not expensive and were readily available.
Women wore make up all the time and had impeccable hair and nails, many still do it today.
The first time my grandmother visited the US she got emotional when she found products she and her mother used to buy at a traditional department store downtown Sao Paulo called "Mappin Stores", it was a specific brand of make up, and a couple brands of perfume that were no longer found in Sao Paulo in the early 90's. Her experience stuck with me because she cried when she saw the packaging and smelled those products she hadn't seen in several decades and it reminded her of her childhood growing up in Sao Paulo.
Nowadays we go to the Mall, back in those days, my grandmother and her mother used to ride the bus all the way downtown Sao Paulo where the nice department stores were located.
Sao Paulo also had many other department stores such as "Dillard's" and "Sandiz" and they were mostly located inside Malls such as Iguatemi, Ibirapuera and Morumbi Mall.
She also tells me they went to Sears because they loved the smell of fresh roasted peanuts and cashew nuts, who knew that is what Sears was famous for in Sao Paulo! :)

Shopping Paulista, former Sears Paulista near Paulista Avenue, Sao Paulo

Most Sears in Sao Paulo were located in such gigantic multi level buildings, and when Sears went out of business in Sao Paulo in the early 90's, their buildings became Malls, Jardim Paulista and West Plaza are two good examples of former Sears turned into Malls.

West Plaza Shopping, formerly Sears Lapa, the largest Sears in Sao Paulo
They also had a tradition of catching a movie to enjoy the new "invention" of Air Conditioned movie theaters, that was back in the 1930's.
In those days, Sao Paulo had HUGE cinemas that accommodated between 3000 and 6000 thousand people.
They were luxurious and everybody loved them. Sadly today, most of the traditional large cinemas in Sao Paulo slowly faded away in the 80's after a couple decades of porn movie exhibits and anonymous gay sex, and have finally become "evangelical churches", how appropriate!
Another Sao Paulo tradition of the early days, as described by my grandmother, was enjoying a cheeseburger with frech fries and a banana split before heading back to the suburbs on the bus driven by a driver with impeccable white gloves and a nice dark navy blue hat in an nice dark navy blue uniform.
This is some of the things people used to do in Sao Paulo before TV and facebook.
I was lucky because growing up in the 70's and 80's my grandma used to take us downtown Sao Paulo for a movie a cheeseburger and a banana split, my brother always had a hot dog and a sundae, yeah, he liked to be different that way.
I was born all crooked, and grandma was the designated person to take my brother and I downtown to the eye doctor, the same one my great grandmother knew, I know, he was very old, but he was the best.
She also took us to the dentist for braces and even the orthopedic specialist for specially made, super heavy orthopedic shoes, I told you I was born all crooked, it wasn't pretty, I was bully in school like nobody's business.
I have to say their efforts paid off, you couldn't tell today, I am almost all fixed up now , almost ;)
One memorable downtown afternoon with grandma was when she took us to the movies to watch "Superman", the 1978 version with Christopher Reeve, yep, I was already gay in those days trust me! :)
That special day was also the first time I realized I could order my banana split inside a half pineapple, and that was a life altering moment for that 7 year old boy from the suburbs who loved ice cream even more than Christopher Reeves, hey , I was already gay, but I was 7, give me a break, ice cream was an absolute priority.

The George Cloney of the 70's, Christopher Reeves

Mappin, originally known as "Mappin Stores" was the most popular and probably the most luxurious department store in Sao Paulo for a good part of the last century. Sears was also present in Sao Paulo with huge multi level stores but Sears was more of a suburban department store with huge parking lots far away from downtown while Mappin was the ultimate cosmopolitan experience downtown, with no parking available, you had to walk in the downtown streets where cars weren't allowed.
Here is a cool "Mappin commercial" I found from the late 70's or early 80's.
And here is the most popular "Mappin jingle" of all times, it was super catchy and anyone growing up in Sao Paulo in the 70's and 80's remembers it.

"Mappin Stores" where my great-grandmother and my grandma bought make up and leather gloves

Our last stop before heading to "Parque Dom Pedro", the largest metropolitan bus station in Sao Paulo, was at Lojas Americanas to buy candy by the weight, they gave us little plastic baskets that we could fill with our favorite assortment of candy and it was weighted at the end, we enjoyed all different sorts of delicious candy on the 40 minute bus drive back to our suburban corner of Sao Paulo.

Parque Dom Pedro, downtown Sao Paulo

Parque Dom Pedro, the largest metropolitan bus station in Sao Paulo
 And now the video that we wanted to share with you today, enjoy:



Born Again Brazilian said...

Wow! It is so great to see my new city back in the '20's. Give me a deeper appreciation of my surroundings. And, by the way, I've always loved Christopher Reeves (and always will). Thanks so much for the videos, photos and history.

Jennifer Souza said...

Thanks for posting this! Your mom's stories remind me of stories I've heard from relatives about NYC, huge Sears stores and all.

Ray and Gil said...


I am glad to share! :)
I love history, and principally Brazil history in general.
My father just started a colection for me, it's a series of books with historical pictures of Brazil. Every week they are publishing a new Brazilian city.
They cost 16 Reais each and being produced and published by the newspaper "FOLHA DE SAO PAULO".
You can probably find it at any newstand or bookstore in the city!
I know what you mean by a "deeper" appreciation by the city, I was born and raised there and I also get this feeling. :)



Ray and Gil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ray and Gil said...


Yes, Sao Paulo has been strongly influenced my the US in the later part of the last century.
My grandfather used to drive Packards and loved Buicks and Pontiacs too.
Sao Paulo always reminded me of New York in a way.
The large department stores started going belly up when Sao Paulo started building Malls in every corner of the city, and by the late 90's they were almost all gone.
But most recently some others have been replacing that part of the market abandoned by Sears, Dillard's, Mappin Stores and Mesbla.
The new department stores today are Renner, C&A, the infamous Daslu and a few others.



Alex said...

Amazing how places change! It honestly reminds me a lot of the videos I would see of New York in that time period, although the architecture in SP at that time was definitely more European.

And your childhood adventures with sua avo seemed like they were great fun. Nice memories to have, I'm sure!

Thanks for the video! =)


Jim said...


Jana said...

I had no idea Sears was here, and I find it so interesting Sao Paulo doesnt really have any department stores but I guess they used to! Great video too... thanks for sharing!!

Ray and Gil said...


Yes, my "avo" grandma and I had great adventures, she also took us to watch Michael Jackson LIVE, she took us to "Rock in Rio", and went skying with us in Lake Tahoe, traveled all over the US with us, driving in a V8 Mustang!
I love her to death! Thank God she is still alive and healthy, she is 89 now and lives with my parents in Sao Paulo. No more travel or adventures for her nowadays. She enjoys reading the newspapers, watching the news and talking about politics!
She worked for 38 years in a textile mill before she could retire and enjoy life taking us places. I say she belongs to the GREAT generation of people who shape the world we live in today. :)


Ray and Gil said...


Good to hear from you.
Glad you enjoyed :)


Ray and Gil said...


Yes, Sao Paulo had lot's and lot's of large department stores, they probably reached their peak in the 1950's and then started a slow decline and several failed atempts at a revival!!!
My grandma still owes a "MADE IN BRAZIL" Kenmore Refrigerator from the 50's, and it is still working!!
I think Brazilians thought it wasn't cool to buy clothes in a department store because a lot of people could owe the same exact clothes as you...
But it's just a guess, I really never thought about why all the Brazilian department store went out of business.
I love your post on Daslu by the way! Great job!! :)


Anonymous said...

Muito interessante! Como voce conseguiu este video ? O Sao Paulo antigo tinha muito carater mesmo ...Obrigada,Rita