Gracie: O Criador de uma Dinastia
Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2008
by Roberto Pedreira
August 9, 2013
In Fortaleza, motherhood
worsened considerably Geni's emotional condition. After the birth of her first
son she began to show clear signs that she was crossing the border from
psychological health to a pathological state. Her inordinate jealousy,
aggressiveness, and the violence to which she subjected the kids from Carlos'
first marriage [with Carmem] constituted more than enough reason to seek help.
During one of her nervous crises, Carlos took her to a psychiatric hospital,
where she was given Gardenal, a barbiturate used to treat epilepsy, and then she
was told to go home. Another time, in Aldeota, she dropped a bottle on Carlos'
head from a floor above, which left him dazed for a considerable while.
Psychiatry in Brazil during
the 1940's was in a backward condition. There weren't many therapeutic resources
and almost always people with problems were just locked up and subjected to
electric shocks, insulin shock, and straight-jackets, and in many cases,
lobotomies. Pharmacological modalities were limited to barbiturates, for the
purposes of rendering the patient doped up and passive.
Geni came from a family with
mental health problems. She was the youngest of eight kids. Her mum passed on
when she was 13, followed by her dad when she was 17. Some of her brothers had
psychiatric issues. One was institutionalized when he was an adolescent
and died there at age 28. Geni attributed her problems to heredity.
In 1944 Carlos came to the
conclusion that the kids couldn't live with her anymore. He decided to leave her
in Rio and go back to Fortaleza with the kids from his first marriage. He
enlisted Oscar Santa Maria in his plan. It proved easier said than done. Carlos
stayed with Geni, but he was finding it practically impossible to get on with
his intellectual and jiu-jitsu activities. Geni's excessive jealousy and
nervousness reduced the family life to absolute chaos. Oscar thought that Carlos
was too tolerant. He wanted Carlos to be more rigid and to control Geni with
force if necessary. Carlos was inclined to be patient. Oscar objected to Geni's
mistreatment of the young kids [being asked to take full-time responsibility for
raising a clutch of probably rambunctious kids from a previous wife must have
put a strain on a woman with a nervous temperament, especially as Reila has
already explained that Carlos himself didn't think it was his problem to
do much in the way of domestic or parental work, and in any case was incompetent
at it, being "a man of his time"].
With help from friends,
Carlos bought a building that housed a school. A light bulb went off in his
head. He put the girls in the school. As the owner, he could dictate the
diet. Carlson and Robson went to a different school for several years, where
they lived. Carlos didn't want them in his house. When he was 67 years
old, Carlson remember that it was hard. But they got to spend the holidays in
the mountains in Pacoti. Carlos spied on them to make sure that they adhered to
the "Gracie Diet."
By 1945 Carlos and Oscar
were rich men. Oscar earned an excellent salary in his civil service job as
secretary of agriculture [secretário do ministro da fazenda] but it
wasn't enough to support his life style. Oscar increasingly suspected that
his colleagues were jealous of his economic success and were plotting against
him. In Rio Oscar took care of Carlos' banking needs and informed him when the
bank personnel changed. Their business activities had diversified greatly.
Financial speculation and real estate had been enormously lucrative. Carlos
refused to profit from businesses that killed animals and turned his back on the
extraordinary profits that could be obtained exporting leather. In time, Carlos
became an expert investor. He liked land. He bought so much land in Fortaleza
that Oscar joked, "at this rate, you'll buy the whole city."
Oscar didn't invest much in
real estate but he did buy a movie theater in Rio and a ranch in the interior of
the state. The volume of money that Carlos moved around was great. Oscar and
Carlos' business interest were apparently separate but in practical terms, with
the exception of Oscar's Panair stocks, and property in Carlos' name, it
was difficult to know who owned what. [This will become important in the 1960's.
More later.] Helio didn't take part in the business side of the Triad's
activities [the Triad being Oscar, Carlos, and Helio], but Carlos eventually
decided that he should be included in order to lessen the tax burden on himself
and Oscar. So, some of their properties and holdings were put in Helio's name.
One of these was a house in Urca.
(c) 2013, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.