Soul Bazaar

Uncle Eugene, my Godfather.

July 12th, 2011 No Comments » Filed under Acknowledgement

When Shonika Proctor recently gave me the magnificent news, that after a 5 minutes conversation with the Director of Universidad de Chile, she is managing the upcoming Entrepreneurship Program of the Institution, I wasn’t that surprised knowing Shonika and her talented passion to contribute, for one thing,  but little did she know that added to the joy of learning about her well merited new found innovation journey partnering with Universidad de Chile, the pillar of  Chilean Educational Tradition…at the same time, she opened a vortex of warm and familiar memories that have been asleep in my psyche for quite a long time.

When I think of Universidad de Chile, a warm, familiar deep feeling of contentment  invades my being. It was uncle Eugene. We all knew that during the week, in working hours  he would spend his precious time at the Pedagogic, the College Campus, his second home. His second love.

His first home and first love being aunt Lila and us, his family.  Mainly Aunt Lila though. With her lyric, her German” Lieders”, her piano her singing classes and her common sense. He had devotion for her.

Us, gravitating eternally around the peaceful nature of his humanity. Enjoying his acute sense of humor, sprinkled  like salt and pepper on top on his stories and mainly enjoying the presence of his attention. Uncle Eugene and aunt Lila were one of those legendary couples who complemented each other sharing  their work and their thinking in a vivid daily conversation. It was a pleasure to be around them. They were both dedicated to their passion as teachers in their respective fields…Aunt Lila at the Conservatory of Music and uncle Eugene, at the Pedagogic in Universidad de Chile.

During the weekends or holidays if we were not in Viña del Mar, breathing the fresh aroma  of the pine woods in Quinta Vergara, or they were  traveling the world to fulfill uncle Eugene’s obligations as a Historian and public figure, he would be home in Santiago,  getting ready for a walk with “Pierre Pierre”, as he called his companion, the black poodle who managed to somehow fill the void of a son,  inviting me to go along with him and the dog,  or reading an Agatha Christi  novel in his beloved library to relax his eternally on task scientific investigative mind. Always ready to surprise me and my brothers with the eternal stream of chocolates that would come out of his pockets.

Their love for classical music would take them weekly to enjoy  the lyric season, at “Teatro Municipal” or the  philharmonic orchestra. Their evenings were alternated between quiet time and gatherings  with friends and family and the multiple events where his company was requested.

When I think of Universidad de Chile, I think of uncle Eugene, and  the Institution he loved so much, that was part of his soul, the institution he was grateful to, the Institution that  provided him with the optimal space to research, a haven to feed his never ending hunger for knowledge and expansion. The expansion he saw in his unique humanitarian visionary way.

When I think of  Universidad de Chile I can’t help but to be  grateful  to the Institution’s contribution to molding the phenomenal lifetime career of Eugenio Pereira Salas,  my great uncle, my godfather, my mentor, my role model, the Humanitarian who planted the seed of my passion for history and its scientific research. The institution that gave him peace of mind.

When I think of Universidad de Chile today, taking into consideration the historical perspective, I think of a pillar in the Chilean Educational Tradition.

When I think of uncle Eugene, sometimes I think of that last walk we spent  together in Washington, when I was pregnant with Max, my first born, in 1976 when we had our last conversation about  Spanish literature, and the generation of 98, and  our beloved Pedro Salinas, one of our favorite Spanish writers.

When I think of uncle Eugene and Universidad de Chile today, I can hear uncle Eugene’s voice, charged with that sense of  loyalty that personified him: “I couldn’t have done it without Universidad de Chile”.

As one of his beloved students and one of the oldest  professors of History in the Department of Historical Sciences at Universidad de Chile…since 1959, Cristián Guerrero Yoacham states:

“That rainy afternoon of November 17th 1979, not only died one Eugenio Pereira Salas, but many of them. Died Eugenio Pereira master, historian, founder of the musical Chilean Historiography, precursor and propeller of folk, the history of the theater, the native cooking, the mentalities, the fine arts, died Eugenio Pereira cordial boss and counselor, died the friend by excellence, generous, unconditional, loyal, gentleman, fine and delicate. Died Eugenio Pereira  erudit, wise man, and for the author of these lines died a real father whom I still miss more and more with the passing of time, because  his legacy becomes more patent and applicable to confront the world of today. He always taught me the supremacy of the spirit over matter, the dedication to work and the love for history that is life.  For that I repeat his words on 1977 when he thanked the Premio Atenea” If man creates himself surging from the same essence of the human disposition, life is not a daily plebiscite but a a continuance for those who believe in the eternity of values”.

When I think of Universidad de Chile today, after 43 years of living abroad in Europe and USA, and my last 4 years and 3 months of research in the field of  “Thoughts”, I think

“Traditional Leadership and Commitment in Educational Expansion”.

Thank you Shonika Proctor, my sister, my friend for helping bring the memories to the surface.

Being in Berkeley last month also led me to reminisce about uncle Eugene evoking his time in Berkeley.   He was in love with  American culture and had great memories of that time.

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