Memories of Adolfo Snaidas
*Dr. Adolfo Snaidas,
Sentir... que es un soplo la vida,
que veinte años no es nada.... Invoking the lyrics of the tango classic made immortal by Carlos Gardel might strike some as a bit cliché-ish. But this song rings as true today as it did when it was written by Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera in 1935. It certainly rings true at times like this when many people will gather to remember our friend and colleague.
*When I took my first class with Al, way back in 1981, Latin American Cinema, I never dreamed that one day, 22 years later, he would be on hand to have my daughter as a student. I knew she was in good hands, and not just because of that class in 1981, because I returned to my Spanish classes after a long interval and I took a 200 level literature class with Al. In this class I saw a master teacher at work. He had the firmness to call for college-level work and commitment (and behavior!) from an overcrowded class of 18-year-old undergrads fresh out of high school, but he was patient, calm, encouraging and enabling these same nervous students to meet, and exceed, these expectations. I’m sure my daughter was no angel when she took his class, and judging by her comments, I knew that his standards had not changed, and he certainly did not go easy on her because we were friends. “This guy is a friend of yours?” I discreetly nodded. Al didn’t need me to take his side. I let things take their course and let my daughter find out on her own what a good teacher and person Al was.
*Fuerza, Fuerza Peñarol
*Aurinegro, Manya, che!
*I can hardly believe I am even writing a tribute to my teacher and friend, especially since my last memory of him was so vivid. I last saw Al in the parking lot of Foodtown in Highland Park last summer. We were both very excited over the performance of the Celeste, the Uruguay national soccer team, in the Copa America.
*Soccer, futbol. This was a favorite theme of ours, the Celeste and Club Atletico Peñarol, the team of Al's youth in Montevideo. I remember how mesmerized Al was when we watched Uruguay play Germany to a 1-1 empate in the 1982 World Cup. Like most Uruguayans, he liked his futbol heavy on the poner huevos side, and he applauded every entrada brusca of a Uruguayan player not raving like a fanatic, but with an assured nod of the head and the subtle "Dale cheeeeee...!" as if he expected nothing less from los muchachos.
*We talked about how the day before, Uruguay lost in the semi-final of the Copa America to Brazil. It was a game Uruguay should really have won as the Celeste played Brazil right off the field at times. The loss also meant that there would not be a clasico rioplatense for the Final, Uruguay vs. Argentina. Beating Brazil and invoking the primordial memory of Uruguay's stunning defeat of Brazil in the Marcanazo of 1950 would have been great (Al could name Uruguay's starting 11 from that day, and I remember his sadness when one of them, Schiaffino, died in 2002).
*But like any good Uruguayan, what Al really wanted to see was Uruguay lay down the law to the porteños in the Final, as he made crystal clear in the parking lot. "We would have torn them apart," he said, shaking his head as we contemplated the should-have-been.
*El "primus" no me fallaba con su carga de agua ardiente y habiendo agua caliente el mate era alli señor...
*My friendship with Al took on a new level as I began traveling to Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Now, Al was as much a North American as Uruguayan. I believe he lived much more of his life in the USA than in Uruguay. He had his life, family and career here. Still, he was always very interested to de-brief me whenever I stopped by his office after returning from one of my trips. As I related to him how I spent hours wondering around Montevideo neighborhoods like Ciudad Vieja, Barrio Sur, Cerro, or walking on the Ramblas, he would tell me stories about his father the tailor who had a shop in Palermo.
*In later trips, I widened my scope to take in the Interior of Uruguay. Al had the typical Montevideano outlook, that Uruguay stopped at the Montevideo city limits and the Interior was as remote as the dark side of the Moon. So he would smile almost in disbelief as I told him about pausing in towns like Bella Union, Tacarembó, Salta, Riviera, Paysandú or Paso de los Toros.
*Our periodic chats in his office covered a variety of topics: futbol, tango, candombe, travel, politics (from the international to the departmental) and were usually accompanied by the mate that I brought along. I could see the rioplatense in him seep out as we had our roda de mate in the relaxed atmosphere of his office. Bo grappa chase, I regret to say! We would talk about tango, especially as expressed by Gardel , Astor Piazzolla, Julio Sosa and Roberto Goyenenche.
*La stima, bandoneón, mi corazón...tu ronca maldición maleva. Tu lagrima de ron me lleva hasta el hondo, bajo fondo, donde el barro se subleva..
*I’m going to miss Adolfo Snaidas, a kind, gentle man, a master teacher and scholar. -Eugene McElroy
*The best there was. The running joke I had with Sr. Snaidas was that I took all of my classes NOT based on the topic but based on what Sr. Snaidas was teaching. From sophomore year on, I took every possible course with him. We continued to meet for lunch every year until last year. We were just getting ready to set up the date for our annual luncheon when he passed away.
*He meant so much to me as a teacher and friend. He was bigger than life and I will miss him terribly. -Allyson Zeman Speier , Class of 1971 DOUGLASS