Friday, July 31, 2009
Remembering the personalities of my past, Tibor Gordon comes to my mind. He was a Hungarian Jew who made his living performing circus acts in provincial Argentina in the fifties. In addition of making lots of money as a professional "muscle man" and astonishing the criollos with his voracity (he used to have a chicken for breakfast. I can do that!), he had no vices and lead an exemplary family life with his Hungarian born wife. He died in 1985 and his sons and grandchildren live in the Patagonia.
Maybe because I had seen so many non-conventional Hungarian Jews, apart from being one, Tibor did no impression on me. But he had a tremendous effect on the simple peoples of the Pampas. They came to him in masses from large distances to ask advice on their medical, family and economic problems, and he tried to help them with their troubles. Tibor's advice, as far I know, was simple common sense, but it appeared supernatural to the natives who never had the opportunity to talk to a Hungarian Jew.
In the end he erected his large circus tent in Villa Astolfi in the Province of Buenos Aires, and incorporated himself as Fundacion Arco Iris, providing services to the poor people who came to consult him. He was attacked from many sides for being a "Santon", a fake Holy Man who made miracle cures, all to cheat our poor Argentinians of their money. He hired accountants, medical doctors and Church social workers to avoid persecution by those guilds, and provided a real service to rural people. His cures were considered miracles, and he was believed to have supernatural powers. Good Tibi bacsi - a lifelong circus performer - did not discourage this belief. In his time he was so popular and powerful in the provinces that he could have founded a religion or acquire political power. Many suspected that he intended to do that, but he never did. His grandson Anibal continues to operate the Arco Iris outfit (Fraga St. 1969, San Miguel, prov. de Bs. As., Saturday evenings, completely free.) It is good that Tibor Gordon has descendants, they are decent and beautiful people, but they are not Hungarian Jews and there will be no more Tibor Gordons.