His father's death remained a mystery to Sergio for a long time
The earliest recollection Sergio had of his childhood was the scene of his father and mother sitting on the couch that he could see from his small bed. This was one of the few images he kept of his father, Roberto Rodrigues, who was murdered when Sergio was but 2 years old. He could also remember his father riding a horse in cowboy dress, and his mother, also on horseback, riding with his father on a farm belonging to a few family friends in Cabo Frio, where Sergio was taken to gain weight soon after he was born.
Roberto Rodrigues was born in Recife and came to Rio de Janeiro quite young with his mother, Maria Esther Falcão Rodrigues, and father, Mário Rodrigues, Sergio's grandmother and grandfather. The Pernambuco patriarch of the Rodrigues clan and a well-known journalist in Recife, Mário worked at the Diário de Pernambuco newspaper when he had to move permanently to Rio de Janeiro, in 1912, on account of political issues. He moved there with his wife and sons, Milton, Roberto, Mário Filho, and Nelson. Mario was considered one of the most courageous Brazilian combatants and journalists in the early twentieth century.
Upon arriving in Rio, the family went to live on Alegre street, in Aldeia Campista, a district later absorbed by its neighbors Andaraí, Maracanã, Tijuca, and Vila Isabel. In the capital city, and after a tumultuous period at the Correio da Manhã newspaper, with political charges and a small stint in prison, Mário founded his first daily in Rio, A Manhã, in 1925, in which he was a chronicler of destructive rhetoric. One of the most feared chroniclers of his time, writing bright and hurtful articles, Mário revolutionized journalism, but his corrosive style eventually turned against him and led to a great tragedy in the family.
According to the Biblioteca Nacional Digital do Brasil portal, A Manhã was “a versatile 12-page morning newspaper published in standard size, with a good layout and making good use of images (...). An embattled critic, he a used scathing, pamphleteering, demagogic, humorous, and accessible language. He confronted authoritarianism, the oligarchies and the political structure of the Old Republic, pursuing commitment to popular causes." Therefore, Mário Rodrigues was feared for his bold journalism, which displeased many. In his day, he was considered one of the most courageous Brazilian combatants and journalists in the early twentieth century.