The passion for wood and drawing that turned real
The house was shaped like a little castle and everyone called it "72," its number on Flamengo Beach. The little castle belonged to James Andrew, whose sister was married to Fernando Mendes de Almeida, Stella's father. Uncle James had a huge influence on Sergio's upbringing. Passionate for furniture and wood, James had a carpentry shop in the back of the farm that surrounded the house. The backyard went all the way from Flamengo Beach to Catete. In the back it had a huge orchard "with incredible fruit," several types of mangoes, a lot of room to play soccer and run in at will. While describing the "72," Sergio's voice rejoiced and his eyes sparkled with the fun, vivid memories he had of the place:
"I didn't need to go out on the street to have fun. I used to take friends home, played soccer and was always having fun. There was a soccer field there, and I learned how to barbecue. Berries, mangoes, jambul, avocados, bananas, all of that on the other side of the gate. There was a part of the yard where there was a large iron door leading to the farm where the fruit trees were. The little castle's facade featured the family shield, which had a deer in it. My uncle did nothing, he was rich. A National Guard colonel, he had been an adjutant of Marshal Hermes. Woodwork was his hobby. The basement of the house was full of the remains of old houses that he gathered. There was furniture and fixtures, it was great. Amazing things. And we, children, were libertarians; we used to make a big huge mess."
"At the little castle, in the mess basement, there was a lot of old stuff, old chandeliers, and many other things. It was below street level, and when there was a storm tide, water would splash into the basement. He had his woodwork shop in another room, in the backyard. The bottom part was his joinery, on the top were the employees, and I had my mess studio in the last room. The chicken coop was next to it."
"In the mess basement there was a ladder leading up to the house. It was all crafted in wood, made by uncle James. He also liked to invent and manufacture chairs. One of his habits was having two colors of wood: light and dark, peroba and Jacaranda. Everything was done that way. Dark and light wood wainscoting covered the full length of the dining room. It went up a meter and a half and went up to the middle of the wall. He would order his carpenters to do the work and would stick his nose in everything they did. They were excellent. In order for his woodworkers to understand what he wanted, he would make drawings to show them what he was looking for. He would use foolscap paper and red ink, with a feather that fit into the pen. The drawings were horrendous, no one could decipher them, but the Portuguese woodworkers understood what he wanted."