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It was 1974 and my parents had just bought a villa near Buenos Aires; it is called Villa Julia, and it was constructed in 1870, but then it was in a need for restoration and the kids of the family just knew that we could be a little naughty and behave like a little horde in there.
"If you do not sow, how will you harvest?" - Safra.
After all, many things would have to be ripped off and remade, including the paintwork in all of its rooms, part of the wooden floors, the Spanish mosaics and so on; the house really needed quite a restoration and in due time it received one, lasting a couple of years. A dozen people were hired to do the work from dusk till dawn, seven days a week. The work was finished in 1981.
Villa Julia was constructed by Alfonso Ponce de León, a Jewish tycoon who owned at the time a good part of Buenos Aires province, which is about the size of France. One of the limits of his propert was, apparently a river known as Río Salado. Today, from Villa Julia to the river, thorough a highway, it takes more than two hours.
The Ponce de León family spared no expenses; it was one of the first constructions of the city of José C. Paz, which now is not a nice place since its socio-economic evolution is reminiscent of that of Queens or Harlem, in New York, but then it was a budding little town filled with expensive houses that belonged to people who could afford to live near the brand-new railway station.
They imported wood from Canada, glass panels from Japan, marmour from Italy and mosaics from Spain, and the house was built to last. It is currently the oldest building in the town. Some of the mosaics in the patios could not be saved, but those in the living rooms are still intact.
After some years, the fortune of the Ponce de León family evaporated. They sold the villa to the Pansecchi family, and then, the sold it to the family of Captain Corso, of the Argentine merchant navy. Their family had a lot of properties and they were very fond of Villa Julia but the man was not particularly interested in the house, he was at sea most of the time, and would not invest money into it, so they decided to sell it. When she saw it, my mother bought the villa right on the spot, paying it in cash. That was 1973.
We moved into the villa in 1974, after some basic preparation; the roofs were restored as well as the woodden floors in most of the rooms. The kitchen received a porcellain floor and the stable was declared off-limits until further restoration. I used it recently to hold a couple of planes. Now it is my private studio, and where I have my flight simulator.
The house is big; each one of its 16 rooms is as big as a small house, and many of those rooms are connected thorough those large doors that you sometimes find in palaces and mansions, allowing you to go from one room in one extreme to another quite on the other side of the building passing along many other rooms.
That, and knowing that the whole villa had been constructed taking into account the then still existing Indian attacks, which in the area ended in 1908, with fortified windows, high walls and even a basement and escape tunnels just turned us into a crazed bunch of kids.
Running inside the house thorough those doors was the activity that my brother Alejandro, my cousin Elizabeth and I were at, when we realized that we could also do some graffitti in one of the walls. After all, it had to be repainted anyway, so why not?
We began our little game with some crayons we had at hand. I was soon busy drawing a galaxy, probably Andromeda, which had my attention those days after my father, who was an amateur astronomer showed me a picture. Then both my grandmothers, Danusia[1.36] and Xenia[1.37], appeared. Elizabeth and Alejandro managed to escape running in one direction thorough the doors; I went the other way, and was caught.
I thought that I would be punished, but no: I only received and admonition.
"Pablo, look at your hands" said Danusia while Xenia looked on.
I looked at my hands.
"See your fingers? The are long, sleek."
I saw my fingers, wondering.
"This means that your ancestors already played the kinnor while others were still hanging from trees..."
That was the first time ever I heard that the family has a Davidic tradition. By the way, I never did any graffitti ever again.
Villa Julia, north face; pencil, 2012, by Pablo Edronkin.
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