Monday, November 15, 2010

Chapter 8

I have always liked scenery. I started watching for it when I bought a used travel book with a 1957 postcard of Veracruz inside. Shortly after that, I saw the movie Danzón. It's about a woman in Mexico City whose dance partner disappears. She goes to Veracruz to look for him. She falls in love with someone else, and the camera leaves her and her new acquaintance alone to wander the city.

In Chapter 8, Dick Matena takes us on a walk through Antwerp. While the main character is thinking of what to name his company, we go people watching. There are people running errands, walking their dogs, and chatting. The scenery behind the inner dialog is fantastic.

The decision process runs through Dutch names, French and finally, English. He settles on the far from idiomatic "General Antwerp Feeding Products Association," whose acronym, "GAFPA" appears to sound good in Dutch. He translated a slightly deceptive cognate too literally. It should have been, "Food Products..." In the context of 1933, the name he chose sounds like a company selling accessories for feeding livestock, though the word would have been, "Feed." In a modern context, it sounds like a specialized medical supply house that would sell products having to do with G-tubes, which as far as I can tell, were invented in 1979. In considering names, he goes up the local socioeconomic scale, from Dutch to French to English. His old job was at an English company run by a Francophone.

In a surprisingly modern twist, we see him deciding on a home office, instead of one in the city. He proudly orders a phone, letterhead stationery and some office supplies.

In this chapter, there is a break in his wife's unwavering dismay and skepticism. We see her resigned to go along for the ride.

There is an interesting bit where he decides on a telegram address, consisting of a few letters. The format makes me wonder how technology took a different route in Europe. American telegrams were sent to physical addresses, while what he is mulling over looks more like what would evolve into Telex in later years. I vaguely remember hearing of Telex as a child, but when I went to Europe for the first time, it seemed like every business had a phone and Telex number.

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