Juan Carlos Esteban

Gardel’s familiar encounters

omething that is not very well known by Gardel’s admirers are his five visits to the city of Toulouse, with no artistic purpose but with the sole intention of visiting his relatives.

The first voyage was in January 1924 and, according to what Miguel Morena tells us in his book “Historia artística de Carlos Gardel”: «They arrived at Toulouse in the Midi Express from Spain to visit the house where Gardel was born where his grandmother and his uncle still live. Doña Berta was as well there».

The second visit was in September 1928. He disembarked in Barcelona and later continued his trip with his driver up to Toulouse (France) and they stayed for the night at the Plaza Hotel; the following day Gardel visited his relatives.

The driver, Antonio Sumage, confirmed it in the magazine “Aquí está”, Nº 882 of April 15, 1944: «He only visited his relatives the next day. He was interested in seeing them, especially because they were his mother’s siblings. He himself was born in one of those little houses...»

The third encounter with his relatives took place between April and May 1932, according to a letter of his proxy Armando Defino. In it he says that he only visited his relatives, that his mother was not there and that he took them to Paris.

In December 1933 the fourth visit took place. Gardel traveled to Toulouse especially to meet Doña Berta, who was at the time in the house of her relatives.

The same happened in his fifth and last visit, on August 25, 1934. The singer left towards Europe on the steamboat Bremen, to take a rest after many months of continued work and to spend some days with his mother, by then in Toulouse (Miguel Morena, op.cit.).

I think it is important to illustrate this note with a postcard sent by Carlos Gardel to his grandparents. As Gardel was accustomed not to write a date on his letters, the former may have been sent between 1924 and 1930.

This postcard is owned by Mrs. Jane Ceyte and was given to her by Charlotte Laurence, Jean Marie Gardes’ wife, Gardel’s uncle. Charlotte died in 1950 as it is attested in the book “Généalogie d’un mythe ou la famille toulousaine de Carlos Gardel” written by Christiane Bricheteau.

Dear grandparents: Happy New Year

I send you this little postcard to remind you that I always remember you with love and I also remember my good aunt Carlota and my good uncle Juan. Here we are very happy to know that you are in good health. We are all right and soon if God allows me I’ll spend some time with you.
Your grandson that loves you and does not forget you.