Carioca slang – 1957

Going through an October 1957 edition of Careta, I found an article on the following slang of the era (some of which I’ve added photos to).


  • Coca-cola (cheap collective taxis)
  • Fominhas (mini buses)
  • Caraduras (cheap trolleys)
  • Taiobas (trolleys with different fares)
  • Calhambeque (old car)
  • Rabo de Peixe (Cadillac)
  • Tintureiro (police wagon for the imprisoned)
  • Rabeção (hearse)
  • Mãe carinhosa (ambulance)
  • Vaca leiteira (milk truck)
  • Andorinha (moving truck)
  • Filhos de Maria (blue & white buses)
  • Camões (an allusion to the Portuguese poet who was blind in one eye)


  • Gostosões (modern and smooth)

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  • Sinfonia inacabado (‘without a head’)


  • Papa-filas

15 - Papa-filas Grassi


  • Bola de Noiva (Edifício Mayapan on Av. Almirante Barroso, 91)


  • Balança mas não cai ( apartment complex on Av. Presidente Vargas, 2007)


  • Tem Nêgo Bêbo Aí (Edifício Marquês de Herval on Av. Rio Branco, 185)


  • Gaiola de Ouro (Câmara Municipal at Praça Floriano)


  • Marmiteiro (laborer)
  • Maria Condelária (government official)
  • Barnabé (humble servant)
  • Parasita (retired but still able to work)
  • Tubarão (successful business man)
  • Bôas Vidas (city councilor)
  • Pais da Pátria (members of parliament)
  • Chefão / Manda-Chuva (President)
  • Gafanhotas (military)
  • Panela de Pressão (night guard)
  • Cardial (special police)
  • Meganha (military police)
  • Cosme e Damião (MPs in pairs)
  • Olheiro (car attendent)
  • Papa-defunto (funeral agent)


  • Getulinho (‘tostão’)
  • Filipeta / Japonesa (1 cruzeiro)
  • Cachorro (5 cruzeiros, according to bet-takers)
  • Coelho (10 cruzeiros, for bet-takers)
  • Perú (20 cruzeiros…)
  • Galo (50 cruzeiros…)
  • Vaca (100 cruzeiros…)
  • Abobrinas (modern bills worth 1,000 cruzeiros)


  • Poeira (cheap movie)
  • Mata-ratos (cigarette)
  • Pasquim (newspaper w/o asking price)
  • Buxo (ugly woman)
  • Panamás (big scandals)
  • Mamata (easy job)
  • Pistolão (the ease of getting a Mamata)

Careta Oct 1957 Careta Oct 1957 p2

Life of a female factory worker – 1941

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 4.27.02 PM

In a 1941 edition of Revista da Semana, I discovered a slice of life piece on Rio’s female factory workers, which includes a short interview with one such lady. At the bottom, one can find the original. 

Between six and seven in the morning the trams arrive full into the city and the factory neighborhoods. The trains from Central Station pass by quickly, and on them thousands and thousands of people travel standing up, due to the accumulation of people who wish to get to work on time. In both primary and secondary means of transport, there are large numbers of young, Carioca female factory workers.

Early on, not long after having left behind the cheerful days of infancy and schooling, these young women start to intensely experience the fight for life, to earn one’s daily bread with the sweat of one’s own face. They aren’t familiar with the ease of life nor with the laziness of days spent reading a novel or relaxing during a walk in the forest. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and the rest of the working week are all the same for them. They leave home in a hurry, get on the tram or train, traveling almost always in discomfort and they go to the stores, the offices, the factories or to the sweet shops. They are always waiting for their Prince Charming, of the Delly or Ardel type, who never comes.

The woman today works all over. This is one of the biggest contemporary realities. The Revista da Semana wanted to focus on a quick story about the life of one of these factory workers in Rio de Janeiro. It isn’t the kind of life that differs from the others, on the contrary. It also has its bitterness and its distractions, its sadness and its happiness. And there’s a good matinee at the Encantado or Madureira cinema, in which one can see Henri Garat or Dorothy Lamour. And one day the definitive boyfriend comes along. It isn’t the Prince Charming conjured up in the calming romance novels, but rather a work colleague, a flatmate, or the brother of a female friend.

At last, this is how life is. Dreams only exist because they don’t come true, otherwise they wouldn’t be dreams.

The female characteristic which one can most easily find in the working woman is vanity. They all get dolled up, carefully brushing their hair, looking just right, never forgetting a woman’s common chores. That’s why we said just prior — the young women who work are just like other young women.

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Norma works in one of the hundreds of factories in Rio, one of the thousands of factories in Brazil.

RS – What kind of things do you like to read, Norma?

N – Romance novels and newspapers made for young people. I don’t know anything about war, I never did, nor do I want to. Besides, Yugoslavia is a difficult word and I don’t even know where Greece is. In terms of newspapers, I only like those that have stories about Zé Mulambo or Tarzan.

RS – Do you like to live in the suburbs?

N – No, and I still have yet to meet any young woman that likes living in the suburbs. It seems like romance novelists and poets go around complimenting the suburbian girl, but we would prefer to be from other places and not get those compliments. Though with the guys it’s different. Most of them really like the suburbs.

RS – And the movies, Norma?

N – Movies are the most wonderful thing in the world. We love movies above all else that exists. A lot of people would commit suicide if there were no more movies. Circuses are also good because of the orchestra at the front before the show starts.

RS – Do you date?

N – No. We talk a lot and once in a while with different guys, but we don’t date. Dating, for us, is very dangerous.

RS – Have you been to Corcovado, Sugarloaf, Copacabana or Santa Tereza?

N – No, no, no and no.

RS – And Paquetá?

N – Yes! Lots of times, for delicious picnics. Oh, how it’s nice!

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This quick talk happened at the Encantado station, while waiting for a train to arrive. All of a sudden, a tram appeared. Norma and her colleagues didn’t get on at the wagon in front of us, but they ran down to get in another that was further back.

RS – Why didn’t you get on the other, Norma?

N – Because we bought second-class tickets.

One of the girls who was in her company said, sadly, “We’re poor travel companions, aren’t we?”

For the first time we were melancholic, as those women thought that traveling second-class was a huge difference and that we took ‘notice’ of the fact. We could give them philosophic lessons to prove that these external things aren’t important. But what better response is there than the palpitable truth?

RS – Well, girls. We, too, are traveling in second-class!

10-05-41 P1                        10-05-41 P2

Traffic Guard & Signals – 1928

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 1.05.17 AM“The aerial kiosk on Avenida Rio Branco, where the vehicle inspector marshals the traffic, starting and stopping cars in this public space and on the streets Sete de Setembro and República do Perú.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 12.04.04 PM“The unaesthetic cake in Praça Tiradentes, more or less in front of Carioca street. They say it serves to direct vehicles to the left or right. Battered as can be seen, one can calculate how many “run-ins” it has caused…”

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 12.04.58 PM“The traffic superintendant, however distant, by the position he’s in, one cannot distinguish the direction he’s pointing in. When people see the guard raise and lower his arm, they say “the cheese is going to be cut”…

(I may be translating the first line above somewhat incorrectly as the phrase isn’t complete)

Below is the article from which the image came.


Crab fishing in Rio – 1935

Texto em inglês, e depois, em português

What it was like to fish in the 30s

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.58.27 AMThe siry (crab) is generally unpopular. They harshly accuse it for its corpse-feeding tastes, and they blame it for all the mutilations found on drowned bodies. As if in the sea and among all the fish fauna there weren’t other omnivores and a huge amount of meat eaters!

Not even for this reason, however, the poor crustacean is left in peace. If it repells the demanding palate of some, it greedily searches out the appetite of many others. These people worship the perfume of the clear and rigid meat, and make it the object of incessant fishing.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.16.48 AM(“One can’t see the contents of the basket well. Mademoiselle, however, seems satisfied.

The Morro da Viuva pier is first order of business for ‘siry candeia’ fishing.“)

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.57.18 AM(“Rubensinho appreciates the siry after it’s cooked. He fears it, though, when it’s alive.”)

Also, it doesn’t cost a thing to get them. One only needs to carefully search the small spaces between the rocks that is left bare during the ebb tide and in the puddles of water that remain on the beach. Or, to throw a puçá (dip net) into the salty water.

The puçá is just a thick wire wheel supporting a net in the form of inverted cone.

Where I’m from, the poor children from the neighborhood near the pier, who fish for crabs to stave off hunger, and who don’t have a reel nor line to make a net, substitute the former with the arch from a barrel and the latter with an old burlap sack. The effect is the same. The bloody and hefty meat, tied to the opening of the net, is what interests the crab. Once in a while, one only needs to tug on the dip net and take out the harvest. Just…be very careful with their teeth!…

Zoology classifies the crab as a “crustaceo dedecapodo brachyuro” — (animal covered with a type of shell, with 10 feet, and a small abdomen). And there are several kinds, of which the Callinectes is the most common in the Rio de Janeiro bay.

People don’t have to even know this, however. They have their own names: the “siry candeia”, dark color, found on the rocks and on the sand; the “siry goyá”, brown, from the rocks, and which reaches almost one quilo in weight; the “siry chita”, a rare one, painted black, yellow and white, found under clean sand; the “siry azulão”, etc.

The fishing is best in the summer, but during any month of the year the dip nets can be seen in action: in Flamengo as on the beach of Gavea, in Urca as on the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon or on the islands. Here as entertainment, there as a true small industry, how many people occupy their time.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.58.07 AMVirtudes beach (Guarapari), for example, has its own “king of the siry”. He’s a big guy, 34 years of age, with the physionomy of a Portuguese and the name of an Italian. But he’s a real Brazilian, this Salvador Micheli.

An early-riser like all men of the sea. He lives in Engenho Novo, but early in the day he’s already at the beach, opening his small rental business for booths, bathing suits, lifeguard clothes, hair caps, etc. An old man helps him with the work. And, while the assistant attends to the bathers, Micheli goes to fish siry. A good business, he says.

In the summer, he gets up to 60$ or 70$000 for one Sunday! Faithful clients and with no competition. Costs are almost nothing. Shark skins and ox lungs don’t cost more than the work involved in getting them at the market. Before, the sirys were within reach of one’s arm. The landfills that are happening around Villegaignon made them go farther out, though. But Micheli didn’t worry: he bought a skiff, and went out studying the depth of the sea in the surrounding areas.

He had to defend his title as the “king of the siry”. And he did it with glaring results. Be it in the summer or winter, heat or cold. Anyone who goes to Virtudes, on Sundays or holidays, there they will find, at the Estrella d’Alva, next to the clothes and bathing equipment, sirys cooked by Salvador Micheli. (Revista da Semana – 25/07/1935)

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.58.27 AMO siry é geralmente malquisto. Accusam-n’o com severidade por seu gostos necrophagos, e levam-lhe ás costas todas as mutilações encontradas no corpo dos afogados. Como se no mar e em toda a fauna ichtyologica não houvesse outros omnivoros e um numero enorme de comedores de carne!

Nem por isso, entretanto, o pobre crustaceo é deixado em socego. Se o repelle o paladar exigente de uns, busca-o com avidez o appetite de muitos. Louvam-lhe o perfume da carne alva e rija, e fazem-n’o objecto de uma pescaria incessante.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.16.48 AM(“Não se vê bem o conteúdo do cesto. Mademoiselle, entretanto, parece satisfeita.

O caes do Morro da Viuva é de primeira ordem para a pesca de siry candeia.“)

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.57.18 AM(“Rubensinho aprecia o siry depois de cozido. Teme-o, porém, quando vivo.”)

Tambem, não custa nada apanhal-o. É só rebuscar com cuidado os intersticios das pedras que a maré põe a descoberto durante a vasante e as pôças d’agua que sobram na praia. Ou, então, mergulhar no salso elemento um puçá.

O puçá é apenas uma roda de arame grosso sustentando uma rêde em forma de cone invertido.

Na minha terra, os meninos pobres da visinhança do caes, que pescam sirys para matar a fome, e não teem uma roda de arame nem linha para tecer a rêde, substituem a primeira por um arco de barril e a segunda por uma sacca velha de serapilheira. O effeito é igual. A carniça sangrenta e farta, amarrada ao nivel da bocca da rêde, é o que interessa ao siry. De quando em quando é só puxar o puçá e retirar a colheita. Apenas…muito cuidado com as unhas delle!…

A Zoologia classifica o siry como um “crustaceo dedecapodo brachyuro” — (animal coberto de uma especie de crosta, de dez pés, de abdomen curto). E distingue varios generos, dos quaes o Callinectes é o mais commum na bahia do Rio de Janeiro.

O povo porém não quer nem precisa saber disto. Tem a sua propria nomenclatura: o “siry candeia”, de côr parda, encontrado nas pedras como na areia; o “siry goyá”, marron, proprio das pedras, e que attinge até quasi um kilo de peso; o “siry chita”, um tanto raro, pintado de preto, amarello e branco, peculiar aos fundos de areia limpa; o “siry azulão”, etc.

A pesca é melhor no verão, mas em qualquer mez do anno os puçás podem ser vistos em acção: no Flamengo como na praia da Gavea, na Urca como na lagôa Rodrigo de Freitas ou nas ilhas. Aqui como divertimento, alli como uma verdadeira pequena industria, de que muita gente se occupa.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.58.07 AMA praia das Virtudes, por exemplo, tem o seu “rei do siry”. É um rapagão forte, dos seus 34 annos, physionomia de portuguez e nome de italiano. Mas é brasileiro legitimo esse Salvador Micheli.

Madrugador como todos os homens do mar. Mora no Engenho Novo, mas dia cedo já está na praia, abrindo o seu pequenino negocio de alugador de cabines, roupas de banho, roupões salva-vidas, toucas, etc. Um velhinho ajuda-o na faina. E, emquanto este attende os banhistas, o Micheli vae pescar os sirys. Um bom negocio, diz elle.

No verão, produzem-lhe até 60$ ou 70$000 por domingo! Freguezia segura, e sem concorrentes. Despeza quasi nenhuma. Pelles de cação e bofes de boi não custam mais que o trabalho de os ir buscar no Mercado. Antes os sirys ficavam mesmo ao alcance do braço. Os aterros que estão sendo feitos em torno de Villegaignon expulsaram-nos porém para mais longe. Mas o Micheli não se apertou: comprou um bote, sahiu a estudar o fundo do mar nas redondezas.

Tinha de defender o seu titulo de “rei do siry”. E o fez com resultado evidente. Pode ser verão ou inverno, calor ou frio. Quem fôr ás Virtudes, aos domingos ou feriados, lá encontrará, na Estrella d’Alva, ao lado das roupas e mais apetrechos para os banhistas, os sirys cozidos do Salvador Micheli. (Revista da Semana – 25/07/1935)

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