Happy Shanky Day!
Today is the day of the “canillita” (for readers from other latitudes I clarify: in Argentina it is called “canillita” or “ ” to the newspaper delivery service). So from Ser Argentino we wanted to greet you for the sacrificed and responsible work that you do even if it rains, thunders, there is a traffic stop or the world falls down. But there is a doubt that even many of you will have and it is this: why was November 7 chosen to honor you?
The answer is exciting, I, at least, did not see it coming: because on November 7, 1910 the enormous playwright Florencio passed away. Sanchez (perhaps his best known work is M’hijo el dotor. And what does Florencio Sanchez have to do with the canillitas? Let’s see.
The little canillita as fictional character
On October 1, 1902, at the Nuevo Teatro Politeama in Rosario, the play Canillitawas premiered ,written, as you may have imagined, by the Uruguayan author. The protagonist was a 15-year-old “boy” who worked on something quite new but was expanding more and more: he sold newspapers in the corners. Until then, readers had to purchase their copies directly from the printing press . The “vociferous children” (the marketing strategy was copied from the United States) brought the product closer to the hand of the buyer, which worked well: newspapers sold more than ever.
The protagonist of Canillita (some say inspired in a real boy) was wearing shorts and He was barefoot. His legs were long and thin. To emphasize the characterization, which demonstrated very clearly and effectively the poverty and loneliness of the character, Sanchez added the nickname: the pants, boy for his size, left the boils in sight. That’s why I they called “Canillita.”
The play, turned into a resounding success, soon arrived at the Buenos Aires theatre. As a real child could not be hired, the role of “Canillita” was played by actress Blanca Podesta. The reviews were one better than the other. Word of mouth exploded. Everyone was talking about the new play.
To such an extent it was a success that they decided to make a special function (free) for the real canillitas, which in the vast majority could not afford a ticket. There are newspapers from the time that tell us that the room collapsed and that the police had to intervene to calm the mood. The producer of the work, with good judgment, pacified the waters by adding two other free functions. They say that there were not a few of the little shins that saw her more than once. In many cases, perhaps, it was the first play of their lives, which allowed them to enter the art world.
From that moment on, the word “canillita” was installed in the popular lexicon to refer to the trade. But it would have to take another forty-five years before, on November 7, 1947, the government of Perón decreed the Day of the Canillita in honor of the great Uruguayan playwright but, above all, all the canillitas of the country.
I want to close the note by asking readers permission to mention a personal matter. My old man, who is no longer with me today, paid for his university studies (he was the first of all my family to be able to access the university) working as a canillita. So this tribute touches me very deeply. Happy Shanties Day! And happy day, Dad,
Hipólito Azema nació en Buenos Aires, en los comienzos de la década del 80. No se sabe desde cuándo, porque esas cosas son difíciles de determinar, le gusta contar historias, pero más le gusta que se las cuenten: quizás por eso transitó los inefables pasillos de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Una vez escuchó que donde existe una necesidad nace un derecho y se lo creyó.
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