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Who has not been carried away by memories, while listening to this tango with eyes half-closed? What listener has not stopped what he is doing to pay attention to the orchestra of Angel D' Agostino, with the voice of Angel Vargas, repeating from the radio “Yo soy del barrio de Tres Esquinas, viejo baluarte del arrabal…” (I am from the neighborhood of Tres Esquinas, old bulwark of the suburbs…)?
It had two births, and of course two baptisms. First it was Pobre piba, an instrumental tango of 1920. Instrumental and circumstantial, because it was written, or improvised, to the sole effect of accompanying a certain scene of a smaller play —titled Armenonville— performed then by the company Arata-Simari-Franco at El National theater. After the play’s final performance, the tango accompanied it and ended in a drawer for twenty years.
In 1940, miraculously, it reappeared. It was an early morning at the nightclub Chez Nous, that hour in which the hostesses have already checked out with the cashier and the waiters are putting the chairs on the tables. The evening gathering still continued around the piano. D' Agostino recalled that old tango of his. Enrique Cadícamo and Alfredo Attadía, one of the bandoneon players of the orchestra were there. Vargas had also stayed longer. Suddenly, the magic: what D' Agostino was reviewing in passing was brilliant.
He had to try again. Minutes before that they had been evoking the beginnings of D' Agostino at the café Cabo Fels, in the neighborhood of Tres Esquinas, close to the intersection of Montes de Oca and Osvaldo Cruz, (Barracas): they already had the new name and the inspiration for the verses. Cadícamo scrawled something, Attadía finished arranging it musically, and Vargas sang the “monster”, as the first structural outline of the poem is called. It was the beginning of an incredible success.
D'Agostino-Vargas were not the only performers, but they are, undisputedly, the ones that remained forever linked to the melody. They recorded it for Victor on July 24, 1941.
The “small print” part of the story.
Tres Esquinas was the name of the station of a train line that no longer exists: the Ferrocarril Buenos Aires y Ensenada. Businessman Guillermo Wheelwright had obtained the concession to build it in 1857. It took off from what is today the corner of Paseo Colón at Venezuela Street, and went through an iron viaduct, an important engineering work at the time, to Casa Amarilla. That viaduct still exists, although nobody can see it: it is buried, since, upon closing it, it was cheaper to cover it than to dismantle it.
On September 18, 1865, the service from Venezuela to I was launched, passing through Casa Amarilla, General Brown and Barraca de Peña. In April of 1872, it was extended to Quilmes and on December 31 of that year it reached, at last, the port of Ensenada. Thanks to an extension, for some time the trains left from Central Station: a great building that was behind the Casa Rosada and that was destroyed completely by a fire in 1897. A year after the fire the line was acquired by Ferrocarril Sud. This company later changed the route and one day dropped for ever that stop of Tres Esquinas, since trains would only leave—as they do still today— from Plaza Constitución, with a different itinerary.
In the middle of the 20th century, the station was demolished. The tango remained. •
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