September 24th, 2009

Naming conventions, amongst other things, in 90s Brazil

I have two characters who live for the first five-ten years of their lives (from about 1990-2000) with their father, a Brazilian businessman, in Sao Paulo (the city). I'm just interested in checking a few details:

1. the names I have in mind are Beatriz and Feliz for the kids, and Baltasar for the father (who is about forty). Is there anything bizarrely old-fashioned about any of these for the time-period? Alternatively, do they have any extremely negative connotations (see: Adolf, Judas, etc) that would make them unlikely to be used as kids' names?

1a. Baltasar's surname is Oliveira, but I'm wondering if it would be appropriate to give the kids a double-barrelled surname with their mother's name attached. I know double-barrelled names are pretty common practice in some Spanish-speaking cultures but does that hold true for Portuguese-speaking areas, especially in Brazil?

2. due to an attempt on his life, Baltasar sends his children away to a boarding school in England. Is this extraordinarily unlikely? It doesn't matter if it's just unusual, their mother is English so they would at least have some connection to the country to justify it, but if it's completely unlikely then I may have to rethink.

ETA: 3. I just remembered this, sorry! Is there any particular characteristic type of snack food that the kids might have eaten in Brazil that wouldn't be easily available in the UK? I'm trying to think of some things that a seven-year-old might miss immediately on being suddenly expatriated, and not having the kinds of comfort food they're used to seems a good way to illustrate the sense of disconnection and desertion they feel.

Also ETA: 4. I've read in a few places that "Sampa" is a famous nickname for Sao Paulo - what kind of person would use this nickname? Is it fairly generic, like "NYC" for New York, or would it only be used by a particular class/generation/type of people? I'm mainly interested in whether it would be likely that my seven- and ten-year-old protagonists would use the name, when speaking English or Portuguese.

Searched: googled various combinations of "naming conventions", "1990s", "Brazil", "Portuguese", etc, and some of the same terms on Wikipedia.

1950s children's homes in New Jersey

I'm writing a short piece that will be based on a fictional home for juvenile deliquents in New Jersey in the 1950s. Anything you can contribute in the way of sources, tidbits, even building descriptions or photos might be useful, but my more specific questions are below:

What do people know about such places, would this be a state-run institution, or would the state also send children to Christian or Catholic homes?

I gather too they also have visiting chaplains -- what sorts of duties would these have? Would it be up to the kids whether to engage with them or would there be some sort of schedule of contact?

How would kids be assigned schools, that is, would they be sent to one particular place or distributed over the area?