On February 17, 1887 as the bridge was approaching completion, an unseasonable storm
ravaged the Chaco, tearing the suspension cables from their moorings on the Brazilian
side of the falls. The remains of the bridge were left secured to the Argentine side of the
river but draped into the falls for over three months while the goverments of the countries
and the entrepreneurs responsible for the project made the decision not to attempt again
the construction of the bridge.
In early 1888, Charles F. Gunther, an eccentric millionare collector from Chicago who
had made his fortune in confections, was visiting South America for the purpose of
enhancing his already renowned collections. Gunther had heard of the demise of the
Iguassu bridge project and his taste for the extravagant led him to want to meet the person
responsible for such a daring project. Gunther was surprised to find in Willhelm
Sonnabend a small and unassuming man quite without the bombast or pretensions that
Gunther himself demonstated and which he had come to associate with individuals
responsible for such maverick projects. However, despite the differences in the
personalitites of the two men, Gunther and Sonnabend found that they had much in
common, not the least of which was a love of large, seemingly impossible projects.
began an friendship between these two very different individuals that was to last until
Willhelm Sonnabend's death in November, 1929.
Charles Gunther, who had moved to Chicago only in 1879, was considered with extreme
suspicion by native Chicagoans. Still, the undeniable presence of his personality, if not
his money, made him a force in the city's development during a time when Chicago was
just beginning to emerge as a major metropolitan center. Although not directly connected
with the project, Gunther was aware of the construction plan for a series of bridges
spanning the Chicago River. Gunther returned to Chicago, spoke with friends and within
six months Wilhelm anad Viviana Sonnabend were arriving in Chicago where he had
been assigned the position of director for the Chicago bridge project. The Sonnabends
moved to the Hyde Park district of Chicago where Viviana was still living in 1936 when
her only son Geoffery became ill.
Viviana never became entirely comfortable in her adopted North American home and
thought immediately to suggest the Spa at the Igassu Falls of her native Argentina for the
convalescence of her son, as her father had convalesced from silimar ailment at the falls
when Viviana was a girl.
In the evening of the day he arrived at the falls, Geoffrey attended a recital of Romantic
Lieder by the well known vocalist, Madelena Deloni. After the recital, Geoffery returned
to this room, but (according to his own accounts) feeling listless, went out again to walk
about the grounds. During what proved to be a sleepless night, Geoffrey conceived of the
intersection of the plane and cone which was to become the basic model for the structure
of the mechanism of forgetting which is the crux of his three volume work - "Obliscence -
Theories of Forgetting and the Problem of Matter."
© 1996 The Museum Of Jurassic Technology, 9341 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232