Jaumet del flabiol
Jaumet del Flabiol was born in 1871 in Sant Hilari. Short in stature, wrinkled face, corduroy trousers and the typical Catalan rope soled sandals, he was known for his flabiol (a wind instrument similar to a flageolet). Jaumet was dumb, but this instrument spoke for him. He became the first merchant of Font Vella water by distributing it to the summer residents with his cart full of earthenware pitchers.
He was loved by all the summer visitors who came to Sant Hilari to take water and he earned his living with the tips they gave him for the water. There are postcards, poems and figurines made after him, and even the local sweet of the village is named after this emblematic character: Jaumet.
He was born in 4th March 1871 and could not speak. It is said that he lost his voice due to the great fright he had when a fire caught the house where he lived as a child. Even so, he was understood in a thousand different ways and had a very good hearing. It is also said he had a very good “spiritual hearing”, since he quickly knew which people loved him and which ones wanted to hurt him.
He transported and distributed earthenware pitchers full of water from Font Vella. He distributed it with a cart that was especially made for him by the summer residents, to whom he distributed the ordered water. Every day, he kept the coins in socks of different colours, depending on their value. At first, he was only seen in summer, since it was when the summer visitors came. However, he stayed to spend one summer in Sant Hilari and never left again.
He was especially remembered for his expressive sympathy, which captured everyone’s affection, and he had a smile that everyone still remembers. He was a good man, hardworking, thrifty and clever, with a simple and humble appearance. No one ever allowed anyone to hurt him, either through words or physically.
Moreover, since he could not speak, he communicated mainly with his flabiol. He always played the same melody of thirteen notes, which everyone knew by heart. He was a figure loved by everybody, both young and old people, who came closer to him to enjoy his childish smile and charming mime. Through mime, he represented several characters such as the young lady, the nanny or the distracted. When summer visitors left, he pretended to cry and took out a handkerchief while wiping the fictitious tears. He was a wise man because of his experiences. He lived happily and he envied nothing and no one. He was very short in stature and always wore a barretina (a traditional Catalan hat). Because of this, at first sight, people thought he was a child. When asked about his aged, he replied he was one while laughing.
He finally died in 1955 at the age of 83, a very advanced age considering the time and his physical condition. His funeral was the most crowded in Sant Hilari. His death was published in national press, such as in La Vanguardia.
Even today, people still cherish and keep their affection for this figure. There’s a homage to him, “Escultura d’en Jaumet”: a life-size statue located on Carrer Vic, one of the streets where he distributed water.
There are many authors who talk about Jaumet. For further information on the literary texts where he is mentioned, you can visit the following link: Literary Route.