Baciu’s Memories of Brasov: Hobbies

From Praful de pe Tobă: Memorii 1918-1946, by Stefan Baciu (Editura Mele, 1980), p. 10 (my translation):

I don’t think that I would have been more than 6 or 7 when I began to use scissors to cut caricatures of politicians out of the newspapers, saving them in different shoeboxes. I recognized from “the lines” and signature the most important caricaturists of the era: Sell, Ross, Dragoş, Anestin, Dralex. Thus I learned, without yet being able to read very well, such figures as Trancu-Iaşi, Tancred Constantinescu, Jean Th. (Tehaş) Florescu, Mihail Oromolu, Marshal Averescu, Iuliu Maniu, Vaida Voievod, I. G. Duca, Nichifor Robu, Leonte Moldovanu, Ştefan Ciceo Pop, and all the Bratianu family, not to mention Argetoianu, Iorga, A. C. Cuza, and Octavian Goga. At about the same time, I “organized” a collection of automotive insignia that, with the aid of a pin on the back of little metal plaques, could be worn on the chest like a kind of brooch. I kept them in boxes lined with wadding and can still see before me the various insignia: NSU, Alfa Romeo, Hispano Suiza, BMW, Austro Daimler, Lancia, Ford, Chevrolet, Puch.

After that came an era of postage stamps, stuck in a Schaubeck album, but philately didn’t last long. One fine day I began to sell them to Old Man Gebauer, who owned a toy shop in front of the Council House, in a style that today reminds me of certain surrealist photographs. I sold him row upon row of my hard-won collection, and with the money I bought pamphlets and magazines at Staicu’s kiosk facing Military Circle on the Promenade. I would have been 10 or 11 when one day I asked, “Who is Stelian Popescu” and “the hundred millions of Romulus Boila.” A man who at just that moment was buying a pack of cigarettes looked me up and down, then said, “Well, now, my boy, is that what you’re reading about?” Yes, it was true, that is what I was reading, and I remember how avidly I bought articles signed X.X.X., which were said to have been written by Marshal Averescu himself.

Speaking of collections, I also remember my autograph collection, about which more will be said later, and my collection of political posters, probably an extension of … the caricatures. I remember that one day Father found me, probably rather surprised, stringing up as if for exhibit large posters of the Iron Guards, and other little red ones with stickers on the back, of the Workers and Peasants Bloc, communists, which I had obtained from their respective leaders (the lawyer Trifan and the doctor Kahane), presenting myself as “the son of Prof. Dr. Ion Baciu.” I think both were amused, each in his own way, by the unexpected visit, but they both gave me “rich material” that I placed in respectable enough bundles classified by party: liberals, socialists, peasant parties, factions loyal to Lupu, Iunian, Cuza, Iorga, or even Ghelerter, because I had discovered at Dealul Zorilor [Dawn Hill] tavern, where they sold wines from liberal vineyards, the old “agitator” Iuliu Neagu Negulescu, who had become an innkeeper in Brasov.

NOTES: ‘Old Man’ renders Moş.

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