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municipal police officer
wedding celebrations
short skirts
Balkan Life Story
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The memories on Bijelo Polje (town in Montenegro) of the thirties of this century left but a fade traces. Just some memories on singing and joy. The life was something that made people hide their desire for joy. The songs could be rarely heard, but on the wedding celebrations. That is why it was especially nice when in summer evenings one could hear the songs of reapers coming from Obrovo and the surrounding mounts. Reaping took place on the moonlight, when Moslem women, otherwise always with their faces covered, could utter a sound. Wonderful sounds of their songs were pouring out reaching even to the Lim, lulling, waking up and lulling again, offering the most beautiful dreams.

That was the time when it was a shame for the girl to laugh much, when wearing black clothes because of mourning they could not sing, they were not supposed to even listen to the songs. The inn was a remedy for all. At that time Toma's, Ilija's, and especially Krsto's Inns, which near the bridge raised itself above the Lim, and inn singing woman - a remedy for the soul in it, were very popular. All of them watched her anxiously, wishing for her, both those who did not have wives and those who were fed up with their own, always worried, ill or beaten women. Medo, the Gypsy, elegantly dressed, like a gentleman, played the fiddle, singing by a trembling voice the songs never heard before. And one summer, at once there came a female chapel from Sarajevo.

They played downtown in front of an inn. In the evening everybody was coming to see those, until then unknown women, who were playing the tamburitzas. They were more coming to see than to hear, and for the joy of men of Bijelo Polje the fashion of short skirts was prevailing.For the children of that time, much more important than toys, which even did not exist there, were the games. They played "suga" and "krives" just as the day was turning into the evening. It was beautiful to be on the street when the municipal police officer Meho was lifting the lanterns.

He did it using a long rod, with which he was lighting a flame, and the children were attempting to solve the secret of his skill. Children created the toys by themselves. The ball was made of pulled out molted hair of cows, mixed with soil and then dried on the sun. The game of Boba, or as we call it today, with marbles, made of soil and water and than dried, was quite common. Bathing in the Lim was the adventure. There was no safety rubber belts, but there were courgettes, which were tied around the arms, enabling the swimmer to have a balance in the water. At that time many logs, cut in the surrounding forests, were floating down the Lim, and everybody was trying to seize them and swim along.

The old means of floating, long inflated drawers were valued, especially those with long legs and waist-strings, and even made of "Americano". They would soak them first, and then tie them under the knee with some string, than inflate them, inflate and finally tie quickly the waist-strings to keep the air, and in those "balloons" they were diving into the water. And than, the lucky one, followed by the envy oh his mates, would start a long floating way to the Idrian rapids. The children were not taken to the doctor, because Grandma Savka was there. She cured the children before the physician appeared in Bijelo Polje.

Her medicine was blowing of a white powder called sal-ammoniac through the paper funnel, and when they have a hooping-cough each child was given a spoonful of petroleum from the lamp. It was an event when photographer Pero P. Cvetkovic from Pec as written in the seal affixed on the back of the photograph, was announcing his arrival to Bijelo Polje. That photographer from Pec was welcomed as a travelling actor. He was very unusual with his camera which had the three legs and which, together with his head, Pero covered with a black scarf.

He never had to say "cheese", because all the eyes were directed towards that wonder. When the photographer was coming new dresses for the girls were made, the suites like the ones for adults were made for boys, and Montenegrin costumes for the elderly people. Over their buns and tresses women were putting on the most beautiful hats sent collect from Celje or Zagreb. The family of Ljubo Popovic brought the first record player to Bijelo Polje; he came from Belgrade to perform the operations on construction of motor ways. Many people gathered under his windows and cheerfully and admiringly listened to Sofka's songs of Vranje.

Street Talk

I enjoyed this article very much and commend you for writing in English! Your story is good (although maybe in the wrong category - science?) and your descriptions are vivid. When you write, you are there, and you place your reader there. I could imagine the village of Bijelo Polje and its people, even though I grew up in Canada, where life is so very different. I will read your other stories. Do keep writing, Jovo. Would like to read more. Warmest regards, Gail (former teacher of ESL)

  about 1 decade ago
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