LMC: Today we are in Poctoava and we talk to our uncle Tomili. Glad to find you well!
Tomili: Be blessed and stay healthy!
Uncle Tomili please tell us what you remember from the Bug. But first of all, please tell us who you are?
I am Tomilli of Fardi.
And Fardi was whose son?
Son of Pupa.
Son of Pupa?
Of Ion and Pupa. Now please tell us about the Bug and how it was.
I’ll tell you how they took us. There was a great fear amongst us that the Romanians would take us and take us to other countries. What did Parolea do? Toma was his name, Parolea. He was our bailiff, the one leading our camp. We used to travelled with about twenty tents in a camp. He was the one talking with the authorities. He was our Bulibaşa. Well, what do you think that he did?! He went to a Lady, what was the name of that lady,? To Marianka, to Gabriela who was a very rich lady. She owned many yards of land. So, he went and entered that lady’s house. Lady Maria, I have two children for you to baptize. A boy and a girl.”. One of them was my wife here and she also baptized a son of my uncle Badea. She baptized the children and them we agreed to clean her wheat of weeds. Then we went about 30 kilometers on some fields, we were about thirty wagons. There where she took us, on the field, the godmother gave us twenty bushels of flower, and an oxen and hen so we have what to eat while we work in her fields and get the thistles out of the wheat. Poor us; stayed hidden, so they do not to take us to other countries. No way! We finished cleaning the wheat of thistles. When the work was done, this is what Parollea, Bulibaşa said? „Why stay longer here in the field, what is to happen, will happen one way or the other. We were hiding in vain. Let us go, whatever God intends for us, that will happen.” So, we gathered our things and left that place, we went at the end of the city, built our tents on the common, and stayed there overnight. In the morning, we encountered three cars from Slatina surrounding the camp. They ordered immediately to take off our tents and brought us to the city of Slatina. They then sent us, by transfer from one post to the other, on the road. Starting from there, guarded by the gendarmes from Slatina who came along with us, My! My! on a road of stone, such a bad road, there were no streets like nowadays back then, we were walking barefoot, and our feet would bleed and this is how we arrived with our wagons in Lunca Corbului.
From there, from Lunca Corbului, there were other gendarmes who took over and brought us to Piteşti. From Piteşti, they took us to Ploieşti, one post to another, gendarmes along and we with our wagons. Overnight, we did not set up tents anymore, we just stayed like that on the roads until the night was over. We arrived in Găieşti, from there they took us to Târgovişte. In Târgovişte we had no place to stay overnight as the gendarmes from the new post took us directly to the next one. The horses were tired and could no longer keep up, some remained on the roads. When a wagon broke, we took the wheels and put them in another wagon and continued our way. The ones who had stronger wagons, more resistant ones, would help out and take stuff from the poor ones, so these would not remain destitute.
Picano: Some other peoples horses died…
Tomili: We arrived at the Dniester. About twenty wagons we are. Twenty wagons, that took an other road but arrived in the same place at the Dniester, the big water.
When we arrived at that water …
Picano:Tomilli you were in our gang.
Tomilli: I was with Parollea, Parollea’s Rista, Danako, Gogu, Seka’s Badea, Seka’s Diamanto.
Picano: Bărkullikă was with us too.
Tomilli: No, Bărkullika was not with us. We meet later on. This is how we arrived at the Dniester. We came together about two hundred wagons, all guarded by gendarmes. They would check the wagons to find the golden coins. They would not let us cross the Dniester unless they search us trough. They searched each thing, they looked for the gold. Some people, as they daw what was happening, swallowed the golden coins in their stomach. They woud give ten golden poles to the relatives, and five big coins the ones who had more, and they gave them to their relatives to swallow them. They took what they could and let us go. We changed the money that we had, Romanian marks for the other money.
Whyle they searched the ones, the others swallowed their gold. Therefore from some they took their gold, from others they did not.
Like this we got back on the roads, our waggons were breaking of so much dust, horses wre falling down. The gendarmes were beside us. Whoever got down the wagon, just to pick up some seeds, was shot. They shot Sterian’s son in his arm. They shot him… and Ghiono too, what was his name, forgot, would needyness come upon them. Dioka, they shot him in his arm, and the people put sticks and bandaged him so he could keep his arm. We travelled on the road, we travelled if I tell you, around two months, until it was autumn. Since the wheat rose until it dried up, over there they had treshed it. We arrived in Moldovca on a common. I do think that common hat more than twenty kilometers , only plain field no valley and not far away there was a little village with a market, some kind of fair. There we arrived in Moldovca, each of us with his gang. We were divided into groups: Rudari (*Gold miners and wood workers) and Lăieţi (*long haired ones), each one with his gang. We stood there and then they took our wagons. We were working with those wagons harvesting potatoes, corn, until the autumn came.
We did not know that they had prepared for us over five hundred huts in the ground on the bank of the Bug. As I told you, they took our wagons, took the horses, all that was left were the tents on poles. They took everything t the collective. What were we supposed to do? Women were crying. We were left penniless; we had no horses and no wagons. They took our power. Worms will eat us up on this common! That was not a place to stay, there was nothing there. Ne small village that had a market. We went t that market when they organized a fair. A heavy rain began, then a sleet. And then came about thirty, forty huge carriages. But what kind of carriages) Russian carriages with horses not so big: “Up you come. Take your belongings and we take you to your homes”. That was to take us to those huts they made on the banks of the Bug, at the Bug, directly at the Bugs shore. What do you think that they did? They got into those carriages like snakes, again the rich ones got inside. They put their clothes up, their kids, their brass pots, and the rich ones left. The poor ones remained, struggled in slush and mud as they had nowhere to go on that cold, they had tents but the had no wagons. Some were broken on the roads and the people put theyr belongings into other peoples carriages. Horses died.
Now the rich ones, who took the carriages, arrived at the huts. They arrived there aroung ten oçlock in the night. And by then it started to snow, a great disaster, a blissard. The ones who got a hut, took it. When the other came, later on, they came only with their hads on, they did not take the tents with them, they did not take pillows. They got into the carriages that followed, they just piled up and came, the last ones. They did not find any huts to enter into a hut, there were no more places. No more. When the day broke , there were piles outside. As big as houses were the piles of dead people. They gathered one above the other and died. Until morning they died as there was a disastrous blizzard, you could not get out from where you were and they died, dear, like that in piles. Our kind, who were better we had find a place. When I woke up in the morning I shouted: „Mother, give me some water or I’ll die”. That is when my sister Luba told me: „Go outside and drink some”, she was older than I. When I got outside, I had no place to take water from. It was a blizzard. Ï’ll go fetch some snow”. „You may bring me snow”She brought snow and I ate it. Well. Then it was day. What will be tomorrow?!
That blizzard lasted four days. Whoever got outside the hut, wold reenter quickly, as it was heavily frosty. Four days lasted that bizzard. Well, what did they do? Those who had boots, who had waistcoat from Romania risked their heads and went to the woods, there were five woods there: a firtree forrest, an acacia forrest, one out of reed, one of willows. And we started to light fires as we were freezing. The Bug was about half a kilometer away.
They cut the wood with the axe and then broke their huts. Where they put us there was no beds, the hut had only a mat like a door, it had no chimney, there was no stove.
The bed was made of earth, it had some stairs out of the ground and these huts had no chimney, they had nothing. People broke them and made chimneys in the ceilings and put a fire in the middle of the huts.
In the spring, when spring came, they put us cut down all the forests. Only there were forests left. They had burned.
Dead people were eaten by dogs. Hounds were going through dead peoples intestines above our huts. That is why now we are afraid of the dead ones…
Bina died there; she was eaten by Burduf. She was fat Bina. He had nothing to eat. So he took a piece of iron, cut a piece of her ass, roasted it and ate it that spit was flowing down his mouth. Burdufu took the bottom muscle. Five or six people saw him and told us about it.
LMC: Whos son was Burdufu?
Tomilli: Burdufu? The divils , the son of his father, whoever asked him.
LMC: Are you very tired? Aren’t you?
Tomillii: I am ok, this is how I am.
LMC: You sweat a lot. Let us take a break.
Tomillii: No need. I’ll smoke a cigarette.
Listen child. When Bina died, there were inside her ten, fifteen big golden coins. People knew that, her relatives knew that she had the gold inside. Now, what do you think was it what Burdufu did?!
He took the piece of her butt out, ate that and blood was flowing out of his mouth. Then came the dogs and ate her up. There came three, four dogs and teared the guts out of her. The golden coins were inside the body, those golden coins she swallowed at the Dniester. She did not get them out because she had nothing to eat, why? Because she had nothing to eat she did not go out. AS men throw out in the field only when they have eaten before.
Now. What do you think?! The dogs took her guts and were tearing them around and here we find Zânca, my aunt who found two big gold coins, Parollea’s Lena, she was a maiden back than found also two. They did not take the coins from them. Why to take, the girls found the coins in the field. Now, after this we remained there the whole summer. About half of our people had died. We started to work there for the collective. Where have we worked? Gendarmes came to our homes …
Picano: Tell her where they send us to work.
Tomillii: They sent us to work in the collective.
The gendarmes came after us with the pitchforks. There came Mârado, Ilia and Onila, they were the tean. They would take the women from home and go with them to the fields to work on the potato crops. They would dig large pits and then place potatoes and corn in those pits. Like tis.
They would count us and write down how many people we were there in the tent and then give us food portions. What do you think we got?! One kilogram flower per person. „Ten people in a house, ten kilos cornflower”. Then one would get five kilograms melasses, the gave us melasses.. People would take whatever they could take from the collective. They received portions: took beans, took salt.
After they arrived home, in about four or five days these portions were gone. The one who could not work, would remain home, lay sick and die. The ones who stil had gold, would go the village to change the golden coins and bought flower, meat and ate. Those who had no more golden coins died there, all of them. When they fell sickm the dogs ate them up. And we stood there that winter, we wintered in villages, as they squandered us , we were no longer all together. They brought every twenty wagons together and we worked in collectives, we were sweeping and cleaning and they were giving us portions of food. It was pretty good then.
We survived like this for two years. Eventually came an order of mobilization that war had come. The Germans came and the Romanian gendarmes said to us :„Now, Bulibaşa you can leave as you got an order “.
And then we set offm what do you think we took from there? Those who could take their children by the arm, took them, who could took just one to carry him in his arms. Men took their wives and the older children who could walk. The others were left behind. This is how we left there to come here. To return to Romania. We arrived in a village called Krivizorii and a blizzard cought us there. It was Lent. It started to rain, we got a sleet. We gathered and came together like sheept in that village. When the ladies there saw nacked children and how people looked like, they came in a hurry and brought clothes to dress uo the children. And then we walked further, hand in hand to the Dniester.
On the road we encountered other people who walked that road. We still had fifteen kilometers until the Dniester. Then we got there. Many died on the road when we came. Germans would shoot people who could not walk any longer. They would shoot them in the back. If there was one who could not walk, the German shot him.
LMC: I know.
Tomillii: Well, we arrived, we had fifteen kilometers up t the Dniester. And there came a man in front of us: „Do not go there”Why, what was there?
It was Lent.. Monk’s rhubarb had risen, was small. And a man came on horseback and said: „Do not go further becouse gendarmes are gathered at the Dniesterm they will take you back to the camp, better wait here until they leave.”
And so we did.
What happened at night?! There was a rain and a sleet …People set to leave and left. Half remained, half left …
Those who remained there were cought in a bsnowblizzard and had no place to go. Others died on the road. They died with the children in their arms, men took their wives in their arms and squeesed to each other and died like that. I for myself remained at the huts. I remined with my uncles until they left too. If they would have remained with me, they would be alive too. But they left, Pampi and Toma and died on the way. I remained there and kept hiding. Well. My father came back from the Dniester and found me hidden. „Boy, Toma, Badea both died. They died” said the son of Nikulo, Toma. They found Badea’s bag. You know what they did. I told you that many Roma died becouse of the snow?
Many died when we returned from the bug. There was a disastrous troube, a very big troubele. What do you think we did? We were comming from the Dniester toward the Prut. When we arrived at the Prut, another troublem they would not let us cross on the bridge. Then, Parollea, Diamanto and Badea went to the ferrymen and takled to them:. „Only at midnight, we take you on the other side“. We were to wait til modnight so they carry us in secret. What do you think that they did? The men said we should stay hidden in a osier forrest, that is what the ferrymen told us to do to stay hidden: „Not tomorrow, the day after tomorrow. That is when we are free at night and I take you. At one o’clock after midnight be here at the bridge”
When Parollea and Rista returned from the ferrymen, they brought us bread. They received five, six breads. They also gave them two kilos booze and they brought it home to their people. Do you hear, child, what happened to us? We arrived at one o’clock there , at the Prut. What do you think, only the old people crossed. They left the children on this other side of the Prut. There were seven of them in the boat. They did not take the children. The men was crossing, with a horse behind the boat. The men would take the horse around the neck,tied him with a chain and then pulld himtrough the water behind the boat. What did he do to Kopali? He let the children cross at the end: ten, fifteen children, buys, there was also my sister Luba, Patriţa, my brother Deordi, me, we were only children. Where do you think we got out, that is becouse of Londeari’s mare that was not chained to the boat? It hit our boat and pushed us downwards in a muddy bank. The man went after the horse becouse Roka was screaming. He got us all on the other side. I had so much rush on my feet, mighty God, and so much dirt; the rush cut our legs as we crossed it. Now what were we to do to get that mare? The men pulled her but the mare was stuck in the mud of the bank. We struggeled a lot for the man to pull the mare from there. „Whatcan we do, Roka, I’ll buy you a white horse!””You get my mare out of there or else I will shout until the gendarmes come and take you”…
Picano: She was stuck in the mus. Londeari and Roka:„Nay, get her out from there or I’ll start a big scandal”
Picano: eventually, they got her out from the mud.
Tomillii: Daylight was just one hour away. We hear dogs barking loudly. We did not need to cross the village.
Picano: Around the village, pass, outside it.
Tomillii: Hotea, died there, damn his ears. And dear, we took the way around the village, we took…
Picano: And where did we get?
Tomillii: Were crying on the roads, typhus had come…
Picano: We arrived in Pasarabia.
Tomillii: We arrived in Pasarabia as you say. That is right, you do not lie.
Picano:And people crossed and left.
Tomillii: There were about thirty families there. They arrived earlier, about two weeks earlier. In the wells they had wine there. In Pasarabia. You know what we did? Gendarmes caught us and put us to stay with the others. So we stayed for a week.
There, my aunt Duda made a remembrance ceremony for her husband Badea and for Toma. She organized a six-week remembrance. So can you tell how long our walk took on foot all the way. People would run away from there by night. Those who remained were taken back. And then the American Bombs came, caught us up in Romania. .
Picano: well, don’t you tell how we came
Tomillii: We arrived in Brăila. Stood there three days, then Parollea and Rista took a train wagon for us. And from Brăila we came to Slatina and from there we came here where our lives is now.
In the end, when we arrived in Romania, we took wagons again, we buit houses like the ones you see in our country. Not even half of our people returned. Five thousend people left, there were only two thousend who returned. Now people have multiplied. Sixty years passed since than. Well, what else is there to tell. This was my testimony, so you see what I have been trough.
LMC: Live long and be lucky!
Tomillii. You too, be lucky!
LMC: Uncle Picano cann you tell us something too?
Picano: I would say the same thing.
I tell the same way.
Tomillii: All those who returned, they all came sick. Many have died here as well. Many people where sick when they came, they returned and died here in Romania.
I wish you good health and good luck! I said what I did so that these little children remember it.
LMC: I now want you to tell us a message for your children and for your grandchildren, as you have children, right?
Tomillii.: I have Mihai, the older one, I have Istrate, I have Paulo and the girl, Bria.
LMC: Tell it to the grandchildren and children’s children who will come over time.
Tomillii: I keep telling to my children to be lucky!