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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Life Goes On!

And then, after keeping mum at Jamie's and Amy's wedding, at lunch on Monday my oldest son Brian, 42, told us that Nika, our daughter-in-law, is three months pregnant.  So, it was a huge week in Orlando for this old codger!  God bless you, Nika.  We can't wait to meet our new grandchild!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Wonderful Wedding Day!

Jamie and Amy McDougall, 21 November 2010.
(Brian McDougall Photos)


Casa de piatra!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Maramureş Cu Connie (Heaton) Goddard, NT '61

Connie arrived from Aleşd via bus.

On November 13th and 14th Klaus and Duncan showed Connie Goddard, my New Trier High School classmate (though first met in Romania last June!), a bit of Maramureş.  Connie, a Peace Corps volunteer in Aleşd (near Oradea) for over a year, had never before had a chance to visit Maramureş.  It was a really fine day, climaxing with a sumptuous lunch of ciorba de pui and sarmale in Baia Mare with the fine family of Lia and Nelu (or Aurelia and Ioan) Bruma, whose daughter Claudia Serbanuta is a doctoral student in library science at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.  They are friends of Connie, and had invited her for Saturday night, so Klaus and I are home in Cluj today.

(Tomorrow is departure day for my trip to Orlando for Jamie and Amy's wedding.  Perhaps the next post will be from Stateside.  JJ, please dig out my Florida Bag!) 

Ruddy red Klaus, parked at a good restaurant in Beclean.

Cosbuc, Romania

I guess Covered Bridges were not invented in New England

Cosbuc's is still in use.

Connie with bust of George Cosbuc, poet, author, teacher, and advocate for Romanian Culture

At the Cosbuc Museum, Cosbuc, Judeţul Bistriţa-Nasaud



Spinning frame

Spinning frame take-up reel.

Hay drying rack, seen along road from Beclean to Sacel.

Klaus loves such roads, & Shirl loves terraced hillsides.

Connie's first wooden church in the Maramureşan Style.

Local denizens

New Church, Breb

Biserica noua, Breb

Breb is near Ocna Şugatag

Churchyard view, Breb.  Prince Charles of England is said to own a home here.

16th c. Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, in Breb
In closing, I must acknowledge the Hell that Romania has been through over the past seven decades. My earlier posts on Maramureş have not done justice to the museums in Sighetu Marmaţiei.  At the Elie Wiesel home (now a museum) one reads of the over 30,000 Jews in Maramureş who were uprooted by the Nazis in the 1940s, mostly as late as 1944, and sent to Auschwitz and other concentration camps.  Few survived.  Today, of over 10,000 Jews in Sighet in the 1930s, only 33 citizens remain who trace their families to Jewish ancestors.  Unfortunately, this is recent history, and such "Ethnic Cleansing" is still going on in our world. 

The birthplace of Elie Wiesel, Sighetu Marmaţiei, Maramureş

Elie Wiesel, his father Shlomo, and his maternal grandfather.

Prof. Wiesel and I both taught at Boston University in the 1980s (though we have not met).
As moving as is the Elie Wiesel home, equally terrifying is the detailed depiction of the Communist oppression of the religious leaders, artistic and intellectual elite of Romania detailed in the magnificent Museumul Memorial, located at the very prison in downtown Sighet where many thousands of political prisoners died between 1948 and 1989.  The entire history of the Communist era in Romania is described in this large and carefully assembled collection of artifacts and displays.  I wish that every American could visit this museum.  Thereafter, The Second Amendment would have few opponents.
Museum Memorial
to the Victims of Communism, Sighetu Marmaţiei

Sculpture "Convoy of Martyrs" by Aurel Vlad, in a Museum (Prison) Courtyard.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More on Maramureş

The Maramureşan weaver
Klaus and I will be returning this Friday to Maramureş with my New Trier '61 classmate and Aleşd Peace Corps volunteer Connie Heaton Goddard, who has been in Romania for over a year, but has yet to see that most-traditional of Romanian counties.  To give her a preview, I have decided to post a few more of the images taken weekend-before-last by Dan Ratliff.

Maramureş is a county of craftspeople and artisans known for their wovens, embroidery, pottery and woodworking.  The Doamna above is a weaver.  Her husband paints the plates.

In the weaver's home

The weave is reminiscent of Navaho work, though with different dyes.

Hand-painted plate


There are at least three museums in Sighetu Marmaţiei that merit a visit.  Two will leave you sobered. The Museul Memorial honors the tens of thousands of Romanian intellectual elite who died in the prisons under Communism.  The Elie Wiesel House is where that Nobel Laureate, author and Boston University professor was born, and where he and his family lived until forced to Auschwitz by the Nazis in 1944. Of those family members imprisoned, only Elie survived the war.  
Back yard at Elie Wiesel's Birthplace in Sighetu Marmaţiei

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Back Nine

Vasile and I returned to Pianu de Jos today and played the back nine at the Paul Tomiţa course.  Dan Ratilff had to cancel Monday's scheduled match.  He got a more appropriate offer for a new Fulbrighter, and chose to visit a Roma community with his wife Nancy and daughter Cami.

The morning drive was swift.  No traffic to speak of at 8:00 on a Sunday morning between Cluj and Alba Iulia.

The course is again in November condition, though obviously far more polished than in 2008.  The fairways were quite nicely mown, and the new tee boxes are flat and well-grassed,  The course has numerous new groves of sapling oaks between the fairways, which bode beauty and shade for twenty years hence.  The greens were sanded over and punched, and not in use.  Temporary and tiny circles were mown short in front of all the greens, with cups and flags placed in their centers, so this was a practice round, not a golf match.  But it was great fun, and Vasile birdied a par 5 with another miraculous chip-in.  So, all told, it was a lot of fresh air and fun.

Tonight I met for supper with Valer Olimpiu Suteu of Satu Mare, the first FSEGA student I ever met (back on 29 September, 2008), who will graduate next June, and who is investigating the possibility of taking his MBA at Plymouth State University.  I learned more about Valer tonight.  He, too, had spent the day outdoors and exercising, but he did so dressed as a Roman Legionaire, carrying a heavy shield and short sword in a reenactment of a battle between the Romans and the Dacians.  Clearly, Valer is a young man of diverse interests.  I hope he applies to PSU, for I look forward to writing him a recommendation, and to having him one day as my student.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Date for Golf at Paul Tomița Course

Dan Ratliff and I made a date this Sunday for golf on 8 November, The 2nd Anniversary of my First Romanian Round. And look what appears in my Yahoo Mail Inbox:
Monday 1 Nov 2010:

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Paul Tomiţa Golf Club in May":

Was taught by Paul Tomița to play golf and knew him well before he died as I served at the American Embassy in Bucharest. Email me at Woul love to discuss what is happening with his golf course."
I replied:

I am delighted by your comment on my blog.  Please reply with your name and contact information, and we can keep in touch.
Just yesterday I made a golf date for 8 November, 2010, a week from today, and exactly two years after I first played at the Paul Tomiţa Golf Course in Pianu de Jos, Alba.

We are only a twosome, so if you are in Romania, you certainly would be welcome to join us (two aging American professors).

Best regards,

Tuesday, 2 Nov 2010:
RE: Paul Tomiţa Golf Course
Bill Crawford

5 Files  View Slideshow (See below) 


I am very pleased by your reply.  My Father was the American Ambassador to Romania (1961-1965) and I was a teenager who learned golf from Paul (Tomița).  I then returned to Romania as Commercial Attache (1994-1998) when I continued my relationship with Paul until his death in 2004.  He was like a Father to me and I used to call him every month to catch up with him.  He was a wonderful man who I loved very much.

I am attaching a few pictures of Paul including one with King Michael whom he taught how to play golf.  The first picture, was taken when I visited him in 2004 for two weeks.  He died very soon after this picture was taken.  He built several golf courses before the war and then was the Professional Golf teacher at the diplomatic golf course in Bucharest before he retired in 1975.  Would love to share news about Paul and I am glad to hear that his golf course is being used and being kept up... at least I hipe it is.  I know that he would be smiling in Heaven knowing that persons, especially young are learning golf and playing on his course.  He truly lived for golf and loved teaching it and was always very sad that more Romanians had not learned the game.

All the best.  I am currently in Paris, but my wife will be in Timisoara from November 3-10

I am also attaching an article/obituary I wrote for the Washington Post upon his death.  Also there is another article about Paul.
Bill Crawford
Paris France
Paul Tomita at 90, in 2004

Paul at an early age

Paul and King Mihai I of Romania
[First attached article]

Romanian Friend of Golf Dies at 90

Paul Tomita died on July 21, 2004 and was buried in Piana de Jos (Transylvania), Romania. Some in the Diplomatic Community in Washington, who have been to Romania may still remember Paul, "Professor de Golf" since he spent much of his life teaching golf to the Diplomatic and Business community from the mid 1930's to 1975 at the Diplomatic Club in Bucharest. After his retirement, he returned to Transylvania to the only place he knew where he could, "Play Golf, Hunt and Fish."

Paul learned golf from a French and then an English golf professional before earning his professional golf status in the United Kingdom and becoming the teacher to both King Carol II and Queen Marie of Romania. He grew up with Carol II's son, Mihai-later to become King Mihai I. They continued to keep in touch with King Mihai recently sending Paul a 90th birthday greeting. He survived, or better yet hoodwinked the Germans during WWII (Getting the Germans to get their tanks off his golf course) and the Communists for 50 years (finding ways to continue teaching golf despite their prejudice against golf). Age never seemed to slow him down and at age 75 with the end of Communism in 1990, he started building a nine hole golf course outside of Alba Julia. And there stands today a testament to his love of golf, the "Paul Tomita Golf Course". Paul loved Golf, he loved playing golf and teaching it and he wanted everyone else to also love the sport. The above picture was taken three weeks ago and those who know him will recognize the pipe in his hands as he loved his pipe almost as much as Golf, Hunting and Fishing. I will miss Paul as he had become my second Father, having taught me golf in the early sixties and later becoming my friend when stationed as Commercial Officer in Bucharest (1994-1998). We continued to correspond often by phone over the years and fortunately we were able to see each other fairly often; the last time was just three weeks ago when he taught me my last lesson of golf. He was a good friend to so many, including my wife and my son who saw him as his Grandfather. We will miss him but God will make sure that he can continue to play golf and smoke his pipe in the company of his wife and his friends.

Bill Crawford, US Commercial Service, Washington, DC.

If you are interested in his life: 

[Second attached article]
Paul Tomita, Teaching Golf to Kings

This feature is based on Marius Petrescu's article, published in Romanian in Formula AS. I found the story particularly interesting, and I'm briefly retelling it in English here. To see pictures and the Formula AS article in Romanian, go here.
In 1930s a teenager by the name of Pavel Tomita arrives in Bucharest, dressed in peasant attire: traditional white shirt, tight-fitting leggings and leather sandals. His brother, former bellboy and now administrator at Hotel Continental, introduces him to golf professor Jean Baptiste Lammaison, whom Prince Puiu Ghica invited to Romania to teach at the Country Club.

Years afterwards, princes and high ranking officials learn golf from Pavel. In the elegant city, filled with fur coats, fancy hats and fine perfume, Pavel Tomita becomes Paul Tomitza and is courted by the high society of Greater Romania's capital.

In winter, with the golf season over, he retreats to his Transylvanian town of Pianu de Jos. There he has family and a precious friend, church singer Mos Avram.

In 1937 Paul is invited to England by professor J.T. Baker, who has just finished his contract at the Romanian Country Club in Bucharest. He receives his golf diploma from St Andrew's Professional Golf Association . . . and a Dunhill pipe. He is 23 years of age and not a smoker. Since then, the Dunhill pipe he has received as a gift becomes his staple.

At the 1972 World Cup in Australia, he meets Alfred Dunhill in person. Seeing that Pavel is using 35-year-old Dunhill pipe, Alfred Dunhill becomes Pavel's official sponsor for the rest of the latter's sports career.

He's still thrilled to say that in 1938 he received his diploma from Lord Halifax himself, Britain's Foreign Secretary of State, with these words: "I am glad to meet, for the first time, a Romanian golf professor. You can pick your country. Congratulations!" Paul could now sign contracts between 800,000 and 1,000,000 dollars a year with numerous golf clubs in the world. He chose to return home -- and comments on it now: "He saw that I was silly, but he continued to act like a lord, respecting my choice."

Back in Romania, he plays golf with Queen Marie, Carol II, and Carol II's 13-year-old son, Mihai -- later to become King Mihai I. Paul and Mihai spend all their weeks together until King Mihai I is forced to abdicate in December 1947, when the communists take over.

The Country Club becomes now the Diplomatic Club, and the former gentlemen, comrades. The Secret Police has him arrested several times for not willing to become an informant. Given his entourage, he would have made the perfect spy.

For 30 years Paul Tomita, as he comes to be called, is not allowed to leave the country. He makes it to the 1968 World Cup in Italy, when he's already in his fifties. He and his pipe are unseparable.

In 1975 he retires, but the high society is still courting him, new ambassadors visiting him at Pianu de Jos for golf lessons, and former ones inviting him abroad. Up to 1989 he's traveling and teaching golf from his home in Pianu de Jos. People are asking him to intercede on their behalf and he's invited almost monthly to make his appearance in Bucharest.

On the other hand, being the last golf professor behind the Iron Curtain, he's invited to leave the country every time he gets out for a tournament or visit. What means the world to him is the fact that he can be at his mother's bedside when she calls for him before passing away.

After the elections of 1990, when the world of princes and gentlemen, as he knew them before WWII, is once again defeated, Paul Tomita forgets about Bucharest and sets off to build a golf club of his own. He's now the proud owner of Golf Club Paul Tomita. The gentlemen of yesterday have now all disappeared, except for King Mihai I, his old friend, whom he meets after 50 long years. They stare at each other, then hug each other. Almost oblivious of everything that has happened since they last parted, Paul welcomes King Mihai joyfully. To which the latter sadly retorts: "Our lives, mine and yours, have flown by, dear Paul."

I cannot end this better than Marius Petrescu, author of the Romanian article in Formula AS:

"The peasants have grown used to seeing him leaving with the golf bag to the golf. . . .They know that for him the most important things in life are God, Romania, his Mother, his Wife, his Pipe, Mos Avram and King Mihai. . . . The rest is silence."

To see the accompanying pictures, see the Romanian article in Formula AS here.