So dad has a second cousin living in Zagreb called Vilko who he’d like to contact. We looked him up on Google… what did people actually do before Google?… and went down to the front desk of the hostel to use the phone. The phone number doesn’t work, but as it happens, the guy on the desk lives on the same street as Vilko…and his brother is Vilko’s son’s best friend!
And that’s a strange, small world moment…
Today we drove to Blagorodovac, the very small, but very well kept village my father grew up in. There isn’t even a village store anymore — the building is for lease.
We found his grandparents in the cemetery… then drove down the road to find his house. It’s still there and the house plate still reads S1950M (Stefan Matzig built 1950). But sadly, the current owners are on vacation in the Adriatic, because after all this is Croatia in August and anyone with two kuna to rub together heads for the seaside. Dad’s impressed with the upgrades…they’ve added an indoor bathroom.
We caused quite a commotion in the village with our cameras and our English banter — Blagorodovac isn’t likely ever to end up on the tourist trail — so news of our presence spread like wildfire and drew curious neighbours to their gates.
The neighbours actually live in the house my father’s grandparents lived in, and the house my father was actually born in. Owner gentleman purchased the house from my Uncle Karl in 1965 and has lived there ever since. They invited us in and Dad took his first trip down memory lane… in Croatian of course, so we just sat and smiled… When we said we should leave and not take his whole day, his cheeky grandson piped up and said, “don’t worry, if you weren’t here, he’d just be sleeping anyway!”
As we drove away, Dad looked back and said, “You know, I remember Blagorodovac being bigger…”