Prologue

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In September of 2003 Ronnie and I visited Romania with the intent of seeing Sighet, the hometown of Ronnie’s father, Louis Kahan until 1917 when he immigrated to the United States . Geographically, Romania is east of Hungary , bordered by Ukraine on the North, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia on the South and the Black Sea on the East.  Sighet, our initial objective, lies just across the river from Ukraine in a mountainous area with richly cultivated valleys and hillsides.

   While Bucarest , Romania ’s capital city, is a somewhat seedy but fairly modern city, much of the remainder of the country is struggling to embrace 20th century technology. Most of the country’s population is agrarian, living and working in a “horse and buggy” mode that has changed little since the dawn of the mechanical age. Villagers typically live in cottages, with their pigs, chickens, cows and other animals in an adjacent small courtyard and barn. While electric lights are common, running water is less so. Water is hand drawn from wells; wood is chopped for cooking fuel and heat. Transportation is by foot or wagons drawn by oxen or horses. Except in cities or on major highways, only the occasional automobile or truck is seen.  

By our standards the people are poverty stricken with an average annual income of about $2,000.  Even so, Romanian’s appear well fed and clothed because they grow and make by hand so much of what they need.  In spite of their lack of cash many Romanian’s were generous to us with their surplus of agricultural produce and handmade goods.  When we would stop our car to take photographs people proudly posed for us and then pressed gifts of their agricultural bounty upon us. We were showered with gifts of walnuts, apples, potatoes and whatever else had been recently harvested. In return we gave back store-bought cookies, candies and promises to send copies of the photos (which are being sent today).  

Hand crafted items abound because people make them rather than purchasing factory made goods, which they can ill afford.  It was not unusual to see a woman in front of her house spinning wool that she had shorn from her sheep. A fine variety of woven goods are produced in the home on archaic handlooms, i.e. gorgeous hand woven rugs, needlepoint and clothing.  

After shaking off Communism and the disastrous Ceausescu regime in 1989, Romania is coming in to the mechanical and electronic age.  The quaint, antiquated mode of working and living is dying out.  As one Romanian said to us, the backwards style of life is wonderful for tourists to see but it’s a very hard life for those who must live it.  The transition from old to new can be seen in individual households where the parents dress in the old fashioned style with handmade leggings and boots but the children dress as though they had just returned from a shopping mall.  With its educated younger generation and low cost workforce Romania will modernize rapidly.  

We wandered Romania for about three weeks and took almost three thousand photographs.  To show you what we saw, we have chosen approximately three hundred photos, which are included on this disk.  There are no captions because the photos speak for themselves.  

Louis and Ronnie Davidson
October 29, 2003 .