|Sister and I at the outskirts of Petrovina, Croatia|
Monday, September 8, was an interesting day as my sister and I (along with the B-I-L) visited the town from where our paternal grandparents came: Petrovina, Croatia. We went to Petrovina in search of Spretnaks. Our people. So how does one go about finding Spretnaks in a little village where one does not speak the local language? You look for Spretnaks in the one place where the language barrier is likely to matter least.
To the cemetery!
Which was easy to find in a town this size. We followed a sign with three crosses, thinking that might be the sign to the church cemetery. And it was. And, sure enough, we weren't there more than 15 seconds, before we started seeing Spretnaks, Except that in Petrovina, Spretnak is spelled the pre-Ellis Island way of "Spretnjak."
I could even see some family resemblance in this fellow:
(The family resemblance would be to my father. Not me. I got no Spretnak in me, looks-wise. I'm all Grisnik, my mother's side. Blame them.)
Petrovina is a small village, surrounded on all sides by cornfields. It has a population of 236. And it is absolutely lousy with Spretnaks.
Those of you from Beaver County will understand the comparison when I say it is the same size as Fallston, where my father grew up, although with a population of 266 it is bigger than Petrovina. For Nevadans, I will compare it to Lund, on the way to Ely, with a population of 282. Which also is a bigger than Petrovina.
If the day ended right then and there, it would have been a great day. For the first time in life, I was in a place where "Spretnak" was not an unusual name. In fact, except for my parents (until they passed) and my sister (until she got married and de-Spretnak-ed), I don't think I've ever been anywhere where there have been other Spretnaks.
So we are getting ready to leave. Some men who appear to be cemetery caretakers walk by. They go up several rows of graves, Then Sister and B-I-L notice that they are tending to one of the many Spretnjak graves. So we go to talk with them. I mean, "what the hey."
I speak the best Croatian of the group, with a vocabulary of four words, so I take the lead and ask if they speak English. The two men know enough English to shake their heads no. Then I ask, in English, "Are you Spretnaks?"
They nod their heads yes.
I point to me and say, "I am a Spretnak."
They understood. And smiled.
Meet Stjepan and Darko Spretnjak:
|Darko (L) and Stjepan (R)|
|Spretnjak Family mini-reunion in the Petrovina cemetery|
|St. Peter's of Petrovina|
|Crkva Svetog Petra, only in wider view|
|View through the locked gates|
|Off to the side|
|And the other side|
|The whole gang in front of Crkva Svetog Petra|