railway bridge in Vaslui

The Iron Bridge at Vaslui, Romania

Near the city center at sunrise       •      1 August 2013
Photograph by Titi Simionica


By Constantin Simionica

Posted from Vaslui, Romania, on 14 August 2013


The railway bridge stands about 500 meters from the train station in Vaslui on the line leading north to Iasi, the largest city in north-eastern Romania.  My hometown of Vaslui is the capital of Vaslui County in the poorest region of Romania.  I took this photograph during one of my early morning walks.

We are situated in a hilly area of the Moldavia region.  I'd call our climate excessive because the summers are hot and dry, while the winters are cold, even frosty.  Temperatures of 36 to 40 degrees in July and August (98 to 104 fahrenheit) and minus 20 degrees in winter (-4 fahrenheit) are common.

History tells us that Vaslui was originally called Basilica in honor of Emperor Basil Bulgarohton by the Byzantines but is documented only from 1375.  In the fifteenth century it served as the capital of Southern Moldova under the reign of Stephen the Great.  Stephen's royal church was completed in 1490.  Today the church is under renovation.

Vaslui has experienced many ups and downs over the years.  Our population has dropped to about 50,000.  That's almost 25,000 fewer residents than 20 years ago.  Many people are working all over Europe, especially in Italy, Spain, and England.

Things in my country have changed dramatically during my lifetime — not always for the better.  But Romania remains a beautiful country and has much to offer.

Podul de fier, Vaslui, Romania

Aproape de oras, la rasarit.       •      1 August 2013
Fotografie de Constantin (Titi) Simionica


De Constantin Simionica

Postat din Vaslui, Romania, pe 14 august 2013


Podul de fier se gaseste la aproape 500 de metri de statia C.F.R. Vaslui, pe linia care merge spre Iasi, cel mai mare oras din aceasta parte a Romaniei.  Orasul meu, Vaslui, este capitala judetului cu acelasi nume, una din cele mai sarace zone din tara.

Este situat intr-o zona deluroasa din centrul Moldovei.  Climatul zonei este continental excesiv, cu veri calde si uscate si ierni reci, chiar geroase.  Temperaturi de 36-40 de grade in iulie si august sau minus 20 de grade iarna nu sunt un lucru neobisnuit.

Istoria ne spune ca orasul a fost numit Basilica in onoarea imparatului Vasile Bulgaroctonul, de catre bizantini, dar existenta lui este documentata din anul 1375.  In secolul al XV-lea a fost capitala Moldovei Meridionale sub domnia lui Stefan cel Mare.  Tot atunci a fost construita biserica domneasca, terminata in anul 1490.  In prezent aceasta este in curs de restaurare.

Vasluiul a avut urcusuri si coborasuri in istoria sa.  Populatia orasului a scazut acum la aproximativ 50.000 de locuitori, mai putin cu 20-25.000 fata de acum 20 de ani.  Multi locuitori au emigrat si lucreaza acum in Italia, Spania sau Anglia.

Lucrurile sau schimbat de multe ori dramatic in tara in timpul vietii mele si nu intotdeauna in bine.  Romania ramane totusi o tara frumoasa, care are inca multe de oferit.

The Legend of 'Penes Curcan,'
Frontier Guard of Vaslui

By the Editor  |  Crow's Cottage

The brave men of Vaslui are immortalized in a rousing Romantic poem by Vasile Alecsandri (1821-1890), one of Romania's leading writers and diplomats of the 19th century. We found the poem in an 1884 lecture by scholar H. A. Jackson, a "free member of the Ethnographical Society of Paris," who translated it into English from a German translation of the original verse. Interestingly, the Romanian-to-German translation was done by "Her Majesty the Queen of Roumania," Elisabeth of Wied, who wrote under the nom de plume Carmen Sylva.

the poet on a stamp

Tracing obscure strands of history oft uncovers little slices of paradox and reveals mysteries based on the evolution of culture and the inevitable changes in intellectual fashion and social mores.  In his time, for instance, the poet Alecsandri was identified by the name Basil Alexandri in the 1868 seventh edition of Men of the Time: A Dictionary of Contemporaries (Routledge and Sons, London).  However, Mr. Jackson of Paris wrote the poet's name as "Mr. Bazil Alexandri, the Poet-Laureate not only of Roumania, but of the whole Latin race...."  Both of those names are next to impossible to find in contemporary scholarship about Romania's former men of letters.

We can report with confidence that Vasile Alecsandri was born in the city of Bacău, which is only about 50 kilometers to the east of the railway bridge featured on this web.  His legacy is very much a part of the region's cultural heritage.

Only One Returns.

The story of soldier Penes takes place during one of the several Russo-Turkish wars of the 19th century.  We quote from A Series of Lectures upon Roumanian History and Literature Lecture I by Mr. Jackson:

"Penes is the name of a brave young soldier, who, wounded and disabled, returns alone, as the survivor of ten recruits who left the small town of Vaslui, in Moldavia, in exuberant spirits, to join the army in Bulgaria and there to die upon the field of battle.  Curcan literally means, a 'Turkey,' and is a nickname given to soldiers of the frontier guard, in consequence of their decorating their sheepskin caps with the wing-feathers of this bird.

"Bazil Alexandri makes this 'Penes Curcan' tell his own tale, in his own simple, yet expressive language, to his assembled friends and comrades on his return to his native town of Vaslui, of how his companions had fared, fought and fallen for their country, and how he had himself been wounded, but by a miracle, escaped the fate of his less fortunate comrades. This beautiful poem, as well as I have been able to render it into English verse from the Roumanian, runs thus:—"

From Vaslui nine of us set out,
   With our brave sergeant, ten ;
God knows we felt nor fear nor doubt,
   Our hearts beat warmly then.
Proud as the graceful falcons soar,
   On pinions strong and fleet,
We, in our caps, all, feathers wore,
   And feathers wing’d our feet.

We all were “Dorobantzes” bold,
   Roumains of ancient race ;
Our head-gear, tunics, sandals told
   The ancestry we trace.
“Curcans” they call us ; a nickname
   Fools gave us in their spite.
This nickname, we have rais’d to fame,
   Upon the Balkan's height.

Here we stop.  The poem runs 24 stanzas, ending with the words, "On battle-field all prov'd their worth, Moldavia freed again."  You can read the poem in its entirety by visiting Google Books, a gift of almost limitless wonders to readers on the World Wide Web.  The Google Books 1884 text of H. A. Jackson's monograph was retrieved from the Bodleian Library at Oxford.  Just click the little book icon to the left.  The poem begins on page 18.

A Google Maps view of Vaslui can be found on the other side of the linked red A.

about Titi

We asked Constantine for a biography.  He writes:

"Yes, Titi is my nickname.  Otherwise, about my biography there is not much to say.  I was born on October 10, 1961, in a small town, Cehu-Silvaniei, Salaj County in Transylvania.  My father was an officer in the Romanian Army and my mother was an accountant.  We were a special family because my father was born in Moldova (on the Romanian side) and my mother was of Hungarian origin, a less common combination back then.

"I finished high school in 1980 and then studied some two years in the Bucharest Faculty of Industrial Chemistry.  In 1987 I moved to Vaslui, where I live now.  I worked many years in the industry as team leader in various fields:  chemistry, construction materials, perfumery.  In 2003 I changed careers and moved into sales.  Since then I have worked as a store manager.

"My hobbies are photography, which I discovered about six months ago, classical music, and rock 'n roll.  I am happily married for 26 years but have no children.  Another passion is sports, especially running — almost every morning I run four, maybe five miles."

despre autor

Am rugat autorul sa scrie cateva cuvinte despre el: 

"Da, porecla mea este Titi.  De altfel, nu am mare lucru de scris despre mine.  M-am nascut pe 10 octombrie 1961, intr-un orasel mic, Cehu-Silvaniei, din judetul Salaj, in Transilvania.  Tata este ofiter(r) in armata romana, iar mama era contabila.  Eram o familie mai speciala, tata fiind nascut in Moldova iar mama ardeleanca de origine maghiara, lucru mai putin obisnuit.

"Am terminat liceul in 1980 si dupa cativa ani de studiu in Bucuresti am ajuns la Vaslui, unde locuiesc si acum.  Am lucrat multi ani in industrie, pana in 2003 cand am facut o schimbare de cariera si am trecut in vanzari.

"Sunt casatorit si fericit in casatorie de 26 de ani.  Pasiunile mele sunt fotografia, pe care am decoperit-o acum vreo 6 luni, muzica (clasica si rock) si sportul, pe care il practic aproape zilnic, alergand 4-5 km dimineata."

this crow lives in New Jersey
the railway bridge at Vasuli

An artist's eye ridin' the rails      ∞      1 August 2013


The Beauty of Gray was posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2013


fly there now

fly crow fly Primaria Municipiului Vaslui
It's in the Romanian language, of course, but the official website of the Vaslui City Hall has lots of images.  Check out the Foto section if you can't read Romanian.  And see if you can find the English words on the site.

send an e-mail

Constantin 'Titi' Simionica
        You can reach Titi by e-mail at titi.simionica@gmail.com

it's the thing to do
Journal for the Corvus
CornDancer HOME
Photo of the Week
Planet Gnosis
Planet Clio
Our Readers
Letter from Crow's Cottage

Notices announcing new entries for Crow's Cottage Glossary and Compendium are sent by e-mail express to my list of family, friends, students, and fellow travelers.  If you've come here by some other means, I invite you to write me at the address below so I can add you to the list.  It's a private list, shared with no one and guarded by a flock of warrior crows with sharp claws and diligent fairies with tricks of illusion.  Aggressive or pacific — you choose — the guardians are in our service to ensure your privacy.

Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles

Eclecticisms Most Plausible, Spare Embodiments in Miniature, Congruous Abridgements, the Occasional Received Epitome, Choice Facts, Strange Mysteries, Unfettered Digressions — Each and All Found within the Smaller Compass of the Greater Work, the Magnum Opus, with Particular Attention Given to the Natural World, Its Beings, Objects, Forces, and Ideas, including the Diverse Ways Nature Is Viewed and Engaged by Humanity.

go to it now
go to it now
go to it now
go to it now
go to it now