SHORT SKETCHES FOR 101 FACES
Tender Remembrances by Antonia and Pierina Radovic
The oldest inhabitants of Krapan know very well the past of their birthplace which, before the establishment of Rasa (Arsia) in 1937, was the center of coal mining in the Labin area
Along with Nino Detoni, the two sisters Antonia and Pierina Radovic are the oldest inhabitants of Krapan, today a desolate and rundown ghost town between Labin and Rasa and which had once been the coal mining center in the Labin area. They live in the upper section of Krapan in a small house where their parents had also lived. It has a 115-year-old mulberry tree and a dog named Fido who was barking as I was approached the house. The coal miner's train with locomotives steaming toward Strmac used to pass very close by. For that reason, the house was reinforced with a steel beam, which is a dominant part of the cracked front wall. Their father Anton, born in Sumber, was also known under the nickname Martinacic, he and his parents came via Presika to Krapan where he spent his entire working life working in the coal mine as a blacksmith shoeing the horses that used to pull the coal wagons.
Antonia passed her 86th birthday and Pierina was born seven years later. The younger sister is more talkative while the older is more mobile since Pierina had a hip operation several years ago and now must walk with a cane. Because of that she very seldom leaves her house. When they have to go for her pension check, instead of going to Rasa with her sister, who never worked at a regular job and lives on 600 kuna a month ($100) of social assistence (Pierina was a known seamstress) [unfinished sentence]. This also provides to Antonia an opportunity to go grocery shopping, since in Krapan there has not been a grocery store for several years now so that two times weekly their neighbor buys bread for them.
At one time it was very nice to live in Krapan, reminisce sisters. The place started losing its importance in 1937 when the town of Arsia was completed. Until then, in Krapan existed a headquarters, post office, police station station, two grocery stores, three bars, a kindergarten and the house named "Solomon" which was where the fifth grade elementary school taught in German. During Italian rule there was the cooperative or store was in this same building. Talkative Pierina remembers clearly those days and especially about her schooling. She and her sister mentioned that in Krapan at that time there were many Slovenians with names like Knaus, Paitler, Bajt, Hodej and others, who also spoke Italian, the same as they spoke in their home so that the two sisters Radovic even today communicate with each other in that language even thought they also can easily speak "po nase" the way her mother spoke who was from the family of Tencic.
Pierina shows with pride her father's work from the time of Austria, written in Italian, then she showed her certificates and the diploma of "aviamento" from Labin, mentioning her teachers, such as Giovanni Macillis, Maria Valdini, Rodolfo Caputto, who was her teacher in technical design. She jealously guards her drawings to this day and some of them are quite good and could be of interest to the general public. Through their documents one can see the curious changes of their last name. During Austria their father was Anton Radovich, during Italy he became Antonio Radovi, and her school certificate shows he name to be Pierina Radioni.
As an employee she worked in the headquarters of the coal mine in Rasa and was a witness to the fall of Italy in September of 1943 when the directorship of the mine changed hands and she worked with the secretary of the new director of the coal mine.
After World War II she was the first secretary of the new coal mine administration and later she joined the archive in Prvomajska Company in Krapan until her retirement in 1978.
Pierina remembers the summer movie theatre in Rasa and Mussolinićs visit to this new coal miner's town in the summer of 1937, when "il duce" went down into the coal mine. She knows who destroyed the monument to the coal miners in 1947. However, she asked me not to write about it. Unfortunately the sisters did not have photographs of Krapan in its hey days. They did, however, have old photographs from Carbonia on Sardinia a Labin sister city and where lives their sister Lina.
Friday, July 15, 2005; Last updated:
Wednesday October 07, 2015