A Biography of Traian Popovici

by Florintin Lehaci
President of 'Traian Popovici Association'

Part I
Traian Popovici was born on 17 October in Rusi Manastioara (Udesti)  village, near Suceava town. His father was a priest (Ioan Popovici) and also he was Andrei Popovici's grandson, a famous priest in Udesti  who refused to swear loyalty to the Austrich domination in 1777.

His opposition was made inside the church in presence of the parishioners and in presence of the representative of the Empire. Of course, the priest was arrested and lead to Suceava. But he was helped by his own parishioners and he succeed in escaping from prison, crossing the Suceava river during the night.

His mother (Eufrosina Popovici) was born in Bodnarescu family, who had 7 children. Traian Popovici's great-grandfather, Mihai Bodnarescu, was also a patriot, being deputy in Radauti. Mihai succed in obtaining the right to go in front of Frantz Iosef emperor. Due to his efforts, he obtained in 1848 an autonomy decree for Bukowina.

Other personality from this family was Leonida Bodnarescu (a famous pedagogue and principal). Mother's father was also a priest. Ioan and Eufrosina married in Rusi Manastioarei, she being 17 years old. Later they moved in Fundu Moldovei village, where he was appointed a priest. In their family were born 4 children. The eldest one was Traian, then Leon, Eugen and Constanta(surnamed Stanuca). Leon died during the first world war, when he was 20 years old.

Traian studied at the superior gymnasium in Suceava (1903-1911), then he attended the courses of the Faculty of Law in Cernauti. During 1913-1914 he was the president of 'Junimea' (a student Society) in Cernowitz. In 1919 he gratued the faculty of Law, then obtaining the Doctor degree.

Part II
All the children had got a rough education. in family. Especially, their father was very authoritatively with them, punishing their mistakes. It is famous their calling in a specially room where their father first quarreled them and then they were pulled by ears. But very often they were punished with a stick, getting at least 10 and the most 25 kicks. Also, they had to number their own kicks but without tears. If they quarreled, then the counting was beginning again. After this ritual, they were learned to request the parent's apologizes and the father's blessing. And then, the poor mother was trying to give the children some cakes for sweetening of their pains. Of course, this punish was applied in case of the big mistakes. It must be said that this way of punishing was used only in the first classes until they were in the 4th or 5 th grade.

As you notice, there were a ritual for their whole family. Following the same model, there were their meals, after an unchanged programme. Thus, at 7 o'clock they had coffee, at half past twelve they had lunch and dinner at half past 7 p.m. As you see they had a very rigid programme.

Also, each of them had very well established places during the meal. In front of the table, the father there was, place which was respected by all and after the their father' s death. At the left of father was the mother. Opposite the father, was Traian because he was the eldest of his brothers. Nobody was sitting at the table before father's coming.

The rules were rigid and even when they had to eat. Thus, they were not allowed to stay with their elbows on the table. During the lunch, the discussions were very shorts and and in these they were allowed to participate only the parents and Traian. Those who didn't respect this rules had to leave that room and eat in the kitchen. In the evening, they used to read something from the Romanian classic literature or the whole chapters from 'The Romanian history' written by the famous historian A.D. Xenopol.

This task belonged to Traian. Also, he had a real poetical talent and he used to read to the whole family poems written by Eminescu, Cosbuc, Goga and so on. Moreover, he knew by heart many of their poems, especially those with historical background. He liked very much to recite 'The battle from Rovine' a magnificent poem written by Eminescu. Before sleeping, mother used to sing the melancholy Romanian folk songs.

At 9 p.m. (in the summer later), they had to go to bed, because the second day they had to get up early. Father got up at about 5 a.m., while the children had to get up at 6 a.m. Till 7 a.m., when they had to coffee, they had to do cleaning in their room, wash, clean the boots and , the most important, do the prayers.

Part III
Every day, Traian Popovici's father read the newspaper which he subscribed Gazeta Transilvaniei, Romanul,  even newspapers from Wiena (like the newspaper of the socialist Christian Party from Austria). Sometimes he used to read for the entire family the most important news.

Their father was a nationalist, like all the Romanian priest, hating the foreign domination from Bukowina. But, this nationalism wasn't chauvinist, but he respected the rights of the others ethnics from Romania. This fact is showed by the event from November 1918, when the industrial jew (S. Gelber), from village which neighbored Fundu Moldovei. Gelber refugied in their house , being hosted a few days by their father. Then, father took him by chariot as far as Cimpulung town, saving him from huligan's violence.

During the holiday or during the Sundays, the children together with the parents used to go the reading club from Fundu Moldovei, named 'The light', which were organized by some famous teachers from there. Another custom was walking with two chariots along Bistrita valey.

If it rained, they remained inside the house, reading especially ' The Lives of the Saints', written with Cyrillic letters. Another entertainment was the chess, organized by Traian in which his friends took part.
The time of school
The beginning of the school represented moments of great spiritual pain, because the children had to go to school in Suceava, 70 km away from Fundu Moldovei.
Before their departure, there was another ritual initiated by the father. The last one called all the four children in one special room (which they called the teacher's room), the mother standing on the right.

This ritual took place every year, on 31st of August, at 9 o'clock and a mobilizing speech was held by the father: 'Boys, starting from tomorrow another academic year begins and starting from tomorrow you are not allowed to have another concern but to learn. You need to know one thing that you don't learn for me, but only for you and your own good, to become civilized people, useful for you and or the nation you come from. And if your heart doesn't lead you to learning, tell us straight, because not everyone is made for school. However painful it may be for us, you will have the opportunity to become a good craftsman, good and cherished by everybody, being known that the craft art is a golden bracelet. The most important thing in life is not what you become but to be people who know their place, honest and human. I tell you once again: study hard and do not dishonor my name! I don't want to hear bad things about you, because this will bury me and your mother alive. Don't forget to tell your morning and evening prayers constantly, because every thought comes true only with God's blessing. And because we all are simply passengers through the life, I might die unexpectedly. For that hard time, I tell my last wish: listen to your mother, help her and ease her poor life. And I also tell you this. I don't leave you earthly goods, because I don't have them. All I have is an honest name bound by your ancestors both to history and to Bukovina.Traian dear, you the eldest one, be the guardian of this saint inheritance!'
And then with tears in their eyes, they all knelled and one of them said the prayer 'Our Father'. After that the children kissed their parents' hands and then they got on the cart, leaving for Suceava.
To be continued....