Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: Remembering Stephania Rotaru 16 yrs on

Around about 1972, Wep drafted the following letters. It is not known whether they were ever sent. It would be nice to think that he was able to re-establish contact with Stephania Rotaru but I suspect it never happened. There is a good chance Stephania is still alive (81yrs in 2016) and if so, I hope she learns of this blog and I get the chance to meet with her one day and share some of these old recollections РPeter Pidgeon

[Most likely addressed to the Director, Institutul Roman Pentru, Relatile Culturale cu Strainatatea, Bucaresti]

Dear Sir,

During Oct 1956 I had the honour of being a guest in your Institute. The charm and beauty of your country continues to grow in my memory.

Two charming young ladies met me on arrival from Australia at Bucuresti airport. Being a sentimentalist, I would like (after all these years) to convey to each a remembrance of thanks and appreciation.

Is it possible for your department to forward these remembered friends the enclosed letters. I suppose they have both married and changed names. Could you please go through the records and forward these notes? These were very nice to a lonely stranger from the Antipodes. If it is not possible to trace these girls after all the years, would you please return the letters (which are not important) to me or advise me that.

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To the bossy little unabashed girl who loved artists.

 For no reason at all, since I was looking at gloomy television forecast of the earthquake doom of San Francisco, I remembered my mica mamitza Stephania. How I must have bored you Рyet you and Utzo were tolerant of me.

Stefania Rotaru, Wep's interpreter and guide, looks out from anYou will not remember my unexpressed enjoyment of a picnic lunch by the roadside of chicken and capsicums & what-here you. Or even my picking up of the old mother-in-law pears outside Aiud. Or the way the wine master made the motions of kissing your hand in the cellars after we had drunk & exulted about his collective brandy.

Can you remember (no, it was meaningless work for you) as I do in your new and strange land being up above Sinai, cold as frogs with snow all about and the (to me) silly little falsetto whistles from the express so far below in the valley where you made me get with the Perronts(?).

Stefanie Rotaru outside the Cabana Cioplea, Predeal, Romania; 12You will not remember Utzo bumping a mudguard & having to get it fixed at Orasul Stalin (Brasov) and you drearily walking with me all over town looking for him & eve(ntually) finding the villain near the railway crossing & the pigs squealing off in the trucks. No of course not. But I remember your charming boyfriend who broadcast in English. He was very nice yet I suppose you never got around to marrying him. So many things I recollect after sixteen years, so meaningless, so really unnecessary to any great communist purpose as you had at that time.

The remembrance of your Madonna almond eyes dissolved all the edges off your brittle independence. Why was your boyfriend so much softer and tolerant?

However, if I was too shy or too lousy to show it – I loved you for being my mamitza, still do.

No matter if you are fat and nearly forty – full of bambinos & polenta, please say one kind memory if you remember.

You must remember photographs I sent you, the magnificent church at Alba Lulia.

An excess of vino has occasioned all these sentimental reminiscences. If ever the message arrives to you, please send me a little note – tell me if you are happy – don’t, if you are not.

It may surprise you that I remember almost every day and every meal I had with you in Bucaresti & all over.

Arrivederci.

Bill Pidgeon (Wep) outside the Cabana Cioplea, Predeal, Romania;
Bill Pidgeon (Wep) outside the Cabana Cioplea, Predeal, Romania; 12 October 1956
Bill Pidgeon (Wep), his sight failing, at work on what would become his last portrait, of fellow artist and friend Venita Salnajs Zusters in Dec 1971. Bill was diagnosed with glaucoma just months prior to his trip to Romania in 1956.

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