THE CRAFT that Randjel Cvetković (81) from the vicinity of Aleksinac has been doing since he was 14 years old has been doomed to die, but that is exactly why he does not want to give it up as long as he has the strength. So far, he succeeds in that because his health serves him well, so he can make huge and useful containers out of wood, in which wine and brandy, as well as sauerkraut, have been stored for centuries. In the old days, Randjel expanded his business and specialized in making barrels in which he could live.
This time pinter originates from the Black Grass region, from the village of Gornje Gare, which is famous for this craft. As young people left this mountain village and moved to larger industrial cities, customers were lost, so Randjel’s father and uncle moved to the village of Beli Breg, halfway between Nis and Aleksinac, when he was 14 years old.
– I don’t even know how many barrels I’ve made so far, but I certainly don’t have that much hair on my head. And if someone had told me 60 years ago that this craft would be lost, I would not have believed him. We worked a lot, but we also earned well – Randjel remembers happy times.
The skill he learned from his ancestors helped him raise a son and two daughters, and he also gained a pension that he has been enjoying for two decades.
– I can’t just sit and be a pensioner. I love to work and I love my craft. That is why I am disappointed that I do not have students who would succeed me, because young people are not interested in that, and they are not aware that the craft of gold is valuable. We will all go back to the old way again because experienced housewives know that it is not the same to pickle cabbage in a plastic barrel and a wooden tub. And only wine and brandy are looking to “grow old” in the right barrel – says Randjel.
Even in the ninth decade, he does not give up anything. No food or drink. He claims that he has never been drunk, and he only washes his throat with sawdust with brandy. He does not remember when he was at the doctor, and his eyes serve him as when he was born.
When he accepted the challenge to make barrels out of barrels, his skills quickly became known, so they hired him all over Serbia when they wanted to afford the atmosphere of staying in a barrel.
– Everyone is surprised when I tell them how old I am, but until they see me in action, how as a young man I look for rainbows and hoops – says this old woman.
RANJEL says that he is satisfied that his grandparents decided to settle in Beli Breg, but that his roots are pulling him like old men.
– Everything is pulling me towards Crna Trava and I would like to place one barrel on the former property in Gornji Gar, to have a place to rest sometimes. That’s how it is when a person grows old – says our interlocutor.
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