I extended my trip in Serbia for another week in order to explore my Slavic heritage.
My dear cousin and fine artist Fedja (Fedor) Soretić and his wife Smiljka had graciously allowed me the use of their Belgrade Apartment as a base. They live in Venice, Florida but visit Serbia every year. Fedja is my father's nephew by his late sister Bojana and Roman Soretić.
Ruma's Mayor Goran Vuković welcomed me and gave me a tour of the town along with Ruma Archivists Bosko Pauković and Ratko Ratković. We visited the Orthodox Church and the Ruma Heritage Museum - where director Radovan Kasmanovic showed me the memorial collection gallery space of water colorist Dr. Roman Soretic - married to my father's sister Bojana and father of artist Fedor (Fedja Soretic). Here is a pastel of my late Uncle Roman in my collection:
Film directors Marko Jeftić and Milutin Petrović assisted me with taking video footage and I have yet to archive the many photographs and video recordings of the trip...one day!
The following day I visited Novi Sad with filmmaker Marko Jeftić and met my cousin Mihailo (Misa ) Bogdanović, and his daughter Tatiana, and grandaughter Mina for the first time! (Remember, Misa is sitting on Majka Mara's lap in photo above)
I must return and explore my heritage in much greater detail! I also want to explore Lepinski VIR - site of early Goddess sites!
I had a few more days in Belgrade and met more family members for the first time...
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I was thrilled to visit RUMA where my father was born. The Newspaper BLIC sent the reporter Boris Vuković along because there was discussion about my brother Peter and I returning to film a documentary about our family heritage.
I was given flowers to place on the black marble obelisk, marking the tomb of my grandfather and my father's brothers and a sister who died so very young. It was an overwhelming experience for me to stand by the grave of my kin, passed so many years ago...
I remembered my late father Borislav silently crying one day in NYC in our apt on Riverside Drive...I was 10. When I asked him why he was crying, he said he was remembering his brothers and sister who died long ago. I hugged him and said I was sorry he was sad. I couldn't possibly comprehend the immensity of his grief...it must have been devastating for him to have suffered so many personal losses, including his first-born son Tonka...
I regret I did not have the time to visit my grandmother's grave - Majka Mara (Paunotovic) Bogdanović.
...After our extensive tour of Ruma, the Mayor, his wife Sanja and members of the Ruma Tourist Organization graciously treated me to an outstanding lunch at the beautiful restaurant Borkovac.
There was an article and photos in the local newspaper in Ruma and Ljuban Kovacević is a journalist I stay in communication with. We have been invited back to Ruma as guests of the Villa HIT!