Sunday, May 27, 2007
The Brencick Family in Croatia
ANASTASIA: The purpose of our trip was to find our Brencick family. We found that although this last name seems sparse in Washington State, Brencick is a common name in Croatia. We found lots of Brencicks in the phone directory! Yesterday we met Brankica, (pronounced BRAHN-kee-tza). She was just finishing up a 36 hour work shift at the children’s hospital where she is a laboratory technician. She met us at a café in Crkvenica, which is just south of Rijeka, where she lives. What a fun and wonderful person. She is 35, lives on her own, and we have already been bribing her to come for a visit in the U.S. We then drove to the village,Tribalj, where our Brencick family lives in the area, Pecca (pronounced PAY-tzah). Her parents, Branko and Paula are retired here now and live right next door to where Ivan Brencic was born. His name is above the door and we took lots of photos. It has the year, 1730 on the house. This is exactly the place Susan Doll and her friend came to visit in the 70’s. Susan, I didn’t see many grapevines,[as I am editing this, I remember taking pictures of their grapevines in the BACK yard. Sheesh!] but I saw the primary school that Branko went, and we visited the cemetery. Branko showed us the gravesites of our family: Danica Brncic, Branko’s mom, and his dad who died in WWII, Mate Brncic. The priest who baptized Ivan is buried here, too, and Branko showed us his gravesite. Above the cemetery were the beautiful mountains and he told us stories about how he would go over the mountains with his mother to cut hay, and to trade figs and salt for things that grow on the other side of the mountain, such as potatoes. He said he was young and one time his mom walked out of site and he was scared because of all the animals that are found in the mountains, so he climbed up a tree and waited for her to come! There are bears here, so I think that was pretty smart. I had a copy of the family tree he made in 1998 and I asked him why Martin died at 21 years old. He said Martin was a pacifist and did not want to go to war, so he was trying to make himself sick enough to not go, but accidentally killed himself by drinking petrol. We so enjoyed meeting Paula, Branko’s wife, who fed us a wonderful lunch and told us how she was a survivor of an Italian concentration camp. She was recently honored and given a certificate by Croatia from this. She said she was five years old and there were 64 children taken from Independent State of Croatia (now Croatia), during WWII to a concentration camp in Italy. She was in the camp for two years and was able to reunite with her parents after that. She said out of the 64, only 23 children survived and her sister was also one of these survivors. There are so many wonderful stories and will continue sharing them with you.