While working at Electronics Systems of Wisconsin and having the time of his life, Gene moved up to more responsibly and better paying jobs. Again he didnít think that he could enjoy work life any more, than he was at the moment, except he didnít have much of a social life to go with it, as he was completely involved with his work. But he was not complaining.
Gene was asked to stop building and testing testers and produce the aides that were needed, so that girls could build the testers. Before it was the men, who were all technical people, that were building the testers. Now they could be free to test and repair the testers only. Some one had to build them. Girls were hired to build the testers as now the girls had the aides that Gene produced and it was not such a technical job anymore for the girls and besides the girls worked for a lot less money.
This writing of the aides was a very technical job. Gene had to generate wire lists from schematics, which consisted of many sheets of three foot by about five foot sheets of blueprints paper. The wire lists could be up to 100 to 150 and even more, eight by eleven sheets of paper that had 27 lines per page of instructions on how and where to wire each wire, point to point and when to solder the wires. Because there could be many wires going to the same point, sometimes as many as eight wires to the same point. If the wire lists didnít tell the girls when to solder, the panels and chassis would be a real mess.
Also Gene had to make 1 to 5 sheets of blueprint paper, that were pictorial drawings so the girls could see just where each device on the front panel went and where each chassis was placed so that they could see just how long to make the cables going from the front panel to the other panel or to the shelves holding different chassis.
Gene also made the mechanical drawing blueprints for the details of the front panels and the different chassis, which could number three front panels and as many as five chasses, depending on what model was being sold to the customer. These front panels and chassis showed exactly were each electrical device was to be mounted, which was done by non-technical men. Also almost all sales of testers were custom orders and this required a new model or a variation of an old model and required a making of new paper work. Just in most cases Gene didnít have to reinvent the wheel over and over again.
Just so Gene didnít get bored, in his spare time (What spare time.) he learned how to lay out double sided printed circuit boards and how to update printed circuit boards that were generated before he started at ESW. The double sided printed circuit boards were for use in custom computer testers that some customers wanted and they required as much as five times as much documentation as the regular testers. And the first one ESW built took one and a half years of research before it was completed. Gene worked very closely with the engineers on all aspects to facilitate all this technical work on the new computerized tester.
At the same time he had to do his regular work which required him to correlate with the girls when they had questions on wiring the regular testers. Especially when wiring up a new model, as there were some mistakes when a new model was produced. No one is perfect!! Gene at one time counted up the mistakes and the potential for errors and he had less then one half of one percent of errors and the man (Name of Tom.) that tried Geneís job before he was asked to make the aides, was making almost 10% errors. Gene pointed this out when it was time for Geneís financial review. This was the most detailed job that he had ever done in his life. Gene had five different desks all at the same time to work on, as he often had five different projects to work on all at the same time. This was a lot of work, but for Gene a lot of overtime and fun at the same time.
While this was going on Gene married a girl called Valerie Onslow from Bambury, England who had three children from a previous marriage. He briefly worked in England while waiting to get his new family over to the United States to live. He worked as a design person for automated moving lines to produce small batteries for cameras and hearing aides at a company in Bambury, called Cramic. This company was a part of the Everyready Battery Group. But not the company that was in America by the same name. Gene took about six months off from ESW. He restarted his work at Electronics System of Wisconsin on November 12, 1978.
After coming back from England and working on the job, for about one and a half years, Gene and his wife Valerie made the stupid mistake of wanting to live in California and this was a complete failure. They bought a used Ford, one and a half ton super cab truck and sold everything that would not fit into it, and away they went. After wondering around the south and southwestern part of America for five days they arrived in San Diego and started looking for work. Geneís wife Valerie wanted to drive all the way to California and after a few days of looking for work in the San Diego area, they headed up to Oakland, California where Geneís sister Alice lived and both of them found work right away, but they could not afford the very high rents and the three months deposits that were required, to move into a apartment and in a few days they headed back to Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Gene was very lucky in that he had asked for a leave of absents before going to California and besides ESW needed him very badly and so he started back to work again with ESW, without missing a beat. Gene was now as busy as a cat on a hot tin roof.
It was also in this time frame of 1982-83, that Gene separated from his second wife, Valerie and the U.S. dollar, had resin, in value and this hurt our overseas sales. In fact our foreign sales dropped to virtually nothing. This gave Gene the chance to do some serious traveling. He went to England to do some research on family trees and at the same time he went to the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. The next year while still working at ESW and taking off when possible from work, he went back to England, Wales and Ireland and doing the family tree thing again. By this time, after a couple of years of separation from Valerie, in 1985, Gene divorced from his English wife and started to think about moving to England, on a permanent bases. He was writing to a woman in northern England and so he did another dumb thing and went for a visit. It was a disaster from the get go and he returned to America after a visit to East and Western Germany. At the time East Germany was behind the Iron Curtin. Gene seen where Hitler committed suicide and Checkpoint Charlie and a few other places.
When Gene returned to America he was only working at ESW sometimes and at age 53 years old was laid off for good but with the understanding that he would be on call for work when ESW needed him. Gene started to run out of money and moved in with his ex-wife, on a temporary bases. Never go back for a rerun with an ex-wife. It very rarely will work. Early in June of 1986, Geneís brother Herb called and asked him to move into the old family home and take care of mom and dad. Herb said that for taking care of mom and dad that Gene could have the old family home when they didnít needed taken care of anymore. The old house had fallen into disrepair again.
This took care of Geneís problem for money, but taking care of dad was a real bear. Dad never was an easy man to live with but at age 94 years old and having advanced senility he was impossible. Dad fell down on his 95th birthday on August 25, 1986 and his thigh bone broke or the fall was the result of dadís thigh bone breaking. Dad never walked again, but this didnít stop his mouth and if anything it was even worse.
Gene was having a real bad time of taking care of mom and dad and he applied for disability under the Social Security system and much to his surprise was awarded a pension of $691 dollars a month and he never looked back. Geneís nerves were in a really bad state of affairs and it took over eight years to get off the happy pills and over this condition. Thatís how bad it was to take care of dad, but mom was a real sweetheart.
Time went on as the daily grind of taking care of dad wore down Geneís spirits. Herb would come over from his home that was just a short walk away. Herb helped Gene get dad out of bed and prepared to eat and face another day. This was a seven day a week thing with never a day off for over two years with dad and three years with mom, Mom was never a problem in any way at all. Dad would argue with a tree stump, kind of thing. Dad would tell Gene that the only reason that he was in the Zion house was to get free food, despite the fact that Gene had his own money from his pension from Society Security. The abuse from dad went on several times a day.
After some time mom and dad refused to eat and Gene fed them by spoon three times a day and after some more time they would not eat at all. It was at this time that Gene had to talk to Herb to make his see that mom and dad were, starving themselves to death. Gene even had to go see one of the ministers at the Zion Church to have them talk to Herb as this was taking a huge toll on Geneís emotions. Finally Herb made an appointment with the local old folks, home and they took mom and dad to live there about April of 1988. After going up to the old folks, home every day, for three months, dad died on August 4, 1988. Dad had refused to eat most of the time and was in terrible pain, mom ate better but still she was so out of it she wondered who that man was that was sharing her room with her and at dadís funeral, asked who he was. Mom died on April 18, 1989 just after Gene had finished feeding her, her noon time meal. This was real hard for Gene and he ended up in the hospital in shock and had to be given a large shot of tranquilizer as his heart was beating at about twice the normal rate.
While mom and dad were in the old folks home Gene repainted the old home as it sure needed it and also with Elmer help he replaced one of the upstairs windows. After this Gene replaced eleven more windows by himself. It was a lot of work, but the windows were virtually falling out of the house and he also had the north side of the house roof re-shingled.
Now Gene was free of responsibilities and it was not good for him. Anyway Gene decided to take a trip to Pennsylvania to visit the Great Civil War Memorial and stay with a friend for a few days. The war monument was fine, but the so called friend was a bust. In the mean time Gene rented out the home that he got for taking care of mom and dad, and moved up to Kenosha, Wisconsin as he liked Kenosha much better than Zion, as Zion is a one horse town. It is possible to get to Milwaukee and other points of interest much easier, then from Zion, Illinois. Then Gene decided to sell his three bedroom house to Rhonda Crary as he didnít need it at all, but he did need the money. Rhonda was to keep the home in the family but didnít, which made Gene sad.
Next Gene decided to go to Florida as he had never been to Georgia, North, and South Carolina or Florida either. Geneís car was not good enough for this trip and his ex-wifeís son Chris, at that time asked Gene to trade cars with him as he couldnít afford to keep his new car, as he was going to trade school at the time. This worked very well for Gene and away he went to those four states. This was in 1991 and in 1992 Gene decided to go to Popular Grove in Nova Scotia in Canada. This was to visit the home where his dad grew up on a very poor dirt farm.
Gene went through New Brunswick on the way to seeing dadís old home and even was able to get inside the home with the permission of the owners. Then he continued on to Newfoundland for a two hour pit stop in St. Johns, Newfoundland via a ferry and back to Nova Scotia and then back home. After a short time Chris wanted his car back as he had married and could afford his car back. It worked out very well for Gene.
Then Gene got the bright idea to travel to Europe one last time and visit 13 different countries. This was in 1993 and he had never been to Norway, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy or Switzerland. To get to these five countries he had to travel through eight other countries. This trip inside Europe was all by train. While going through Czech Republic on the train he met a woman from Bulgaria named Svetla Ruseva and after talking all night long, as this was a milk train, she invited Gene to come to visit her and her two children in Gorna Oriahovitza, Bulgaria. Gene said he could do that.
Gene went home and took six months to get ready for the trip to Bulgaria. He thought that it would be fun to travel to Sofia, Bulgaria on their national airline and so this is what he did. Fate worked in Geneís favor and he will tell you about this as the story continued on and on.
Gene had to go to New York City to catch Balkan Airlines as the Bulgarian airline was called. This was October the third of 1993 and while waiting in the airport he noticed a young woman who was having trouble with her luggage and Gene being a jerk asked if he could help her out. There was really nothing he could do but he though that this was a way to talk to the woman. When they were waiting to board the plane she asked Gene if he would like to sit with her. Her name was Dr. Daniela Sredkova and lived in a place called Yratza, Bulgaria. They talked all night long and she asked Gene to visit her in Vratza, after he got through visiting Svetla Ruseva from Gorna Oriahovitza, Bulgaria.
It was Geneís intension to marry Svetla but Gene being Gene he said he would also visit Daniela and he did. Svetla and Gene stayed in Sofia for about four days and then it was on to Gorna Oriahovitza. But surprise, surprise Svetla had an ex-husband at home and she said they lived together because they could not afford to live separate. I knew that Bulgaria was a poor country, but not that poor.
Svetla and Gene did marry on October the 23rd 1993 but only after some disagreements. Svetla wanted to take her ex-husband to America with the whole family as she thought this was best for her children. Gene would agree to this, except in the mean time he found out that Svetlaís ex was an alcoholic and Gene would not have anything to do with an alcoholic. Svetla is still a good person and even agreed that her ex-husband was an alcoholic, after about six month, but by then Svetla and Gene had divorced. But wait a minute as Gene is getting ahead of the story. Gene stays in contact with Svetla and would like to think of her as a friend now, even in the year 2003.
So the same day that Gene and Svetla married he called up Daniela and they agreed to meet in Sofia at the train station. Svetla and Gene had agreed that their marriage was not for love but just a connivance, because Gene wasnít doing anything else at the time. As Gene told you before fate would intervene and things would take a different course.
Gene was two hours late getting to Sofia and yet Daniela waited for him and he didnít know why, but she did. We stayed in Sofia overnight and shared a hotel room but no sex as Gene was just married.
Next morning Gene and Daniela traveled to Vratza on the train and after a tour of the mountains Gene suggested that they go to a restaurant for supper. Daniela asked Gene if it would be O.K. if they invited one of Danielaís good friends, to go to supper with them. And this was where fate came in again. Danielaís friend was also a doctor by the name of Dr. Yura Petkova Sivcheva. Who was to become Geneís 5th wife, but this was later.
Gene divorced Svetla and soon went home as he was running out of money. Then Gene decided to go back to Bulgaria and stay for four months to really see Bulgaria and to finance this he took out a loan on a new car that he had just bought that was paid up and away he went again. By this time you must wonder if Gene was ten bricks short of that load!!! As Gene, also wonders about this. In fact Gene thinks that the disease he has called Manic-depressive is the reason that he does things without thinking as it is for sure that he is intelligent enough!! After all look at all the stories he has written!!
When Gene got to Bulgaria on February 4, 1994 Daniela had found Gene an apartment to rent and as soon as he got there he caught a bad head cold. Dr. Yura nursed him and he found that he liked her and they went all over Bulgaria after his cold got better. Yura was on leave of absents from her work and surprise, surprise Gene fell in love with her. Gene was so much in love with her he was after her all the time to marry him, as he couldnít take his eyes off of her. At first Yura was not sure she wanted to marry Gene as she had never been married before, and he had had four wives, but finally she said yes. Gene was in seventh heaven!!
Gene went home on the third of June 1994 and sold up most of his furniture and gave his car and some furniture to his daughter Jeanne and went back to Bulgaria on the 2nd of August 1994.
After arriving back in Bulgaria on the 2nd of August, 1994, Gene and Yura were very, very busy as they had to establish the fact that Gene was divorced from his fourth wife Svetla and had to look around for someone who would marry them. The church in Bulgaria would not even talk to them with Gene having had four failed marriages before. So we had to have a civil ceremony at the local resistor. In fact most of the people of Bulgaria have the civil ceremony first and then it is on to the church right away for the real wedding, as Bulgariaís donít feel married until the church does their thing. Almost the only church in town is the Orthodox Church, which is about 99% of all churches in Bulgaria. In fact it is extremely difficult to establish any other type of church in Bulgaria as the government puts all kinds of law and restrictions against any other church.
Most people in Bulgaria have a very elaborate reception and will spend several years of wages on the meal, music and flowers. Bulgarianís love flowers and love to dance there traditional old fashion dances!! Yura and Gene had a reception also, but they only invited 50 people and 5 more showed up uninvited. The average Bulgarian wedding would have 100-300 people at the reception. We only spent $400 dollars on this and about $600 on the honeymoon in Greece for one week. Gene was so much in love with Yura he was out of his mind.
During the honeymoon at Katrina, Greece and in the Aegean Sea where they spent a lot of their time, they heard people whisper, what was that old man doing with that young girl??? Gene didnít mind as they must have thought that he had lots of money. He only wished it was true.
Then it was back to normal with Yura going back to work and Gene finding his way around the town of Vratza and that is not an easy job as the roads go in every which way. There is no such thing as a square block in all of Bulgaria. The roads were put in wherever the houses and apartment were built and there is no rhyme or reason ware the buildings were built.
Time went on and in 1995 Yura and Gene went to Kyustendil, Bulgaria for the hot springs and the mud baths. This is in the southeast of Bulgaria near the Rila Monastery right up in the mountains. It was really cheap but the accommodations were not so hot and the food was almost eatable. But it was worth it. Gene and Yura meet a really nice girl from Kyustendil and they have remained friends through the years. Rumania is not married and she comes to Vratza from time to time for a visit.
In the fall of 1995, Gene and Yura decided to plan a trip to America and they thought that they must go to Sofia to get the tickets and this was just not true. Fate again!! Anyway when they went to Sofia they stopped at a really good hotel for a pit stop and while there they met a woman who was P.G. and could not keep the baby. In Bulgaria very few people can afford more then two children. While they were waiting to go to America, Yura and Gene met with the woman who was pregnant, at her apartment in Sofia several times and even after they got back from America, it was the same. This was a really good woman and since Yura could not have children this was a good solution to Yura having a child. This is where fate stepped in again. Yura and Gene thinks that God was looking out for them. Gene and Yura went to America in November-December 1995 and then came back to Bulgaria and impatiently waited for the birth of the child.
Yura went back to work and Gene was doing his thing. Waiting was hell as one never knows what was going to happen with the baby. Will the baby be healthy? What will its personality be like? Will the birth mother change her mind about giving up the baby? The list goes on and on.
Yura and Gene did know what sex the baby was going to be as they had a sonogram preformed and the baby also looked normal. So that was good. The birth mother came to Vratza several days before the baby was due and entered the local hospital and on June 21, 1996 Sasha was born and everything was right with the world. Yura and Gene named the baby Sophia Alexandra Eugene Maynard. It is the custom in Bulgaria that the father of the baby gives his first name to the baby as the babyís middle name.
The last time Gene was a father was in 1969 and he was very nervous when Sasha was born and was afraid that the baby would break while holding it. Yura was a pediatrician at the time and was right at home holding and caring for the baby. In Bulgaria the mother of a child is given a yearís paid leave from work to care for the baby. In fact Yura took three years off work as they will give the mother another year at half pay and another year with out any pay. But maybe it was not such a good idea, after all to take the full three years, as the concept of how the health system worked in Bulgaria had changed and Yura had lost too many of her patients to other doctors and didnít have too many patients to take care of anymore.
Still at this time Geneís pension was adequate and both Yura and Gene at the moment were not worried. In retrospect they maybe should have been worried. Geneís pension over the last two years has been reduced by the political policy in Europe and America with their money policies and the policies of the World Bank and Bulgarian money called the LEV. The Bulgarian LEV is artificially held high as the LEV is pegged to the value of the Euro and the Euro is held too high because of European politics. A month after Yura came off the leave of absents for the baby the Bulgarian government changed the health system to a new system and it was not good. Now Yura was working as an independent doctor and not as an employee of the government anymore. The government was getting out of the business of having the doctors being paid by them. Now all the doctors were reclassified as General Practitioners, The doctors are subject to the whims of the Insurance Company. Now the government set up the insurance company that would pay the doctors. Each person in Bulgaria had to be insured and pay the insurance company nine LVíS each month and out of this the insurance company paid the hospitals and the doctors a fee. The doctors got a little over one LV for each child per month, up to the age of 16 years old and a little less then one LV for each adult. The hospitals are also paid by the so called insurance company. This is another small amount from the 9 LVS. Guess who was getting the lionís share of the nine LVíS? Thatís right the insurance company!! It is a known fact that the insurance company is in fact the Mafia in Bulgaria!! It is the doctors that are suffering and in return the patients are hurting also. There is no heating in the hospitals until the first of December each year and if you have stitches and are shivering, you are hurting.
There is in essence no emergence service in Bulgaria now, each patient must call their doctor and then the doctor must get the patient to go to the hospital with the doctor and do the necessary paper work to be admitted to the hospital. This puts a very big burden on the doctor as they now have their patients calling them at all hours of the day and night when the patients feel that they need to go to the hospital. The doctors are all very tired and so they are not doing a good job for their patients. The Bulgarian people on average are like sheep and do not revolt and so they then suffer. This is why the doctors are going around like they are half asleep. The insurance company in the last year has even reduced the amount that they are paying the doctors and hospitals and guess who, is getting even more money to put into their pockets. I guess the insurance company (Mafia) felt that they were not getting enough graft.
The ever day life of living with a new born baby, when the mother is 42 years old and the father is 63 years old, are legend. You know baby shit and diapers and diapers and baby shit!! Also after, the first three years and the mother must go back to work, here in Bulgaria, it really presents many problems. It is also a fact that Gene had to take Sasha, ever where with him, like food shopping, paying electric bills, water, telephone, etc. as each of these things are at different places, and there are no personal checks in Bulgaria. Also visiting friends and soon Yura and Geneís friends, were calling him, "Mother Gene".
So there everyone knows who Gene is because he is the only American in the town and besides Yuraís father is a famous baby doctor in Vratza and no matter where he went people were smiling at Gene and the baby Sasha!! When Gene took Sasha to the park or anywhere, everyone would stop us to look at the baby. Gene felt like he was on display!!
Gene liked the attention sometimes, but at other times it was a real pain!! Things got better after Sasha started to walk because now Gene didnít have to get out the stroller and this was a blessing as they live on the third floor of their apartment building. Also when Sasha didnít have to wear dippers, anymore that was a real help!! Sasha was really easy to train for the potty. She only had one accident, and not having the expense of diapers anymore also was a help.
Gene taught Sasha many children songs and rhymes and this is where mom and dad learned that Sasha had a good mind. As they didnít have to repeat a song or rhyme only a few times and she knew it. This made them proud and happy for Sasha at the same time. Sasha speaks two languages because when she is home with Gene, they talk English and when Yura is home from her work, they speak Bulgarian. For her age Sasha, really speaks both languages very well.
Sasha in this chapter is becoming a person with her own personality and because Gene is retired he is able to see each different stage of development. He remembers when Sasha first began to get off the couch by herself and this made her very happy as now she understood that she had freedom and didnít have to rely or wait for mom or dad, so that she could do things on her own, to run around, explore, get into trouble and see all those wonderful different things.
Now that Sasha was five years old, Yura and Gene wanted her to start dancing lessons. Sasha was a little shy and Gene didnít want her to be burdened with this problem, like he had when he was young. And that is why he talked to everyone he met on the street and this way it was a good lesson for Sasha, every time. Because Sasha was going to dance school, she had to interface with children her own age and stop hiding behind dadís legs.
The last of September-and the first of October, 2001 the whole family went to America for a two week visit. Gene thought that it was important that some of the rest of the family saw Sasha. She saw her two half sisters, Jeanne and Pamela from Kenosha and also seven of her nephews who are children of Jeanne and Pamela. Here Sasha was five years old at the time and she is the Aunt of people who are up to the age of 21 years old. Sasha even saw the one children of her nephew Christopher by the name of Evan Drake Herrera. Sasha saw the child of her niece Jennifer Guerra who has a child by the name of Jose Angel Guerra, which makes Sasha a Great Aunt at the age of 5 years old. If you can keep this all straight you are doing better then Gene. Geneís sister, Mary McCreight from St. Louis, Missouri and Leon and Vangie Crary, (Geneís sister.) from Centralia, Illinois and Elmer and Marilyn Maynard (Geneís brother.) from Kenosha. Last but not lease Herb and Betty Maynard (Geneís brother.) from Zion, Illinois. There are many, many more people in this huge Maynard family that Sasha may never see as they are spread all over America.
When Sasha turned six years old and started kindergarten, because in Bulgaria a child starts school one year later then in America, she was now talking to kids her own age and learning how to count and recognize her Bulgarian alphabet. They teach the children how to sing in a group, how to play together, without fighting. This is the hardest part as the children see everyday, while watching cartoons that the children fight and hit and kick each other. Gene sees this in the streets, the children kicking, hitting, biting and throwing stones and of course he never did any of these things when he was young. Not true!!
In the fall of 2002, Sasha started to go to piano lessons as this is also good for a childís mathematical skills. Now she is very busy all day long and now she doesnít watch very many cartoons at all. We have The Hallmark Channel on cable T.V. and this is much better, as some of the movies are educational or have family values and so the child learns how a person should live!!
Gene doesnít have a car as they live right in the center of town and a car would be more bother than worth. The only place he has seen car parking laws enforced in Bulgaria is in Sofia, and he thinks he knows the reason why. While in Sofia he only has seen new cars towed. If you have foreign plates on your car, it is sure that the police will stop your car. What the police are looking for is a bribe to supplement their salary or to see if that car is illegal, as that way they have a chance to take the car for their own use. A policemenís job is the best job a Bulgarian can have. He will make more money then any other job in Bulgaria, except for the politicians who have a chance to steal money from the government.
In the smaller towns the policemen still have a chance for large salaries by Bulgarian standards, as the average Bulgarian must of gotten their drivers license from Sear and Roebuck as the donít have any idea of how to drive or even worse donít care. Most of the people in Bulgaria donít have cars and those that do pay no attention to the rules of the road. They on average go three times the speed limit in town or park every which way they want. They park across peoples drive way or the front end of the car will be up on the sidewalk and the rear end is out in the street, blocking the sidewalk and road at the same time. Or they park the car right on the corner so that a person canít walk from one block to another.
They will speed up their car if you try to cross the road and then blow their horns at you because they think that if you donít have a car you donít belong walking along the road even if you are following the law. Some times they park on the sidewalk so there is no chance to walk pass, except if you get out in the street again, and here comes another car blowing their horn at you. Many, many people park their car two, three and even four feet from the curb. They really donít seem to know the dimensions of there car. Gene has seen some people try to parallel park their car and after three tries just give up and leave their car parked somewhat in the middle of the street.
Most of the buildings and houses are very, very close to the roads and almost no one has any lawn. The streets were made when the only form of transport was horses and carts and now there is not enough room for all the cars on the road. Gene hates to think what is going to happen when the Bulgarian people have more cars and no place to park their cars. At any of the schools, there is no place to park, their cars as the stupid Communist Government made no plans for parking cars. In a communist country no one was to have cars except the government officials or the Mafia people. Now that we almost have democracy, there is no rule of law and so everyone does what they want too do!! The Bulgarians are famous for driving the wrong way down a one way street and the police do nothing, except to move over so the car can continue on its merry way!!
This is why the railroads are used a lot and most of the time they are very old, crowded and dirty, but most often they are on time. The last time Gene went to Sofia, he had a rat for a traveling partner.
There Gene was a real smart ass, and he was talking to this young girl of 18 years old who heard that he was over there, where they train young people, for sports dancing. People seek Gene out as they know that he is an American and the young girls want to get to know him so they can hone up on their American language skills, or even to see if they can talk him into marring them and taking them to America.
These young girls know that he is married, but they want to go to America so bad they will try anything. They are really, really naive and donít realize that Gene is not going to jeopardize his child Sasha, just because they are young and some of them are good looking Gene has been offered sex, money and even the chance to be involved in local businesses just to get a certain young girl over to America. Thanks but no thanks, as Sasha is more important then these young girls.
Getting back to going down the mountain on his head!! This young girl sought him out at the sports dancing club and was talking to him and offered to take Gene up the Vratza Mountain to see this really pretty waterfalls. Sure Gene could do this, but he was going to take Sasha with him, but it really it was a difficult climb and, he never, should have done this at all.
On May 16, 2002 Gene, Sasha and Svetozara (The 18 year old girl.) and two other girls friends of Svetozara started out by taxi to go to a small village outside of Vratza and then about a one mile walk down a paved village road to a bridge and over the bridge to a mountain trail. From this point it was up this trail over sheep shit and over several very small mountain streams to a very, very loose rock incline and at this point Gene should of quite. It was very, very foolhardy to continue as the small rocks made for very difficult climbing.
Sasha was ahead of Gene and he was just about to call out to her that they must stop and go back as this mountain trail was just too difficult. It must have been at this time that he slipped on the very small rocks and over the side of the mountain he went. Gene doesnít remember this part and the next thing he knew he was picking himself up and his glasses were missing and he had blood all over his head and shirt and pants. Gene called Sasha and she came back and she saw him sitting down on a big rock and the girl by the name of Svetozar saw him next and come down to where Gene was sitting with blood running all over the place. Sasha was crying because she thought that he was dyeing and Svetozar was also crying and he was sitting there like a fool as he could not see anything as the blood was in his eyes and his glasses were lost.
As soon as Gene figured out that he was not dying, he asked Svetozar to try and find his glasses and she was able to do this. So he started to sing childrenís songs to Sasha to let her know that he was not going to die.
Svetozara cleaned GeneĎs glasses and at the same time started to use the toilet roll to stop the blood from flowing, that Gene had brought with him just in case that Sasha would need it as they were going to be gone all day. By this time the other two girls had also come back and saw that Gene was in no shape to walk back down the mountain and they went to get the Mountain Rescue Squad.
While Gene was waiting for the rescue squad to arrive, he looked over to his right and saw that there was another drop off only one foot away from where he was sitting and if Gene would of gone that one more foot he would of fell another 10 feet, right into a mountain stream that was full of large boulders and would of probably broke his back or neck and more then likely died. Was Gene lucky or what!!
The rescue squad consisted of a woman doctor, a nurse and three carriers with a special collapsible stretcher. The doctor bandaged his head and made sure he was thinking right and didnít have a concussion and the nurse gave him two shots in the butt, one for pain and the other one was for infection. Now the two men who did the carrying got their stretcher made up and moved him on to it and tied his head and chest down to the stretcher so that he could not move just in case he had broken my neck or back.
Gene was very surprised that it only took two men to carry him down the mountain trail as the other man was just there to guide the stretcher over the big rocks. Later Gene was to find out that one of the men that carried him down the mountain was a brother of his computer programmer, called Rumen.
The whole village near to were the ambulance was waiting to take Gene to the hospital was out to look at this silly American man, named Gene who tried to kill himself by going down the mountain on his head. The village road was rather bumpy and Gene was glad that his head and chess were tied to the stretcher because at this time he didnít know just what injuries he had.
The ambulance driver had called back to the hospital and told them that this stupid American was on his way to the hospital and guess what, Geneís sister-in-law Lilly was going to take care of him in the hospital, right in her department as she was the administrator of that department.
She had called Geneís wife who was at work at the polyclinic and Yura was there almost as fast as the ambulance. Gene had not told his wife he was going up the mountain, as she would not have approved of him or Sasha going up the mountain at all. Gene always knows best. Not!!
Anyway the technicians x-rayed Geneís head, neck and back and nothing was wrong there except that Geneís head was empty. Then they took Gene into the operating room and sewed up his forehead taking about 10 stitches. Yura being a doctor was able to be in the operating room at the same time.
Gene had to spend a couple of days in the hospital and everyone wanted to look at this foolish American after his trip down the mountain. Gene had more doctors then Carter had Liver Pills, kind of thing!!!
The day he got back home he started to writ his unusually story, right away. Also he went shopping as he wanted to let his friends know how stupid he was. Most of Vratza knew Geneís story in another couple of days. Gene had to go back to the hospital a couple of times to have the stitches taking care of. Gene now looks like a little Khrushchev, with his upside down fish hook scar on his forehead.
When Gene first came to Bulgaria he had no idea that the language was going to be so difficult for him to learn. And he still was not aware, after a year and a half that he was going to still have so much trouble with learning the language. One thing that didnít help is that Gene was 60 years old when he first set foot in Bulgaria and this is not the age to start to learn a new very difficult language. Learning a new language is a young mans game. Another thing that does not help is the fact that almost all of Geneís friends and acquaintances want to speak English to him as this is a big opportunity for the average Bulgarian, to hear English, as Gene is the only American in Vratza.
Gene was able to learn the easy words, but to try to hold a conversation with his friends was and is just impossible. The average Bulgarian does not articulate his language at all. They mumble and stutter and Gene canít make out what they are saying, except a word will come out now and then, but this does not help. He does know about 800 Bulgarian words, but Gene has not a clue what is being said overall. Also another thing that causes him trouble is the fact that there are several dialects spoken, right here in Vratza.
It is a fact that the Bulgarians do not spell their language, but they sound out what they are writing and so a person will find several different ways to spell the same word even in a one page document. Very confusing!! Gene has giving up on trying to learning the Bulgarian language.
What Gene does is point a lot, to what ever he wants in the stores and uses what words he does know, to do the rest. In this way, he is able to get along without too much trouble.
When Gene first came to Bulgaria in 1993 he was amazed at how small the young girlsí butts were, and how nice they looked. Gene was in Seventh Heaven. Then when he first went to Varna at the Black Sea, he though, that his eyes were going to fall out of his head, as at the beach, every tenth girl was not wearing a bra. A person just doesnít see this kind of thing at the beach in Zion, Illinois.
The girls on average in Bulgaria are very, very good looking. Gene thinks it is the Asian influence that a lot of Bulgarians have, from the blood lines that developed here in Bulgaria, because of Turkey being right next door. Also the average Bulgarian person was rather short and Gene had seen that the men that on average, would only come up to his shoulder. He saw some people that he could rest his elbow on top of their head. Yet they were perfectly formed in all other respects. There were a few Bulgarians that were taller then Gene, but mighty few. Then Gene learned that Bulgaria was very poor at the time and he thought that maybe the Bulgarians were short because of bad nutrition.
Now that it is 10 years later in the year 2003, some of the girls are taller then Gene. And there are some boys of 18 years old that are over 6 feet 4 inches tall. So Gene must have been right!! Gene was also shrinking with his age, because now he is 70 years old.
There is one other aspect of this nutrition that is not so good and that is that the butts on the young girls are getting bigger and wider as the years pass, just like the girls in America. But there still are enough girls that really look good that Gene will continue to look. This is why he goes back to America every three years to get new glasses.
The business of distribution of food in Bulgaria is rather pathetic and they donít follow good business practices at all. Especially during holidays and in Bulgaria almost all holidays are formed under the religious aspects of thinking. Bulgaria is decades behind other countries, especially countries in the west, in their thinking, about the customerís rights. One problem is the Mafia and their thinking that the poor customer has no rights at all in Bulgaria. If you buy something from a store or on the street as there is a whole lot of selling on the streets, you had better be sure that this is what you want or that it works as you will never get your money back, if it is no good or really is not the right size. The only way you might get your money back is if you happen to be a friend of the vender.
A lot of food comes to the food store in the back seat of cars or even in the trunks of cars. Gene has even seen a quarter or side of beef or pig delivered in the trunk of a car to restaurants and some times live chickens or livestock in the back of the same car. Yet gene has never gotten food poisoning in ten years of living in Bulgaria. So in a sense it works after a fashion!!
The food stores in most cases are so small that if there if five people inside someone must come out of the store before someone else can go inside. So it is common to see people waiting to get inside a food store, now they are building new stores with the help of the Mafia and the food stores are still small but somewhat better!! The people who work in the food stores get paid on average about $100 dollars a month, but most of them get no health insurance or pension.
Walking around the streets of Vratza and Bulgaria a person will see a lot of people who have problems with walking because one leg is shorter then the other and there also are some people who are cross-eyed. The people are poor and afraid to have these conditions fixed in the hospital and it is sad to see this. There are also some people who have a leg or arm missing because of bad health care. Especially among the Gypsies a person will see a lot of hair-lips or deformed noses. If you happen to be unemployed and donít have any health insurance you might as well forget it. And let me tell you that there are a lot of people who are unemployed in Bulgaria. In reality about 30% are unemployed or under employed.
The health care costs nine LVíS a month, and it is a pure function of the Mafia. There are about 8 million people in Bulgaria, times $5 dollars a month is $40 million a month times 12 months is $48o million a year and over three quarters of that goes to the Mafia and the little that is left over is divided between the doctors and the hospitals. Who suffers, it is the people every time!!
There are many way of getting around in Bulgaria. There is dog cart, goat cart, donkey cart, horse cart, bicycle, car, truck, bus and train. In the villages a person may see all of these at any given time. The roads are pretty bad on average and it is best to not travel at night except by train and even then it is best to not travel alone.
In most cases the buses are not in good condition and as Gene said before the roads are bad and it is not a good way to travel. Most cars that the people of Bulgaria buy come from Eastern Europe and they are the cars that canít pass the pollution test anymore, and so can be used in Europe anymore. But guess what, Bulgaria donít care and the air quality is very, very bad here in Bulgaria. A person can see blue or black smoke coming out of the exhaust of a lot of the cars on the road and even some of the police cars are this way, because the police get their cars from the same source.
The local bus mechanics must all be blind as far as the buses go. The inter country buses are not good or not bad, it is best to look at the bus before you decide to travel on that particular bus.
Trying to pay the bills for heating, water, electric, telephone is one of the most difficult things in Bulgaria. First thing is that every bill is paid at a different place and there are not any personal checks in all of Bulgaria and even if there was, there is no place to cash them except maybe at a bank. It would take at lease two weeks to a month to clear the local bank and the issuing bank. No local store would take a check or even cash a payroll check, as every one gets paid by cash. What a dumb system!!! This is like 1910-20. Everything is so far behind, Bulgaria will never catch up.
Just to try and explain the heating bill, a man or woman comes into your apartment during the time of April to November and reads your hot water and cold water meters and they charge you for the cold water and hot water separately and then for the heating of the hot water. So you get charged twice for the same hot water and the only way to get around this is to only have your cold water turned on and heat the water yourself with a electric water heater which will cost you more than if you let the city heat it for you. Not many people have hot water heaters. Some people fill a plastic bucket and heat the water with an electric wan, bucket by bucket. Not much fun!! But after a fashion it saves money and that is what Bulgarian life is all about, trying to save money. It in most cases, a necessary evil!!
In the winter time your water is heated automatically at the same time as the city delivers your heating. Lucky you!! This heating of your apartment goes on from November the 1st till April the??? of the next year. Doesnít matter what the temperature is outside. Take the year 2003, it started to snow on October the 27th and so it is very cold inside the apartments in Bulgaria. Our apartment is 63 degrees inside even with an electric fire going all day long and all night long. The old people die because of hyperthermia and the state doesnít care, because under communism the state is more important then individuals and it is still this way even though, they say we have democracy now, for over 12 years!! Not!! Each water radiator has a meter on it and so they must come inside your apartment each month during the heating season to read the radiator meters and so you must be home when they say that they will be there to read the meters. How inconvenient!!
Every year they are increasing the rates for the telephone, water, heating, electric, and taxes by a high rate and a lot of people canít afford to have the heating turned on and if you donít have more then 50% of the people sign up in each building you get no heating for that building at all. So even if you want heating, you may not get any if the rest of the people in the building where you live, donít want any or canít afford it. Over 50,000 people in Sofia donít have any heat in their buildings during the heating season. A lot of people heat only one room and that is the T.V. room and if they want to use any other room, they carry a blanket around with them from room to room to put over themselves.
There are many ways to beat the system and one is to tap into the electric grid wires, but this is an easy way to kill yourself, as they use 220 volts in this country. Life is not so easy in Bulgaria.
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