Archives of Memories: Presentations of the History of Novi Bečej through Anecdotes, Photographs and Untold Stories

Breathe life into the forgotten stories of Novi Bečej through our rich collection of articles dedicated to people and events from the past. Travel through the ages, exploring the colorful array of historical moments that shaped our city. Here, memories and reality meet, bringing old streets, stories and events to life through interesting anecdotes, untold legends and rare photographs. Experience Novi Bečej from a new angle, through the eyes of the past that shaped our present, while we try to preserve the spirit and heritage that makes our city unique.

Žarko Dragić

Žarko Dragić – Medical Phenomenon

(1924-1982)

In addition to its geographical location near the Tisa River and landmarks like the medieval church Arača, Matejski brod, Borđoš, and the ruins of the old town, Novi Bečej produced renowned scientists, musicians, actors, and entrepreneurs. Among its simple and hardworking residents was a particularly interesting individual – my neighbor, Žarko.

Žarko Dragić, the son of farmer Maks Dragić and Desanka Džigurski, lived with his brother Aleksandar – Lala, next door on P. Drapšina Street, number 12. Engaged in agriculture with a vineyard and orchard on Biserno ostrvo, Žarko began working at the "Polet" brick and tile factory. There, he first encountered electricity and was amazed that others feared it while he felt nothing. Later, when they connected to the neighborhood power line, Žarko connected light bulbs directly with bare wires, without switches. When his father tried it, he was nearly electrocuted. This is when Žarko realized his unique insensitivity to electricity. Playfully recommending himself for electrical work at my father Šandor's machine and electrical workshop, he would say, "People like me should handle electricity, not you, who get shaky even with the slightest current." He would grab live wires with one hand and hold a light bulb with the other, and the electricity passed through his body without harm, making the bulb glow.

Responding to doctors' calls for thorough examination, Žarko traveled from Zrenjanin to Novi Sad and even to Belgrade specialists. It was determined that he had no sweat glands, and his blood was not salty but sweet. He was told he couldn't be a voluntary blood donor because no one could receive his blood. Due to the lack of sweat glands, he quickly tired and had to avoid the sun. In the summer, he always kept a large barrel of water in the yard, where he often cooled off. He was retired early, and due to his insensitivity to electricity, he became a major attraction in Novi Bečej, Vojvodina, and the entire former Yugoslavia. Locals would say, "He shines like a streetlight." His image appeared in daily and illustrated newspapers. Various film crews and Belgrade television started coming, and he demonstrated various electrical stunts. There were plans to feature him in newsreels in cinemas, but it never happened due to a ban.

Žarko received various offers from people worldwide – Italians, Germans, and even Americans – promising him towers and cities to showcase his innate abilities. He didn't go to Italy because of the Italian mafia, and he never considered America due to stories of ruthless gangsters who would exploit him for their evil deeds. And so, Žarko Dragić, my neighbor, a medical phenomenon, remained in Novi Bečej, not capitalizing on or monetizing his insensitivity to electricity.

Sometimes, when he ran out of money for drinks at the pub, he would display his superiority over electricity through various bets. For many years after his fame faded, the "medical phenomenon" continued to joke with his fellow townspeople and those passing through Novi Bečej.

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