Discovering Novi Bečej: Stories, people, history

By the paths of the past: Discover the rich history, interesting events and unforgettable people who have shaped Novi Bečej through time, as we return together to the heart of this beautiful city on the banks of the Tisza.

Peripheral Areas and Approaches to the Town

The periphery is, in the truest sense of the word, a periphery, as I, albeit unintentionally, treated it as such. Later, I remembered that it might be of interest for the younger generations to learn how the parts of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo looked in the past.

The approach to Novi Bečej from the direction of Kumanovo was a straight line without turning left. At that time, there were no canals or bridges that would require the winding road we have today in that part of the route. The road was a dirt road, impassable almost year-round due to mud from autumn to spring. On the right side, at the entrance to the town, there were three separate streets branching off from the road, extending towards the railway tracks. These streets were built somewhere in the 1920s, on the site where the Novi Bečej fair used to be held, so despite having their own names, these streets were collectively called Vašarište. Until recently, there was a building called the "Ticket Office" where passports were issued, space for the fair was rented, and other activities related to the fair were conducted. This building was the second one from the corner on the right side of Radnička Street, as seen from the Kumanovo road.

From those streets to the house at Lole Ribara Street 41, there was an empty space known as "Dudara."

On the left side of the road, there were fields all the way to the houses of Joce and Živa Gurjanov. In the area of six to seven hectares, from the Kumanovo road to the Tisa River, vegetables were cultivated closer to the town. Bulgarians cultivated so much produce on this land that they satisfied the needs of Novi Bečej, and a large part of it was transported by carriage to markets in Veliki Bečkerek (Zrenjanin) and Velika Kikinda. While the soil was indeed fertile, it alone wasn't enough for such a yield. Bulgarians intensely worked the land, fertilizing it with manure, cultivating and irrigating it regularly. Besides nurturing early seedlings, they irrigated daily using dolaps for peppers, blue eggplants, cauliflower, asparagus, and other vegetables. After harvesting the earliest vegetables, they prepared the same land for planting cabbage and kohlrabi. This way, they harvested two crops per year from some plots.

Today, the approach from Kumanovo, along the asphalt road where the fields were, looks particularly beautiful. Lovely family houses with lots of flowers and greenery have been built there.

The appearance of the approach from the direction of Novo Miloševo has also changed significantly. This road was much better than the one leading to Kumanovo because it had a stone surface, a macadam. On the right side of the road, much like today, a row of small shabby houses made of wattle extended all the way to the Jewish cemetery. Today, most of those houses have been demolished, and in their place, decent brick residential houses have been built. Across the railway, on the left side of the road, there was the Vranjevo fair, and next to it, a street mostly with small shanties, among which stood the "castle." I don't know who owned it or who built it, but as far back as I can remember, it was called Sinai's Castle after the owner's name. The building was quite large, or perhaps it just seemed that way to us because it was surrounded by smaller houses. Everything around the castle stood out from the surroundings. A large yard with tall spruce and other trees, which were missing in other houses' gardens because it was a new settlement called Novo Selo, and the trees in their gardens were young and still low.

Later, especially during the crisis period, not only new houses but entire streets began to emerge. Somewhere around 1936, the Vranjevo municipality built a beautiful elementary school. Novo Selo turned into almost a small Banat village.

The appearance of the approach from the direction of Bašaid has also changed significantly. On the left side of the road coming from Bašaid, in front of the railway tracks, there was an empty space, a meadow where fairs were held twice a year. This space was generally used for grazing sheep and pigs and a bit further from the tracks for grazing cows. On the right side, in front of the barrier itself, there was the lime kiln of Petar Georg, a German, and two more farms. That was all beyond the tracks.

The road from the railway station to the town was very poor. It was the worst part of the road from Bašaid to Novi Bečej. Only traces of the macadam were visible on it, but in summer, it was full of dust, and from autumn to spring, it was full of mud. Somewhere in 1931 or 1932, a good macadam road was built.

Across from the cemetery was a field where the very dilapidated building of the Novi Bečej slaughterhouse was located. In the summer, like in Dudara, threshing for the poor of Bečej began on part of the field. In the fall, due to heavy rains, this area was flooded up to the power plant located at the entrance to the town.

From Svetozar Miletić Street toward the Tisa River, there was a summer road to the ferry, which transported horse-drawn and other vehicles across the Tisa. This road, from the embankment to the ferry, was paved with granite cubes in 1931.

On the Bačka side, near the place where the ferry docked, there was a tavern. It was a large building with a hall and tables. The building was rectangular, about fifteen meters long and ten to twelve meters wide. I remember that it was always yellow. In front of the tavern, about ten meters away, there was a shed on brick pillars, covered with tiles, serving as shelter for horse-drawn vehicles from bad weather. Upstream from the tavern, from the river to the levee, there was a meadow where flocks of sheep grazed.

At the entrance to Novi Bečej, from the beginning of Svetozar Miletić Street, besides a small ferryman's house, there were no other houses until the building on the corner across from today's building of the Municipal Assembly of Novi Bečej. Today, four-story residential buildings are located in that area. On the left side of the road, where the Municipal Committee building is now, there was an empty space where, in 1932, the Water Cooperative was built, now the building of the Municipal Committee. Across from this building was the County Administration, a very dilapidated building, just as it looks today. From that building toward the large warehouse, there was a small building of the county jail.

The approach to Novi Bečej from the Tisa or from the Bačka side in the evening, when the lights on the quay and the garden of "Vojvodina" were lit, with numerous illuminated barges, looked very charming. Every summer evening, music played in the "Vojvodina" garden, leaving a pleasant impression.

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