BULGARIA: Macedonian Try

BULGARIA: Macedonian Try - Time, Monday, May. 05, 1958

As a taxi driver by trade, Traiko D. Ivanov was allowed to keep his black 1927 Chrysler touring car under Communism. But with the fiery pride of the Macedonian mountaineer, he did not like what the Communists were doing to Bulgaria, could see no future ahead for his three sons, and thought of fleeing to Australia or America. As a Macedonian, it was easy enough for him to get a pass to visit his sister in her village across the border in Yugoslav Macedonia, but how would he get out of Communist Yugoslavia into the freedom of Greece? Ivanov decided to make over his Chrysler into a homemade armor-plated tank.

With his electrician son Luben, 19, he fixed up iron shields to fit in front of the radiator and on the sides of the motor, and then filled the space with concrete to stop border guards' bullets. Luben thought of another idea. Out of old pipes and bits of glass he built a crude periscope, so that during the last dash Traiko Ivanov could steer from the comparative safety of the floor, where the whole family would lie.

One grey dawn last week, having slithered over some 200 miles of mountain roads, an odd-looking apparatus fitted with armor plate and periscope came roaring out of a Macedonian pass and, before anyone could stop it, bored through the wooden frontier barrier. "I took my chances and steered with the help of the periscope," said Ivanov later. "The road was straight and level. The old goat would not give more than 30 miles an hour, but I took all 30. And we made it."

As five people crawled out of the weird and apparently driverless vehicle safe in Greek territory, Ivanov called out the one word of Greek he had learned was a magic password. "Prosphyges! [Refugees!]," he cried.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was me.

Damian Ivanof