We’re culling items from my old scrapbooks. Ted has scanned and archived all of our physical photo albums already, leaving just the scrapbooks I kept in the years before our boys were born.
These stamps were on a New Years card from 1981, from Nicolae Ceaușescu and the deputy minister of energy for Romania.
Not everyone gets a card from a communist dictator…. that was the year that I was working as the Engineering Sales Representative for a company that supplied the demineralized water pumps for the CANDU reactors (our pumps circulated the water for the cooling system) and Canada had just sold a reactor to Romania.
What I remember most about that time was the 3 weeks (around August/September 1980) that I spent with the Romanian engineer who was in Canada to finalize our contract. He was staying in an apartment building at the base of Dixie Road in Mississauga, along with the 2 KGB officers assigned to him. His family, needless to say, were not allowed to come to Canada with him, in case he decided to defect. That was a real concern in the early 80’s. I recall that the KGB guys came everywhere with us, and steadfastly pretended that they didn’t speak English…. except when we had business lunches or dinners, when they always managed to order the most expensive steak on the menu, never forgot shrimp cocktails before and dessert after, and listened WAY more carefully to conversations than was polite.
One afternoon, I drove the engineer back to his hotel in my company car – I can’t remember why the 2 agents weren’t with us. Maybe they thought I didn’t look like much of a political agitator? (The grainy photo below shows me front row far right at a company conference that year.) During that short drive was when he told me that his family were basically hostages until his return home. Despite my parents’ experiences during wartime, I was still pretty politically naive at 24 years old, and quite shocked.
It was pretty strange getting this card from ROMENERGO (their state energy company) the next year. Pulling it out of the pile last week sure brought back memories!
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