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Bertok Giuseppe

Giuseppe Bertok (Portorož, 20 March 1927 – 3 April 1997) 


A very special and slightly eccentric character, who in his own way symbolized the post-war fishing period in Piran. Giorgio, as known by the locals and as inscribed on his tomb, was something special indeed. He was born in Portorož, in an old house behind the bus stop, but then permanently lived in Piran. He was the first fisherman in his family, for his ancestors had never shown any interest in fishing. He attended neither a fishing school, nor a fishing course. He learned everything from old fishermen, but still had to confirm his knowledge before the examination board, which then issued a fishing licence to him. He did not serve in the army, which always seemed something good to him, and he often emphasized this with pride and wit in the company of the locals. According to one of his documents, he was a skipper. For a while he commanded a fishing trawler – for a couple of months even without any documents.

During the summer, when he was always sunburned, barefoot and dressed in colourful clothes,  the Piran kids often watched him walking up and down Tartini Square, through the city streets and along the harbour. In the winter, he usually wore a woollen cap with decorated with a tassel. On his boat or on the shore he was cleaning fishing nets, often in the company of his wife. He spoke very rarely, but when he did, he was usually expressing his anger or spoke very loudly. The kids were almost a little afraid of him. He was fishing with his batana, dropping and pulling nets. Those who lived in the area below Mogoron, most often saw him in his batana along the Piran bus top and along the Riviera swimming-pool.
In the 1960s and 70s, Giuseppe Bartok was thus one of the rare Piran locals that made a living from fishing. He was following his own path, and it was probably not always easy for him.  Much about his characters also speaks the fact that he had never been a member of the Piran Fishing Cooperative (Cooperativa pescatori di Pirano), which operated in Piran under different names in the 1933–1957 period, when it finally joined the Piran fishing firm Ribič (Fisherman) and soon stopped functioning. Specifically,  the Piran fishermen,  integrated into the cooperative, were liable to adjust to the collective rules. They were engaged in fishing and shellfish farming in Piran waters all the way from Kanegra to the Cape of Savudrija, but also exploited the fishing area in the Bay of Portorož, where they caught  from two to three wagons of mallet and other high quality fish a year.

 (Nadja Terčon: »About the Credibility of Personal Communications. From the memories of the Piran fisherman Giuseppe Bertok«)