St. Vincent – The Neighbours
Brewing one’s own ţuică was very common. There was usually one distillery for a village, and in the case of Stanciova, that distillery belonged to one of the churches; it had been turned over to the church after the Revolution. (Because of the high population of Serbians in Western Romania, the Serbian Orthodox Church also had many followers. In Stanciova, the Romanian and Serbian churches combined services.)
Because the distillery’s capacity was rather limited, one person would make their ţuică at a time. You put your name on the list, and someone’s son would come running to your house to tell you when it was your turn.
Stanciova wasn’t always such an idyllic and charming place to live, though. Less than a year before there had been a disturbing and grisly murder of an old lady. Before the guilty were found out, some residents half-jokingly said the murderer must have been the ghost of an infamous character who had lived next door to the old woman just months before — a character named Hansi.
Hansi moved into the village after his release from prison, and was not especially well-liked. He was often seen hosting various unsavory characters from Timişoara, and suspicious cars would appear on his property, only to be painted over and gone the next day.
One day, the distillery burned down. Everyone believed Hansi to be the culprit. And so did, the new legend has it, the priest. After the fire, the local gossips all started talking about how the priest had been seen fasting and praying for days. After three days of his fasting and prayer, there was news: Hansi had a stroke, and Hansi was dead.
Sometimes the smallest villages have the best stories. [Teo, please correct any mistakes I’ve made in this re-telling!]