The Mogoşoaia Bridge

excerptsThe Beginnings With the passage of time the ancient road was called by sundry names: lane, bridge, promenade – as if it needed any name or title, this street of streets whose reign over the city goes back two hundred years. Victory Promenade! The Nation's victory, as well as its own triumph, for next to it streets came to be, then ceased; some lanes thrived for a season, their name no longer heard of; new avenues crisscross the city each and every way, their face in constant change. The Promenade endures unaffected. It knows it is the hub of the whole city… It is the meeting place of a whole country: "I'll meet you when I come to Bucharest. On the Promenade!" It is a coffee house and a lounge bar, a public stroll, a flower vendors' market, a platform and a shopfront. It is alive, live ammunition like. A rumor whispered at the Capşa is heard in no time at the Bridge's End. And still it's orientally indolent… Like some sedate and unobtrusive spring, it issues forth among Băneasa's orchards, sedately winds its way past mansions and estates, as unassuming as a country lane, then seemingly fatigued with such extensive rambling, it plunges without warning into the Dâmboviţa. What choice of words should one use to describe it? It's as changing as water, as changing as the time it seems to harbinger: spring comes because the snowdrops spring up down the Promenade… The Carpathians ahead and Giurgiu astern, it connects Paris with Constantinople. It is both Byzantine and West European, given to slothfulness and yet alert, both cheerful and gloomy, eager to change, yet anchored in the past. It changes with the season, from blooming to wind-swept, from snow-bound to arid. All down its length, devoid of any order, and nearly devoid of any sense, it is strung out with palaces and huts, cottages and sky-scrapers, gardens and courtyards, tombs and churches. No other street on earth is equally tormented and belabored, no other street more touching in its endeavor to make out of such contrasts a hint of harmony. No other street, perhaps, has crystallized to such extent the thoughts of a whole nation. The Mogoşoaia Bridge shares in the very substance of our soul. Come fire, come earthquake, war, plague, civil unrest, the same thought does occur to one and all: "What happens to the bridge?" For there are streets galore, you alone are the Bridge, mirror reflecting the Nations; countenance, o! ancient lane of ours, so ugly, yet so dear. The Capşa We pass the once reputed Popovici house, raised around 1838, which, for three quarters of a century, lodged the liberal club where a great deal of the history of his country was shaped, and we come to the old Bruss pharmacy, on the corner of Edgar Quinet Street. We're here in one of the nerve centers of Bucharest, which, for over one hundred years, has allowed a better feel of the city's pulse. There are places, it appears, endowed from the very beginning with a certain fate they are unable to avoid. Thus, we have seen the right side of the Mogoşoaia Bridge destined to commerce, the left – to public buildings. Likewise, since 1812, it has been here that high society converged for entertainment, gambling, chatting, eating out. The area now taken by the Bruss pharmacy, Edgar Quinet street and the Capşa hotel was, at the end of the eighteenth century, the location of High Prefect Radu Slătineanu's1 houses and court; after him they were inhabited by his sons, Scarlat, deceased in 1808, and Iordache, High Prefect himself, who passed away in 1822. In 1812, at the beginning of Caragea's reign, a Saxon, Mathias Brody by name, erected a rambling structure of rickety planks at the back of Slătineanu's courts, and there's where the first public display ever to be seen in Bucharest was housed, a diorama, that is. Most famous cities could be seen in there, coronations of kings and emperors, battle scenes, travels by sea and by land, and many a wonderful things, to be sure. "and from the four corners of the city" Dim. Ollănescu2 writes – "an uninterrupted stream of people would be rolling, to gaze at it, to marvel, and have a tale to tell… It was only a few months later that merchants and commoners managed to thrust their way in, for buggies and carriages would throng Slătineanu's courts day after day, and the coachmen cum guards would lash with their switches at any rift-raff daring to approach the "Comedy" while their lordships were having their sport. And thus did the Saxon thrive till 1816 when, having raked in abundance of money, and surfeited with pleasure, he gathered his structure and established himself as landowner… My father knew him when he was a young boy". A few years later, in 1828, the year the Russians came, Eronimo Momolo, an Italian, former chef at the court of Grigore Ghica, raised, on the place of the diorama, a theatre house, known for a long time among the people of Bucharest as the old theatre or the little theatre. The building – Ollănescu relates, according to oral tradition – was wainscoted and plaster. The low-ceilinged hall had a row of boxes separated by wooden poles supporting a lamp, fifteen rows of wooden benches upholstered with cambric making up the three stalls, a gallery at the back consisting of seven tiers of bare wooden benches, a minute royal stage-box and, opposite, three sofas for the court. The interior was lit by lamps burning rape oil and by tallow candles; the royal stage box was lit by white wax candles. The boyars would furnish the boxes with their own carpets, chairs, mirrors, so there was a great difference from the rest of the auditorium. There was no chandelier. A few lamps were later on hung from the ceiling, for it was exceedingly gloomy in there. Between the stalls there was standing room to be occupied by the pupils of the philharmonic school and the St. Sava college. The butlers would be waiting with their masters' coats at the doors, in the refreshments room, or in the carriages thronging Slătineanu's back yard three abreast. It was there that in 1828 the first foreign theatre company arrived, whose name was preserved for us. It was a German company directed by one Eduard Kraining, staging dramatic performances as well as operas. There was a good flute player in the orchestra, Josef Ghebauer, who, after the company's departure stayed on in Bucharest, got married, and opened a music shop outside the Slătineanu hall. One of his sons, Alexis Ghebauer, used to give piano lessons to my mother, around 1870. Krainig was succeeded, around 1832, by Müller and his company, then by touring companies without number, French – vaudeville and operetta, Italian – opera and opera bouffe, but no Romanian company whatsoever until the day 11 August 1850, when Matei Millo, after having performed in Iassy for four years, made his debut in Bucharest, on the Slătineanu stage, with "The Night-Hag" (Baba Hârca!) It was also on this occasion that the people of Bucharest saw for the first time, and with a great deal of ravishment, too, a Bengal light flaring on stage. Let us allow a contemporary to talk to us about the Momolo theatre the way it was: "While walking down the street," – Ulysse de Marsillac writes describing his first evening in Bucharest – "I had seen posters advertising a performance for the evening. I enquired where the theatre was. I was taken to the back of a court rife with garbage. The odd sputtering lamp was hung on the walls covered in a sort of chestnut-colored cambric. Two large pig-iron stoves added their smoke to that of the lamps in fraternal communion. Soon enough, the dark wholes passing for boxes filled up with people. The audience was as curiously spectacular as the performance on stage. One could see ladies and gentlemen dressed after the Paris fashion of tomorrow, next to ancient boyars wearing long beards, their heads stuffed into high kamelavkions, with flowing brocade robes girt with cashmere sashes and with yellow topboots. There were some wearing uniforms almost Russian in appearance, then Albanians, their fustanellas in a thousand pleats, then a few old boyaresses of the fez persuasion..:" Now, after the impressions of one from the audience, let's hear those of an actor. These are the recollections of the Italian actor cum impresario Fiorentino, who visited Bucharest with his company in 1851, which he published in Les grands Guignols. They are interesting and, I believe, widely unknown. "The actors are delighted with the way they are treated. They shouldn't be hoping for posies, though, and even less for madrigals. Yet once home they are given the warmest reception, and the most open-hearted, a hearty meal, chickens freshly clubbed to death outside the house, grouse and hares galore, rose petal sorbets… and not one bed in sight. One cannot have everything. The bed has not yet penetrated Wallachian mores. There are, it is true, a few high-ranking boyars who have imported this piece of furniture from Paris or Vienna, and are ready to display it as some sort of curiosity – but the enduring practice is the use of the divan meant for sitting by day and for sleeping at night; the gain is considerable: one does not have to undress for bed in the evening, while in the morning one takes less to get ready." The enterprising Momolo did not only own a theatre, but an eating house too. Indeed, around 1830, he also rented – or even bought – the houses of the Slătineanu boyars themselves, where the Capşa hotel is today, and, downstairs, he opened an eating house soon to become famous through the savor of its Italian-Oriental cuisine whose "turkey a la tsintsirom" (gentilhomme) was the absolute star. Another six years later, above the eating house he built a large ball-room, or "club" and "picnic" room, as it used to be called in those days – the celebrated Momolo or Slătineanu's hall. The Cantorul de Avise şi Comerţ of 1 February 1831 advertises the first masked ball: "On Sunday 30, a Club Maske will take place at Mr. Momolo's, in Mr. Slătineanu's houses on the Mogoşoaia Bridge" and, in French: "Dimanche soir aura lieu bal masqué chez M. Momollo." For the following year we have an account of the ball taking place shortly after the earthquake of 11 January 1838. "Messrs Eronim Momolo and Vorelli did their utmost in order to secure favor with the high nobility and the honored audience, yet Mr. Momolo was not oblivious of the circumstances, and without delay brought an architect over, visited the hall, secured its foundations, decorated the hall according to the most exquisite taste, and hired a most excellent orchestra." The "Club" on the 6th of February was so grand that it could compare to any club in any of Europe's most enlightened cities. The hall was packed. The entire nobility, the brilliant-bedecked dames added splendor to the room. Great felicity transpired from the gathering of the ladies. The damsels were akin to nymphs. With certainty, many a foreign traveler who chanced at the club would enter a note of national importance in his diary, and, returning to his homeland, would tell everyone that the Romanian ladies and gentlemen have advanced greatly in morals, learning, taste and manners. At the Club one could see all the Romanians exceedingly glad and satisfied about the good order that piled similar to the foremost gathering places for public entertainment. A host of masks of great variety accompanied by gentle conduct and sparkling witticism delighted the onlooker. Among these masks there were four dressed like unto a Gypsy tribe; these were a remarkable sight, as they also spoke after the Gypsy manner; one of their number was telling fortunes; and they were all dancing Gypsy dances. Momolo spared no costs: In 1839 he advertised throughout the papers that he had "hired a most excellent and lovely orchestra consisting of Mr. Vist as conductor (the famous Wiest3, composer and conductor for years on end, at Raşca's, down on Academy Street, at the time known as School Street, author's note) and 24 men of worth from the national militia."4 The halcyon days of the Slătineanu hall lasted for about 30 years, which is quite long for a ball room. Bt with time, the merry crowd was more and more attracted to the new Bossel hall, Momolo's balls gradually ran to seed, as all things are wont to in this world, and, in 1870, a reporter from the Journal de Bucharest chancing at a masked ball there, is horrified by the ugliness of the smoked room, soot-like with tobacco and dust, by the shabbiness of the costumes made out of cambric and paper, and by the red and yellow dragon in the middle of the room, rolling its eyes and thrusting out its tongue with the help of four wretches hiding in its belly. People started moving away from Momolo's hall, or "Momolo's hut", as Cezar Bolliac would say when in a bilious mood. A few years earlier, through the courts of the Slătineanu houses, the New Street5 had been cut, today known as Edgar Quinet. Thus, the entertainment-thirsty Bucharesters were immediately provided, at the end of the street, with a place to while away warm summer nights: the Raşca garden6. It had been opened by a Czech, Hrtscha by name, who had gone so far as to write this name, made up of seven consonants and one vowel, on the sign above the entrance, but as Romanians were unable to pronounce it, they changed it to Raşca, and Raşca it did stay. There was on Academiei Street, a tiny yellow house, which later the firm "Watson and Youel agricultural machines" took over. The summer garden was small, no more than an alley, where four could walk abreast, surrounding a patch of green; in the back, a large star made of varicolored glass did its best to shed light, surrounded by tin palm trees bearing tinted oil lamps. All around the edge of the alley – benches and chairs, and on the tables, candles in glass bowls attracting swarms of gnats. Wiest's orchestra, and sometimes a military brass band, would play well into the night. Men would come to Raşca's to ogle the girls, and the girls, gathered from all over the slums of Bucharest, would walk down the alley, taking their time and smiling at the men. In 1870 we find at Raşca's a small variety show company. The Mesdemoiselles Gardon and de Beer sing a "Petit Faust" duet, and the Mesdemoiselles Fanelly, dressed as vivandières, sing marching songs to the acclaim of the audience. One year later, at the other end of the street, the Slătineanu house, to resume, was bought by Capşa, who had opened his pastry shop in the downstairs rooms as early as 1868. The restaurant was to be opened al late as 1881, and the café five years after that. But, for 75 years, Capşa was more than a hotel, a pastry shop or a café, it was, in a way, the country's hub and living chronicle. And its history starts like a fairy tale: Once upon a time, there lived two makers of sheepskin coats… And there lived one, indeed, a maker of fine sheepskin coats, who would once every year travel to Leipzig for taxidhi, buying import merchandise, that is. His name was Dumitru Capşa and he was Macedoromanian. Now the taxidhi was no mean feat back in those days. Before leaving the country, the merchant, having put all his business in order, would draw up his last will and testament, go to confession, take the last rites just in case, then took leave of all of his family, and only after that did he venture on the road. And since it could well happen that he was abroad as late as Christmas or even Easter, and he did insist on celebrating these holidays, in accordance with his law, Romanian merchants had long since taken the precaution of having a chapel built in Leipzig, which is still there today.7 Dumitru Capşa had a son, Constantin, who in his turn had 12 children, out of whose number the boys Antonie, Vasile, Constantin and Grigore founded the house Capşa, at the middle of last century. In 1850 there was a large pastry shop in Bucharest, Giovanni's, on the groundfloor of the Bossel hall, opposite the National Theatre, a middle-sized one, Comorelli's, in the Romanian Passage8, - he was the one who later on brought Fialkovsky9 – and three or four smaller ones, Dedu's on the Dâmboviţa embankment, Ivanciu's buffet in the Cişmigiu Gardens, Ghiţă Gâmbaşa's pastry shop, next to where the White Church was, and Gheorghe's from Trăsnea's Inn, famous for its fruit preserves. Actually, with the exception of Giovanni, who could make ice cream, casattas and Neapolitan sorbettos, the others would limit themselves to the old Oriental sweetmeats which had long since become naturalized in our country: catayifs, baklavas, rahat lokum and jelly. The brothers Capşa, stirred by the spirit of enterprise, set up their minds to open a pastry shop the like of which had never been seen in our country, with nonpareil pastries and cordials, and to this end, they girt up their loins. Grigore, the youngest of the four brothers, was dispatched to Paris to study the confectioner's art with Boissier, the world's first chocolateer, while Anton and Vasile rent for 1500 lei per year, a tiny shop in the Dămăroaia house (later to become the Hotel de France) where, in 1852 they open the "Two Brothers" pastry shop. The business started with a 5000 lei capital and a staff made up of three workers, an apprentice and an attendant. Soon enough, the shop turned out to be too small, for the clientele kept pouring in, and the room could hardly accommodate four tiny tables; consequently, two years later, the brothers moved their pastry shop to Castrişoaia's houses, and their domicile and laboratory to the Filipescu houses, next to the Russian Consulate. In those days, the owner was Mme Marie de Philippesco, as the boyaress was fond of writing her own name, or, as people had nicknamed her, Madam Képi, since she was given to wearing, instead of a hat, a colonel's kepi. The rooms had been acquired by the Capşa brothers in all fairness, after the manner of merchants, at an auction, as the custom was in those days; yet Mrs. Filipescu was apparently dissatisfied with the deal, since she involved her lodgers law suit extending over many years and occasioning vehement debate, according to a letter Vasile Capşa wrote in 1863, in which he says: "Her Ladyship was lambasting the Tribunal with such language, that His Honor the President would change color." Yet having the shop at one place and the laboratory at another was not the expedient thing and, as I have already mentioned above, in 1868, the brothers moved to the Slătineanu houses for good. In the meantime, nevertheless, the whole enterprise had been threatened with ruin. Indeed, only three years after starting the pastry shop, in 1855, at the height of the Crimean War, Vasile Capşa decided to travel to Sevastopol with a wagon train of hams, cheeses, pastrami, and the like, with the intention of selling them to the allied armies and thus make a fortune. Unfortunately, he couldn't even make it to Crimea for his merchandise spoiled with the terrible heat of that summer. Sans merchandise, sans cash, sans anything, Capşa booked a passage in Odessa on a ship bound for Bulgaria, whence he hoped to cross into his own land. After a torrid summer, Bulgaria was basking in lovely autumn weather, the orchards were heavy with plums and the gardens were rank with roses. Capşa wasted no time in unnecessary thought; he purchased sugar on credit, borrowed money to buy plums and rose petals and, in a derelict barn, embarked upon making such exquisite preserves that the Bulgarians would vie with each other to buy them. And on the day of St. Demetrios11, when he crossed the Danube on his way home, Capşa had amassed a handsome fortune. It was at about that time that the Capşa brothers started importing from Paris the crème de la crème. In 1860 they imported, for the first time in Romania, absinth, the green fairy, as the French would call it, in 1861 – fresh pineapples, in 1863 – ice cream moulds. Indeed, up to that time, no one else but Giovanni knew the art of ice cream making, and so that no one would steal it from him, he worked all by himself in a bolted closet. Until one day – at the height of summer, too – when poor Giovanni was taken sick so seriously that he had no choice but teach the art to one of his workers, who, unfaithful servant that he was… Neither was packaging treated lightly by the Capşas. That's what Anton writes to his brother in Paris: "On choosing the boxes go for the biggest and most pleasing to the eye, so as to be able to outmatch Fialkovsky, for his Madam did not make it to Paris this year as she is bloated in the stomack due to a surfeit of broad beans." Fialkovsky's competition was short-lived, for his pastry-shop had long since started going to seed; old Giovanni was dead; Broft12 alone, who had, in his turn, opened a pastry shop of his own, could, for a few seasons stand up to Capşa. The rivalry between the two houses was described in doggerel in Nazat, a contemporary magazine published by Iacob Negruzzi and Radu Rosetti. But soon enough, Capşa was ruling supreme – the foremost pastry shop in Bucharest, and amongst the foremost in Europe. And that's how it kept till today. The Restaurant, like the hotel, was to be opened as late as 1881. The restaurant's dining room was only half as large as the one of today, being comprised of the far end as we know it, and having direct access from Edgar Quinet Street. It was cold, gloomy, entirely plated with red marble, and was commonly known as "the pharaoh's tomb". For 30 years, that's where anybody who was somebody in Bucharest ate, as well as all foreigners with a claim to fame. That's where Bucharest high society would sup after theatre or concerts. Claymoor used to describe such soirées in his style inspired by the Figaro columns of the period following the French-German war: "Upon flower bedecked tables, in this splendiferous banqueting hall, delicious tidbits were displayed lavishly, due to the golden skewers of the Capşa House; and, it goes without saying, the guests, and particularly the Terpsichorean brigade, performed a most sonorous symphony of forks amidst the delights one has come to expect from Capşa." The three little "private" salons facing Edgar Quinet street accommodated all the beauties of Bucharest, all the foreign actresses, all the fashion queens more or less artistically inclined, attracted by the partying fame of our city, for between 1870 and 1914 Bucharest was the East European capital whose reputation could only be shared with St. Petersburg when it came to men who were both liberal with their money and easy to inflame. The Capşa salons were graced by La Reichenberg's laughter revealing the pearls of her teeth, by Cleo de Mérode, the lover of Leopold II, by Jane Hading a.k.a. the most beautiful shoulders of France, and also by Cora Laparcérie, Blanche Toutain, Suzanne Després, Réjane and Sarah Bernhardt. Capşa was sensationalized by the Barrison sisters, the enchanting American dancers, one of whom would occasionally go for a stroll on the bridge dressed as a man, which attracted hordes of cheering children, and also by la Belle Otero, who had succeeded in thawing even Claymoor – who, as rumor had it, was not exactly partial to women – for, in his style which sounds so annoying today, he writes: "Olle, olle! per las trabucos de las trompettas de los toreros, Mademoiselle, vous êtes fichtrement jolie! Vlà Otero! En avant les lorgnettes! Le coup de rein final, eh! bien! Ca, c'est de l'art, tout bonnement!" Otero herself had tender memories of he passage through our country. "The city is quite picturesque," she writes in her memoirs, "with its churches without number, its narrow streets, its palaces, its wonderful gardens. The Romanian public enjoyed my songs and dances, and my performances did find favor with them. In those days I was inebriated with music and dance. I was enthralled by Gypsy musicians and their rhythm. After the show I was invited to sup every night: I would bring my guitar band along and finish the night with a dance. "I would dance with abandon, with passion, with my entire zest for life, in a sort of exuberant, sensuous frenzy. I was told I looked like a bacchant possessed by a god. Having danced a fandango, I was once approached by a man who addressed me rather gravely: 'The hermit living on an exclusive diet of nettles and water and frequently fasting, were he to see you dancing, Mademoiselle, would fain cast off both chastity and sandals while groaning with desire'… And that night" – Otero concludes – "the sandals were indeed cast off… "One evening, R. gave a reception in my honor. At the end I danced with such exaltation, such passion, that he, too, was inflamed, and, like in Spain, threw at my feet his wallet, his jewelry, all that he had on him. Imagining I was in a cabaret in Seville, I was dancing barefoot, and, all of a sudden, I flung open the restaurant door and went into the street still dancing. R signaled the musicians to follow me. "It had been snowing, it was frosty, and the moon cast an eerie shimmer upon the white carpet covering the street. And still barefoot, still dancing in the snow, I went all the way to my hotel, followed by the musicians and my friends in a triumphal cortège… Unfortunately, this phantasy cost me a lung congestion which kept me bed-ridden for six weeks…" Many years later, R. – who was none other but Radu Văcărescu13 – gave me his story of that night, adding that la Otero had not only cast off her sandals, but the rest of her clothing as well, and that it was a most marvelous sight to see her dancing, musicians around her, all white upon the white snow in the silvery light of the moon. Back in those days, the gilded youth spearheads, who were also the Capşa regulars, – les "pschutt", les "vlans", les "bécarre" as Claymoor would call them – were Radu Văcărescu, Alexandru Florescu, (Floflo)14, diplomat and playwright, Constantin (Tantin) Bălăceanu, Iancu Cretzeanu nicknamed the "Duck", Mihai Laptew15, Soutzo, "Skull and crossbones", Father Miclescu "Le tenor chéri des dames", Alexandru Ghica, nicknamed Rapineau due to his artistic pursuits, Costică Izvoranu, the elegant Sacha Blaremberg16, and, last but not least, Mişu Văcărescu, "Claymoor", whom we have repeatedly quoted, the chronicler of these times and of these lives. In those days, for the ladies of the Bucharest high society, not being mentioned by Claymoor in Carnet du Highlife in the Indépendence Roumaine was a disaster, an offence akin to social death. Therefore, Claymour's house was full with a variety of gifts from the ladies desiring never to be overlooked or left out. "The merry band" would meet daily at the Capşa, for aperitifs, or between 5 and 7, in the café in winter, on the terrace in summer, since as early as May tables would be taken out onto the pavement… In winter they would play "pair ou impair" with matchsticks, in summer baccarat with the numbers on the carriage license plates. The carriages going up to the theatre belonged to the banker. The ones going down – to the punters. Once, when Floflo was the banker, he noticed with surprise that Eftimie, Radu Văcărescu's coachman, who had number 9 on his carriage, drove by one time, then one more time, then yet another one, each time coming down from the Theatre… and Floflo was paying and paying. When Eftimie drove by for the forth time, he stopped him and asked what was his constant driving in one direction only supposed to mean (Victory Avenue was not a one way street in those days) and Eftimie candidly answered that those were his master's orders… In those days, the so-called "respectable" ladies would shun Capşa's pavement in summer, for being there "was akin to sitting on the men's lap", and they would rush past, eyes set on the opposite pavement, the Louvres18 one. Only "floozies" would walk past the tables, smiling as they landed an address, a compliment, or an invitation for "rendez-vous". I think of the "Capşa set" as a merry lot indeed, talking horses, women and wines in utmost earnestness, and living in a closed, stylized world like a Constantin Guys drawing or like a night at a fancy dress ball. They were, first of all, lover boys, wearing gray bowler hats, eye-glasses, and checkered trousers, and they would only speak French. I met most of them in my youth. But by then they were elderly gentlemen, sedate, with worries of their own and liver complaints, like anybody else. Today they're dead and gone, all of them, I suppose along with manners, genuine mirth, nonchalance and the freely convertible national currency. Yet life at Capşa's continued unperturbed in its course without their genteel contribution until the summer of 1916. on the 20th of December that year, the Bulgarian army requisitioned the building for their headquarters. The very next day the systematic plundering of the cellar commenced. Soldiers would come with empty provisions bags and left with full ones. So as to run a more efficient business, they brought in wagons, out of which the merchandise was later sold in the street, to whomever cared to buy, at 3-4 lei a bottle. Among the bottles thus sold one found: Chateau Yquem, Crême de tête 1858, Chateau Lafitte retour des Indes 1848, Fine Champagne 1825 and 1848 des caves de l'Empereur… Since that time, Capşa's cellars were only partly restored. In the wake of the war came the gradual devaluation of the national currency, prohibitive import taxes… around 1930 the restaurant was almost deserted, only a few old faithful patrons would return daily to the same old table. In the café, which after the Terrace19 closed down became the venue where poets and literati met, there was a lot of talking but a minimum of orders. In 1938 Mr. Capşa decided to close down the café and have its premises added to the restaurant. A charming, welcoming, cosy room was thus obtained, and once again the restaurant knew the good old days of yore, when tables had to be booked in advance… And, like before, Capşa's endures as a permanent feature of this city. (1943) NOTES 1 Radu Slătineanu (?-1817), high prefect of Wallachia, married to a descendant of the Creţulescu line, then to one of the Fălcoianu line. His offspring numbers, among others, Scarlat R. Slătineanu, high prefect, married to the daughter of Ban (governor of Oltenia) Constantin Filipescu, and Iordache R. Slătineanu, high prefect, formerly second in command to the prince, married to the daughter of Ban Racovitză. 2 Dimitrie C. Ollănescu [Ascanio] (21 March 1849, Focşani-20 January 1908, Bucharest), doctor of law and administrative sciences, poet, journalist, translator, member of the Theatre Committee (1884, 1897), dramatist, general commissioner of the Romanian exhibition in Paris, 1900, member of the "Junimea" literary society, of the Romanian Athenaeum, of the Romanian Academy (since 1893), diplomat. 3 Ludovic (Ludwig) Wiest (25 November 1819, Vienna-19 January 1889, Bucharest). Music studies at the Vienna conservatoire. He settled down in Wallachia where he got together the Princely Court Orchestra while on tour in Bucharest. He conducted a variety of music bands performing in summer at the Slatter garden. Since 1863 he was succeeded by his sons Ern. Wiest, musician, and Iulius Wiest, accomplished pianist, professor at the Bucharest Conservatoire. 4 Since 1831, along the reestablished army, a military orchestra had been founded, whose members were recruited by sensitive search for gifted elements. For a long time, the specialists in charge of talent detection were foreigners. Paying due consideration to the musical heritage of our people, they included in their compositions a rich assortment of Romanian folklore elements. 5 There were also other instances when, on its opening, a new thoroughfare was called for varying length of time the New Street, while its future name was still to be decided upon. Such interims would sometimes run into years. There was, for instance, a New Street next to the Athenaeum Garden, and only a few years later did it become Franklin Street. 6 The "Raşca" garden, between School (today, Academy) Street and the New Street (today, Edgar Quinet) was on the grounds of today's new wing of the Ion Mincu Institute of Architecture. 7 The Leipzig (Lipsca) chapel was dedicated in 1858 through the care of the Romanian merchants established in that city. Its first priest was Archimandrite Ghenadie Ţeposu. The church was closed down in 1881. 8 The Romanian Passage was on the grounds of the building whose ground – and first floors are today the Muzica shop. 9 Fialkovsky managed to keep for two decades a famous café cum pastry shop on the ground floor of the Törok house, next to the theatre. Between 1853 and 1898 it was frequented by large numbers of customers from the artistic world. 10 The Trăsnea Inn is a memorial of Nicolae Trăsnea, Purveyor to the prince, who, at the beginning of the 19th century, erected the inn on the grounds where today Ştirbei Vodă Street runs into the Mogoşoaia Bridge. During the eighth decade the inn became the Orient Hotel. The building was pulled down in 1897, in order to accommodate a new edifice. 11 26th October 12 Broft, the owner of "Gran Hotel Broft", having a restaurant cum pastry shop. 13 Radu Văcărescu (1868-1936), politician, high prefect 14 Alexandru Florescu (Floflo), (?-1925), journalist, diplomat, dramatist. 15 Mihail Nicolae Laptev (1860-1941), career officer. 16 Alexandru Ion Ghica, nicknamed Rapineau (?-1915), artist. 17 Alexandru Blaremberg (1842-1895), career officer. 18 That is the building located across the road from the Capşa, on the corner of Victoria Promenade and Sărindar Street (today, Constantin Mille Street). The hotel existed during the last decades of the 19th century. It was replaced by a new building erected between 1900-1905. Today it is the Capitol Hotel. 19 The Oteteleşanu Terrace, Victory Promenade No.49, was closed down to make room for the new Telephone Company Building – which, in its time, caused quite a variety of reactions.

by Gheorghe Crutzescu (1890-1950)