As I have said before – – – I was not too sure where Bogdan Yelcovich was from or what his background was – – – other than he was one heck of a knowledgeable fellow.
I could not stand it any longer.
So one day I just out and out asked him “Bogdan, where the hell did you come from?”
And he told me the most interesting story.
It seems as though he was a carriage-man on the royal payroll of Aleksandr II Nikolaevich, aka Alexander II of Russia, aka Emperor of Russia, aka Alexander the Liberator.
That would translate to Russian Tsar for most of us.
Bogdan informed me that he was one of several Cossack carriage-men with the king when Alexander was assassinated.
Bogdan had somehow escaped but was forever fearful for his life. That is why he would never say where he was really from.
“So how did you end up in Scranton?” I asked him.
Bogdan told me that through his Cossack network he was able to get to Spain and then to Cartagena, Columbia. He spent his days there hiding and working as a laborer in the Darien Strait. Of course I had no idea what the Darien Strait was so Bogdan informed me. He even had an old map of the area.
“It is a thin piece of land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The indigenous people there still referred to the Atlantic as the North Sea and the Pacific as the South Sea. As a laborer I cut dye-woods from the swamps.”
I asked him what dye-wood was. Bogdan said it grew only in the swamps of the isthmus at Darien. The wood was pulpy and of a dark purple color. The world over wanted that wood and it was very valuable. He also told me he was covered with water leaches at the end of each cutting. The workers would have to use burning sticks to force the leaches to release their hold.
“Is that why you avoided Brown’s Landing in Florida?” I asked him.
Bogdan’s reply was terse, “Exactly.”
“So how did you find your way here?” I repeated my question.
He said “I had enough money for passage to New York city. It was such a magical place – – –
– – – for a while – – -.
Bogdan continued “Then I saw the misery of the immigrants and I heard about the coal mines here. It was an easy decision to leave New York City.”
I said “I am glad you came here Bogdan. You have turned out to be a good friend.”
“As are you” he answered, “as are you.”