Memory of Franc Kovač
80 years ago, Bršljin was mostly a farming area of Novo Mesto. Families had several children, those with fewer than five were rare. All of us worked in the fields since we were little. We grazed cattle together in Laze – on the village pasture behind the barracks. Our mothers sometimes sold a litre of milk to get some money for food that was not produced at home: salt, oil, sugar, etc. Some children were happy to go to school, some were forced to. Our parents impressed upon us: “Study, study, so you don't have to work.” They meant: “So that you don't have to toil in the field.” “No one can take away from you what's in your head!” was told to us day after day.
It is necessary to understand that in those times there was no machinery or tractors on farms, all farm work was done manually using tools: shovels, hoes, rakes, and pitchforks. That was our “machinery”!
Our neighbour was the master carpenter Franc Kovač, known as Tišlar, the grandfather of the current owners of the company KOVAČ INTERIER, d.o.o. There were many children in that family. The oldest Marjan, then Pepi, Majda, Franci, Mili, and Toni. Their aunt, Franc’s sister, who was the complete opposite of their kind and gentle mother, also lived with them. Her word was law! Even the village children huddled together when she appeared. She wasn’t evil, no, but work came first for her, she didn’t have much patience for child play. However, their mother was different. She never raised her voice. If you accidentally opened the door of the shoe cabinet instead of the kitchen door, and all the shoes of this big family fell out, she did not get angry with the children for not stacking the shoes on the shelves. She just ignored the mess.
But Tišlar’s children had to help in the fields. There wasn’t much time to play, because they also had to help their father in the carpentry workshop. Considering today’s technology, the workshop did not have modern equipment. There was the carpenter’s “ponk” – a work table – and a plane, always in hard-working hands. The saw barely ever stopped, and various wooden parts piled up in the corner. There was a lot of sawdust and wood shavings everywhere. It was these piles where the village children came together. We would collect them and use them for cows to lay on and for heating the stove, and we took the scraps of wood for firewood too. Father Tišlar allowed all this.
Father Franc liked to help everyone. He didn’t just make new things, but he also repaired broken chairs, worn tables, and kitchen cupboards, and he would go to people's houses and replace wooden boards once used as flooring before parquet. The things that he made were of good quality, and he had so much work that people could hardly wait for him to come around. Few people today can imagine how hard it was to earn a little bit of money for an easier life. There were no assembly lines, just the shoulders and hands of hard-working people shaping wood into products.
Life was not easy, so father Franc sent all of his children to school hoping that they would earn their living in an easier way. Some found work in factories, as industry also arrived to the Dolenjska region. This quickly became evident as abundance came to the household. I remember that the Kovač family had the first telephone in Bršljin and that we went to their house to call our sister in Koper if there was an emergency. Having a phone was a very distinguished thing at the time.
And life went on. Marjan, the son, took over his father’s work, expanding and updating it. His sons, Tišlar’s grandsons, Miran and Branko, are continuing the tradition of their grandfather. How proud he would be of his descendants if he could see their progress and success today. Their products are not only beautiful, but also of high quality – the seed planted and nurtured by their grandfather, Franc Tišlar.
And all this came from one small workshop in Bršljin 21. The Gedžo Guesthouse is now located in the same premises where children once found sawdust so interesting.
Written by: Polda Košir and Cirila Zajc