One of the most colorful and unforgettable characters in Blacklick Valley during my childhood was Rudy"Rudy the bum," everyone called him. My uncertain memory recalls a middle-aged man: tall, gaunt, dressed in long overcoats. He was allegedly the last of a once-large contingency of "bums" who during the depression of the 1930's went door to door seeking handouts for their survival. Rudy asked people to give him water and bread, or so I recall. I vaguely remember my mother giving him soup once. He probably asked until he got fed and then didn't askbut kept wanderinguntil he was hungry again.Rudy allegedly traveled with a violin slung over his back. It being now the 1950's, not the depression era, he was wandering, like a character from a Ray Bradbury story, not out of physical necessity but out of grief or broken heart, having lost the love once dear to him. Each utility pole he encountered, he circled three times before continuing on his way. Who was Rudy, really? What ever became of him? Did utility poles ever give up their secrets? Did anyone ever hear him play the violin? Curious minds want to know. If you know anything or can find out anything about this enigma of Blacklick Valley in the '50's, please share your information here.
Jon Kennedy, 1-21-98
These are my husband's recollections of Rudy the Wanderer. Rudy used to come to my home in Rexis in the spring. He spoke very little English but my parents spoke Hungarian fluently. He would stay about a week in our shed and do odd jobs like spading the garden in exchange for food. He also visited my grandfather, Steve Toth, in Vintondale.
Rudy smoked and chewed Cutty Pipe. He also chewed "Buggo," the stuff left over after a cigarette or pipe was smoked as far as possible. Very foul smelling stuff. At some point, Rudy hurt his hand and I remember him sitting and rubbing it. His hand shook alot.
I remember him working on his violin, but never remember it being finished. I never heard him play it. My father once said Rudy was from a well-to-do family in the "old country." Rudy often talked to another old Hungarian bachelor who lived in the old dynamite shack after #1 mine closed. He was called Buckeye. He also died in the County Home.
When I first came home from the Navy, Buckeye told me he had been a soldier in Hungary. He would say, "Old country, soldier; this country, bum.
My husband is William Toth from Vintondale, now living in Loretto, Pa., and I am Howdy Millward's sister.
Rudy Basci was one of the many Hungarian bachelors who lived in the Blacklick Valley. Basci (pronounced bachi) is Hungarian for old man or uncle. Most of the old bachelors in Vintondale were called basci, like Piney Basci, Sabo Basci, Kedeye Basci, etc. There are stories about Rudy walking around and around telephone poles. As far as I know, he died in the Cambria County home in the late 50s or early 60s. Hearsay has it that the attendants had one heck of a job scrubbing all the layers of dirt off of him when he was admitted to the home. When I locate more information on Rudy Basci, I will pass it on.
Denise Dusza Weber
Author of Delano's Domain
Rudy stopped at our house often; guess mom gave him soup. When the meal was finished he would reach under the old army coat he always wore and get his fiddle and play a song. My older brother learned how to make fiddles from him . His son, Robert Gordon, now makes violins in Belsano.
Rudy the "Wanderer" was known as Rudy "Bum-Bum" to me. I remember him walking the highways around Nanty Glo, and even remember him on the Vintondale Road. According to my recollection, Rudy's Surname was Bacci...pronounced Baa-chi. I could be mistaken, but I think that I am fairly correct with my data.
There were many "bums" around here in the 50's and early 60's. I remember one living in the old, burned Victory Theatre, across Chestnut Street from the Capital. We would deliver hot food on cold days. I also remember "Sheriff." He would walk the streets pushing a wheelbarrow, wearing what seemed like hundreds of badges on his coat. Dogs would not be far behind. If the area had any homeless, I truly believe that our parents and grandparents felt it their responsibility to take care of them. We really didn't think of them as homeless.
I may have been mistaken about the dogs with Sheriff. Bucky Clark had all of the dogs.
I remember Rudy Basci! He was not a mean man; just kept to himself. We were never afraid of him, either. I remember he lived in the woods above the [Vintondale] elementary school house. We would see him when we went blackberry picking. I recall him sitting outside of a cave-like area where a small stream ran beside it and he would be wood carving. My Aunt Issy told me he was a craftsman violin maker. She said he was planning on making her a violin. That is all I really remember. Now that I am grown, I think back and wish we would have spent time with him and been more like family to him. I wish we would have provided more for him, too. Although he never asked us for anything and he did seem somewhat content. Thanks for the chance to reminisce.
Mary Wojtowicz Augustosky
© Jon Kennedy 1997