Foros (Market and Trading)

1. Large or relatively large housing estate; administrative, cultural and business centre of a particular region.

From time immemorial, there were Roma living in many towns in Slovakia. [Servika-Roma] For example, famous musicians who played in coffeehouses, restaurants and wine taverns lived in Prešov or Košice. In Prešov, Roma lived in a street called Veselá ("Merry") because there, one could hear singing, music and good cheer from morning to night. Of course, there were also poor Roma who lived in settlements at the edge of town. There was such a "Gypsy camp" in Košice. At the end of 1944, the "Nyilas" (Hungarian fascists) rounded up Roma there and herded them into concentration camps. (Košice belonged to Hungary in the war.)

Roma would come from the villages to the towns to try to make a living. Ordinary musicians (šlapetkara), went from house to house and from pub to pub, and they played their violins or harmonicas and earned whatever the Gadži threw to them. Patavara (Ragmen) would go to flea markets and sell the old clothes which they had collected from farmers' wives. They would keep for themselves only the skirts, blouses or coats which they knew had not belonged to dead people. [Mulo] Tradesmen bought small items – mugs, needles, thread, dishes, etc. – in town and then sold them in villages where there were no shops to buy such items. There were no buses, and trains were expensive, and so Roma tradesmen saved farmers time as well as money.

Valkara – makers of adobi brick produced valki for, among others, city dwellers who built their own houses. There used to be many valki houses in the towns. If someone was building a brick house, Roma bricklayers and helpers offered their services. And when there was no work (in the 1930's the Great Depression hit Czechoslovakia, as it did elsewhere), Roma tried to make a living wherever they could. For example, men stood around the railway stations and offered their services as porters. Others delivered sacks of goods on their shoulders from wholesale warehouses to retail shops. In Humenné, four brothers got rich by collecting city sewage and delivering it to farmers for use as fertilizer in their fields. (We must admit that others thought of them as degeš [rabble] although they were rich. [Mahrime]) Hungarian Roma tradesmen went from town to town and sold vegetables, paprikas, tomatoes, pumpkins, in short, whatever they had bought from the farmers in the villages.

Before the war, many Jews lived in eastern Slovak villages as well as towns. Some Roma found work in Jewish families. In Bardejov, for example, Jews hired Roma women as nannies and as wet nurses. In Krompachy there was a Jewish wholesale merchant who bought up wares made by Roma blacksmiths. He paid for these goods with money, while farmers paid only with food. In Velký Šariš there was a Jewish tradesman who bought curative plants and forest fruits. All the Roma went into the woods from spring to autumn to pick herbs, forest fruits, everything nature offered. The Roma then sold what they had gathered to Jewish shopkeepers for money. In some towns, Jews had distilleries, and they preferred employing Roma to poor Gadži. There was a feeling of great brotherhood between the Roma and the Jews.

Pro foros: We can say that every town had a place (locus communus) where Roma gathered. These places existed for city dwellers as well as those who came from villages. People did business; they exchanged information (What's new? Who was born where? Who died? Who married whom?); they sought brides and grooms for their children, etc. For the most part, such places were not far from "Gypsy taverns", where Roma treated each other to drinks. Such places still exist in Slovak towns.

2. (Servika Romani) tarhos / jarmokos: market, usually outdoors, where people come to buy and sell. As a rule, the words tarhos/jarmokos are used when referring to a market to avoid confusion with foros (the primary meaning of which is "town").

Some markets are permanent and open daily; others are set up once a week or once a month; great "anniversary markets" take place once a year.

Forutne Roma (city-dwelling Roma)

City Roma considered themselves "better" than Roma who lived in villages.

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