Invoking the past of Siófok – postcards, stories and news long ago

Intermezzos, scandals, reports on activities of rich artists, period crimes, adverse weather – just a couple of examples from the news articles related to Siófok once. In our weekly virtual exhibition, we have selected old postcards and stories connected to the capital of Balaton.

 lead_siofok_20200612_kikt_b.jpgPort of Siófok -  József Terleczky, CC BY-NC-ND

The first slapping of the season in 1912

As you can see (or read), the opening of the holiday season could happen in many ways:

2001_753_1_e_d_90_pc.jpg“The first slapping popped in Siófok. There is no nicer and more elegant thing than to hold on to our traditions. For example in Abbazia, a shark appears in every year at least once; while in Siófok, a slap in the face appears. The season is not a season without a popping biff. We looked towards Siófok almost resentfully and hopelessly, when finally the season was opened on Thursday. A respectful merchant from Budapest gave it. A freshly matriculated young man received it.”


Port in Siófok (1922) - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND

VF_21_134_b.jpg“It started in Budapest. A woman wanted to get on one of the railroad cars on the departure side of the Southern railway station. There was just one vacant seat in the car, but an overcoat lay on it. As the woman learnt, it belonged to a young man, who was not willing to remove the raglan, in addition, he fell upon the lady roughly and promised some slaps to her. Fellow-passengers cut off the awkward scene. The lady, who got a crying fit due to the excitement, could take her seat finally.”


Telepi Restaurant and Café in Siófok (1911) - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND

VF_41_239.jpg“After having arrived in Siófok, the youngster kept on pestering the woman, who was fed up with it and told the story to her son. The next scene happened at the Telepi Restaurant and it passed off with a dramatic rapidity. The lady’s son G. N. – a merchant from Budapest – hauled up the youngster Sz. Gy., to which he replied slightingly. Then the first slap popped, followed by some others. The two were separated with some struggles. This is how the first slapping happened in Siófok this year, indicating that the season is really a season and Siófok can already look proudly to the wavy Balaton.” – Mefisztó Brettiner, Délmagyarország, 1912


At the steamboat port of Siófok (1916) - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND 

Publicly funded fattening diet – 1929

While nowadays too much eating and overweight cause an increasing problem to youngsters, in the old times it was the contrary for many: getting the minimally required nutrition and gaining an optimal body-weight meant a challenge.VF_41_745.jpg“This year’s budget of the capital contains an amount of 80 thousand pengős for leventes’ holidays. The act on educating leventes laid some obligations on the capital related to the young being at levente age. Going far beyond its obligation, the capital undertook grand social and hygienic tasks, when they set an important amount in the budget for the holidays of artisan and labourer boys being at levente age. If there is an aim that demands public funds, if there is an expense that brings abundant results, it is the “ley-farming” of the young indeed. Every kilogram gained by a boy who is in danger of lung trouble or rickets means serious and valuable growth to the national assets. We cannot spend public funds on more valuable things than the strength and health of the future generation.” – Új Budapest, 1929


Angling on the pier in Siófok  (1933) - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND

Painting of a beginner millionaire – 1891

While Siófok was an opportunity for the poor to gain weight, rich painters gained inspiration from the picturesque environment.   

VF_66275.jpg“The artists’ colony of Siófok has started to get populated again! Cottage-owner painters have started their holidays there. Arthur Pölgvessy has been there since early spring, and is painting a fine genre picture now, with the title “A beginner millionaire”. – Veszprémi Független Hírlap, 1891


Fishing on Lake Balaton, in Siófok  (1901) - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND

The silent lake like a sleeping lion – 1909

Having your own weekend house or not, first of all you need luck to spend the holiday in good weather. 

2001_608_1_e_b.jpg“I enjoyed the glittering wavy water of the Balaton for a week. I bathed at Siófok, Balatonfüred and Földvár. I can say that the water of the Balaton, its silky mud and not-always-tender flirty waves are more peculiar than those of the sea are. Anyway, the lake was peaceful all week long, just like a sleeping lion. But on the last day, a storm rose from the Somogy side and the calm lake started going wild. It frothed with fury. Waves fought against one another and shot out mountain high. Yachts fled, and the bathing crowd stood astonished on the shore. Only my host Count Mailáth persisted, jumped into the waves and had a bath within a couple of minutes.” – Gáspár Bodnár, Szatmár-Németi, 1909


A yacht on Lake Balaton around 1910 - Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND

Hundreds of korunas for boarding – 1912

As good weather attracts holiday makers to the lakeshore, so do tourists attract cheaters and swindlers who want to fish in troubled waters.  

2015_44941_AdfBM_e.jpg“Yes. This little story happened in Siófok in 1912. A musician from Szatmár, who was thought to be tiptop, stayed in a boarding house in Siófok for the worth of a couple of hundred korunas and announced a “regression concert”. The first part of the concert was successful. It consisted of entrance fee gathering by the master, who took his dear wife and sailed away secretly from the port of Siófok.2001_875_1_e_B.jpgIt is unnecessary to say that he did not take the boarding-house bill. He left it unpaid at the house. The musician is still in Szatmár and will be there for a while – I know it from a good source -, and maybe next time he will perform a concert. He will play the song that starts with: “I would leave but I don’t know where” – Go to hell! There are some empty seats left.” – Szatmári Friss Újság, 1912


Pier of Siófok in a postcard  (1927) -  József Terleczky, CC BY-NC-ND


Rose grove of Siófok in a postcard  - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND


Rose grove of Siófok - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND


Lido of Siófok (1938) - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND

Make baths in Siófok similarly to sea baths – 1891

Talking about either relaxing, sun tanning or gratifying investors’ greed of gain, Siófok provides excellent opportunities for all.  

2001_622_1_e_b.jpg“The public limited company of Siófok was formed on Sunday. (…) The aim of the company is to establish a thermal bath in Siófok, based on the model of European sea baths. The names of shareholders and the buoyant participation in the general assembly show that the company will reach its goal and a large and decorative bath resort will be built on the shore of the Hungarian sea.” – Veszprémi Független Hírlap, 1891

Károly Erdélyi

Translated by Zita Aknai



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