samedi 31 mars 2018

Lithuanian Toll Keepers

Ask any tourist who has travelled to Lithuania and they will confirm the viral fascination for tollbooths. 

Vincas Kurdica who is best known for composing Lithuania's national anthem is also is the first Lithuanian to have set up toll booths in his country. That's why he appears on the 500 Litu banknote and on the verso is inscribed "maut" for toll.

Wheras the Soviets tried to impose their tollbooths after WWII, the Lithuanians stuck to their original design which was taken from the honeycomb of bees or the hive itself. (This stems from their bee culture that dates back to the middle ages and is even embedded in their language.)

Lithuanian toll booth, circa 1960

Toll worker going back to work in a beehive booth.

as opposed to the Russian designs that were more traditional and include coal stoves to keep the toll workers from freezing.

What few people know is that Vincas wrote a song about tollbooths and it goes like this:

When you drive up to my boothz
You will give me a 10 or 20 litu billz
And you should not be scared to give me a 50
Liberty is our motherland
On our frozen lips and lanez
You choose to come to my booth or my comradez 

Stalin will not tell you whose booth to drive up to
We are a nation of hope
And we will build our beehive booths like no other nationz
Our pockets will buzz with change at the end of the dayz
And we will hover over the steamy hot soup our mothers' make uzzz.
My tollbooth operator's arm may be trembling
But I am not scared! 
Let the tanks roll into my backyardz
And I will give you your change and smilezzz.

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