Old Masters

Our Window into the Great World
He reached the first exam at the Faculty of Medicine, but was then forever drawn by the whirlpool called journalism. He was the goalkeeper of ”Slavija”, chess master, Belgrade Don Juan with a bow tie in the grey times. The first correspondent of ”Politika” from New York and London. He met Ava Gardner at the ”Big Apple” airport, had a seat with his name written on it at the Wimbledon official lounge, wrote about Miloš Milutinović in the most sentimental manner. He never accepted the vulgarization of his profession. He trusted only winners in sports

By: Aleksandar Mihajlović

He moved to Belgrade with his family before the Second Great War from Sarajevo, where he spent his childhood, youth and had his first experience in love. He graduated from the First Male Gymnasium in the city on the Miljacka as the best student. Tall, blond and blue-eyed, he was immediately noticed by Belgrade girls. Upon his parents’ suggestion, he enrolled at the Faculty of Medicine, but had not moved further from the first exam. He began writing for Politika as a journalist-reporter already in mid-1945. He reported from Belgrade streets and the working actions in the ruins that remained after the war. In the meantime he graduated from the High School of Journalism and Diplomacy.


Miroslav Radojčić spent most of his working life in New York and London. At the time, still without television, he and his unforgettable texts were the window of Serbian newspaper readers towards the West. He used to say about present journalism: ”There is no brains for journalism. There is talent, then comes experience. And there is one thing that always amazes me – such a small country with so many newspapers!”
He did not want to reconcile with the ”new rules of the game”, until his death in the first month of the XXI century. Therefore, after retiring, he avoided even passing by the ”Politika” building in Makedonska Street 29, former Poincare's, let alone stepping into it. He claimed that he was not angry, but that, after having worked for forty years, there is nothing more to do there. He also stopped visiting the famous nearby kafanas ”Grmeč”, ”Lipa” and ”Šumatovac”.
I knew him almost three decades. We usually spent time in the buffet ”Brioni” in Svetogorska Street, former Ive Lole Ribara. This is where the pre-war actionists and reactionists, wall painters, chauffeurs, house meisters, faculty professors Raša Šaper and Vasa Golubović, and actors Slobodan Aligrudić and Petar Božović used to come. When entering the small space, full of smoke and intoxicating scent of alcohol, he would address the guests: ”Tito went to Brijuni, and I come to ‘Brioni’.”


He didn’t want to become a journalist. His friend Boža Radenković, who was already working for Politika, was to blame. Boža insisted: ”Miro, you used to write well in school, come on, for God's sake, write!” They used to walk through Belgrade together, write about the wounds and scars of the city, the ruins that remained from the war. They didn’t express jealousy directly, but it was present. This is how Radojčić explained the early enthusiasm for journalism: ”When you and someone else write something, it always seems to you the other one is better. I cannot understand this journalism any more: everyone is competing in self-praising, only me, me, me...
He was employed in Politika upon the suggestion of the lucid editor Dobrica Kuzmić. The episode with the Faculty of Medicine was soon forgotten, to the great disappointment of his parents. He was good in foreign, especially Anglo-Saxon languages. Thus, from the war ruins of the great White City, he moved to the docks of New York.
He wasn’t very thrilled at the beginning. Big political events came in series: the election of John Fitzgerald Kennedy as the youngest president of the US, the ”Cuban Crisis”, then the assassination in Dallas! Hollywood, the sacred forest with many beautiful women, actresses whom he adored, was far away, in California. For him, known as a great Don Juan, it was very hard. Then he moved to rainy London.


Even though he claimed journalism is a talent, a craft and something one should love, he hated its part called political events and analyses. In the city on the Themes, he met Wimbledon and tennis, the sport of the rich. He was also into sport in his early youth, ”goalkeeping” (as he used to say) in the Sarajevo ”Slavija” football club. Later he met great goalkeepers such as Srdjan Mrkušić and Vladimir Beara. After an important game of the national team at the famous Wembley, he described the defenses of the latter as ballet between the goalposts.
He played chess, won, made it to the title of master candidate.
He was not angry when passers-by stopped him, especially older people: ”Mr. Miro, you wrote so nicely from Wimbledon!” He remembered the winner of the first tournament he reported from. It was Butch Patty. Radojčić was fascinated by the atmosphere and the winner. ”When Butch hits the ball and it flies high into the sky, it seems as if it remains there and never returns to the court”, described Miro.
He admitted that he wrote his most sentimental columns about sportsmen (especially football player Miloš Milutinović). He did not become London’s citizen of honor, but he had his chair in the lounge of the Wimbledon central court with an inscription on the back: Miro Radojčić.
Miro was a great cynic. The last time we were walking from his apartment in Bulevar Revolucije Street, present King Alexander’s, to the buffet ”Brioni”, after the bombing of Serbia in 1999, he stopped and thoughtfully said: ”Listen, kid, I don't want to write history. I leave that to historians. History is always written by the winners. See, those here now say they won, however the defeated entered Kosmet. The Americans probably learn this doctrine at ‘West Point’ now.”


Miro was obsessed with beautiful women. Once, at the New York airport, he met the Hollywood diva Ava Gardner.
”She was so beautiful that I was almost blinded,” he said. ”But there was an even more divine one in Belgrade. Her name was Ljubica Otašević and she played basketball in ‘Zvezda’. She later married some chauffeur in Italy and fell into oblivion.”


”Blond people usually look younger than the dark ones. In my passport it was written that I was born in 1923 in Sarajevo. In fact, I was born in 1920. They tinkered something with the church books and I came out younger than I actually am. I never corrected the mistake.”


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