The personality of Vasily Vasilyevich Navrotsky (1851-1911) is quite remarkable. A nobleman by birth, he was born in Kremenchug, and he was raised in the Poltava gymnasium. My father was an official of the Kremenchug Provincial Commission and a tenant of land near Kremenchug, where he owned his own estate. But once a rat raid on their grain fields completely destroyed the harvest, the family went bankrupt, and the young man went to Odessa to “find” the work. In the southern capital of the Russian Empire, he entered the printing house of Peter Frantsov, where he performed the modest post of freight forwarder. However, several years later, in November 1873, the 23-year-old Vasily Navrotsky acquired from the provincial secretary, editor and publisher of Novorossiysk Telegraph Alexander Serebrennikov the right to publish the newspaper Odessa Bulletin of Ads.
It is said that Navrotsky later admitted that he had only 5 rubles available for starting a business, but a trip to trading companies to collect ads for his newspaper had brought him about 1,500 rubles in a few days. Gradually, “Odessa leaflet ads” turned into the famous newspaper “Odessa leaflet.” In subsequent years, Vasily Vasilyevich made efforts to expand the publication. And after 7 years, his newspaper is “recognized” officially, allowing it to print government orders, telegrams from Russian and foreign life, internal news from Russia and a commercial chronicle. In the same year, the newspaper gets a new name – “Odessa leaf”.
Later it becomes daily. So a small reference, trading and stock exchange newspaper in the hands of Vasily Navrotsky turned into the largest provincial edition of the Russian Empire. After all, in 1876 its circulation was 3,000 copies. And the publisher himself gave all his strength to his brainchild, protecting him from the attacks of ferocious censorship, providing the newspaper with the means and literary forces. In the “Odessa leaflet” the best authorial powers of the province were grouped. His pages carried to the readers such names of authors as P.N. Boborykin, V.M. Doroshevich, A.I. Amphitheater, I.F. Vasilevsky-Bukva, DD Minaev, V.I. Modestov, L.E. Obolensky and Baron X (S.T. Gertso-Vinogradsky). Initially, the newspaper was censored, but since 1905 it was allowed to produce it without prior censorship, and the circulation of the publication grew steadily and in 1914 reached 20,000 copies.
The newspaper brought the owner a substantial profit, which allowed in 1892 to build his own house on Lanzheronovskaya 8, where the editorial office, office and printing house were located. A free reading room for newspaper subscribers and a reading room are open in the same building.
On the occasion of the completion of construction on October 26, a solemn consecration of the house took place, attended by Marazli, representatives of the authorities, press, artists and many distinguished guests. According to feedback from those present, the reading rooms are well lit, comfortably furnished and make an excellent impression. We note in passing that in the constructed house Vasily Navrotsky arranged electric lighting, which was a rather bold innovation for those times.
By the way, thanks to Navrotsky in 1891, the first car appeared in Odessa: returning from a trip to France, Vasily Vasilyevich brought a car, one of the first copies of the subsequent famous company. It should be noted that this was the first car in Russia.
In September 1891, he was the first to defile for Deribasovskaya on the miracle of overseas technology – the “self-runner” stroller of the French brand “Panard-Levassor”. For greater safety, a hired boy with a flag ran in front of Navrotsky’s car, loudly warning onlookers about the danger. Most historians still argue about what kind of brand was this car. According to one version – “Daimler” or “Benz”. Another is the French Panhard & Levassor. The confusion is most likely caused by the fact that Daimler engines were installed on Panhard & Levassor. In the “Odessa leaflet” placed a photo of this vehicle as an illustration of the note on the development of the automotive industry.
In the car of Vasily Navrotsky there were only two places and there was no steering wheel at all. Instead, there was a lever similar to those used in boats. Holding him with both hands, the driver barely turned the car in the direction he wanted. Wooden wheels with solid rubber tires produced a characteristic loud knock on the cobblestone pavement, which, coupled with the growl of a four-stroke engine, terrified the inhabitants. That is why the first Odessa car owner was strictly forbidden to bring his crew to the city streets at night.
The top speed of the first Russian car was only 30 kilometers per hour, which was developed by a four horsepower engine. A little later, an article with an angry feuilleton was published in the “Odessa leaflet” that for violation of public safety and “excessive” speed – about 25 kilometers per hour – the owner of the car received a strong suggestion from a police officer.
So Odessa became the first city of the immense Russian Empire, where the first car appeared and the first speeding ticket was applied. The further development of the automobile business in Odessa was reminiscent of an epidemic – everyone dreamed of cars, starting with the last port binderyunist and ending with the fathers of the city.
Navrotsky actively used the car not only for his own pleasure, but also for work – he delivered journalists and photographers to the scene of events before competitors. Later, the car received a permanent residence permit in the editorial garage. It is worth noting that in St. Petersburg, the first car appeared in 1894, in Kiev – in 1897. In 1904 the Kiev club of motorists was organized. By 1911, there were 78 cars in the city, in 1912 there were already 166, and by the end of 1913, 328. At the All-Russian Exhibition in Kiev in 1913, the automobile department became one of the largest expositions, where 56 cars were represented.
Vasily Navrotsky was a very prominent figure in Odessa society and the journalism of the city. He supported all progressive forces and currents. By nature, he was a very capable man, endowed with uncommon energy, tremendous performance, possessed the gift of initiative, for which he was jokingly called the “Odessa American.” For several four years, Vasily Vasilyevich was a public member of the Odessa City Duma, authorized by the city credit society, and when the Duma became Black-Hundred, he broke off any relations with it. He also had a reputation as a patron of the arts, was an honorary trustee in one of the women’s gymnasiums, a member of the society of writers and scholars, a founding member of the Fedorovsky Printing Society in Odessa, an honorary member of the society of proper hunting, a trustee of the cooperative cooperative.
He was known for his charity and kindness. In 1898, when the 25th anniversary of the “Odessa Leaflet” was celebrated, at a gala dinner attended by 400 employees and various guests, he proposed to establish a shelter for the elderly and incapable of working workers of the printed word of the South of Russia, without distinction of nationality, religion, or title and class, donating immediately 3000 rubles. Public subscription proposed by the mayor of the Green PA among the guests, gave more than 8,000 rubles. In the future, Navrotsky was able to collect up to 100,000 rubles for this godly business. Refuge for the poor workers of the lead army, named A.S. Pushkin, was built at the 3rd station Srednefontanskaya road. In addition, at his own expense, Vasily Vasilyevich kept in the city a free canteen for poor writers and journalists.
May 6, 1911 Vasily Vasilyevich died of heart aneurysm. He worked until the last minute of his life, not paying attention to the warnings of doctors and not taking food for several days. The late all his property, house, cottage and newspaper was bequeathed to his wife, Sofya Matveevna Navrotskaya, who later continued
his business, but that’s another story. The funeral of Basil Navrotsky took place with a huge concourse of people. He was respected, loved and kindly accepted at all levels of society. Two special chariots carried about a hundred wreaths with perceptive inscriptions: “To newspaper Leo”, “Kind and sympathetic person and teacher” and others like them … And this was a fair assessment of a person’s life, which was an example for many people then and now.