Showing posts with label Teofil Kochanowski. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teofil Kochanowski. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Happy birthday Granpap

1945  Teofil
While doing some of the never ending work on Ancestry.com I noticed that today is my maternal grandfather's 129th birthday.  Teofil Kochanowski, whom I called Pap because my Mom & aunt did and Granpap, was born in Zarsyn Austria, now Poland in 1887.  Yes, he was a character who spent most all his life as a coal miner after immigrating to this country in 1904.  I remember some of his stories about stealing a cow from a farmer to sell to get passage to this country. He told me many times how he regretted that he never repaid that farmer for his cow and "so never steal no matter what, Paruhka."  He always called me the Polish for Patricia, Paruhka, I am unsure of the spelling. I would tell him after I received my first holy communion and learned about confession that if he would just go to confession he would feel better about it.  He would laugh and tell me, "yes, I did that years ago.  I did my penance, but I still regret.  That man worked for his farm and it was not right of me to steal that cow."

 I look over his naturalization papers, and notice the statements he signed, "I am not an anarchist."  But I suppose he might have been considered a criminal, a thief back in the old country.  So today when we have yet more concerns, rightfully so, about immigrants and who should come into our country, who should not, on and on, I think of my own Granpap.  He was so very proud of his citizenship.  Mom told me how they as kids teased Granpap while he would be practicing for his citizenship test and he would get very angry with them. He told them it was so very important and they did not know how lucky they were to be born here.  "Don't you never laugh about me."  Three of my grandparents were immigrants and the fourth, my maternal grandmother born to immigrant parents.  In a way this makes me ever sympathetic to those who wish o migrate here.  But yet, do it the right way and for heaven's sake, do not get charity the moment you enter the country.  It was a different time,  workers, laborers were needed in the mines, the factories.  Yet today, many of the immigrants provide labor for jobs that Americans will not do.  Maybe things are not so very different as they seem.  What worked then doesn't now?  Why

Teofil told me how he rode the rails as a young guy, hobo style, looking for work.  All his life he kept that soft spot for hobos and  I remember my grandparents would give them a meal.  I have written some  stories about Granpap elsewhere on this blog, I wish I had someone today to talk to about the missing links in that family. 
1954 Charles Krolicki visits Rose & Teofil


 He had a half or step  brother, Charles,  who lived near Chicago, but the brother's last name was Krolicki. It could have been through a series of misspellings and immigration and census takers, who knows why the names  differed.   I do not remember him at all and yet I have a photo of when he visited my grandparents sitting in their living room.  Because I spent more of my time with them than at my own home, I am surprised I did not know about Charles' visit.  Some research on Ancestry has been helpful but so many unanswered questions.  Then again, what difference does it make, the line stops here with me and so will the stories.  I guess that is why I take them to the blog, someday, somewhere out  and off this cyberspace, someone might be researching years from now.  Who knows.  

For today, though, Happy birthday, Granpap. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sepia Saturday December 6 Horse rides

This weeks theme evoked many possibilities, but truth be told, where ever else can I share a photo of my first horse rides and where else would people would look at the photos?

So here I am with my first horsey rides; my grandpap, Teofil was not a woodworker but somehow somewhere with help from his friends he made this rocking horse for me.  It doesn't look like much  today but it was really all I needed to keep myself entertained and then some.   My Uncle Carl who was the artist of the family painted it.  

In this first photo I am on my premier ride, the year is early 1946, flowers  in bloom  to the side in this very Sepia small  print that  my grandparents and later my aunt kept framed over the years, though much is faded on it. They said I had just begun walking all about and this was my next challenge.  They said I had a grand time but they had to put the horse away into a corral else I would climb on it when someone wasn't around and they did not want me to hurt myself.    I was about 16-17 months old in this first photo.  It must have been a cool spring day because I was dressed in bonnet and coat. 

Funny thing is I remember having this wooden rocking horse, I wonder what  ever became of it?    It was quite rudimentary but no one could have convinced me of that.  
Me about 2 1/2 years old...1947, same horse
This  girl loved the ride  There were no
fancy get ups yet, no hats, no chaps.

1947 same as above, better view of the horse
Happy to have Sepia for my  own Sepian memories.  To see what others  have taken to theme from this weeks's prompt, go here to the primary site.  
http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.com/2014/12/sepia-saturday-257-6-december-2014.html

Friday, March 7, 2014

Polish proverbs Nie moj cyrh

Today on Facebook, Carlie, a close friend shared an old Polish saying  but in English.  It took me back years, when was the last time I heard it, perhaps  2010.  It was something my granpap Teofil and later,his son, Uncle Carl, said all the time.  Something I had forgotten and something  I felt was a great reminder. "Not my circus, not my monkeys"    Granpap said that all the time when someone would  try to bemoan something that was going on which he felt was  not his business and he would not be bothered.  It wasn't that he was uncaring or unsympathetic but he knew that some folks just whine all the time and if you let them they will soon snare you into moaning along with them.  He had overcome many obstacles in his life and he would not accept someone else's burdening him.  His philosophy was deal with it or shut up.  This at times annoyed my grandma Rose who would say, "Pap you can't just ignore that." and he'd reply, "hah!  Sure I, can watch..."  And off he would go on his way about his business usually whistling or humming.  He had another saying like "don't tie your monkey to me" which meant get lost with that. 

I really had not considered this being a Polish proverb, just something they said and  passed on from father to son. Polish for  circus is  "cyrk" or  "sorkus" and  often  refers to a mess or a strange situation, something chaotic.  In Poland monkeys, "malpy" are associated with chaos, trouble, and down right nuisance.  So if the monkeys are running around loose or escaping from the circus, well you get the picture.  Monkeys are "problems" in Poland, and circuses are where "problems" come from. If it's not your monkey, and it's not even from your circus, then it's not your problem.  It is a basically simple philosophy and stops some people from spreading further gossip as well, no one will listen and there they stay with mouth agape.  

How frequently I think that today the monkeys are really running the zoos. Now that I have been reminded of this wisdom I  will adopt it more fully, not that I  get easily distracted by such nuisance.  The delete button works well on email and on Facebook I hide the ever whiners.  I don't read their  agonies.  Call it cold hearted, I call it release from what others would use to drag you along or ignoring the lamentations. I used to tell people that if I wanted to hear such gnashing and whining I could read Lamentations in the Bible.  Those unfamiliar with the Bible  were clueless to what I meant.   In my career as a state bureaucrat I developed a skill for being physically present but mentally off elsewhere, to shield and amuse myself when I was  captive in ever too long meetings or hearings and some tiresome soul was pontificating.  Here years later, I still invoke that skill  by semi-listening to what someone may be saying when usually it is not my monkey and surely not my circus.  There is ample happening in my life with friends who have cancer, are handling real illnesses, losses, and financial issues; with  Jerry facing back surgery and so it goes.  All else, nope not my monkey.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Give it up for Lent, the four letter word

Baba Rose
I was raised Polish Roman Catholic and my grandma (Baba) Rose was a stickler about Lent and all it's traditions of deprivation and denial proclaiming it a very old practice.  Yes, Lent as a 40 day season began sometime in the  4th century, legalized by the church at the Council of Nicea in 313 AD, that's ancient.  As a toddler I could not comprehend why in the world I had  to do without whatever I wanted at the moment and it was a shock to hear that four letter word, "lent."   As I recall, I was between three and four when I was told the first time  that I couldn't have what I wanted  for Lent,  a long time.  It was likely something sweet to eat. Baba Rose said, "Patty, it's Lent and  we give up something we like to sacrifice, no more until Easter." 

What?  That must have been the first time something was denied me because my grandparents  made it their business to ensure that  whatever I wanted I had. I did not make sense of the time span, "until Easter" but I went about my business with a frown and  then forgot all about it until the next time I was denied. Still I did not dwell on these things and yet the lesson continued.  "Someday you will be glad you did without...."  

Granpap Teofil
It wasn't just me, either; granpap Teofil had to give up too; I remember asking him to conspire with me,  to buy something at the store when Baba wasn't looking, candy maybe.  But he laughed and just shook his head while saying, "oh no not while it's Lent, those are the rules." Granpap never had much to say about church or rules, so I well knew this was Baba's doing but for him to comply it must have been important without any way out.  
Me about 4 years old
Nevertheless, I absorbed my disappointment but again  not let it sink in  because  I  recall hearing  what I called the "not for Lent" words repeatedly. To me, Lent was not good, something to be avoided; in my child's mind Lent became a four letter word, don't say it.   Baba assured me that I would learn all about this when I went to Catechism and I would always be glad after the giving up.   Later as a child  I would offer to give up something I didn't care all that much about but that would not do while Rose or the nuns inquired about my Lenten sacrifice, "it has to be something you like." 

Although I  left the Catholic religion which today beckons me for the spiritual comfort, a Lenten tradition of deprivation became my annual ritual.  I used to be a chocoholic, there was not a place I did not stash chocolate, it went where I did; my co-workers could always find a supply in my office. While I am unsure of the exact year, sometime in  the early 1990's  I decided to make the ultimate Lenten sacrifice and give up chocolate; Roberta, who was most devout and my closest friend questioned me about the severity of my choice, would I be able to do that.,really?   It certainly was one of the most difficult deprivations I ever experienced but a miracle emerged just like Easter, I lost my extreme fondness for chocolate; not something I was looking for but something I  have now recognized as a blessing. I have never again been consumed by chocolate.  Today I enjoy some  dark chocolate now and then but I can take it or leave it.  It's not something that I crave or need and I am amazed thinking back to how I had to eat chocolate at least once a day then.  Lent the four letter word rewarded me at the end of it all, just as promised by my grandma so long ago.  

Today it is really difficult for me to think of giving up something I would miss eating; I am not a
Me today leaner and healthier
sweet eater and really not much for snacking a lot either.  If I do it is usually an apple, some pretzels, something healthy.  .My recent  weight loss and healthy  eating lifestyle leave nothing I can identify to offer as a sacrifice.  Well I suppose I could offer my almost  daily glass of wine but even Jesus had wine with meals and I attribute a glass of wine to healthy practices.  My doctor agrees.  Besides I do not drink every day and Lenten sacrifice is to make us mindful so the occasional will not do..   


So what to give up  for Lent in 2014?   Something that will be a daily reminder in denial.  I have determined it is another four letter word, one I've been  saying out loud in response to annoyance, rubbish, or other non likable things that happen.  No, it's not that "f" word although I admit to evoking it in absolute frustration, for especially bad news like death, cancers, etc.  I was unaware that I used this other word so frequently until Jerry mentioned something one day and then I attempted to disguise it using the Polish for it. Bad habits start with such unawareness.   This  word is not pleasant and not nice and not something I recall saying much in the past,  it starts with "s" may be preceded with another 4 letters, "bull."     So for Lent, the cuss jar appears.  When ever I say that word it's $1 to the jar; further, each time I think it it's 50 cents.  If I am dutiful and persevere, this bad habit will be gone in 40 days when the joy of Easter returns.  The money will go to the Salvation Army, one of my favorite charities and one that I support financially all the time.   

What are you giving up for Lent or do you?  




Friday, January 6, 2012

Sepia Saturday 107 Year Post (Teofil and his dogs and pets)

About 1942 Teofil and his coon hounds
I can't match that  angora rabbit that Alan showcases this week, but I have some different pets, photos from the family archives.  In this family we have an animal;/pet loving gene, that goes at least as far back as my maternal grandfather, Teofil.  He was crazy about his dogs whether they were his coon hounds and hunting dogs which were carefully tended to outside or whether in later years domestic pets.  In this photo it was a Sunday so he was dressed up, notice the white shirt and tie.  But before they could journey across the river to Rose's (my grandmother and his wife) family gathering, Pap (as the family called him) insisted he had to first go home to check up on his dogs.  This gave him a break between church service where he attended reluctantly and the busy noisy activity with his wife's sisters for the day.  He enjoyed  the gatherings where he would adjourn with the men outside for a cold piwa (beer) and cigar after dinner, but he stalled going each time.   Rose, my grandmother would be very frustrated because they could have taken the bus  right from church across the river to her sisters and ridden with her sisters.  But Pap would have a respite using his dogs as an excuse.  She said he  liked those dogs better than anything; after enough weeks of that she began to  take the bus immediately after church with her sisters and let Pap go home alone to  pet his dogs, feed them or  whatever excuse he had.  He would take the later bus and join them later, problem solved, schedules rearranged, every body was happy.   They had no vehicles so it was bus or by foot. 
1956 Teofil has a woodchuck to tame, but it was summer
and Rose allowed it outside
 
I heard stories that Teofil could easily hunker in a bush and snare birds to tame them as caged pets; I do remember they always had beautiful canaries.  He  was intrigued with making pets out of groundhogs aka woodchucks. About  1930 he brought a groundhog into  their family  home in a coal town; it was cold outside, winter time and he'd found the poor furry creature shivering on his way home from the mine. He was a softy for animals.  He picked it up and brought it home; he would tame it later but for tonight, unbeknownst to Rose, it needed to warm up. Teofil  set the  creature in a small box near the wood stove that heated the home and went to bed, it was late, he'd worked an extra long double shift and Rose and the kids were already asleep.  Rose got up early in the morning and was not amused to discover the animal there, so she immediately  tossed it out side, or so it is speculated.  Later on when Pap arose, he looked at the small box where he'd left his rescued ground hog and found the box empty.  "Rose, where's  the guy?"  Something like that he asked.  She looked straight at him and  asked what he was talking about.  He told her how he'd found it cold, shivering and she looked at him and said he must have been dreaming, she'd never  seen a ground hog and what would it be doing in her kitchen anyway.  He had no proof and Rose admitted to nothing, so that was the end of that although he did have the kids scurry round about and search for it.  Rose did not bat an eye but went on cooking breakfast.  I thought this was so like my grandparents when I heard this story several years ago from Uncle Carl; if I'd known about it as a kid I would have found out the truth, but I can believe my grandma tossed the critter out with a good hurl.  She was an eat off the floor housekeeper.  I can only imagine her  keeping quiet and not admitting a thing.

This is my Sepia post...for more click on the title to this post and see what others are sharing.   

Friday, November 19, 2010

Magpie 41 Grandpap's Pick Axe http://magpietales.blogspot.com/2010/11/mag-41.html

I cannot explain why this came into my head and to the keyboard with this week's Magpie Prompt, but we all can look at the same object and see different things in our imaginations; maybe you cannot see this in the picture but I did and do....so here is my vignette for Magpie

In a far corner of the basement, deep into what was once the coal cellar, barely visible from the dim light that reflected in through the block glass window, I found Grandpap's miner's  pick axe, hobbled by spider webs, speckled with rust on the barren head and long forgotten.  Behind it on the wall  an old tin mirror  reflected the worn handle and  the somewhat  splintered metal of the axe head, aong with another odd  piece of iron pipe .  How many whacks had this axe taken at walls  freeing how many  pounds or  lumps of coal buried deep in the earth?  How many miles had Grandpap trudged axe over his shoulder, metal lunch pail in the other hand, dirty boots laced tightly on his feet to another  day down the dirt or muddy road in the mining camp from the shack that was their home, on toward the mine, the hole in the ground.  

He told me tales when I was  growing up about their life in the mines unless Grandma overheard and chastened him. "Pap, don't you talk about that with her!" I loved the stories, they were our secret.   I remember the pride still in his face when he told me that he'd  bought his own axe, purchased with scrip at the company store, the only store in  the coal town; let those other miners  use the poor tools the company furnished, not my Grandpap!  He wanted his very own axe, a solid one, one that would do a good days work, one that he knew was safe and  well cared for, not a cheap one where the  head could fly off and  take vengeance on the unsuspecting miner's skull.  No, my Grandpap knew about tools and  caring for them and valued ownership. 

He'd talk of how the coal dust covered the miners so that he emerged from working, his face like a "czardnja" the Polish word for  black person, black surrounding those bright blue  eyes.  As he got older, nary a grey or silver hair lightened  his full head of coal black hair and he would laugh that the coal dust had so stayed in his  blood that it darkened  his blonde hair black transforming him  from a blonde boy to a  czardnja ( black) head.  Strangely this reflects in me  today as I age and my hair gets darker, stumping my hair dresser; most  people get grey with age not darker.  I who have never been in a mine or around coal dust wonder about genes, could the coal dust  have stayed in the blood stream of descendants?

He told me tales of being on strike and of fighting off the scabs who'd try to break the picket lines, boasting how he a loyal union member would bust them a good one if they got near his part of the line.   He  told me how happy he was when he got the job in the factory, never more to have to go down the mine shaft, pick axe no more to strike the dark walls; but he'd kept the axe.  Strange to find the axe here, a dim reflection in  the  tin mirror. Grandpap's been gone since 1961. 

Grandpap was never one to squander or waste anything, there would always be another   use for it someday so here it was.  I have just the spot at home in my rose garden for this, new  art decor, I'll  hang a bird feeder from the splintered long handle; Grandpap's  axe will see the light of day and recover from all that time spent in the dark.  A tool, still useful today, that someday for something else.  Grandpap would smile; he'd be  proud.  


As always click on the title to get to the Magpie host blog where you can browse thorugh ever so many more Magpie contributors..... or click here..
http://magpietales.blogspot.com/2010/11/mag-41.html

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sepia Saturday Week 17 (Click here to find others Sepia postings)

Mystery Boy

Last week I introduced my granpap, Teofil Kochanowski. When I refiled his photos, I found three photos of the same little boy (at least I think it is) whom I believe was Teofil’s nephew and likely lived in Illinois where Teofil’s brother Charles Krolicki lived. Remember I said how my Polish ancestors changed the spelling of their names, well there we have it again, Krolicki from Kochanowski.

 No identification, name or date was written on the back of these photos. My aunt Virginia, who had the photos in her album had written, “I don’t know who this boy is.” I kept the photos when I cleared her house last year because of their age, which I am guessing to be early 1900 to about 1920. He looks like such a precious little boy and I can see my granpap’s blue eyes in this boy’s face. Someday I might solve this riddle but meantime, here is the mystery boy. This photo as you see, is inscribed to “Uncle Teofil” and says “Charles E 2 years old.” Look at him with hands in pockets of the over skirt bib type covering over his pants.


I suspect he may be the child of one of Charles Krolicki’s children. Among Granpap’s funeral memorials, was a memorial from H.M.Seagle in West Frankfort, Illinois. My attempts to trace this on Google located a Hubert Marion Seagle who married a Mary Louise Krolicki in December 1940 in Perryville, MO and died in W Frankfort, IL February 2008 at age 90. I can assume that Mary was Grandpap's niece,  Charles’ daughter.

There were two children of that marriage, Charles Edward and Patricia M. Somewhere on Ancestry or other records there may be a tie to this. Hmm, Charles Edward sounds like it might be this boy, but if they married in 1940 and Charles was born later, the photo would not be as old as I’d assumed. As happens with this genealogy, a possible answer often produces more questions. H M Seagle’s obituary reports that his son Charles Edward died April 1985.

Well if this is Charles, here are two more photos.

 If not Charles, then it is another mystery boy. I am speculating that this is the same little boy perhaps at four or five years of age. These two photos are postcards made by Flett in Atlantic City NJ as indicated on the back.

The boy is dressed up in what appears to be a sailor suit made big enough to allow room to grow, or perhaps a hand me down into which he has not yet grown. The high button shoes that show in the standing pose make me think this photo is way before 1940 as I first suspected. Iis it the same boy or not?

I have gone full circle, lapping myself, and come back to not knowing anymore about this little boy. Unless some unknown relative pops up, the mystery is all mine.   Here he is

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sepia Saturday Week 16 Click here to link to other Sepia Saturday posters

Teofil Kochanowski 1887--1961    

 This week I jump to another side of my family, my grandfather, Teofil Kochanowski , my mother’s father.

This 1943  photo is my grandmother, Rose, my mother, Helen, and my grandfather, Teofil. 

While there are few photos of Teofil I have lots of memories.

To me he was Granpap and to the rest of the family, Pap.

“Never you mind” was his frequent response. And he always hummed or whistled a Polish tune. 

His favorite Polish saying, which I give you in English, is "where there are people there are troubles." 
 To him it meant, no worries, it is all just life!


 The spelling of the last name changed considerably depending on who wrote it. Uncle Carl, his son, Americanized it to Konesky in 1941 and the rest of the family used that spelling. But not my Granpap , he knew what his name was and he insisted it be that way! He was not an educated man through schooling, but he was very wise and shrewd. He knew how to read and write and I can still hear him say in Polish to his son, “Never you mind, I show you! You no change how spell my name!” Here they are in 1942, Teofil, is the shorter one and Carl.

Though he proudly claimed to be full Polish, his baptismal certificate indicates he was baptized in Zarsryn, Austria, born April 27, 1887 to Thecla Kochanecka (the spelling is hard to read in the Latin script) daughter of Adalberti Kochanecki and another name hard to decipher, Sunwae de Cictro Ober. He was baptized Theophilus; the Latin clearly includes a reference “illegitimus”. I wish I’d known about this when Granpap was alive, because he would have had a good story to tell. He had a brother, Charles ‘Krolicki” who died in Illinois in and a sister Nellie Buczek who lived in PA. I do not remember either of them.

 He enjoyed his "piwa" (beer) as this photo from 1945 shows him (left) with his visitng brother-in-law, Al Mroz. Teofil danced a wild polka and the "Russian" dance where he squatted and did the  kicks while shouting and raising arms.  I tried to do that but never could.  He would laugh and tell me that was the man's dance and I could not do it because I was a girl.  The proudest moment of his life was when he became a US citizen; he would shake his head in wonder that a boy who stole a cow could be a citizen of this great country. My aunt and mother said they remember him sitting on the stairs practicing English and studying US history for his citizenship test. When they laughed at his pronunciation of something, he would become very annoyed with them and shout, “go to bed! Never you mind, someday I’m gonna be a citizen and you no laugh from me no more."

My love of gardening stems from hanging out with Granpap. Among my favorite memories is sitting in the dirt smack dab in the garden with Granpap. I loved scraping up the dirt. He would hoe or shovel and I would crawl around with my own tiny shovel, spoons or my hands, sifting the dirt that he worked up into fine mulch. I developed my love of hot peppers right there in the dirt in Granpaps garden! I remember pulling peppers off the plants and biting into each one until we found the right taste of hot. This was to my grandmother’s horror! “PAP, DON’T YOU FEED THOSE PEPPERS TO Patty!” He’d laugh, “Never you mind, Rose, she’s help me find the hottest.” Oh we were a pair, Granpap and me. Grandma would scoop me up, scrub me clean and redirect my attention to my dolls inside the house. I remember when I was about five years old and she had me sparkling clean. Off I went because Granpap was outside in the garden, dragging Dolly along, both of us were back in the dirt.  Granpap warned me, “Oooh Parujcka (Polish for my name) you gonna get it for sure now….never you mind, go on over there by the wood shed.” He then decided he was done stirring the dirt for the day, wiped me off as good as he could with his handkerchief and then said, “Well what I gonna tell Rose now? You gonna make lotsa trouble for us two!” And of course it was the funniest thing in the world to him.
Here he is in 1943 with one of his hunting dogs.  Granpap would tell me stories about the mines, the strikes, hunting, but my Grandmother was always cautious about these. I can hear her yelling, “Pap don’t you tell her that!” He would laugh and point his finger to his lips to be quiet and then go on in a hushed tone. I remember sitting on the front porch swing with him and asking him how to say phrases in Polish, like, “you’re crazy” or “get away”, etc.  He told me that he had stolen a cow and sold it so he could get money to come to America. After he began to earn money he sent it to the farmer in Poland, he said, to his mother to pay for the cow.  When he arrived in America he hopped the freight trains and headed for Chicago, where he knew someone and which was a magnet for  Polish immigrants. He was a young man, an immigrant who spoke no English but knew he could make a living in America. For the rest of his life, he had a soft spot in his heart for railroad bums and he and my grandmother fed them whenever they wandered up from the tracks to their home. I suppose their home was known as a place where a bum could get a good hot meal. I don’t know for sure, but I think my Granpap snuck them some spare change too. My grandparents were not wealthy, but they believed someone else was always worse off and would share what they had.

Granpap was my salvation at church. We attended a Polish parish and in those days if the priests were not speaking Latin, it was Polish. As a child I understood neither and would get fidgety sitting there, bur Granpap would smile and tell me “just a little bit longer then we go home, and we gonna get ice cream on the way” which bought my quiet attention.

Teofil found his wife, my grandmother, Rose, in a bakery where she was working. They were married September 25, 1915 in New Kensington, PA. I found it strange that there was no Catholic wedding, but that could have been because of his past. I do recall my grandmother saying that they had gone to the priest later on that year to be really married. She was devout Catholic; Teofil was also Catholic but not as concerned. They had five children, Frank who died of the Spanish flu epidemic, Francis, Carl, Virginia and Helen, my mother. I never saw a wedding portrait, but I have a huge oil portrait of their faces which hangs in my study; my uncle said it was for an anniversary.

Granpap was a coal miner and he shared stories of working at the mines and being very grateful to the unions. He was proud that when the “scabs” came by to take their jobs when the miners went out on strike that he would knock them down and bloody their noses if they did not leave right away. This was amazing because Granpap was a small man and so kind. I could hardly imagine him in a fight, but I suppose he did that to defend his livelihood and the union. His miner’s papers taken out in 1913 note that he entered the country through New York on the Hamburg and record his weight at 145 pounds, height at 5 ‘5” blonde hair and blue eyes. Granpap told me that his hair had turned black working in the mines. I always remember him with dark hair and little silver or grey hair even when he died in 1961. I guess that mine coal dust stayed with him all his life! Now that my hair turns darker with each year, I wonder if I somehow have the strain of coal dust from Granpap.

Granpap suffered many strokes and was always told he would not walk again. But he always outwitted the doctors. He would be up hobbling about with his cane to the surprise and delight of all. With a grin and poking his cane, “never you mind, I not gonna lay in no bed!” He had no intention of spending the rest of his life in bed, because Rose had enough to do without having to wait on him. I remember him walking all over town and up the hills to our home.

Often his walks ended up at the butcher shop where they always had a card game going on in the back and he often won. My grandmother walked to the butcher shop almost every day to buy meat. Looking back now, I wonder why she just didn’t have Granpap pick it up, but then I supposed she never knew how long he might be staying there. I remember a big to do one late summer afternoon when Granpap did not return home from his walk. I was staying at my grandparents, which I did often. So after calling around and finding out that he had left the butcher shop hours ago, my Grandmother got worried. She called Uncle Carl who came and called the police. A search was on for Teofil…This is one of the few times I ever saw my grandma cry. Later before it was fully dark, Grandpap came up the sidewalk, with his cane, whistling and humming, which he always did as he walked along. There were many anxious Polish words spoken and Teofil began to laugh and then scold them all,,,,,”Hmph! Never you mind! I come home you all crazy or what!” He’d been down near the river, got interested in digging around in the woods…lost track of time….

Family called him the “junkman” because on his walks, he would invariably find something discarded by someone, which he would drag home. He was the original recycler before the term was ever invented.  Later he would drag these treasures to our home to my mother’s consternation. Granpap’s retort to criticism of his hauls were always the same short words, “Listen to me, this no cost you nothing, you no gotta feed it, someday you gonna want it and here it is…never you mind!” Today when I ponder whether or not to toss something, I recall Granpap’s advice, “well it costs nothing, don’t have to feed it, might be handy someday…”  He left a legacy, prone to packrat.

He always had dogs which were well trained whether they were a hunting dog or a pet. My uncle told how Granpap was so crazy about animals, and even when times were very lean in their lives Granpap always had dogs.  I found this 1956 photo where Granpap has a woodchuck on a leash. He’d once brought a woodchuck into the house, leaving it in a box overnight in the kitchen. The next morning it and the box were gone! I am sure my grandmother who kept an immaculate house came into the kitchen, saw that and out it went. Uncle Carl said, Granpap was annoyed but shrugged it off, “I no have proof, Rose, but I know you did something and I wanted that woodchuck for a pet!” He tried to snare birds to tame them without too much success; my Uncle Carl said he would sit in wait near a bush to snare birds that would come up to feed on crumbs he had set out. My grandparents always had a canary or two in a cage; he loved canaries likely associating them with use in the mines. I suspect that my love of Tweety bird today stems back to my granpap and his canaries. Canaries were used by the coal miners to gauge air quality in the mines but granpap would not sacrifice his birds for that. He would not sell them to miners whom he knew they only wanted the birds to test the air.

He died in November 29, 1961 the way we would all like to go. After they ate lunch he told my Grandma that he felt a little bit tired and was going to go take a nap. He never awoke. I was in my senior year of high school and still remember my grandmother’s voice of grief when she called our home after she found him. She moved to our house immediately after that. Teofil was the love of her life.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Different worlds of communication



I've just spent several hours tidying up my project room, which is the big downstairs bedroom that is off the study and that also serves as my work out room. I love being able to just leave my projects in process out in what may appear disarray in that room. That way when, the mood strikes me I can go in there and start to work on sorting photos, scrap booking or whatever the pending project may be. I don't have to pack it back into a box and put it away because that room doesn't get any other use. And it's downstairs and not visible to guests when we entertain upstairs. Lucky me!

But, something needs to be done sometime soon, so I chose today. Janine, one and only grand daughter is coming for a week in April. She will be here the same week that Jerry's brother, Rod and family will be here. Rod & Katie are teachers in So. Calif. and Janine is a college student in No. Calif. but every one's spring break is at the same time. So we will have a houseful for that week.

This bothers no one least of all, Janine, who announced she would be taking over the downstairs--this is our finished basement. I agreed she could have the bedroom down there but Grandma would have to tidy up her projects--some of which are strung across the bed. Janine likes the big screen TV & the rec-room and so fancies herself to be in charge of the lower floor. While I can keep my sewing strewed across the coffee table in the study I could not leave the bedroom in it's mess. So now things are packed up and into the closet. Trouble is, I won't likely get to doing anything with those photos, etc. for who knows how long now--out of sight out of mind.

Today while tidying I sorted and threw out some things. I started with a small box of photos and trinkets from my grandmother. She had saved these and I brought them from PA in 2004 when mom died. I did toss out photos of people no one knows. I have asked the only two who might--Aunt Jinx and Uncle Carl and they could not identify the people, so no need to keep these. Old black and white photos from how long ago. I found wedding photos of my cousin Roland who lives in Madison, WI and will mail those off to him. Another treasure which I'll pass along to him are photos of my aunt and 2nd cousin, Stella's, trip to visit them when they lived in Milwaukee. These show he and his folks and his brother and he should enjoy them. It was always a big deal to the Polacks in PA to take the train to Milwaukie...I made that trip every other summer with my grandparents. Rollie can pass them along to his daughter or one of his son's. Those are in an old black and white photo book, remember how the old photos were developed into these spiral photo books? They'd charge us who knows how much for such a thing today!

What I find very strange is how well the old black and white photos have lasted. Some of the photos are from the 1940's and 1950's, yet they are just as clear and certainly better than the color photos we took in the 1970's.

What brings me to the blog now is a telegram that I found. My grandmother had saved a Western Union telegram which Uncle Carl sent her in maybe 1944 or so, when he was in the Army. And there it is today in 2009! A telegram wishing her and all Happy Valentine's Day. Way before cell phones, texting, Facebook and/or email. Hey, this must even be prior to Hallmark cards in all their glory which are used to celebrate and greet today!

I wondered if it scared her when she opened it, because telegrams were not a good thing in World War II. She kept it a long time, so I cannot part with it in 2009. It will go into the Ostroski-Kochanowski Family scrapbook. That is when I get back to the projects! A historical relic of communication from the past. How different it is today.

So here it is, the scan of the telegram and photo of my grandparents and me. That's Teofil Kochanowski (Grandpap) and Rose Ostroski-Kochanowski (Baba to me) , me and Carl Konesky, their son and my uncle. He changed the Polish spelling to something more Americanized Konesky then he and the siblings all began to use Konesky.

I was the star of every photo. On the right, is Uncle Carl home on leave from the Army. There was no date on this photo, but I guess it about 1945 sometime. The clothes were out on the line which shows in another photo taken the same time, and yet in another there I am in the wash tub outside. So it must have been nice weather. And I know this was when they still lived on 2nd Avenue in the old row houses. They and Mom bought the house on Catalpa St. when I was about 2 years old, so here we are prior to that.

I just noticed that an old factory smokestack which would have been across the river looks like it's coming right out from my grandmother's head. Funny. The 2nd street row house was near the river and I know they were all too happy to move up the hill onto Catalpa St.