Monday, May 24, 2010

O Ye Jigs & Juleps

Found the cutest little booklet at Uncle's title above written in 1904 by Virginia Cary Hudson, a 10 year old.  Published in the 60's or before and must have belonged to Aunt Marge.  This little girl writes  about church, etiquette, life, sacraments  through  10 year old eyes.  Made me laugh out loud when she describes the final "sacrament" death...After  we get home I'll scan and share some pages, but for now... "And then you get carried back in the Church again.  But you are dead & it takes 6 people to lift you.  And everybody cries and that's the last sacrament you are going to get.  Mrs. Park was old and so sick she didn't even know her own children.  Maybe she was tired fooling with them all those years and just acted like she didn't know them.  When Mrs. Park died, I sure didn't cry because I bet when she waked up & found she was dead, she was just tickled to death." 

We went to Union cemetery here in Arnold PA trying to find Frank Ostrowski's grave, my great grandfather. You  all are quite familiar with him by now and his herd of descendants.   I learned that as in Poland the Polish mounded the early graves.  I never knew that,  reminds me of Indians.  We were unable to find the grave, many old markers are  illegible and  broken off or just gone.  They said there were vandals from time to time who would rampage the cemeteries.  That's  disgusting.   I will have to submit a written request to the cemetery to search through their more than  23,000  sites and pay the fee.  I noticed that descendants are having new marble markers erected  for their ancesotrs as several were new; I will do that for him next time after we do the location.  Today off to decorate my grandparents' graves, Mom's, Aunt Jinx and Aunt Marge. 

I'd thought Uncle Carl might come along but his dementia has  wavered and he has good and bad days.  He seems to be ok in his routine in the home but any variation throws him into a state of  disorientation.  Though he knows us and is  mostly glad to see us, he gets disturbed.  Took him to get  new  eye glasses and  on return he wanted to sit outside on the porch at the home, so we did.  But that must have kicked off his porch sitting days at home and he then thought we were to  take him home.  He went inside reluctantly but then was not clear and his mind wandered back and forth from "That's where I You  guys let me know when we are ready to leave...."   Saturday he packed up his toiletry articles and was ready to go home again.  He is much slower and weaker than when we were here  first of November.  I remind myself of what the doctors and the social worker said and what I know, "the dementia will decline and rise and come and go and the aging  progression may  make him weaker,  Do not  think that  placing him into the personal care assisted living caused this, but be assured that he is well as can be and safe, something that could not  be guaranteed at  his home without  24/7 help."  And yet still it makes me so sad that this is how this remarkable man will spend his last days.  He's 92 and who knows how much longer he has.  He has been sleeping   a lot in the afternoons now, something my granpap, his father, did  before he died peacefully in his sleep, never waking from a nap.  I  pray Uncle Carl has that same peace.   And again I wonder, why the mental decline.  Mom had Alzheimers, starting in her early 60's.  Jinx had some dementia with the cancer and Uncle Carl is now in decline.  Yet my grandparents, their parents had none of this and they  died  in their  mid and late 70's.  Why does this happen now so much more than in the past? 

Ahh well,  I am finding lots of things to get onto Sepia posts when we return home and I have my scanner. Even found Granpap's naturalization papers...  I just wanted to check in online and let  folks know what we are about.  Limited computer access here.  So I will not be posting much.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sepia Saturday Week 22 Annie Gorlewski Click here to connect to other's Sepia posts

                Anna Ostroski Kaluzny Gorlewski 1901—1982

This photo taken in  1940 is Annie on the right holding her daugher Katherine, with my grandmother Rose Ostrowski on the left.  I remember Annie, and her daughter, Katherine vividly because we (me and my Grandma) visited them often, sometimes detouring  on our way home from the Sunday movies. Annie may have been my grandmother’s God daughter or certainly her favorite niece because my Grandma had a very soft spot for her. She always took some food and a few dollars to Annie on every visit; I can still see my Grandmother sticking her hand in her purse and palming money off to Annie and Annie shaking her head in refusal as we made our way out the door but my grandmother always prevailed! I can still hear her say, "we take care of each other Annie!"  I  believe they did look out for one another and may have been identical in generously helping others. When I get to my grandmother’s stories I’ll explain the source of her pin money and I suspect this is what she shared, from her own abundance.

When I got a bit older, I considered that Annie who lived in a very poor part of town might have needed help and my grandmother was always one to help others. Regardless, I absolutely enjoyed going there because Katherine, the daughter was my first “friend.” Katherine was almost six years older than me but she welcomed me and was always willing to play dolls and have tea parties with me. When I was not quite five years old, she taught me how to make my first salad, slicing apples and a banana, sprinkling with bits of nuts and then adding salad dressing. I just thought Katherine was the cat’s meow.
Until I came along, Katherine was the center of attention but she was never jealous of the new kid in town. They said Katherine absolutely doted on me, took to me immediately and from the time my mom brought me home from the hospital; Katherine held me and watched my every movement. This would have been when Mom and my infant self lived with Mom’s parents and her sister, my aunt Virgina either next door or a door down from Annie. When I was nearly a year old Mom and her parents and sister pooled their funds to buy the home way up the hill, where Mom lived until she died in 2004. Here I am about 3 years old, on one of our stop by visits, when Katherine put me in the cabbage patch in the garden; I thought that was a hoot, remember I loved crawling around in the dirt around my grandpap.  They said that whatever Katherine thought up for me it was all good! She was a girl way ahead of the times, creating the first cabbage patch doll! I have no photos of Katherine with me, which I find strange, but then photos were not just normally taken of kids at play.

Annnie was the first of 10, 12 or 14 children born to great uncle John Ostrowski and his wife Frances Gapinski and as such the sister of Lizzie Waszkiewicz whom I posted on Sepia week 15.  Research varies on the number of children in that family but at least 10 survived. Uncle John dropped the “w” from Ostrowski so that the family spelled it Ostroski, one of the first name changes. Researching Annie helped me identify others in the previously posted Ostroski gathering photo of about 1910 when Annie was about 9 years old.   I have cropped them here; Annie is the little girl with her brother Ignatius next to her, parents John and Frances are seated with another baby on Frances’ lap, perhaps that is Frances.  The woman to the left of John is still unidentified.  Notice how Annie already has her mother's lips and serious face.  And  compare the look on John's face here with below on the steps with the cigar in his mouth--very similar. 

Browsing through my old photos to feature Annie led me to several interesting discoveries, the first that Annie was married twice, first in 1919 to Frank Kaluzny who died in 1927, reportedly from complications from World War I. So Annie was one of the first in the family to lose her husband to war and become a war widow with a baby. That would have made her a model for her cousin, my own mother years later in 1944 when my father’s death occurred. Annie and Frank Kaluzny had two sons, Raymond born March 3, 1923 and Frankie born January 1, 1927. I have limited memory about Frankie who was not living at home long before I came along and absolutely no recall of Raymond. My grandmother had this clipping of Frank’s marriage to Camille Slezycki in June 1979, another event I don’t recall.

Until I researched this I only knew of Annie’s second husband John J. Gorlewski, whom we called Bosco, another name I cannot explain but speculate that with the many John’s in the family including Annie’s father, maybe it was better to use a nickname. These two photos show the very strong physical resemblance between Annie’s father, John Ostroski and John “Bosco” Gorlewski who was only 10 years younger than her father. Evidently Bosco wore hats, which Uncle John did not.  Bosco and Annie had two children, Katherine born March 9, 1939 and Johnny born January 26, 1943. The photo of Annie and Bosco standing with Johnny and Katherine is earlier in 1943. This photo on the porch with her parents behind her and my grandmother to her right and Johnny on her lap is from  later in 1943 by Johnny's appearance and it may be one of the few with Annie almost smiling.  I don't remember her as  full of laughter as others, but I know that she was very dear and caring.

Johnny would have been almost two years older than me, but I recall little of him; perhaps he was one of those boys who steered clear. In 1945, here is Johnny trying to hold on to me but they said I wanted to go toward whoever had the camera and that I wanted my Grandma!. I think Johnny was not all that amused at having to pose with me, but someone must have thought it a good idea.

Bosco worked many long hard hours and double shifts when he could so was not at home much but when he was he seemed to be ill. I believe he suffered strokes and may have been recovering. This is the only other picture of him that I have, in the snow, noted as just weeks after Katherine’s birth in 1939.

Annie was a caretaker, I suspect that came with being the first born child into the huge family. At one time she was raising her youngest brother, Raymond, shown here between Frank Kaluzny, Annie’s oldest son and Katherine. This photo of the three is dated 1942.   My aunt always said that way back then Katherine was just waiting for another little girl to come along, a couple years ahead of my time. 

 If anyone, especially a woman in the extended family was ill or not up to duties, Annie helped out and was one of the first to cook a meal and deliver it or bake something and take it to cheer up a person. She must have had to beat her Aunt Rosie (my grandma) across the river to the aunts and cousins, but often she did. I believe that she cared for both her parents and that her mother lived with her after her father died. I can recall an old lady lying in a bed when we visited.

I don’t ever remember my Grandmother and Annie just sitting down and talking during visits; seems they were either in the kitchen cooking or cleaning something up, or washing something or ironing.   I believe that Annie took in washing and ironing and mending and that may have accounted for some of the activity.

Annie made quilts and always had some sewing underway. My aunt Virginia said that Annie taught her to quilt in 1940 after she graduated from high school. I have that “one and only” as my aunt preferred to sew and crochet and never made another quilt. I am working at restoring pieces on that quilt which I rescued from my aunt’s basement several years ago. Here they are in 1940 after my aunt’s high school graduation, Annie on the right and Virginia on the left.
Annie died in 1982 when I lived in California, so I did not return to PA for the funeral. Sadly I have no information about what ever happened to her children and their families. It is a sad testimony to Annie, who spent so much time caring for anyone in her entire extended family that all are now scattered perhaps around the country. That was what happened when the mills and plants closed, in that small town in PA, everyone moved on. Perhaps further research will lead us back and or someone will see this Sepia Post when they Google and contact me as happened with other photos.

This has been an interesting week of research using  If I could do a time warp and interview someone from the past, it would be Annie, I expect she had many tales and a lifetime of experiences with all her brothers, sisters and family.  She must not have had big weddings because my grandmother would surely have had those photos.  Ahh, well, I am blessed to have what I do, so many in the collection.  Were it not for Sepia Saturday I wouldn't be getting this all  posted and shared.

Click on the title  as always to go to the Sepia site and read others and see the wonderful photos.

Two more reads for the side bar -- First Family and Niagara Falls

Finished both these books in April but here is the commentary in May.  After Rove’s book I needed lighter reading. David Baldacci is one of my favorite story tellers and his First Family, published in 2009, was immensely satisfying. But then to me he has not written anything which I’ve read that I don’t enjoy. I don’t know how to classify the genre, other than the perfect blend of intrigue, mystery, suspense, a shade of romance, friendship, political or just good old reading this tale through the eyes of the private investigators, former Secret Service agency employees, whom the First Lady solicits for assistance when her niece is kidnapped. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, the investigators, find themselves back in the game but soon become suspicious of the First lady herself. Besides the main tale, there is a sideline with Michelle’s complicated family. Two tales in one, pure Baldacci. Nothing much more I can say about this so as to not reveal too much. This was another popular best seller by Baldacci; I wonder how he does it without resorting to outline comic book style writing which often happens with popular authors. I’d picked this up at a book sale, $1 for the hard cover, a bargain, and will now pass it along to the local library for their sale. It is excellent reading that kept me quickly turning the pages till the end at 449.

While I snagged no quotes to share, the style is so Baldacci, that any paragraph is exciting……for example page 6……..”Her face was in decent shape, she thought as she snatched a look in a mirror. It held the marks and creases of a woman who’d given birth multiple times and endured many political races. No human being could emerge unblemished after that. Whatever frailty you possessed the other side would find and stick a crowbar in to lever every useful scrap out. The press still referred to her as attractive. Some went out on a limb and described her as possessing movie star good looks. Maybe once, she knew but not anymore. She was definitely in the “character actress” stage of her career now. Still, she had progressed a long way from the days when firm cheekbones and a firmer backside were high on her list of priorities. “

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan presents an intriguing book cover, almost a sepia print of a woman at Niagara Falls in the 1800’s. It caught my eye and as Niagara Falls is one of my favorite places in the entire country I thought it worth the time to read. Written ala the Victorian style this first novel for Cathy, hints at imminent disaster by title alone. The historical sketches and text and old photos woven through this tale enhance the drama about Bess Heath, a young woman who spurns what would have been a “better” marriage for her attraction to a naturalist of sorts. It begins in 1915—the beginning of the harnessing of the hydroelectric power of the Falls and a time when the dare devils were shooting the rapids in barrels. Her sister Isabel has her own story going on and there is a family tragedy in the making. Her father has lost his prominent job and the family fortune is dwindling; her mother helps support the family as a seamstress and her father despite trying to keep up appearances begins drinking. It follows the dawn of the ready wear clothing and how that affects the seamstress industry. I loved the in depth descriptions of some of the hand sewing, the finery and the descriptive of the feel of the fabrics. It is a tribute to  hand work, sewing, WWI and the Canadian culture of that time.   It is not an all ends happily ever after tale and at times I thought it slow moving, but then some history of the region would evolve to return my interest.

Some of the writing is melancholy which became dreary but as I prevailed through the 298 pages I can say this was a different genre of reading for me, reminiscent of Louisa May Alcott and  the like and I learned something about writing by reading this.

Pg. 138, “..Grief isn’t something to get over…it stays with you, always…just not so raw….”

Pg. 151..”Every day there are moments when it feels like I’m met head on by meaninglessness.”

Pg. 215 ..”We all matter so very little, .. not at all after a generation or two….as Darwin put forth…”

Pg. 217…”Even now it seems a sort of bull headedness is chief among the traits necessary to prevail, a trait Isabel had in spades.”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waiting for time to write

Busy time here and I will not have time to post but I do have some thoughts weaving around in my head, one on cocktails and high balls!  Magpie tales must take a back seat for some time now as outside gardening beckons me,  diminishing time for  the keyboard.  I am trying to stay with the Sepias though as  I have so many stories still to share. 

I will be posting my current reflections after my recent political experience participating as a delegate to the MN Republican state convention.  I have been to the belly of the beast and am more than disgusted with what I've encountered there.  Watching the changes in politics can be invigorating or disgusting.  The take back the party by the young agressives and the ultra right wingers is offensive at the best to me and absolutely offputting.  I believe most people are decent middle moderates, as I am. Extremism in any form is not welcoming. Which is worse ultra right or ultra left? 

 Well, I have enough to do with blogging, reading, gardening, working out, biking, dealing with elderly mother in law in town,  and getting ready to take our RV back to PA to check on my elderly uncle.   More later. Especially about the great  graduation party I attended Saturday here.