Showing posts with label Ostrowsky. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ostrowsky. Show all posts

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sepia Saturday Week 50 The Tady Twins (Click here

I can still hear the excitement in the voices when they talked about the Tady Twins, the Tady Boys as I was a  youngster.  They were twin boys born to my mom's (and aunt  and Uncle's) cousin, Helen Janosky, who married Jack Tady.  Last week you met again, Stella Janosky, who was Helen's sister.  So far I have not found a  single photo of Helen in all the  old photos of relatives, but she may be one of those whom I cannot identify.  It must have been fun for my Mom, also a Helen, to have a  close cousin with the same name.

But back to the twins, I wonder now,  knowing what I do about our  ancestry, why  these twins were such a wonder.  There is  plenty of history of twins in the Ostrowski (Ostroski, Ostrowsky, etc.) lineage.  But nevertheless, the Tady Twins were revered, by their grandparents  Mary and Tommy and the rest of the clan.   And unlike those from years past, both boys survived and thrived.  No wonder that  Mom shuddered thinking of what could have been when I would lament in my teen years, "I wish I were twins!"  My cry was because I could not be in two  places at one time and there was always something more where I wanted to be than where I was at the moment. Mom shuddered because she knew it could have happened, she could have had twin me's!

 Here they are, darling little guys, a Sepia  photo retrieved from PA, Mom's writing at the bottom.Look at the arms linked and one more serious than the other.

I know they were a couple years older than me and their names were Fred and Frank; one is still alive today I have learned, but I don't know where. Fred is dead, and I do not know which was whom.  But what a couple of cuties!  Their parents first child, their older brother, Tom has also passed on and his wife has not wanted me to post anything about them or him relaying this message through a new found cousin,  not even communicating to me directly  but since I do not know her and these  are  from my family and my memories, I am sharing.

The way I know they are older than me besides my research that shows they were born in 1942  is look at this next photo.  Yours truly is the youngest, wailing  perhaps and  subdued by Mom in  1945, among  several of my boy cousins. Check out those short pants and  shoes and socks.  The Tady twins are  to the right of  myself, one either very concerned  or asking Mom to do something with the noise.  Again I do not know which is Fred and which is Frank. The boys to the left  are the Mroz cousins from Wisconsin who were visiting all of us in PA.  Rollie is the  youngest, the farthest to the left also looking at me with great concern and his brother Jerry is  bearing up; he is older and likely wishing he did not have to be among the beasties~ I gave copies of this photo to both the Mroz cousins a few years back; Rollie who passed away last year got a big kick out of it and reminded me that I had tormented them all my life.   I keep this photo framed  and on my family display shelf; it is one of my favorites.  You heard some of my escapades when I arrived in WI with my grandma to visit the Mroz's my Great Aunt Francie, grandma's sister on a March Sepia post

  I only have one more Tady photo and I am sure that  Jack, their father and Helen's husband has passed on, but I found this one from 1956 taken at my Grand Aunt Mary's during a family gathering...there were so many people there that the lawn chairs had to be brought inside the house to seat everyone.  Darn, wish I had a  Helen Janosky Tady photo here also  (I learned through research that  she passed away in this last year in a care facility in PA.  I leave this Sepia Post with Jack Tady, father of the boys!  Notice the look on his face, wonder who he was watching, maybe it was one of us kids!

As always, click on the title or here to get to the Sepia Saturday post site where you can browse through and visit others in the international community.   We celebrate  our 50th week this week!  What a journey!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bill Austin SEPIA SATURDAY Week 21 Click here to link to others' posts

Bill Austin 1889-1956 

This is my Great Uncle Bill, another Ostrowski, my grandmother Rose’s brother and his wife, Louise in 1944.Check out his white shoes and she in heels. Sometime early in his life as happened all too often in those times Bill may have experienced discrimination toward the Polish because he changed his last name to Austin. Not only that he changed his first name from Walter F to William, no middle name or initial. I can only imagine what went through his head to do this but surely wish I knew the story to share here. Maybe it was just as simple as a wish to fully assimilate—as far as he was concerned he was American. Maybe the Polish last name did not match is idea of being an American. As if I do not have enough to deal with in my genealogy with the changing of the spelling of Ostrowski, Uncle Bill had to go further.

He was born to Frank Ostroski and his second wife, Frances Swartz in Detroit Michigan according to my research. But Frank and Frances moved on to the mines of PA and there they settled; Bill lived in the New Kensington, PA area all his life.

Well my grandma Rose did not care if changed his name to “Yehudi” as she would say; he was her brother and that was that, though she thought it was very silly. When I was learning to spell, I asked her if the name change was because Ostrowski was just too hard to spell , to which she said that Uncle Bill was educated and could read, write and spell. I do not know what schools he attended, or how far he went in school, but she recalled he was the smartest boy in the family. I remember going to visit with my grandmother and my Aunt Virginia to the Anderson St. house where Bill and his wife Louise lived all their life and where she stayed after his death. I was fascinated with that area of our town known as Parnassus, and I imagined that Parnassus was a mythical name. Bill and Louise had no children and so far I do not know Louise’s maiden name. I know that she was my godmother, so identified on my Baptismal Certificate.

I enjoyed our visits to Uncle Bill and Aunt Louise because she always made fresh cold lemonade or freshly squeezed orange juice. My Grandmother would tell her not to bother that we only had a short time to spend, but that was Louise’s hospitality. Louise always had glasses being iced in the refrigerator, so they would be cold; this fascinated me, something no one else did. And more remarkable, Louise lined the glass rims with sugar and served proudly to each of us, even me the kid with gorgeous linen and crochet coasters. Mostly grandma made sure that Bill knew about family events, so anytime anyone had a new addition to the family, a baptism, a confirmation, a graduation whatever, my grandma would visit Bill. I never understood why she didn’t just call him on the phone, but suppose that was her way of being sure that her brother heard the news and would attend the upcoming event. I don’t recall him coming to many of the family gatherings or if he did it was just brief. Perhaps the others were not pleased with his Americanization attempt; my family were all proud of their Polishness.

I found his WWII draft card on showng his residence as the Anderson Street address. At that time he was still using the name Walter Ostrowski. But I learned something else from that. I have mentioned elsewhere on this blog that I grew up very close with my grandmother, she and I went to the movies every Sunday. In our small town which thrived in the days of the steel mills and the Alcoa Plant, there were three movie theaters. And some Sunday’s she and I would go to two of the theaters.   But we always went to the Liberty first, sometimes they were not showing a movie I preferred, I really liked cowboys and Indians in Technicolor so we had to take in one of those. I found this clipping about Uncle Bill in my grandma’s collection which shows that was his employment; evidently he loaded the films and ran them. This was a newsclip which I love showing the old equipment.  It explains why we always went there first, no matter what was on. I imagine we got free passes. On his WWII draft card Warner Brothers is identified as the owner of the theater, formerly known as the Ritz. I’d thought our three theaters were independently owned. Interesting to learn that Warner Brothers owned theaters across the country and in our little town in PA. This is my limited information about Uncle Bill and Aunt Louise for our  21st week of Sepia posts.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sepia Saturday Week 18 Ostrowski Sisters (Click here to view others' posts)

Today I share the oldest photo I have of my beloved maternal Grandma, Rose Ostrowski Kochanowski (1895-1970) with her sisters and brothers, some of Frank Ostrowski’s children. I found this torn and ragged at the bottom of an old suitcase when I cleared my mother’s house in 2004; Mom had written the names on the photo who knows when. I was amazed to discover this and so wish I could have known about it when my grandmother was alive to tell where and when, etc.

This was the wedding of Rose’s brother Joseph to Catherine Buhl (Buehl) in New York. Date unknown. Joseph (1878-1957) is the oldest of Frank’s children from the first wife and appears to have migrated from Poland with his parents. I have not been able to identify the three young girls seated in front. The others are, seated left to right, my Grandma Rose, brother and the groom Joseph Ostrowski, the bride Catherine Buhl (sp?) and brother Ben Ostrowski (1883-1959). Standing are her sister Veronica (Vernie 1892-1961) who married Alex Roginski, brother Walter F known as Bill (1889-1956)who changed his name to Austin, and sister Mary (1891-1964) who married Thomas Janosky.

Rose, Mary, Veronica and Bill were Frank Ostrowski’s children from his second wife, Frances Swartz who was from either Germany or a German occupied part of Poland (1869- 1902). My grandma never distinguished half brothers or sisters; they were all family, all Ostrowskis and that was all that mattered.  By the way my line of Ostrowski's spelled their names with or without the "w" and several other variations... The sisters remained very close throughout their lives. Rose outlived them all except for the baby, Francie whom we saw on previous Sepia. Many Sundays I accompanied my grandma on the bus ride across the river so she could see her sisters Mary and Vernie. Sometimes they made the journey to my grandma’s house, but Aunt Mary’s house was bigger with a formal dining room so most gatherings were there. But my grandma would haul pastries and pies along that she had carefully made the day before. All the sisters could cook, but Rose was the best baker and so these treats were often  her  contribution to most gatherings.

Here are the sisters and their husbands in 1945 during one of Francie Mroz’s visits.

Seated left to right, Mary, Rose, Francie and Vernie; behind them their husbands ( left to right) Tommy Janosky, Teofil Kochanowski, Al Mroz, Alex Roginski.  This is the only photo I have of all the girls and guys together. Notice those old  cars to the side.

I recall little about Great Aunt Vernie except that she became very ill and bedbound at the last; I think she suffered stokes. Aunt Mary remains very vivid in my memories; she was always in a good mood and always smiling. Somehow she found the good and the humorous in everything. Whenever I would act silly or burst out into uncontrollable laughter as a child my grandma would say, “you are just like Mary she thinks everything is funny too!”

Actually whenever I would act out or up as in this photo of me with a purple costume wig and my Grandma Rose in 1961 after Granpap died, she would say, "just like my sister Mary!"  I had decided that we had enough of being sad and that  Granpap would not want us sitting and mourning.  My poor Grandma didn't find a lot to laugh about at the time, so I tried to cheer her up being silly. 

Aunt Mary’s laughter was so contagious that people caught it quickly just being around her. I remember Mary and my grandma washing dishes after a big family dinner and holding their sides doubling over with laughter at the sink. Rose threw her wet dish rag at Mary telling her to “stop making me laugh I am going to wet myself!” That only brought more laughter and my grandma’s mad dash to the bathroom. Today when I get an attack of the giggles I think of my great aunt Mary.

 I don't know how she kept a straight face for this snapshot of their 60th something wedding anniversary, Mary and Tommy Janosky. But he looks like he is about to laugh, maybe expecting something from Mary soon.   Rose kept this photo which featured the cake she had made for them and all the  pink roses.  

In that same suitcase was this old photo of a mystery girl, whom I believe is posed for Communion and who must be one of the Ostrowski's though no one could identify her.  She is certainly serious.   

As a result of these Sepia Saturday posts I have been contacted by some previously unknown relatives in PA, FL and OK; all part of the Ostrowski lineage. They were Googling and found me here. I hope that the same good luck continues so I can resolve more of this puzzle of my family.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Elizabeth Ostrowski Waszkiewicz (click here to visit other Sepia Posts)

Elizabeth Ostrowski Waszkiewicz 1903--2006 

For week 15 of Sepia Saturday I feature Lizzie, which is what everyone called her, my 2nd cousin who lived to be 102 years old. She was born to John Ostrowski, (Frank’s second son by his first marriage) and Frances Gapinski on October 18, 1903 in New Kensington, PA. There were 10 children altogether in that family; the only other one I knew was Annie Gorleski whom I’ll feature in another post. In 2006 Lewis and Raymond two of her brothers were alive, along with  Eleanor Watson one of her sisters. The others Henry, Eddie, Ignatius, Annie Gorleski, Francie Slodowski and Margie Hancock had all died.

On May 31, 1923 when Lizzie was not quite 20 years old, she married Stanley Waskiewicz. Their wedding picture here strikes me as odd; Lizzie is expressionless with her arms at her sides, while Stanley appears to be holding her up with one arm. I wonder what she was thinking under that gorgeous hat. Stanley died after they were married 31 years when he was 59 leaving Lizzie to continue to raise the family alone. Well as alone as could be with all the Polish relatives in the area. They had five children; two daughters are still alive in PA, Dorothy Centazzo, and Catherine (James) Wencel; the other daughter Louise Bobonick is now deceased and  two sons, Stanley Jr. and John died before Lizzie.

Lizzie worked as a seamstress at a sewing machine factory, as a waitress at the Alcoa Aluminum  plant cafeteria, and at John F Kennedy School in Creighton, where she must have helped in the kitchen/cafeteria.  She had  11 grandchildren, 14 great grand children and two great great grandchildren.

Likely I met Lizzie other times through my life growing up at the  many many Polish family gatherings but I do not remember those times. But I really remember our visit in September 2005 when I was in PA to care for my aunt Virginia through her surgery. My aunt told me that “we have a cousin who is over 100 years old” and that set me to wanting to meet her. I wish I had been astute enough to take a camera and photograph myself with Lizzie but I did not. Here is Lizzie's picture  from a news paper clipping announcing the family's celebration of her 100th birthday! 

Lizzie had a small apartment upstairs in the house where she lived with her youngest daughter Catherine and husband. The day we visited Dorothy was there too. Catherine had cautioned not to question Lizzie too much, but Lizzie wanted to talk, she was excited about a visit!  It was the treat of my life to meet her. Her mind was sharp and she was snoozing in her chair with a crossword puzzle book beside her on a side table; she looked absolutely wonderful, beautiful skin, white hair kept in curls with a perm. When she got up to go to the bathroom, we saw that she could hardly walk, severe arthritis had crippled her. Still she mentioned that she would like to go to the new Pittsburgh Mills Mall that had recently opened a couple miles from the home; I asked her what she wanted to buy and she said, “oh nothing just to look. I always like to shop for dresses.” Dorothy, her daughter rolled her eyes and clarified, “but she would never buy one because she always sewed better than what the stores sold.” Lizzie grinned.

Lizzie made quilts for the family until she was 99 years old, then she quit, saying her eyes didn’t work quite so good to sew like that anymore. She said she did not want to sew anything that would not be perfect!  Oh this is an Ostrowski if I ever met one, I thought.   She said today she liked sitting in her chair, looking out the window and working puzzles and watching the birds and the railroad cars go by. She didn’t care much about TV. She remembered me as Helen’s daughter, but mostly  Roses’ granddaughter (I was always with my granma)and said, “Patty, you became a beautiful woman. Why did you move so far away?” We talked a little about California where I had lived but I told her we moved to Minnesota now and she shrugged, like “where’s that?” Lizzie said that her brother Raymond lived somewhere in California but nobody ever heard from him anymore and that California was a strange place where people go and disappear. Well she was right; it was and is a very strange place! People don't diaappear there but often they lose thier contacts with their families, with their souls.

When I mentioned that her birthday was coming up she said yes, that she was born October 19, 1903 would be 102 in another month and grinned. I told her that my husband and I married on October 19 and she acknowledged that with, “then you can always have a shot on my birthday for me!” I asked her what kind of shot and she responded, “Whiskey!” When I told her I don’t drink that she grinned and said, “Well you need to try it sometime! You are old enough to drink whiskey.” She had a beautiful smile and eyes that sparkled especially when she laughed. I thought how beautiful she was at this age and how wonderful that her daughters cared for her so well. Her voice was good, not raspy or wobbly like some elderly can get. I would have guessed her at maybe in her late 70’s if I’d met her elsewhere.  Lizzie was an living example of the well aged ; she never grumbled, was most happy and gracious the entire time!  What a testimony to life lived well!

Lizzie reminisced that things were not so much fun anymore. I asked her what were the most fun things she remembered, her favorite times, and she regaled us about the old times with family. She said how they would have big parties and oh she especially liked the picnics over the 4th of July, all the dancing. “Just real fun we had! Now these kids don’t do that! And Dorothy just said, “Oh, Ma!” Lizzie shook her head and said, “See what I mean they never dance anymore! People should dance!” Amen Lizzie!  I couldn't agree more!~  Lizzie slipped into talking Polish sometime with my aunt and suddenly I was a kid again when the women spoke of what they didn’t want me to hear in Polish; imagine Lizzie at 101 speaking two languages. I recognized part of it as a cuss complaint about her arthritis that had her nearly immobile. She  wanted to be able to move and do things; she said she missed sewing and crocething.  

We only stayed for a little under 2 hours so as not to tire her out and then said our goodbyes with big hugs. Lizzie died on May 10, 2006 in a care facility after a brief hospitalization. She was only in the facility one day and I am glad that she lived at home comfortably till nearly the end. God bless her wonderful daughters who cared for her and made her comfortable.

PS I have been contacted by two of Lizzie's grand daughters, Melissa and Darcy, and her daughter Catherine through this post.  Catherine gave me some corrections which I've made above.  Thanks to Sepia Saturday I amcontinuing to  learn more about family.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sepia Saturday Great Aunt Francie Ostrowski Mroz

Frances Veronica Ostrowski Mroz 1906- 1978

Her she is again, my Great Aunt Francie, my grandmother’s “baby sister” as my grandma called her all of her life! This is on one of their visits to PA in about  1945, with my grandpa.  Aunt Francie is  the little girl seated in the mystery Ostrowski gathering photo with the big bow in her hair.  I posted that two Sepia
Saturday's ago.  I am gathering all the Mroz photos I have to send to the adult Mroz children. So this is a good time to feature my memories of her. I have many happy memories of great fun and lots of laughter whenever we were around.  She and my granmother especially enjoyed each other. 

Aunt Francie, the only child of Frank Ostrowski and Helen Sajikowski (Sekoski), arrived on earth December 28, 1906 in PA. She always teased that if she could have waited four more days, she would have been a year younger! I love these wedding photos where she is absolutely engulfed by flowers. She married Alphonse Mroz in Milwaukie, WI  August 31, 1929. He met her when she was working in a flower shop and it was love at first sight, for him anyway. He promised her flowers if she would marry him; the wedding bouquet shows he kept his word at that at least for the ceremony. I recall her saying to him later in life that “It ain’t been no bed of roses with you all the time like you promised. I should have known! Some of your promises faded faster than petals on roses!”  

I’d mailed most of the photos to my cousin, Roland, her youngest son who complained to me once that he had no family photos. After Roland passed on in October, his children asked me if I had any family photos. Who knows what he did with all the others; I  suggested they look carefully when they cleaned out his home; fortunately for them I held onto a couple. I don’t know names of the other couple in the bridal party and as with so many other old photos there is no one around to ask.

She was always Aunt Francie to me. Nearly every summer as I was growing up either she or family came to PA to visit her sisters and stayed with my grandparents, or I accompanied my grandmother and grandfather by train to Milwaukie, WI to visit them. Those were great days of train travel in the 1950’s from Pittsburgh, PA to Milwaukie; it was quite the adventure for me to travel with my Grandparents. My grandmother cooked, baked and packed along enough food to feed an army so we always were well fed on the journey. I noticed that Grandma offered food to others and especially the conductors. I even heard one conductor say, “Why Rosie I am so glad to have you on this trip! Whatcha’ got in the hamper this trip! I sure am hungry!” I suppose that was one reason she made so much food and she was an excellent cook! We traveled in the coach class and once my grandmother opened our food bin invariably, someone would comment, “my that smells good…” That was all the invitation my generous grandmother needed to share her food; fried chicken, polish sausage sandwiches, homemade rolls and wonderful Polish cookies and delicacies. And my Granpap would tell me stories about his early years in America when he rode the rails. But once we arrived in Milwaukie, Aunt Francie took over! She let her older sister know that we were honored guests in their home and Rose was not to do a thing. It never happened. Those two Polish women kept very busy cooking, cleaning, doing dishes, going to masses and talking the entire visit. My grandma was not one to sit still but  she and her baby sister enjoyed themselves to the hilt! I had the best time of all because I was treated like a queen, adored by two couples. If my grandparents didn't coddle me enough Aunt Francie and Uncle Al stepped up the pace!  It was no wonder that given a choice one summer to go to Milwaukie with my Grandma or go to Canada with my Mother and family I chose  Milwaukie, to my Mother's disappointment.  But I would not  give up the festivities waiting for me, I knew back then a good thing when I had it!

Francie and Al had two sons, Jerry born November 11, 1935 and Roland born November 13, 1940. This is interesting because I was born November 13, 1944; so Roland and I shared a birth date and month. Every November as long as she lived, Aunt Francie sent me a birthday card and said she would never  forget me because I was born in November the best of months.  Remember, Frank Ostrowski, her father, my Great Grandfather  was also born November 11. 

I became the “best pest” to these two boys, my cousins. From the time I set foot off the train their mother had made it very clear that they were to entertain me and whatever “little Patty” wants that would be the direction for them to take. It did not take me long at all to figure out I had two slaves and both men reminded me of it in our grown up years. Jerry once said to my husband also  Jerry that “she was the most spoiled kid anyone ever knew…” to which my husband admitted, “Oh I know it!” It was far worse for Jerry who was older and would have preferred to hang out with his friends, but because he was older he had the chore to escort me and his brother constantly. I made them play hopscotch with me on the sidewalk and Jerry had to draw the squares. I made them hold the jump rope for me and push me on the swings! They said that at times  they could just see my  brain thinking up tasks for them.

On our visits, the sky was the limit for me, whatever I wanted had to happen and  Aunt Francie ensured that  it did, the zoo, a row boat ride on a lake, playgrounds, ice cream stores, and candy stores, baseball games where Uncle Al sold concessions, sparklers when we visited over the 4th of July, and the movies to me the best of all. Always I was the one to select the movies and Aunt Francie beamed, saying “My good boys to take such good care of Patty!” I recall one time Jerry scowled and she gave him a swat upside the head, “Don’t you look at Patty like that!” It’s a wonder these boys & I remained close through life! Rollie tormented me to the day he died about a tantrum I threw at the John Wayne Movie, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.” For some reason I was ready to leave and he was not, the movie was not over. But I insisted and said “well when we get home I’m telling Aunt Francie that you made me stay here…” he got up from his seat right then “Ok let’s go!” Aunt Francie was a presence and a real threat to them. Several years ago I sent him a DVD of that movie!

I am not sure what year but Jerry Mroz and his family (wife Donna, 3 children) moved from Milwaukie to Bakersfield CA where he sold insurance. Finally he convinced his parents to move to Bakersfield too. I visited them on one of my trips when I was working in the area in   1973.  Here are the three of us.

We always stopped on our way to and from Riverside to visit Jerry’s folks, too. And the Mroz's all would come north  to visit us too. One year Rollie came from WI and we had a reunion. Aunt Francie marveled at the good CA weather and said, “Well in CA nobody starves, look at the oranges on the trees,  all the time something growing!” Aunt Francie was a kind woman but had her limits. I remember one visit to Bakersfield when Uncle Al, both Jerry’s and Donna and others were playing cards in the kitchen. She and I sat in the other room and talked, finally she was ready to go home but Uncle Al was having fun at the card table. She allowed this for a time and finally walked over to him, pulled on his ear and announced, “Al it’s time to go home I said!” He arose quickly as did her son, Jerry who was to drive them home.  Even at his age of 40+ he  knew his Mom would swat him or pull his ears too!

Aunt Francie died in 1978 after a short stay in the hospital and I recall it was fall, because I wore a coat to her funeral. I remember being very sad and shedding many tears as they lowered her casket into the ground. She was the last of the old family and I knew there would be no more stories. After all, she is the one who gave me the Ostrowski photo and told me about my great grandfather.  She also is the one who told me my own beloved grandfather had been married once before and had a child somewhere in Chicago.  She said he always said he would go find them and my grandmother would tell him to do that!  I never knew about this and by this time my grandparents were gone and neither my mother nor aunt knew anymore. In this wedding photo here she is with that big bow over her head again!  Funny thing is I never remember her weatring a hat other than to church on Sunday; in her later years she wore a lace mantilla acquired in CA.  She loved that.

I have some beautiful  lacy crocheted doiles and dresser scarves that she made.  She, my grandmother and my Aunt Virginia all were excellent handworkers crocheting and  doing hand applique work and stitching fancy touches to handkerchiefs and scarve; true artists.  In one guest bedroom today I have a set of multi color blue doilies made by Aunt Francie.  In this one of the last photos taken of her she was on her way out to check on her flowers! She loved having flowers year round in CA!   Great Aunt Francie, rests in peace!

Click on the title above to go to other Sepia Saturday Posts. This is week 14 and my 4th week participating.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sepia Saturday February 20

Ostrowski (aka Ostroski) my maternal grandmother’s family appx. 1910 Mystery gathering

Preparing this for Sepia Saturday reminded me how difficult my genealogical research has been. I must get some of this organized to share with whoever from the next generation might be interested. I have been asked to send what I have to the Mroz adult children of my cousin Roland who died in Madison in October. My Polish history becomes complicated due to the various spellings of the names. This happened all too commonly with the immigrants. It was Ostrowski, also spelled as Ostroski, Ostroskie, depending on who singed and wrote their name. In addition many changed their names to a more accepted Americanized version as my uncle did by changing Kochanowski to Konesky; some even changed their first names to something very different, for example, Walter became known as Bill. I suppose part of this was by reason of wanting to be accepted, to fit in.  Yet life was extrememly segregated by ethnic heritage.  Another curious name game in my family is the repetitive use of the same name within families. This happened with Helen, Frank and Francis, Frances, and John. It must have been comical at a family event when they called for John and three boys responded!

In about 1977, before she died, my Great Aunt Frances, my (maternal) grandmother’s baby sister gave me this photo. She is seated on the ground, in this photo, between the two boys, second person from the left with a big bow or flower in her hair. I knew that she was the youngest of my grandma’s family of sisters and brothers. But until she began to talk about the photo, I did not know that her father, my great grandfather, Frank Ostrowski had three wives two of whom he outlived. She knew nothing about where it was taken or why. But this photo is the only such of a gathering of the Ostrowski clan to my knowledge.

Great Aunt Frances was born in 1906, which makes me guess that her age is about four in the photo which then dates this to about 1910. She married a Mroz. I tried for years to identify all the relatives. Neither my mother nor my aunts were able to identify all the people or why the photo was taken. I know which ones are my grandmother and her sisters and brothers, all standing in the back, young folks, some forcing a straight face. My grandmother’s sister, Mary has such a twinkle in her eye that it appears hard for her to look grim. I always remember this about Great Aunt Mary; she was a happy soul, full of laughter. Actually most of my grandmother’s relatives were jovial people, who enjoyed what little they had and certainly reveled in each other’s company.

My mother speculated this photo was taken in Ohio at a funeral that was a family scandal, something no one talked about. I don’t know how she knew that if she knew little else. It was the end of the conversation in her kitchen in PA during one of my visits home, as she walked away leaving me to my thoughts and to accept her explanation. My mother died of Alzheimer’s in 2004 and I believe that she had early symptoms which we did not recognize. So who knows if her comment was from dementia or truth? I accepted that as closed conversation. That was a prevalent way to deal with questions in my family, no one talked about anything. If they didn’t speak it or repeat it, it didn’t happen. I don’t know if all immigrant families had this same way of dealing with life, but my Polish family kept things to themselves. There is a Polish proverb about not speaking of misfortune so that the devil does not gain an open door to enter and bring in more trouble. I suspect the immigrants were cautious of discussions and suspicious as most of them had fled Poland to escape oppression. I am different and want to know and tell our stories. Too bad that as a child I didn’t pay more attention. I wonder what might have been the scandal worthy of stoic silence in this mystery photo. By the time I received this photo, my grandmother and all her sisters and brothers were long gone so there is no one to ask.

Great Grandfather Frank Ostrowski is seated in the middle row, third from the left. His third wife who is Great Aunt Fran’s mother, Helen Sekoski (aka Sajikowski) is 2nd from the left next to him. Frank (aka Franz) Francis Ostrowski is a story unto himself what I have learned about him in research. He immigrated from Poland and made his living as a coal miner in PA.

Here are the folks I know for sure:

Seated on the ground on what appears to be carpet, the front row: 2nd from left between 2 unidentified boys, Great Aunt Fran Ostrowski Mroz; after the 2nd boy, in a plaid dress with her hair parted in the middle is Annie Ostrowski Kaluzney and Gorleski, my grandmother’s cousin, unknown child next to her. Notice that none of these kids look very happy!

Second row from the left: Unknown woman, next to her, 2nd woman is Helen Sekoski, then Great Grandfather Frank, unknown couple, the people in the rest of the row are unidentified but I suspect Annie’s mother may be seated right behind her.

Third (Back) row from the left: (most are my grandmother Rose’s sisters, brothers, full or half siblings; progeny of Franks first two wives)  I have included the married names of the women.

Joseph John Ostrowski (surviving Twin whose brother died shortly after birth), unknown woman, we speculate that might be Katherine Buhl whom Joseph married; she resembles the woman at the end left in the second row, John Martin Ostrowski; Bill (nee Walter F) Ostrowski who changed his last name to Austin, unknown man, Mary Ostrowski Janosky, unknown man with his arm through my grandmother’s arm, My grandmother Rose Ostrowski Kochanowski, unknown man, Veronica (aka Vernie) Ostrowski Roginski, Ben (nee Bernard John) Ostrowski, Ben’s wife-Anna Boguzinska Ostrowski and their first born Walter (Louie).

There you have it the Mystery gathering. In 2002, my research led a previously unknown cousin to me. That was interesting as we pieced together different pieces of the puzzle of the Ostrowski clan. Today I have not heard from Sharon in months as she has not returned emails or answered her phone when we are in PA. Not sure what is going on with her. I have genealogy which traces Frank Ostrowski’s line to Poland in the 1300’s supplied by another 2nd cousin, Maxine, in Utah. Complicated strings of Polish links.

& here is link to the Sepia Sat site, I hope, if you would like to see others tales and  photos