POLAND, JULY 2010
PART TWO: July 4 - July 9
July 4, Sunday
Breakfast this morning at Jaś Wędrowniczek was buffet style probably because so many people stayed over after the wedding. You do NOT drink even one alcoholic beverage and drive in Poland. The hotel was hosting an antique and craft fair so after breakfast we took a quick look around. We spotted a menorah, several icons and a lot of furniture and paintings. Most items of interest were just too big to take home. We checked out of the hotel because rooms had opened up at the Jagielloński Hotel in Sanok which is where we originally wanted to stay since it was closer to Bukowsko, sort of. As is our practice, we paid in złoty for the room.
Today was the annual Bukowsko Festival. My first! I was pretty excited. We had arranged to meet my cousin Ela and Robert Koczera a good friend (and translator) at the festival. First we had to stop in Markowce and take photographs of the church, some houses and the cemetery from a distance. We could not find a drive-able road to the cemetery. It sits on a hill and I can't imagine that people still walk up that hill. After this stop we drove into Sanok and shopped at Kauflands. This store sells groceries, housewares, a few clothes, office supplies, toys, and so on. We bought a sim card starter kit for Dave's cell phone, a screwdriver set (4 złoty) to put the fans together, large container of water (nie gazowana), candy for gifts, and bug spray.
Once the Sim card was installed we called Robert who was already on his way to Bukowsko. We had arranged to meet him at approximately 1:00 p.m. According to the Bukowsko gmina web site there would be many children's folk singing groups competing, craft booths (YES!) and other entertainment. I was really looking forward to this. Even though I had plenty of Polish souvenirs at home I did want to buy something from Bukowsko artisans.
We parked up the street at my cousin, Dorota's since the car contained all of our luggage (it was too early to check-into the hotel). We walked to the festival and spotted Robert. Warm greetings and kisses. Robert hadn't changed! He said the same about me but I can spot a "snow-job" from a kilometer away. We sat down behind the mall and waited for things to get started. My cousin's wife, Basia, who works in the mall grocery store, came out and told us to go to Dorota's for obiad. I said no, that we weren't supposed to go to Dorota and Roman's until Tuesday night. Basia laughed and went back to work. Robert, Dave and I walked back up to Dorota's, gave the customary three kisses and hugs to Dorota, Roman, their daughter, Marta and her little girl, Patrycja, two years old. Robert had met Dorota and Roman during my previous trips. Ela and Bill joined us also and met Robert for the first time. Dorota served a wonderful pork roast, boiled potatoes, salad, broccoli, cake, juice, water and coffee. Boy, do I love Polish cooking. At home I never use butter or eat eggs so this was wonderful.
Over lunch we discussed how I could get a copy of the early school chronicle covering WWII and Akcja Wisla (the chronicle is continued to this day). Kaszek works at the school so it was decided that he would ask either the librarian or the principal if I could have a copy. (Check later in my diary to see if I got the copies.) I wanted this chronicle because it was a very personal and historical document. I feel it needs to be published if not in Polish, certainly in English. Once I have the copies I can have them translated. These diaries are hand-written so I would first need a Pole to transcribe the diaries and then have them translated into English. I am willing to pay someone in Bukowsko to transcribe these papers, and made that known to my cousins.
After obiad we walked to the festival. This was the most I had walked in Bukowsko, ever! I am usually driving everywhere and photographing what I need. This was a pleasant change. At the festival I bought copies of all the "Kwartalnik", Bukowsko's quarterly news magazine, I could find. I also purchased some Bukowsko postcards, a folk CD by the local group, "Bukowianie." I took a photograph of the biggest cotton candy (wata curowko) I'd ever seen. It was bigger than a person's head! The festival included two bounce houses for the children as well as balloons and beer (for the adults). People could also buy chances to win prizes which ranged from toys to socks to household cleaners. There was an award winning display of breads but none for sale! This festival needs snack foods such as buns and cheese like they sell on the streets in Zakopane. They also needed more crafts. Two booths held baskets of all sizes (couldn't get those home) and art work from the University of Folklore in Wola Sękowa. Due to the weight restrictions of the airlines I now had to buy things according to their size and weight.
Robert left but we made tentative plans to see him on Monday in Bukowsko. Since this was Ela's father's (deceased) birthday we all went to the cemetery again. We walked there from the church. Most of the way was a path. Dorota explained, in Polish, that the priest had taken a bank loan to have the cemetery improved. He enlarged the area, put up a fence and had walk-ways in the cemetery paved with asphalt. The first Sunday of every month each parishioner was to donate 10 złoty to pay off the priest's loan. In the U.S. at least, it is common practice for the Roman Catholic priests to have special collections but apparently this is not the case in Bukowsko at least. I mentioned that the cemetery for instance, was always in need of mowing and that people should do this for the church. I was thinking that teenagers could do this especially in the summer months. What else were they doing? But, volunteer work is a new concept in Poland. People are so used to spending their time working hard and long for their own family they don't have the time or energy to think about helping others. I still think the young need to be indoctrinated into this worthwhile activity. Maybe I'll mention this to ks. Kudła when I meet with him again to thank him, say good-bye and leave my own donation.
Question: Why don't people remove some of the spent candles on the graves when they leave new ones instead of leaving them to deteriorate and break?
Observation: New candles in Poland. We saw at least three little battery operated candle "flames" on graves. Why didn't I think of that idea?
On our way back to the festival we stopped at the gmina building so Dorota could vote for president. She wouldn't tell me who she was voting for but I knew. It seems those in the villages wanted Kuczyński, the twin of the recently deceased president, and the city people wanted Komorowski. As it turned out Komorowski won. Also note that in Poland people vote on Sundays, their day off.
I peeked into an open doorway and was surprised to see Jan Muszański, the "Kwartalnik" editor, the wojt., Piotr Błażejowski and Henryk Paluch, Muszański's assistant. Actually I surprised them as well even though I had emailed Muszański that I would be at the festival. We were invited in and chatted for a few minutes. I was given a free copy of the current, hot off the presses copy of the "Kwartalnik", a poster of the festival and a booklet commemorating the 40th anniversary of the folk singing group, "Bukowianie" of which Ela was a member when she lived in Bukowsko as a young woman.
We returned to the festival and listened to some of the children's choral groups. They were dressed in traditional costumes and looked so cute. We also watched a few minutes of a "carnival" act from Lwów. On the whole I was disappointed in the festival. Promotion of the event was very limited. Even though there are no daily or weekly newspapers or television coverage, there is a newspaper in Sanok which should have had the festival's information. Now I understood why the priest said he wouldn't be at the festival; it's always the same.
We stopped into the grocery store in the mall (3 story building with approximately 6 shops) and I bought the ladies, Ela, Dorota and myself, ice cream. After eating our ice cream Dave and I walked back to Dorota's, picked up our car and left Bukowsko. It was about 6:00 p.m.
We realized one headlight was out on our rental car and since headlights have to be on all the time in Poland, I drove with my high beams on. This aggravated me as our rental car in 2008 also had a burned out headlight which we replaced. That wasn't so bad but the rental car company gave us the refund on our credit card which meant our bank took a 2% cut for making the exchange; really just to press a computer key!
I'm not going to bore you with each photograph I took but at this point I was shooting on roll #6. I think Kodak and Fuji will lose money when they finally stop making film and film cameras.
We checked into the Hotel Jagielloński in Sanok. Oh, good, we were on the fourth floor. We did make it up to room #46 even though we had three heavy suitcases, a backpack, my "genealogy" (aka diaper) bag, two fans and a gallon (in litres) of water. We just left everything in the room and headed to the basement for dinner. We're now up to six flights of stairs. I immediately decided that I would only be coming downstairs once a day and going back up once a day.
In the restaurant two women having dinner. One was Polish and the other was French but they communicated in English. I knew immediately that the French woman was Tamar. Tamar and her U.S. cousin, Carol Sevitt had contacted me about a place to stay in Sanok while they researched their Jewish roots. We knew we'd be at the Jagielloński at the same time. I interrupted the women's conversation and asked, "Tamar?" She knew who I was too. We hugged and gave two kisses (French give two kisses, Poles give three) and chatted a little about what we both had done already and what was planned. Tamar was traveling alone and quite easily. She had problems at the Sanok USC, however. I tried to convince her that even native Poles have trouble getting records from their government and the archives. This difficulty was not directed at any one group. It was an equal opportunity problem. Personally I try to avoid the civil archives if I can help it.
After dinner we unpacked and settled-in. We stayed at this hotel from July 4 until July 12. I seriously considered asking for a room on a lower floor but once we handed out most of the gifts we'd brought (one suitcase) the luggage would be lighter and considering the food we were eating the stairs were probably a good idea.
JULY 5, Monday.
We awoke at 6:15 a.m. and went down to breakfast at 8:45 a.m. The weather was cloudy and cool.
A young friend from near Gdańsk had purchased some items from a store in the U.S. and had them mailed to my home. I brought them to Poland and the young man arranged to have DHL couriers pick-up the package at my hotel, prepaid. I left the package with instructions at the front desk. The clerk didn't speak English very well but I thought she understood. We went down to breakfast which was a small buffet consisting of hard boiled eggs, kielbasa, hot dogs, hams, cheeses, bread, jam, cottage cheese, tomatoes and onions, cake, cereal, coffee, tea.
On our way out of the hotel I dropped the room key at the desk (customary in Europe) and noticed that another young woman was taking my package and she had some money. Aaaggh! She was going to take it to the post office and mail it! I told her No! I thought I did a better job this time of explaining that DHL was coming to get the package. Whew! Timing is everything.
My appointment with ks. Kudła at the Catholic church in Bukowsko was set for 10:00 a.m. My cousin Ela was going to act as my translator so we had to pick her up from the far end of town. I first stopped at the Bukowsko post office which now sits right next to the church. Nice building though it's not new, with hardly any parking. I mailed a CD to another cousin living in Poland whose ancestors were from Bukowsko. I already had stamps (bought them 2 years ago) so the clerk picked-out what she wanted and put them on the package. I bought two postcards and then picked up Ela.
We drove up the gravel road to the priest's. I rang the bell, he answered and I responded, "Dzien dobry. To ja Debbie Greenlee." He said he'd buzz me in. I didn't know this is what he said. Ela translated it later but I had a feeling and reached for the door. ks. Kudła seemed so pleased to see us. No greeting kisses here. We sat down in his dining room and talked for awhile. I gave him the donations some people on Bukowsko Triangle email list had given me as a thank you for the church records I provided them. It totaled $149.00. I rounded it up to $150.00. I also gave him a list of the donors and their family names so he could say masses for them. He mentioned that Antoine from France had also sent him money. I was very pleased to hear this as that was what I had asked Antoine to do rather than send the money to me.
We chatted and questions went back and forth. I asked about his sister and told him I noticed he had a new picture of John Paul II on his wall which replaced a small painting of an old house (nice touch, showing him I paid attention). I gave the priest a picture book of the USA. He flipped through it a little and seemed happy to get it.
I gave the priest a list of the records I wanted to photograph and even though he wouldn't be there (he had to take his car for repair in Rzeszów) the next day, he said I could come in and photograph them; his housekeeper would be there. Oh, I brought her a box of candy and a photo I took of her in the kitchen in 2008. I gave the priest a photo taken of the two of us under the cross in the dining room. Ela told him she was sure I was going to heaven! Isn't she funny?
Ela had to return home to sit with her mother because her brother and his wife were both working. Bronisława was not strong enough to walk around by herself but she tried to do this anyway. Each doorway has a threshold so using a walker was out of the question. We said our "do zobaczenia's" to the priest and I called Robert and asked if he could meet us in Bukowsko because I needed to meet with the USC vital records' manager (another cousin of mine) as well as give gifts to the wojt, magazine editor and his assistant. Robert came right over. Janusz on the spot!
Our first stop was at the wojt's office. He was dressed very casually. We were greeted warmly, offered water and a chair. We talked for quite a long time and I found out one of his daughter's was expecting her third child any day. His wife had already gone to be with her (outside of Bukowsko). I gave the wojt a picture book about Dallas/Fort Worth, an American flag (pointed out the importance to me of the 4th of July), a Budweiser key chain (my husband is an attorney for the largest distributor of Anheuser Busch products in the U.S.) and a carry bag from the Polish Genealogy Society of Connecticut and the North East (PGSCT&NE) which I received at a genealogy conference. He was appreciative and gave me a stained glass "stand-up" of tulips. This was made by a disabled person in Wolica.
I asked the wojt about the possibility of me ordering a dozen or so 2011 calendars. He said I could send an email to the gmina secretary. I asked why they didn't have a calendar for 2010 and he showed it to me on his wall. What? I pointed out it wasn't on the web site and he was surprised to see that. It's July! Ela didn't even know about this calendar and her picture is on it! None of her siblings told her! Oj.
Błażejowski, the wojt, talked about a U.S. foundation which works in conjunction with the Polish embassy in Warsaw to provide money for such things as the refurbishment of the Bukowsko mall, the painting of the school and so on. Bukowsko is the 5th poorest gmina in Poland. We also talked a little about Heifer International which has helped the area with bees and cows. I told him I had noticed more and healthier cows in the farmers' fields. This is partly due to Poland's membership in the European Union (EU) as well as the organization mentioned above. Before leaving I showed the wojt my web site and Philip Semanchuk's web site. I wanted to show him all the other web sites and information which non-natives had put on the internet about Bukowsko gmina villages but someone was waiting to meet with him.
GOOD AND BAD NEWS
Good news: I asked if the gmina had a street map of Bukowsko. Dave and I had tried to draw one and it wasn't turning out as well as I had hoped. Błażejowski said one was in the works. Some university students should have one finished in about six months. It will even include street names used prior to WWII. Great! Now the really bad news. Every house in Bukowsko was going to be re-numbered - sequentially. Are you kidding me? I told him I just couldn't get a break on the house numbering in this village. The homes had been renumbered at least three times already which made it almost impossible to locate someone's ancestral land. It takes a lot of research, time, money and patience. Mine was running out. I still haven't found two of my ancestor's properties! Let me add that a lot of the newly painted homes don't have their house numbers any longer although it is the law that each house be numbered. I felt like banging my head against the wall. I asked the wojt if he would at least keep a record of the current house numbers with their matching new numbers. He was vague with his answer.
After the wojt, we went to see the USC manager. I gave her a small hand painted tile of an American Indian and she in turn gave me a stained glass of a swan to hang; again from the disabled person's center in Wolica.
Within the last year I had documented that Janina's mother-in-law was a closer cousin than I had so far found in Bukowsko. We arranged to be at Janina's house at 5:00 p.m. The office closes at 3:00 so that would give Janina enough time to "get ready" before we arrived. I was really excited that I was going to meet Helena Hnat Nowaczek.
Wow! We were really going to accomplish a lot on this trip but probably still not find my great grandmother and great great grandparents' homes. I have the current house numbers but I couldn't find the houses. People in town, including the postmen know where people live so they don't need to know the house numbers.
One last stop while at the gmina was to see the editor and assistant editor of the quarterly magazine, "Kwartalnik." The editor, Muszański was out but I gave his gifts to Henryk the assistant. I also gave Henryk a couple of gifts: picture books of U.S. cities, U.S. flag, Budweiser key chain and Muszański also received the same bag as the wojt from PGSCT&NE. During our conversation Henryk mentioned they were running out of ideas for pictures of the gmina calendar. I told him people outside of Poland like to see photos of any houses, buildings, the area and so on. He mentioned they'd hired an aerial photographer to shoot some photos of Bukowsko. Gee, I'd shoot photos for less money!
It was 3:00 p.m. Robert left us for two hours. I called Ela and told her of the evening's plans as she wanted to meet Helena Hnat too. Of course, they were also cousins. Everyone in Bukowsko is a cousin! We drove to Ela's mother's house and had a small obiad prepared by Basia; cutlet, boiled potatoes, beets and borszt. Ela, Bill and Basia left for Sanok to do some shopping. Dave and I drove to the Płonna Greek Catholic cerkiew to see the newly refurbished bell tower. We took lots of photos of the cerkiew, bell tower and the area around the cerkiew. The weeds were being kept down which was nice to see. Kazimierz had told us that about a year ago a coffin was found under the cerkiew. "The police took it away and nothing has been heard about it since." This could easily have been the dwór (manor) owner's coffin.
We then drove up to the Płonna cemetery and down a road marked as the road to the Kamienne Greek Catholic cemetery. We didn't get very far because it was so slow going we were running out of time. Instead we tried to find the location of the Płonna dwór. We drove down a road on the west (I think) side of the main road hoping to get an idea about where the dwór had been situated. Kazimierz said the dwór was gone but I thought I'd like to see for myself, if possible. Not possible. We weren't sure if we were on a road or a driveway. It's like that in Poland. We drove out and stopped in front of the Karlików cemetery which is still in bad shape. If I hadn't known exactly where it was I would have driven right by it and it's on the main road from Bukowsko to Płonna! It is very overgrown with a ditch between it and the road. Parking would have to be on the side of the road. Waders, long sleeved thick shirts, thick gloves and a head covering would probably be necessary to clean-up this cemetery. I guess enough people aren't interested in seeing this cemetery cleaned-up. It can not be "read" until it is cleaned-up. I could see some standing headstones and what looks to be an altar but that's all.
I photographed the ancestral home of the Zadylaks for Janet George, another member if the Bukowsko Triangle email list. This property/home/barns sits right next door to Bronisława Kseniak's home (Ela's mother). To get one photograph of the whole property I would have had to be out in the fields across the road. I took quite a few closer photos. With the help of a section of the Bukowsko cadastral map, Janet was able to pinpoint her family's property. Now she had photos of the property as it looks today.
We drove back into Bukowsko, met Robert and drove to Janina Nowaczek and her mother's-in-law home, #22. Mother-in-law is Helena Hnat Nowaczek. Their homes (the original stands next to the new one) sits behind a large hedge a few yards off the main road. Behind the homes is the river and a bridge.
When we arrived at Janina's the question was where to park? Right next to her house was a bridge under construction, the old bridge having been washed-out during the flooding. The flood waters overflowed the riverbanks and went up a few inches of the outside wall of Janina's house. Considering what these homes are made of, I'd be very surprised if water didn't seep inside. As I said, the bridge was under construction. This means there were no railings and the bridge was about one car width. I drove carefully over it and parked on the other side of the river in an unpaved small space. No guts, no glory. Robert chose to park in front of Janina's house. By the time we had walked across the bridge Janina was outside to greet us. We went inside and met Helena Hnat Nowaczek who is in very good health and has all her faculties but in a wheelchair. We were offered juice and cookies. I gave Helena a box of candy and a couple of my old photos.
Before I knew of the existence of Helena Hnat I became aware of her brother, Jan Hnat who was the son of Michał Hnat and Agata Klepczyk. Agata Klepczyk was my great grandmother's niece. I knew that Jan Hnat had been born in Pennsylvania, returned to Poland with his parents but then returned to the U.S. as an adult. Of course I only found this out within the last year. None of the family in the U.S. knew Jan Hnat even though he lived in the same city (Chicago) and died there in the late 1990s! Some members of Bukowsko Triangle might remember that about a year ago, Szymon Nowaczek (whom I found out a few years ago is my cousin) posted a photo of Agata Klepczyk Hnat in the list's FILES section and I responded that I knew that woman! Well, I also had a photo of her but taken with my great grandmother and grandfather, but I did not know who she was.
As a result of information from Szymon I found out that not only was Janina Kutiak Nowaczek my cousin but his grandmother, Helena Hnat Nowaczek was the sister of Jan Hnat. I was saddened to realize that Jan had lived so long in the same city as my grandparents, mother and myself and we didn't know it. I came to Bukowsko this time determined to meet Helena Hnat Nowaczek, copy her photographs (with my new scanner!) and gather all the addresses and information I could about Jan Hnat. I don't have much new information. Jan Hnat had only one son named . . . Jan Hnat, who married and moved to California. That's all I've got. No current address; only old addresses for Jan Hnat senior in Chicago.
Helena Hnat's parents were Agata Klepczyk and Michał Hnat. Unlike Helena's two brothers, one of whom was Jan, she was born in Bukowsko in 1923 in house #219. This house sat on the other side of the river across from where St. John's shrine stands today. Helena married Antoni Nowaczek and between 1947-1956 they lived in house #39 in Wolica, which still stands. In approximately 1956 they moved into an old Jewish home in Bukowsko, #22 which is just "down" (towards the center of town) from St. John's shrine and across from a little store. Note that Jewish house #22 survived the town burning during Akcja Wisła. The house Helena and Janina live in today was built in 1993. When they moved into this house they left a lot of stuff in the old house which also served as a store. These houses are practically on top of each other. Well, among the "stuff" were old photographs. AAAAGGGGH! I suppose it's possible that the photographs are still OK but I don't know. Janina mentioned she wants to tear down the house but Helena won't let her. I'd sure like to go through that house before then. We'll see if that can be arranged. - The main road in Bukowsko was built in 1969.
Back story: Agata Klepczyk came to the U.S. and was living with my great grandparents but not during a census year so I did not know this. She was "called back" (forced) to Bukowsko to marry Michał Hnat in 1909. Michał Hnat and his wife Agata Klepczyk stayed in Bukowsko and started a family. I have more details on the family in my genealogy program.
I brought a shortened version of my family tree roll but one that included the Hnat and Nowaczek side of the family. Meeting Helena brought the realization that she is probably my closest living relative in Bukowsko.
Ela, my cousin, who is also connected to Helena Hnat, showed up about a half hour after we did. We talked about the connections, I scanned Helena's old family photos and Ela talked about trading eggs for other food stuffs with Pani Nowaczek (Helena) when Ela was a little girl. Apparently when Ela emigrated she left a broken-hearted boyfriend behind. There was a bit of light discussion about this.
Agata Klepczyk had a sister, Anna Klepczyk who married Tomasz Pleśniarski in the U.S. The house Agata and Anna were born in, #201, was burned down during Akcja Wisla and never rebuilt. It sat near the last bus stop (towards Wola Piotrowa) on the Kseniak side of the road. Though Helena Hnat Nowaczek did not have any addresses or names for the Pleśniarski family, she did say that some descendants of Anna Klepczyk and Tomasz Pleśniarski lived in Canada! Something to work on at home.
Robert took some photos of my "new" family and me. Helena said she was so pleased I had come by and was going to tell everyone! LOL She wants me to come by again. I was very moved by this whole encounter and promised to visit during my next trip.
Robert drove home to Sanok and we dropped Ela at her mother's house and then drove to the hotel in Sanok and ate dinner. After dinner I realized that Tamar and her cousin, Carol Sevitt were chatting in the sitting area of the hotel so I introduced oursleves to Carol and we sat down to chat. I believe I mentioned earlier how I was contacted with Carol and Tamar. While Tamar was in Sanok for several days to do research in the archives and locate the sites of her family's homes, Carol was only there for one night before going to Lwów with her Ukrainian researcher/guide who happened to be the same guide used by the author of the book, The Lost A Search for Six of Six Million. I happened to be reading that very book at home just before I left for Poland! What are the odds? The researcher's name is Alex Dunai. He's a big guy who speaks perfect English, Polish and of course, Ukrainian. The day Carol arrived she visited Tyrawa Wolska, her mother's birth place and located two old women who remembered her Jewish family names though they couldn't remember the people specifically. During the conversation, one old woman asked Carol, "What took you so long?" Tears welled-up in my eyes when Carol told me this. She, of course, was more overcome. What a wonderful experience. I told her this response was not unusual in Poland and I'd heard of it before. Carol's friend who had joined her (there was also another cousin from Winnipeg, Canada, along but she was already asleep) on this trip mentioned that Alex had told them of some of the horrendous things Poles had done to Ukes during Akcja Wisła. I said that was correct but they had to realize that the same was true of the UPA. Both sides did terrible things to their neighbors. It was not a case of only one side being the victim. It was more of an "eye for an eye" sort of thing promoted by the Communist government. I compared it to the U.S. Civil War. The subject of Łemkos came up and without getting into a big discussion about who they were/where they came from, Dave explained how the Łemkos got caught up in Akcja Wisła.
Tamar mentioned there were other people in the hotel who were speaking French and she wondered why French people would come to Sanok. I said people were usually here on business or searching their roots. Except for the skansen there really isn't much to see in Sanok. It's not like Warsaw or Kraków. We talked a little longer with Tamar, Carol and Carol's friend and then hit the sack at about 11:15 p.m. I was so tired.
JULY 6, Tuesday
I was up at 6:15 A.M. to be ready for breakfast by 8:30 but I was ready early. If I'd slept longer I probably would have been late! At breakfast (buffet again with egg requests taken) we chatted a bit with Tamar, Carol, Carol's cousin and their researcher, Alex. Tamar was staying on and going back to the Sanok USC to see if they would be more cooperative this time. Alex asked exactly what it is I do and why. Hmmm. I explained that I was trying to gather as many record books as possible, take hundreds of photographs of the villages and gather as much information as possible about life in these villages. Oh, and research my own family. He clarified that I "worked" for everyone, Poles, Jews, Łemkos. This is true. All of these groups lived together peacefully at one time so they are all part of the history of gmina Bukowsko.
Dave needed to get the headlight repaired on our rental car so I drove to the priest's home. Dave would also photograph the headstones at Rzepedz and then drive further to photograph the headstones in Leszczawa Dolna. Boy, I've got a regular little business going here. Well, a business that doesn't make money.
Prior to leaving the hotel I checked with the front desk clerk to see if she had a receipt from DHL showing they picked up the package for Grzegorz near Gdańsk. Crap! Yesterday, the girl did not understand me and called DHL to pick up the package. This meant the hotel paid for the courier service! A service Grzegorz had already paid for. I had to call Grzegorz and tell him what happened so he could reimburse the hotel the 62 złoty and work things out with DHL.
I left for Bukowsko. The roads are asphalt with no dividing lines. OK during the day, but iffy at night. I parked on the property next to the priest's house because his driveway gate was closed. This is a new fence and gate by the way. We rang the doorbell and the housekeeper greeted us. The books I had requested were waiting on the dining room table. The priest's housekeeper offered tea or coffee and we accepted.
I photographed records, updated this diary and went over my to-do list to make sure I wasn't missing something, as well as to remind myself of what I had left to do.
I was almost finished with the church records by 1:30! This meant I could do research at the gmina USC and if I was lucky film records in the parish of Nowotaniec. Gee, someday I might actually be able to take a vacation here!
At 12:30 p.m., using the priest's phone I called Ela to tell her we could join her and Bill at her sister, Dorota's house for lunch. This visit was originally supposed to be for dinner but it would be Ela's last night and her brother, Kaszek wanted her at his house for dinner so our joint visit with Dorota would be at lunch.
At 1:30 p.m. I stopped researching mid-Spis (Spis Parafialny or Status Animarum) so I could walk to Dorota's for lunch. Dorota and Roman live about a block up from the church. I was actually glad for the exercise considering what and how much I'd been eating.
Kisses all around for Dorota, Roman, Ela, Bill, Marta and her toddler, Patrycja. Well, Patrycja likes to shake hands, not kiss. We sat down at the table in the combination dining room/living room which faces the main street in Bukowsko. White tablecloth. Dave arrived a few minutes later. The car only had a loose wire to the headlight. Not surprising considering some of the roads we'd traveled. Cost, 20 złoty. He photographed all of the headstones in Rzepedz. I had Ela call Grzegorz about the DHL mix-up and he straightened things out and wired my hotel the money. I gave Dorota and Roman each a shirt. Patrycja received a little outfit with socks and Marta received a pin to wear.
Dorota knows I love her pierogi so she made several different kinds. Smaczny! Unlike her sister, Ela, she makes smaller pierogi. Dorota mentioned the time Josh, who was about 11 years old at the time, ate 30 pierogi at her house. Too bad we had to leave him at home to work and go to school.
At 2:30 we said goodbye and headed back to the priest's house. Ela and Bill were leaving Poland the next morning from Rzeszów. It was so cool to see Ela there! I'm sure the next time I see her it will be in Chicago unless she and Bill drive down to Texas to visit.
NOTE: Bukowsko gmina is now using large cement property markers to delineate people's property. I suspect this is going on all over Poland. Similar to but larger than the cement markers found in U.S. cemeteries.
The last Bukowsko village sign has been moved farther out. I guess someone re-measured.
While I researched the very last church book Dave turned his Rzepedz photos right side up. There were about 100 headstones. Dave had also gone to Kamienne looking for the shrine but all he found was a memorial to hunters. We finished at the priest's at 4:00 p.m.. The gmina closed at 3:00 p.m. so I couldn't do any research there.
Dave and I stayed in Bukowsko and took more photos of the Zadylak home (oh, Janet and I are cousins - of course!) then I took more photos of Janina Nowaczek's home and the men working on the bridge behind her house. Her house is right on the river bank - the bridge is only a few yards from the side of her old house. Then we drove around trying to find my ancestral properties. I knew the current numbers, 323 and 211 but couldn't find them. I think the houses had been painted and the owners never replaced the numbers. I decided to ask the priest, who lives in these houses now and then ask my cousin Kaszek where those people live. Round-about way of finding the property but that's the only way to do it here.
We decided to photograph the headstones at the Wolica cemetery. On the way we passed a new yellow building in Wolica. This is a place where area handicapped people can go to socialize and to make crafts. I'm not sure what the eventual plan is for all of these crafts (I already received two as gifts) but my suggestion to the wojt to sell them at the festival and at the building itself was "voted" down. Doing this would mean more gmina employees??? Since I'm not in charge of promoting things here I didn't see any point in pursuing this with the wojt.
We drove to the Wolica cemetery to photograph each headstone in order to transcribe them as part of the Tombstone Transcription Project on Poland Gen Web. We really needed long pants due to the stinging nettles. I was wearing shorts with short socks so I walked around photographing the view from the church which is on a hill, while Dave photographed the headstones. The oldest graves seemed to be the farthest from the church. Dark clouds appeared and it started to rain. Swell. At least things cooled off. We only had 10 minutes left anyway before we had to leave to meet Tamar back at the hotel for dinner. We were going to Xavito Pizza. Good Polish name, right? The pizza is pretty good though. Robert Koczera had taken us here in 2008.
We arrived at the hotel, keep in mind we are still in Sanok, to find Tamar speaking with those other French people in the sitting room. Tamar excitedly told me that these people had ancestors from . . . Bukowsko! Tamar had wondered what French people were doing in Sanok so like a good genealogist, she asked. She couldn't believe their response and couldn't wait for us to arrive. These "new" folks had seen me that day coming out of the gmina and wondered why an American was there! Micheline Grześ Serfaty's parents were indeed from the Bukowsko area, specifically Bukowsko and Wolica. I immediately sat down and asked her the surnames. Name after name brought exclamations from me. I knew them all! Micheline had gone to the USC in Bukowsko and received hand written information from Janina Nowaczek, no copies of records though. The information was written in Polish and laid out on the paper in such a way that Micheline couldn't understand it. I looked it over and explained it to her, through Tamar. Even though I took French in high school, I hardly remember anything. In fact, I kept responding to Micheline in Polish! I told Micheline that I had all the records she needed and once I got home I would put everything together for her and email it to her. We exchanged email addresses. Micheline was about 70 years old and had come to Poland with her son, daughter and two granddaughters. It was decided that all of us would go for pizza. But first, more talking. Then more talking. Finally I said we had to stop and go eat. We walked the few blocks to the restaurant. Want another coincidence? The location of Xavito's restaurant is where Tamar's family home and store were prior to WWII. She had found the spot earlier that day.
We talked all through dinner (the adults had pizza, lasagna and salad while the little girls had spaghetti) with Tamar translating quite a bit though Valerie, Micheline's daughter did pretty well with her English. The two of us kept apologizing for not learning our foreign languages better in school.
I explained a lot about Bukowsko and about the members of Bukowsko Triangle who know so much about the area. I gave Micheline all the web sites and the email list information. When we got back to the hotel we talked some more and I showed all of them my web site as well as the Bukowsko gmina web site. They were going to Bukowsko again the next day so I told them to go to the store and buy the "Kwartalnik" magazine and the book, W Gminie Bukowsko, in Polish. I showed Valerie and her brother, David, the "Kwartalnik" issue in which I was mentioned as being an "Honorary Ambassador" for Bukowsko. I showed them this so they would get a better sense of how well versed I am about the area and its people. We talked a little more and with everything that was said, I thought of so much more information they should have. I stopped though because I was afraid no one would sleep and I didn't want Micheline to be overwhelmed. Finally we went to bed. How fortunate for all of us that Tamar asked them that first question and that she was there to help another family.
JULY 7, Wednesday
Rainy and cold. Up at 6:45 a.m. The sun in Poland comes up at 4:00 a.m. and it is still light out at 9:30 p.m. That makes for long days. The real problem for most visitors is that the curtains on the windows, even in the hotels are lace. The lace acts as window screens but doesn't do anything for keeping the sun out when you want to sleep in. This trip I came prepared and brought a sleep mask. It certainly has made a difference.
We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant which, along with the bar, is located in the basement. We talked with Micheline and her family a little and they were going back to Bukowsko to look for the house of her mother. I reminded them to buy the current edition of the "Kwartalnik" magazine as well as the small history book, W Gminie Bukowsko. I told Micheline I would send her the book, Bukowsko Gmina which is my translation of the Polish book. Though I sold out of all 50 copies I published, I thought I still had the original on my computer at home. I was certain that I had seen the house Micheline was looking for on the right side of the street in Bukowsko up from the church. It turned out later I was right! Wow! I have trouble remembering my kids' names! I have no idea how I remembered the location of a house that has nothing to do with my own research.
Dave and I arrived at the Bukowsko USC by 10:00 a.m. The office is open from 7-3 but I just can not get up early enough to be there at 7 a.m. we researched in a small office until 3:00 p.m. I did some research for Micheline. It would be much easier if we could just look at the books ourselves or photograph all of them and look at them at home. I spent most of the day doing this. Micheline would need the actual records in order to prove connections so I copied down the records' locations and so on. It will not surprise me if I end up connecting Micheline to myself and/or other members of the Bukowsko Triangle list.
Dave mailed a couple of postcards I'd written to our sons. Those probably won't arrive until after we're home. The Bukowsko post office is within a block of the gmina building. Dave also bought me some "Liquid Paper" from the store in the "mall" and bought bread and kielbasa for himself which he ate in the car. He couldn't do much else because of the rain.
Robert Koczera called the priest in Nowotaniec and set up an appointment for me to meet with him the following day (Thursday) at 4:00 P.M. Perfect timing! We would be able to work in the USC until 3:00 p.m. on Thursday and then head over to Nowotaniec.
Since the gmina offices closed at 3:00 p.m. Dave and I relaxed in the sitting area of the hotel and I typed my diary. At 6:00 p.m. we met Robert, his wife Anna, son Patryk and daughter Paulina on the Sanok rynek for dinner at the Karczma. Patryk is now 13 and Paulina is 5. She was born the day before we left Sanok in 2005. Paulina was very shy at first but boy it didn't take long and she was all over me; "Debbie?" Słucham? "Debbie? Kiedy ..." She went on and on like this asking me something in Polish. Whenever I said, "Nie rozumiem," she would repeat her question, but louder. Sometimes she would grab me around the neck and ask the question right into my ear. It was hysterical. I was only able to understand a few words she'd say so Robert would have to translate. It seems she had just broken a pair of Barbie sunglasses I had sent her at Christmas and wanted to know when I was going to buy her another pair. Robert didn't translate this question right away. I suppose because it was impolite but once he explained what she wanted to know, I laughed. I thought it was funny. My first thought was, Where can I find some sunglasses?
At age five Paulina is already learning English in school. She practiced saying "How are you" until she knew she had the pronunciation correct. Patryk too is learning English and knows quite a bit; enough to carry on short conversations. Patryk is going to be a rather tall young man, probably taller than his father. I was impressed that both children were not shy about practicing their English with us.
The Karczma is more of a traditional/folk restaurant and it's not expensive. The food ordered included pierogi, frytki (the kids) and golonka. Dave had a piwa since he was the only one not driving. When dinner was over I gave everyone their gifts. Paulina is a typical little girl and now must wear things that match in color or brand. For example, at dinner she was wearing a "Hello Kitty" shirt, headband and jacket. I think I made a few good choices for her in clothes. I also gave her this big stuffed ogre from the movie "Enchanted", some "jewels" in a pouch, and a bridal veil with a tiara headband. Patryk received clothes, a dinosaur head with a straw in it, a cup with his name on it in English and two G.I. Joe action figures. Robert and Anna (pronounced Anana) received mostly clothes but I also gave Robert some "Smithsonian" magazines and books for his students. It was almost 10:00 p.m. when we decided to call it a night. I wonder if anyone at home saw me waving to them on the Sanok rynek web cam that night?
When Dave and I arrived at the hotel Micheline's daughter and son were in the sitting room using the computer so I told them some of what I had located and they told me about their day in Bukowsko. Apparently when they found the house Micheline's mother was born in she decided right then and there to knock on the door, surprising her children. She can't speak Polish and wasn't prepared really, to explain to anyone why she was there. A man came across the road (probably working in his field) and Micheline was able to get across that she was a Słyszyk and asked if that was a Słyszyk house. The man, Eugeniusz Wrzesciak said it wasn't but gave Micheline his telephone number so she could have a friend in France (who spoke Polish) call him right then and translate. Micheline thought the man was unhappy that she had stopped there and I explained why this might be so. He had no idea that she only wanted family and not the property.
Since Micheline still had the man's telephone number I looked up the Bukowsko telephone directory on my web site and found that the phone number he gave was listed for a female Słyszyk! I told her I thought that he might be the woman's husband as it was not unusual for women in Poland to have the phones in their names. Regardless of the cool reception she received, Micheline was on cloud nine. She and her family were going to leave for home the next day, but first they were going to Wolica to knock on the door of the home of her father's ancestors. Micheline was looking for house #40 and I told her I was certain I had seen this house number on the right side of the main road in Wolica as I drove towards Bukowsko. Turned out I was right again! The house was the last one just before the bridge! I was on a roll. At 12:30 a.m. we decided to call it a night and left for our respective rooms. I can not continue with these late hours!
JULY 8, Thursday
The weather today was a delightful 70 F. However it turned chilly at night. Not that we cared. Up at 6:20 a.m. I don't get it. I wear ear plugs and an eye mask and still I get up before the alarm - and I don't want to! I dropped our laundry off at the front desk along with some hangers. It would take two days to get it back if it didn't rain. Many small hotels / pensjonat / zajazd still hang clothes out on the line to dry.
We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant; buffet again. I should mention that the word buffet probably makes you think of a U.S. buffet. The breakfast buffets in Polish hotels are much, much smaller. The food is displayed on a 6-8 foot table.
I saw and spoke to the Serfaty family (Micheline). I neglected to mention that Micheline married a Jewish man in France and never understood, nor asked, why her mother didn't disapprove of her marriage. I think she was hoping to somehow get an answer to this question through her research. I told Micheline about the records I would send her via email and we hugged and kissed goodbye. The family was going to make a stop at Wolica house #40 and then head for the airport and home to France. I wrote out in Polish what they needed to say and ask if anyone was home at #40. Though I was certain I had seen house #40 in Wolica, I had some doubt considering sometimes I can't remember my own name. We actually left the hotel before they did so I was able to confirm that yes, in deed, I had seen Wolica house #40. I only hoped that Micheline drove all the way to the bridge looking for it.
We arrived at the gmina (USC) at 9:45 a.m. for a full day of "research." mainly I worked on the Serfaty's (Grześ) records. Dave went back to the Bukowsko cemetery to photograph two particular graves so I could send them to someone via email. He was able to finish photographing the headstones at Wolica since it had stopped raining. He was also going to read the headstones at Leszczawa Dolna but we misjudged the distance. It took him an hour to get there and once there he found that the cemetery was really big. He thought it would take 3 days to actually photograph all the headstone. Photographing headstones doesn't go as quick as you might think. People put big candle holders and flowers right in front of the headstones so you have to move them and this takes time. Sometimes bushes have grown in front of the headstones! It goes faster with two people. Before Dave returned to the gmina he stopped in Sanok and bought a copy of W Gminie Bukowsko for Micheline. Though I have extra copies at home I decided it would be cheaper to mail the book to her from Poland rather than from the U.S. Plus I had stamps to use up. I ended up wrapping the book in copy paper I brought from home to do chalk rubbings on headstones (it didn't work). I had packaging tape and scissors too so it was no big deal to wrap the book for mailing.
Though the USC books had been rebound, there were some errors and books were engraved incorrectly and some weren't even labeled. We worked until 3:00 p.m. when the gmina closed.
Before going to the only restaurant in Bukowsko for obiad with Dave, I stopped into the grocery store to buy dried mushrooms, brandy and a large bottle of water. We used the large bottles to refill our own water bottles which we put in the hotel room's refrigerator over night. We only had about a half hour to eat lunch before we had to be at the Nowotaniec parish to meet with the priest. This was to be my first contact with this priest.
We had chicken cutlets (kotlet), fresh potatoes, fresh sliced beets, fresh pickles and fresh tomatoes. The food over there tastes so good. It actually has flavor.
At 4:00 p.m. we met Robert Koczera in front of the church in Nowotaniec. We waited about 1/2 hour for the priest. He was a busy man.
The purpose of my visit was to try to talk the priest into allowing me to film his church records. I would only have that afternoon/evening, Friday afternoon/evening and all day Saturday to do this. Ks Martowicz was very hesitant to let me do this. The priest had us sit down at his kitchen table to talk. He was not very interested in seeing me, but Robert had talked him into it.
Robert intervened on my behalf and the priest brought out all the books he had and set them on his kitchen table for me to salivate over. I told him I wanted to film all of them. He wasn't having any of it.
The priest was celebrating his 25th anniversary as a priest THIS YEAR! I had a bottle of brandy in my bag for him but held off giving it to him. I told him that I had heard it was his jubilee and to please accept the bottle of brandy. (BIG GRIN from me) He said he could not accept it so I said, "Nie rozumiem." He laughed and took the bottle.
There were a couple of reasons why the priest hesitated to let us photograph anything. A researcher from a list I am on spent three months at this same church working on the records. I think this upset the priest because it took so long. I told him that person was only interested in his own ancestors while I was interested in everyone's ancestors as well as archiving the records on CD. The priest had to say mass so we left. Robert went back to his mother's house in Niebiesczany to pick up his daughter, Paulina and then head to his home in Sanok.
Dave and I also drove back to Sanok to the hotel. It's about 20 minutes from Bukowsko to the hotel, no stop lights. Villages don't have them. Dave transferred images from his own camera into the computer. Then I checked my email and worked on this diary. Since we had eaten a late lunch/early dinner we were a little hungry so at about 8:00 p.m. Dave and I went down to the hotel restaurant. I had a salad and chocolate ice cream for desert. That's twice I've had lody. Dave had goulash. We got to bed pretty early that night which was nice.
JULY 9, Friday
Sunny and 27C/80F
I forgot to mention that Dave and I play a game while we're in the car. During our last trip we played "spot the stork nest." This trip I decided we'd keep track of how many nests we saw while driving round Poland; sort of like the game kids play in the car, "Slug bug." We were up to 15 nests and we hadn't really driven anywhere.
Once again I was up at 6:30 a.m. Same routine; breakfast in the hotel with Dave. We would be meeting the Nowotaniec priest at 4:00 p.m. again.
We arrived at the gmina and I said "Dzien dobry" to Janina. She responded, "Witam." I asked her for a couple of the smaller vital records' books. Today we had to set-up in the wedding room. It's the room where couples have their civil ceremony performed. The windows face the main street of Bukowsko and you can see the mall, "motel", dom kultury (reception hall) and lots of homes. Being Friday there was a small 'bazar' taking place in the parking lot of the motel. A few people were selling cheap merchandise which was laid out on the ground.
While I did the research Dave went to the kantor back in Sanok, looked for dried mushrooms at the store (sklep) and was supposed to photograph the headstones at Niebiesczany cemetery.
While we were working I heard a familiar clacking. I knew it well from watching the stork nest in Ustroń (web cam) for the last four years. I looked at Janina, who had just brought me a record, and said, "Bociany!" Across the street sitting at the very top of the mall building was one of the Bukowsko storks talking to another stork. He kept doing that for quite awhile. His nest was on my side of the street, up a couple of houses so he was probably talking to one of the babies. That was so cool!
I finished at 2:30 p.m. (14:30) It was arranged that I would come back at a later date to finish. Robert called to say that he had just left Dave. Robert's mother lives in Niebiesczany so on his way to her house he saw our car at the cemetery and went looking for Dave. The two of them and Paulina went to Robert's mother's house to visit and have coffee. My response to all this was, "So, David didn't do his job!" Robert thought that was funny and tried to reassure me that Dave did in fact, do his work.
Dave arrived at the gmina shortly. I had already packed up everything. We went to Janina's office and said, "Do zobaczenia," (See you later). Kisses and hugs were given and I told her how much I appreciated her allowing me to do all the research and for her hospitality. I also asked her to say goodbye to Helena Nowaczek and Janina said that Helena was very happy that I came to the house. I hope I can visit Helena next time. I knew once that I got home I'd come up with all sorts of questions for Helena.
Dave and I ate at the zajazd restaurant in Bukowsko one last time. I have to say the woman is a good cook but she doesn't clean anything in the restaurant or hotel. Her public restrooms don't have toilet paper or hand towels. She gets very little business aside from men buying piwa so it's not like she doesn't have the time to wipe down a few tables.
Dave did not photograph the cemetery at Niebiesczany because it was too large for the amount of time alotted. And, there was construction going on in the center of the cemetery. Robert said that many old graves had recently been turned over and a holding building was being built. This is where the bodies would be held between the time of death and the funeral. The deceased used to be kept in the homes but this custom is becoming obsolete.
Dave was able to buy the book, W Gminie Bukowsko for Micheline but he couldn't find any dried mushrooms. I love Polish mushrooms. They add wonderful flavor to foods. The ones we have in the U.S. are like eating paper; they have no taste.
We had a little time before meeting the priest in Nowotaniec so we went to the cerkiew in Nagorzany and photographed the church and the headstones. There aren't many.
We met Robert again (he was so nice to help me whenever I needed him) at the priest's in Nowotaniec at 4:00 p.m. The priest did let us photograph the covers of his books so we at least know what he has there. Ks. Martowicz asked if we wanted to see the church. Of course! What a beautiful church! The priest was almost finished replacing all the old windows in the church with very pretty stained glass ones made by a Ukrainian in Ukraine. I couldn't help but wonder though how these parishioners paid for these things. When it came time to leave I gave the priest 100 złoty; not much but I felt like I should give him something else besides the brandy. If I had thought about donating money before our trip I would have prepared for it but I was concerned that I would short ourselves and we still had several hotels to pay for. The priest was happy though and welcomed me to come back.
We left the priest. Robert and I and talked for awhile across the street from the church while Dave took general photographs of the Nowotaniec cemetery. I mentioned how beautiful the Nowotaniec church is to Robert. I talked about the basilica built in Licheń, which was bigger than the Vatican (not quite). I won't get into the discussion details but if you have a chance, take a look at Licheń. I've been there twice, once when it was under construction in 1998 and then again after it was finished.
We told Robert we would see him another time and went back to the hotel.
I wrapped and addressed the Bukowsko book to Micheline. With any luck she would receive it before I arrived home. Since I still had some Polish stamps I planned to mail it at the post office in Sanok the next morning.
Dave and I decided to go out so we drove to the rynek. Dave wanted something from a cukernia (sweets bakery) and I was pretty sure we would find one open at the rynek (same place as Sanok USC, Karczma and #10 Rynek). Another souvenir hut was being erected. This pretty pastel painted rynek was going to be hidden behind huge umbrellas and wooden souvenir huts just like Kraków and Warsaw in the summer. Very few stores were open yet there were quite a few people and kids out. Did you see me on the Sanok rynek web cam again? I waved to you all. We bought a few yummy looking items from a cukernia and had dinner at the "Communist Pig" restaurant which is located just off 3 maja, the pedestrian street near the rynek. We had eaten at a restaurant called, "Under the Communist Pig" in Warsaw in 2008 so we thought we'd give this place a try. It was nothing like the fun restaurant in Warsaw. The restaurant in Warsaw was a re-creation of an actual restaurant frequented by members of the Communist party 30 years ago. In that restaurant the "Communists" didn't even allow us to take photographs! The waitresses and hostess played their parts well! This restaurant in Sanok was just a restaurant. Dave had pizza and I had a Greek Salad and pierogi. After dinner we walked up the pedestrian street. Now there were a lot of people out but no stores open. Not even an ice cream stand. We drove back to the hotel and ate our sweets from the cukernia while I answered emails. I had brought an immersible water heater so I could make instant coffee and I that's what I did.
We were able to get to bed relatively early and since we didn't have anything planned for the next day, Saturday, we were going to sleep late.
End of Part Two - Go to Part Three
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