Always A Bridesmaid - Mystery Monday

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia ShenetteWhat would "Wedding Month" be without an appearance by one of our mystery brides.  I know my great-aunt Helen Bulak is the bridesmaid standing to the right behind the happy couple.  My Aunt Helen never married but served as a bridesmaid to numerous brides.

I don't know who the other people in the wedding party are.  My guess is the couple, as well as the young man in the photo, were probably members of Worcester's Polish community.  Given the clothing style the photo was probably taken in the late 1910s, and the wedding probably took place in Worcester, MA at Our Lady of Czestochowa.

If you recognize the happy couple or the young man who appears to be the best man, leave a comment at the end of this post.  I'd love to hear from you.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Szerejko - Szymanska Wedding Invitation - Amanuensis Monday
Send Up A Flare, Mystery Bride Identified! - Mystery Monday
Fascinating Ladies 
It's Wedding Month (Again) at Heritage Zen! - Wordless Wednesday

Leokadia (Szymanska) and Feliks Szerejko - Wordless Wednesday

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia ShenetteLeokadia (Szymanska) Szerejko and Feliks Szerejko sent this photo to my grandparents, Adolf Szerejko and Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko, from Warsaw, Poland in 1928.  Feliks was my grandfather's brother.  Both Leokadia and Feliks perished during World War II.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Szerejko - Szymanska Wedding Invitation - Amanuensis Monday
Where They Lived: Every Address Tells A Story
Brothers in America - Wordless Wednesday
The Mystery Brides Return - Mystery Monday

Szerejko - Szymanska Wedding Invitation - Amanuensis Monday

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette)

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Thanks to John Newmark at Transylvanian Dutch for providing the idea for Amanuensis Monday.

This is an invitation to the wedding of my grandfather's brother, Feliks Szerejko and his soon to be wife Leokadia Szymanska.




WARSZAWA                        ROK 1919.

I'd like to thank my cousin Marek for his translation:

We are pleased to announce, Ladies and Gentlemen, our wedding which is going to take place in the Church of Holy Cross on September 7th this year at six o'clock in the evening.

Engaged couple:

Leokadja Szymanksa
Feliks Szerejko

Warszaw      year of 1919.

Feliks and Leokadia were the father and step-mother of Celina (Szerejko) Gzell, who I mention in my posts here and here.  Almost 20 years to the day of their wedding, Feliks was killed in the bombing of Warsaw at the beginning of World War II.  My mother told me he was killed when the Germans bombed the railroad lines.  Apparently Feliks work for or near the railroad.  Leokadia was killed later in the war when the Germans shot everyone in their apartment building.  Unfortunately this is a wedding story with a very sad ending.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Where They Lived: Every Address Tells a Story
Post World War II "Care" Packages - Amanuensis Monday
Volcano of Wrath (Part 1 of 2) - Amanuensis Monday
Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, and...

Thinking of Dad on Father's Day

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette; Originally posted June 10, 2010) This year is a defining year. I've lived the greater part of my life without my dad than with him. He died unexpectedly a little over 25 years ago on Mother's Day weekend. My dad was a tough man, who lived through some tough times. He had a difficult home life as a child, left home as a teenager to work with the CCCs during the Great Depression, and spent over 20 years in the military, including time in the Pacific theater during World War II. Despite his toughness, one thing I know for sure--he loved me.

I have very few photos of me with my dad. Most of the time he was the one behind the camera taking the photos. I don't know the exact date of the photo above. I'm guessing it was probably my second or third birthday, but I'm not sure. Knowing my mom, she probably put more candles on the cake than there were years in my life just to "dress it up a little." I love this photo because for a tough, serious man, you can see the rare, unguarded joy in his eyes.

It seems so long since my dad died that many of my memories of him are fuzzy. I know he'd be thrilled beyond belief to know he had a grandson. I wish he could be around to play ball with my son or go fishing with him, or tell him about his travels with the navy like he use to tell me, but it's not to be. Writing my blog and posting photos of him helps to jog my memory, to keep his memory alive for myself and for my son.

Happy Father's Day Dad.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Worcester Tornado Memorial - Tombstone Tuesday

(Original Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia ShenetteThese are photos I took yesterday at the Worcester Tornado Memorial on the campus of Quinsigamond Community College.  In 1953 the campus belonged to Assumption College which has since relocated to Salisbury St. in Worcester.  The Worcester tornado blew through the center of the Assumption campus killing several people and destroying much of the campus.  The granite memorial marker lists all of the names of the 94 people killed by the tornado on June 9, 1953.

Other Posts You Might Like:

The Worcester Tornado, June 9, 1953 - Those Places Thursday
Flu 1918 (Part 1 of 3) - Amanuensis Monday
Tombstone Tuesday: Jacob Riis, Riverside Cemetery, Barre, MA
A Matter of Habit: Solving a Mystery

The Worcester Tornado, June 9, 1953 - Those Places Thursday

The tornado from the eastern shore of Indian Lake.
(Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette; Photo is not under copyright and is available from the Internet Archive.) According to Mom June 9, 1953 was a hot day.  A really hot day.  She left work and was walking from her office in the Federal Building up Main Street to the bus stop in front of Barnard's department store when the sky started to get dark.  When she heard thunder she decided to wait at the front of the store under cover, because rain seemed imminent.  It wasn't long before the rain started. 

Even fifty years later she remembered the storm, vividly.  She described it as a "a wild storm" with a black sky, thunder, lightening, and an intense driving rain.  It was nothing like she had ever seen before.  When the storm finally stopped she started to hear sirens.  Lots of them.  One after another.  Emergency vehicles--police cars, fire trucks, ambulances--racing up Main St. to the north part of the city.  She said it wasn't long before emergency vehicles began to return back down Main St., sirens still blaring.  Again, fifty years later, my mom's most vivid memory besides the storm itself, was of seeing pick-up trucks carrying dozens of bloody, wounded people down Main St. to hospitals around Worcester.  There were too many injured people and not enough ambulances to transport everyone.

When my mom finally did get home she was relieved to find everything was okay.  My grandmother, who was at home at the time, described an awful storm.   The family home, the home where I later grew up, was near Indian Lake in Worcester.  My grandmother said that after the storm passed, she looked out at the lake and saw huge, churning waves like you might see on a stormy day at the ocean.  My mother and her family still had no idea what had happened.  They didn't know that a massive tornado, one mile in width, had just blown through the city less than two miles away from their home.  They were the lucky ones. 

For my family the tornado was a close call, and given the losses other people suffered, more like an inconvenience.  My parents wedding was scheduled June 13, and there was some doubt as to whether they would be able to hold their wedding reception in Sterling, two towns north of Worcester.  The wedding guests were able to drive around and through the areas of destruction, and the reception went on as scheduled.

The Worcester tornado left a path of destruction through Petersham, Barre, Rutland, Holden, Worcester, Shrewsbury, Westboro, and Southboro.  A second funnel cloud spun off the initial storm near Grafton to travel southeast eventually ending in the Wrentham area.  When all was said and done 94 lives were lost, 15,000 were left homeless, 4,000 homes were destroyed, and the storm did damage to the tune of $53 million, in 1953 dollars.

My mother said that no one had ever heard of a tornado in Massachusetts.  Certainly not one with that kind of power.  Tornadoes were not classified according to the current Enhanced Fujita Scale in 1953 as they are today.  The Worcester tornado is currently classified as a EF4, though I have heard that it was a strong F4, possibly even an F5.  Last week's devastating series of tornadoes in Massachusetts are a painful reminder, that yes, it can happen here.

Tornado!: 84 Minutes, 94  Lives, is a wonderful book written by local Worcester author John M. O'Toole.  The book, written in 1993 and still available through Amazon, is an "...eyewitness story of the tornado with the highest winds ever recorded," a true statement when the book was published.  The record for highest winds stood until the Oklahoma City tornado of 1999.  Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy wrote a great post a couple of weeks ago about the Worcester Tornado.  I also invite you to read Susan Clark's wonderful post, Our Places - Those Places Thursday if you haven't already.  Her post is one of those pieces that makes me want to say, "What she said..."  Finally, the American Red Cross of Central and Western Massachusetts is accepting donations for tornado disaster relief.  Please donate if you can.

Yes, it can happen here...

Other Posts You Might Like:

Where I Grew Up - Wordless Wednesday
The Stories My Grandmother Told Me
Fascinating Ladies
COG 97: Researching "The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 1 of 4)

It's Wedding Month (Again) at Heritage Zen! - Wordless Wednesday

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia ShenetteLast year I posted a number of wedding photos during the month of June which proved to be quite popular with my readers.  This photo is a re post from June 2010 and one of my favorite photos in my collection. 

The young woman in the photo is my mother's first cousin, Celina Szerejko, and her husband Roman Gzell on their wedding day.  They were married in Warsaw, Poland on April 21, 1935.  I love the beautiful dress and the classic, sophisticated 1930s appearance of both the bride and the groom.  They almost look as if they've just stepped out of a Hollywood movie from the 1930s.

Other Posts You Might Like:

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Here Come The (Mystery) Brides...
Send Up A Flare, Mystery Bride Identified! - Mystery Monday 
Wordless Wednesday: June is Wedding Month at Heritage Zen
Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women