Walking Tours of Worcester - Wordless Wednesday

Private Home, The Lenox Neighborhood
(Digital Images; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) I've gone on several of Preservation Worcester's walking tours of Worcester over the summer.  They offered four tours, and I was able to make three of the four. They were all very interesting!  I learned about parts of Worcester this summer that I wasn't particularly familiar with beforehand!

Enjoy the tour!

Hydrangeas and Day Lilies, The Lenox Neighborhood

Purple Cone Flowers, The Lenox Neighborhood

Private Home, The Lenox Neighborhood

Hydrangeas, The Lenox Neighborhood

The John Woodman Higgins House, Williams Street

The John Woodman Higgins House, Williams Street

Institute Park

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A Postcard from Paris, 1918 (Part 2 of 2) - Amanuensis Monday

(Digital Image. Postcard Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Text Copyright (c) 2012 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.

A couple of weeks ago I posted part one of this series.  I intended to post the subsequent part a little bit sooner, but vacation, as well as other summer activities have gotten in the way of my posting in a slightly more timely manner.  Well, better late than never, as they say...

September 1st 1918
My dear Antosia,
Tonight I received letter from you which I'm very thankful for. I was very pleased when I got it because I didn't have any news from you for over a month. You wrote that letter on July 7th and same night I was on the way. You may be impatient that you are not getting letters from me too often but you have to get use to it. Write to me as often as you can because letter is the thing [illegible]
I'm sending my regards to everyone.
Yours Adolf

I'd like to thank my cousin Marek for his Polish to English translation of the postcard.  

There is so much information here.  I didn't know exactly when my grandfather was in France.  According to the postcard, he left on July 7, 1918.  He wasn't in France long.  The war ended when the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.  The censor stamps are interesting.  I'm not quite sure which unit he belonged to.  It's written at the top of the card, but I don't really understand the return address.  The Massachusetts National Guard Military Museum and Archives is close to where I live.  My plan is visit sometime soon to see if the archivist recognizes the address.  If any of my blog readers can decipher the return address I'd love to hear from you!

A Postcard from Paris, 1918 (Part 1 of 2) - Those Places Thursday

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(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: WWI Red Cross Volunteers 

Business Profile: Helen's, 39/41 Millbury St., Worcester, MA

The Rialto Building, Circa 1955
Helen's, 41 Millbury Street, is to the Far Right, Next to Wentworth's Bakery

(Digital Images.  Photographs Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) My grandmother's sister, Helen E. Bulak (1894-1985), was a well regarded member of Worcester's business community for 55 years.  She and her friend, Katherine (Pomianowska) Gralicki, each invested $100 (about $1,526 at today's currency rate) and opened Bulak and Pomianowska, a millinery shop on Millbury St. in Worcester in November of 1918.

Helen and Friends in Hats
Sitting, Left to Right:
Sophie (Kowalewski) Konopka,
Helen Bulak, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko.
Standing: Unidentified  Friend
Helen learned hat making by taking millinery courses and the business end of things by taking a bookkeeping course at Becker's Business School. She and her partner made hats by hand from horsehair, panne velvet, lacy straw, soft tulles, and flowers.  One hat could consume an entire day's work with the most expensive hats--those decorated with an ostrich feather or bird of paradise plume--priced at the princely sum $50 (the equivalent of $763 in 2012)!

In the early 1920s business boomed and four girls were hired to help in the shop, but by 1927 manufactured hats were the rage.  Handmade hats had lost their popularity, and Katherine Pomianowska, now Katherine Gralicki, retired to stay home with her family. Helen changed the shop's name to the Rialto Dry Goods Company, and she began to focus on selling infants' clothing rather than hats.  By the 1940s Helen made the decision to include women's and girls' apparel, and the name of the shop was permanently changed to Helen's.

For decades Helen worked from 8:30 in the morning until 9 at night Monday through Thursday, from 8:30 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, and from 8:30 until 11 in the evening on Saturdays.  At various points in time my grandmother, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko, helped out at the store, as did my mother, Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, as did my grandmother and aunt's adopted sister, Rose (Choronzak) Miller, and Rose's sister, Sophie (Choronzak) Shenkowski.  Helen closed the store for a vacation for the first time ever during the summer of 1968!

When Helen started business in the primarily ethnic Millbury St. area, Millbury St. was like Main St. for Worcester's eastern European immigrant community.  She catered to the ethnic population of the Vernon Hill neighborhood.  Helen spoke Polish, of course, but also understood and could communicate in enough of the other languages spoken in the neighborhood--Yiddish, Lithuanian, Russian--to be popular with her wide customer base.

Helen's was located in the Rialto Building, which still exists on Millbury St. The Rialto Building housed a movie theater, the Rialto Theater, in the center and businesses on either side.  I remember going to the store when I was very little.  There was a pool hall that was located in the building upstairs, and I could occasionally hear the crack of pool balls when I was in the back room of my aunt's shop!  Whenever I visited "Auntie's store" with my mom and my grandmother Aunt Helen let me take sales from customers and operate handle-crank cash register!  I also loved playing behind the counter and sliding the doors underneath the cases where merchandise was stored!

Helen retired after 55 years in business on October 30, 1973 at the age of 79.  A brief newspaper notice upon her retirement quotes Helen as saying, "I loved my work, and I loved my customers, and I'm going to miss it all." She also knew that Worcester was changing.  In another quote she reflected, "But times have changed, and the street has changed, and I know it's time for me to go."

Submitted for the 120th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

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