I hope to share research, information, tips, and a little of my family history with others following the path to greater genealogical awareness. Let the search for enlightenment continue...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

More Than Meets The Eye (Again): A Tuesday's Tip Follow Up!

Photo C
(Photographs Privately Held by Cynthia Shenette; Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) A couple of weeks ago I wrote about zooming in on photos to pick up details that might be missed when viewed at a smaller size.  After my initial post, More Than Meets The Eye - Tuesday's Tip, I noticed even more in my photos from Kepno, Poland while looking at them collectively as a group. This seems such a simple thing.  I don't know why I didn't do it before. Maybe I did, but it's been a while since I looked at them all together which brings up another point.  Look at your photos more than once, AND if you have photos that are related to one another in some way consider them collectively as a group.

In general I am fan of "re-reading" documents--letters, diaries or in this case photos--to gain additional insight into the subject in hand.  A letter I read a year or two ago may reveal more information today than it did before, particularly if I've done additional research on the subject in the interim. Context is everything.  If I learn more about the subject or the context of the letter from current research, it makes sense that the same letter if read again may reveal new information with a fresh reading.  This is also true for photos.

For clarity sake I've identified the photos in this post as Photo C and Photo D, so as not to confuse them with Photo A and Photo B in my previous post.  Take a look a Photo C above.  As in the previous post Photo C is one of a number of photos I've been able to figure out are from family and acquaintances in Kepno, Poland.  You can  see another photo of the children without their parents here.  Like the photo I posted for my post Christmas in Poland, 1929 and the photograph of the children, the photographer's stamp on the back of Photo C indicates the photo was taken by the same photographer (Zaklad Fotograficzny / Jan Nawrocki / Kepno, Wlkp. Warszawska 23).  Different families, but the same photographer. Hmm.  Might there be a connection? It could be as simple as there was only one photographer in Kepno during that time period.  It also could mean different branches of the same family used the same photographer or they lived near that particular photographer.

Take another look at Photo B in my original post, More Than Meets The Eye.  Now look at Photo D below. Obviously it's the same building, but this time the photo shows the building under construction.  We know when it was built, because you can see the date on the building at the top.  1933. I mentioned this in my previous post.  I also speculated that the building my have been built by someone in the Walkowski family.  See the initials J.W.? Now zoom in on the men on the scaffolding in Photo D.  When I first looked at this photo I noticed the men in the white construction outfits.  I didn't really pay attention to the man who is second on the right.  It's the same man who is part of the family in Photo C!

Photo D
When I initially sorted all of these items out from my mother's house I put anything that said Kepno or looked like it was related to Kepno together in the same box. As I was looking at all the Kepno photos after my last post I found the small scrap of paper below.  Look at the name and the address on the paper!


Jozef Walkowski / Kepno / Hotel Centralny / ul. Sienkiewicza 11  (or 77) / Polska.  Wow!  (Note to Self: Do not ignore seemingly insignificant scraps of paper!)  I looked for information on Hotel Centralny and ulica (street) Sienkiewicza on the Internet.  No luck on Hotel Centralny, but you can see a picture of ul. Sienkiewicza here and here.  Could the building shown in Photo D be Hotel Centralny?  Hotel Centralny also might be where the Jozef Walkowski family was living while the building in Photo D was being built.  Or it could be another property owned by the Walkowski family. 

What have we learned?  Tomasz Walkowski and Jozef Walkowski might be brothers. Jozef might be the man in Photo D.  If you look at Tomasz who appears in my post, Christmas in Poland, 1929 you'll note the resemblance between the men.  Am I a 100% sure Jozef is the man in Photo D and that Tomasz and Jozef were brothers?  No.  Am I maybe 95% sure?  Yep. Until I get the supporting documentary evidence I can't be a 100% sure, but still it's not bad for a day's work.

Tuesday's Tip: Review your photographs periodically, and if you have a group of photos or materials that seem to be related in some way make sure you view them together and consider the group as a whole.  To quote Aristotle, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."


Other Posts You Might Like:

Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
Circus Girls Are "Normal" - Amanuensis Monday
Flu 1918 (Part 1 of 3) - Amanuensis Monday
A Comedy of Errors: My Family In the Census (Part 1 of 3)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Jozef Walkowski Children, Kepno, Poland - Wordless Wednesday

(Original Image Privately Held by Cynthia Shenette; Text Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)  I believe this is a photo of the children of a Jozef Walkowski of Kepno, Poland.  I suspect the photo was taken sometime between 1929 and 1935. The photographer's stamp on the back of the photo offers the following information: Zaklad Fotograficzny / Jan Nawrocki / Kepno, Wlkp. Warszawska 23.  

I mentioned the Walkowski family in my previous posts, More Than Meets The Eye and Christmas in Poland, 1929.  I've learned a little more about the Walkowskis of Kepno over the last couple of weeks.  I will share what I've learned in a soon to be published post.  Stay tuned! 


Other Posts You Might Like:

Baby It's Cold Outside - Wordless Wednesday
Flu 1918 (Part 1 of 3) - Amanuensis Monday
Send Up a Flare, Mystery Bride Identified! - Mystery Monday
Grandma and Grandpa's Barn - Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Holy Cross Church, Warsaw, Poland - Sentimental Sunday

"Beloved Church in Sunny Morning - J.D."
(Painting of Holy Cross Church privately held by Cynthia Shenette; The 1945 photo of Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, Poland is in the public domain and available from Wikipedia; Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)

A couple of weeks before Christmas I was sorting through the last couple of cartons left from the close out of my mom's house in 2004.  I guess the old adage, "Good things come to those who wait," is true at least in this particular case.  Besides finding a copy of the local paper with the headline V-J  WAR ENDS and an old car insurance policy from 1945, I also found the painting above and following poem sent to my grandfather, Adolf Szerejko, from his aunt Jadwiga Marjionowa in March of 1960.

The painting looks like it was probably painted in watercolor.  I don't know who the artist was, but it could have been painted by a Janina Dyner, the author of the poem, or someone she was acquainted with. It also could have been painted by a street artist or the like and purchased by Janina who added the poem later.  The painting and poem were originally sent to my grandfather's aunt, Julia Bielska, in February of 1948.

The notation to the right of the painting says:

To my dear Adolf, I'm sending this keepsake which was left for me after death of aunt Julia. I hope it will remind you of homeland, well known church in Warsaw, aunt and hopefully me.
Jadwiga Marjionowa
Krakow March 26 1960

The words directly below the painting say:

Beloved church in sunny morning - JD

On the back of the painting is a note and poem.

To my dear aunt Julia. In the occasion of 4th name day you spending far away from your beloved Warsaw I'm sending you best wishes and this modest poem.
Janina Dyner

According to a note on the document it was sent from Wlochy, Poland in February of 1948 where Janina was living at the time. My cousin Marek said there are three towns named Wlochy (translation, Italy) in Poland, and at this point I don't know which of the three it was sent from.

What is interesting from a family history point of view is that my grandfather's Aunt Julia was not living in Warsaw at the time this was given to her in 1948. After the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, the surviving Warsaw population was rounded up and evacuated from the city while the Nazis systematically destroyed what was left of the city after the Uprising. After the war the residents of Warsaw ended up in other parts of the country until Warsaw was once again made habitable for those who wished to return.

What I find rather sad about this painting and poem is that it was sent to my grandfather by Jadwiga in March of 1960.  My grandfather died in December of 1959, but apparently word had not made it back to everyone in Poland by the following March.  I have a letter that was written shortly after this was sent indicating that the family in Poland had finally received word of my grandfather's death.

After I found this painting and note I scanned and sent a copy to my cousin Marek and asked him to translate it.  He returned the translation of the poem to me last week.  To put the translation in context he said, "This is a translation of the poem. It's may not be perfect, I'm not really good with translations of poems so don't mind if grammar is not correct. I tried to keep the meaning and emotion of this poem as best as I could."  I think he did a wonderful job.

Holy Cross Church, Warsaw, Poland 1945

Warsaw my beloved capitol!
Even though enemy turned you into ruins
Satan force did not overcome you,
Because there is a god inside the hearts of your sons.
The ground soaked with blood of your children,
Your population exiled by the enemy
But the star of hope shines for you
Because you are devoted to the benevolent mother.
Days of terror and torture past away
Your people are returning from the exile
And not curses and groans they brings
But they offer heart and effort.
The streets will feel with the crowd
Life will flow broadly.
And again the towers of Holy Cross
Will rise up high into the sky.
And again inside Holy Cross Temple
Faithful people will pray
Please  Lord, bless Warsaw the capital
And whole homeland.

If you are interested in reading a little more about my family and Holy Cross Church check out my link, Szerejko - Szymanska Wedding Invitation - Amanuensis Monday.  My grandfather's brother Feliks Szerejko married his second wife Leokadia Szymanska at Holy Cross in 1919. Also Steve Danko who writes Steve's Genealogy Blog, wrote a wonderful History of the Holy Cross Church, Warsaw, Poland back in September of 2011.  Please check it out.

Special Thanks: To my cousin Marek for his translation of the text and the poem.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Where They Lived: Every Address Tells a Story
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Chopin Rising
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More Than Meets the Eye - Tuesday's Tip

Photo A
(Original Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)  I have hundreds of photographs.  If you throw slides into the mix I probably have well over a thousand images.  While I'm thrilled to have so many photos I also think it's easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of images and miss information or clues some individual photos have to offer.  I didn't really look at this one all that closely until a couple of weeks ago when I posted Christmas in Poland, 1929 for Wordless Wednesday.

Look at the street scene in Photo A.  It's one of several photos I had randomly grouped together from a family I believe to be related to my grandmother's Bulak or Kowalewski family in Kepno, Poland.  I never really looked at the photo that closely before.  The actual size of the physical photo is approximately 3 1/2" x 5 1/2", a little bigger than an index card.  Small it doesn't look like much, does it?  Now zoom in.  Before I tell you what I see take a look for yourself.

I was amazed at the details of the lively scene unfolding.  Look at the business under the sign "W. Piatkowski." I was able to see several of the words clear enough to translate them: wlosow, szczotki, lalek, perfumy, panow, manikure (hair, brush, dolls, perfume, men, manicure).  See the two girls on the steps in their white jackets?  It's a beauty shop!  Check out the business to the left of the beauty shop.  I don't know what it is, but it appears to be at number 30 on the street.  The man walking on the sidewalk is carrying a cane, and there is a man leaning on the back of the car.  The car has a license plate.  There's a lamp in front of the beauty shop.  A gas lamp maybe?  A toddler with what appears to be a rake is standing just to the right of the lamp.  

Look over on the far right side of the photo.  What's going on over there? See the restaurant?  I can make out a few words: piwo, win, herbata, kawa, zimne, cieple (beer, wine, tea, coffee, cold, warm).  Do you see the man in the suit leaning out the window?  Look at the business to the immediate left of the restaurant.  The owner of the business is A. Mazur.  Can you see what's in the window?  Hats!   Apparently A. Mazur was the owner of a hat shop!

See the business to the left of the hat shop?  There's a man holding a baby.  He is standing on the stairs under the awning and a woman is standing behind him. What about the store window?  The writing on the window says "Sklad Obuwia (Composition Shoes) T. Walkowski," and there is a display of shoes on a shoe tree.  Take another look at my post, Christmas in Poland 1929.  The man in the photo is Tomasz Walkowski!  Now I know what business he is in!  Shoes!  I also know from family letters Tomasz Walkowski was fairly well off and owned several apartment buildings in Kepno.

Look at Photo B.  What do you see?  Zoom in...

Photo B
The people on the sidewalk look like one family.  Or are they?  This photo was also taken in Kepno.  Seven children!  Wow!  At least that's what I thought.  The funny thing is that other photos I have of this family only include four children. I asked my cousin Marek, who is from Poland, to take a look at the photo and see what he thought.  Not surprisingly he saw something I didn't.  Look on the first balcony above the people standing on the street.  What I thought were flowers are actually children standing on the balcony!  Marek also noticed something else that I didn't.  See the white plaque to the right of the door?  When you zoom in closer it looks as if the plaque has a Polish eagle on it.  Marek told me that plaques like that are used to identify government buildings.  He thought the children in the photo might be from a government school or orphanage.  Some of the children standing with the family group might not be part of the family!

What else does Photo B tell us?  Do you see the words Mleczarnia Kepnie? It's some kind of a dairy shop.  See the man and the two women on the balcony above Mleczarnia Kepnie?  Now look at the very top of the building with the children.  Do you know when the building was built? 1933, and probably by someone with the initials J.W.  Could W. stand for Walkowski?  Another possible lead to follow up on...

Tuesday's Tip:  Look at your photos closely and more than once. Zoom in to see the details.  Have someone else look at your photos to see if he or she sees something that you do not, and if you are not familiar with a location ask someone else who might be.   Sometimes there's more to a photo than you might initially think.   Maybe you will see something today that you didn't see yesterday!


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The Haircut - Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, January 1, 2012

An Interview With My Grandmother

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) In December of 1953 my grandmother, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko, gave an interview to the local paper in which she talked about her family traditions at Christmas.  I remembered seeing the newspaper clipping with the interview years ago, but I didn't know what happened to it.  I was sad to think that perhaps it had been lost, but didn't serendipity strike!  I found it a couple of weeks ago as I was sorting through the last two boxes of items from my mother's house, and just in time for me to write about the interview for the 113th edition of Carnival of Genealogy!  While I can't reprint the exact text of the article for copyright reasons, I can present quotes, information, and one of my grandmother's recipes which was included in the article.

A Gathering of Family

"He's the one that eats me out of house and home."

My mother, Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, as well as her sister and her family, and my mom's brother who was in college in Indiana returned home for Christmas.  I had to laugh at the quote from my grandmother about her son.  My nine-year-old son eats constantly.  My husband and I joke that we are both going to have to get part-time jobs when he hits his teen years to make extra money to keep him sufficiently fed.  Apparently a hollow leg runs in the family!

Wigilia Supper

"We finally gave it up, because it was too much to do with a big Christmas dinner to fix the next day--too many dishes to wash and the children got restless sitting through all the different courses."

As long as my great-grandfather, Antoni Bulak, was alive my grandmother continued the tradition of Wigilia on Christmas Eve.  Wigilia is a feast of seven, nine, or 11 courses.  Many Poles celebrate Wigilia today.  Dinner involves an uneven number of courses, and there must be an even number of people at the table.  An extra chair is set in case a stranger, symbolic of the God Child, appears at the door to join the family for dinner.  Christmas Eve day was a fast day.  Courses included pike with horseradish sauce, baked sauerkraut with yellow peas, and other fish and vegetable dishes.

Passing the Oblatek

"It means that no matter what corner of the world you are in, the family ties are still strong.  On Christmas Eve we pass it around and wish each other a good year to come.  If there are any disputes or hard feelings in the family, that's the time they are made up."

The oblatek is similar to a communion wafer and is stamped with holy pictures.  My grandfather's family in Warsaw sent the oblatek every year.  I will admit to getting a bit teary when I opened a card earlier this year from my grandfather's family in Warsaw who I reconnected with in 2010.  Inside the card was an oblatek!   Despite all that time and distance, family ties and traditions remain the same.

Polish Mushrooms

My mom use to talk about the delicious mushrooms from Poland that they ate during the holidays.  She said they were very expensive so my grandmother would only use a few and then only on special occasions like Christmas and Easter.  According to the interview the mushrooms were purchased at a kosher delicatessen, and she said they had a unique flavor "something like steak."  She also said that my grandfather Adolf Szerejko, who was originally from Warsaw, used to spend summers with relatives in the country during his childhood in Poland.  This information was new to me.  Apparently he had fond memories of mushroom hunting in the woods during his summer visits with the family.

Christmas Marzipan

"In Europe they don't have candy on the counters the way we do here, so we made marzipan at home to hang on the Christmas tree.  My mother was afraid of using coloring, I remember, except for the juice of carrots or boiled onions--she thought it might be poisonous."

One of the best things about the interview is that it includes a number of my grandmother's recipes.  I don't have any of her written recipes so this was a particularly exciting find.

Marzipan (Marcypany)

1 pound almonds, blanched
1 pound powdered sugar, 
2 tablespoons rosewater
vegetable coloring

Grind blanched almonds very fine.   Combine with sugar and flavoring. Cook until mixture leaves sides of saucepan.  Add coloring, if desired. Roll out like piecrust until one-fourth inch thick.  Cut in small hearts or other fancy shapes.  Decorate with cherries or other glazed fruits.  Place in warm place to dry.

These are used instead of candy and hung on the Christmas tree for the children.

I was thrilled to find this clipping.  It's almost like my grandmother knew I was looking for it and led me to the right spot to find it just in time for this COG!

While my grandmother was never much of a drinker she loved creme de menthe and did treat herself a couple times a year to a grasshopper.  It's my tradition to have one during the holidays, partly because I love grasshoppers and partly because they remind me of her. So here I am with my grasshopper as I finish up my COG post on New Year's Day 2012.

Cheers!  Here's to you Gram, and thanks.

Submitted for the 113th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.


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