Friday, September 14, 2007

DPs in the Polish Triangle, Chicago, 1950s

When we came to America in 1951, we soon settled in Chicago where there was and still is a huge Polish community. My parents, however, mainly associated with other DPs. They felt that the Poles who had come before, what people called the "old immigration," didn't much care for the DPs. We were the poor, the huddled masses, the wretched refuse of Europe's shore--like in Emma Lazarus's poem on the Statue of Liberty--and the Poles who were here already didn't much want anything to do with DPs who reminded them of what poverty and dirt and need were like. Or at least this was the way we saw it.

My parents called the older immigrants Warsavjaki (forgive my spelling). The older immigrants tended to treat the DPs like farmers/yokels/hillbillies, and the DPs tended to look on the older immigrants as effete, pretentious, hi-falutin’ urbanites. There wasn't a lot of social commerce going on between the two groups.

When we first came to Chicago, we settled in what's been called the Polish Triangle, an area bordered by California, Milwaukee, and Division. I don't know how many Poles there were there, but it felt like everyone was a Pole. A lot of the store owners, priests, cops, trash men, teachers, librarians, either spoke Polish or had family that spoke Polish. You would walk past stores that had signs that said, “Mowimy Po Polsku” (We speak Polish). There were taverns and restaurants too with names that reminded the DPs of home: Sawa, The White Eagle, Old Warsaw.

But not everything was like a scene from some old movie about the American Melting Pot and how it worked to make us all a happy family of Americans. There were people who looked at DPs like they were vermin. We got some of this from the older Polish immigrants, and we got this from some some non-Poles too. I remember walking around with my father looking for rooms on Milwaukee Avenue that we could rent, and having people turn us away when they heard we were DPs. DPs were dirty, unreliable. They were drunkards, wife beaters, criminals, and bar fighters.

I'm not sure why this was. I would have thought that people would have been sympathetic to the DPs, aware of the kinds of trials and struggles they had experienced in the slave labor and concentration camps, but maybe I'm being naive. People probably just saw DPs as another problem, guys and gals after their jobs on the assembly lines at the Motorola and Zenith plants, or down at the docks in Calumet City or Navy Pier.

At first when we came to America, we lived in single rooms. We would rent a room in an apartment on Belden Avenue or Hamilton Street, and there would be other DP families renting other rooms in this apartment. I remember our first Christmas in the US. We were living in one of these rooms and a guy dressed as Santa was going from room to room passing out simple toys to the DP kids in those rooms. I got a tin army tank and a ball with a star on it. My sister got a jack in the box. America didn’t seem so bad.

All the time, my parents were working. My father worked the day shift, and my mother worked the night shift. This way there would usually be somebody home with my sister and me. My parents did this for years. Sometimes my dad would work two shifts, the 8am to 4pm, and the 4 pm to midnight shift; and he would do this 6 days a week. He wouldn't come home except on Saturday night, and then he would stay until Monday morning. When he was away working his double shifts, he slept in a room in the factory. I remember visiting him once. He had a cot to sleep on and a little box to store his stuff.

He and my mother worked in all kinds of factories, string factories, TV factories, perfume factories. My mother even worked for a time in a factory making walkie-talkies for the GIs fighting against the Communists in Korea. She worked the punch presses in the molding room. She’d come home with burn scars on her arms from the black plastic that melted and settled on them. Fifty years later when she was in a hospice dying from a stroke, I held her hand, and I could still read the scars there.

All of this crazy work my parents were doing started bringing in enough money so that we were moving out of the single rooms into double rooms and then whole apartments and then into an apartment in a building my parents bought at 2633 Potomac in Chicago. It must have been 1954, three years after we got to America, that they bought that first building.

Reading over this, I feel like I'm almost writing about the great American success story. The immigrants who come here with nothing but sand in their pockets; and in a couple of years, they're buying apartment buildings and driving around in black Cadillacs, smoking fat Cubans and dreaming about dating Marilyn Monroe--but it wasn't like that.

The war had come down like a hammer on my parents, and they were still reeling from the blow. My father drank whenever he could. He never drank when he was working but when he wasn’t working he would be down at the White Eagle tavern on the corner or down at the Sto Lat tavern on the next block. He was a black-out drunk. The only thing that would stop him from drinking was getting so drunk that he would pass out. When I got older, I would be sent to look for him in the bars on Division Street. I would find him pretty much gone, still able to walk but barely. I would help him make the trip home. Sometimes, I couldn’t get him up the stairs to our second floor apartment, and I would set him down in the basement where he would sleep it off.

When he would drink, what he wanted to do was talk about the war to anybody. He would talk about the camps and the beatings he got and what happened to him and his friends. And he would talk about the great Polish generals of the Second World War, Sikorski and Anders, and how the Polish soldiers fighting along side the Allies took revenge on Hitler and the Germans for what they did to Poland and Warsaw, how they leveled both like they were wooden outhouses. He loved to sing the songs that came out of the war, especially the one about the red poppies that covered the battlefield of Monte Cassino where so many Polish soldiers died, fighting up that mountain in the middle of the boot of Italy. I can still hear his voice getting deeper and quieter as he sang about those poppies and how the blood of the Poles can still be seen in those red flowers.

He also used to carry around a picture of a gallows in Germany where 5-6 Poles were hanging. He would take this into the bars with him and show it to whomever he could, and he would start talking about what happened to these men and the others in the concentration and slave labor camps he had been in. The photograph finally got so ragged from being passed around in the bars on Division Street that there was nothing left of it but tatters. After my father died, I looked for that photo in the shoebox of old pictures my mom kept under the TV set. I couldn't find it. He must have been carrying the tatters around in his old age.

But losing that old gallows picture didn’t matter to him, because he could also talk about the scar on his head, and he could point to his dead eye, the one that never closed. He would tell strangers about how he was clubbed by a Nazi guard for refusing to eat soup that was so inedible that even a starving man – which he was – would have to think twice before spooning that stuff into his mouth.

Sometimes, I would get my drunk father home, and my mother would start in. Normally, she was very quiet, unemotional, almost frozen. But when she saw him like this, she would explode.

She hated his drinking, and she would slap him and kick him and curse him. I learned all the Polish swear words I needed to know from her: psia krev, pierron, schlag trafi, kurva matzh, and others. He would just lie on the floor and take it. Sometimes he would try to crawl away from him, and she’d follow him across the living room floor, kicking him or beating him with a broom. He never raised a hand to hit her. He would just say, “yes, I deserve it” or “I’m sorry, Tessa.” That’s what he would call her, that or Mamusha. That means mother in Polish.

She would explode like this sometimes when she felt that my sister Donna had done something wrong too. If she sassed her, or refused to eat something my mother prepared, or tried to get out of watching me, my mother would slap her or chase her around the house with a broom. My sister would try to hide even under a bed, but my mother would get her, drag her out and beat her. As my sister got older, she would realize that there was no place in the house that she could hide so she ran outside, ran into the night, and after my mother quieted down, I would go out looking for my sister, trying to find her at a friend’s house or hiding somewhere in a neighbor’s basement.

My mother was the opposite of my father in a lot of ways. He would drink and she wouldn’t. She would get violent and abusive, and he never raised his hand to my sister or me or my mother. Another way was in how they treated the war, responded to it. While my father took every occasion to talk about the past, she never wanted to talk about what happened. If I asked her to tell me something about what had happened in the war, she would ignore me, just turn away. I felt that all of what was bad about our situation, being DPs and having a drunk father and a violent mother, came from the war somehow, but she wouldn’t tell me about it. If I pressed her, all she would say was, “If they give you bread, eat it; if they beat you, run.”

Even when we were living in America and safe at last, she never got much beyond that warning.


Manfred said...

There's a lot to talk and think about here. The place where morals and money meet is an ugly mix. In the service, I knew a guy named Sikorski--Jake Sikorski, trombone player, who used to walk around the quad or wherever we were congregating picking up minute bits of paper. Nice enough, but kind of psycho. When I was stationed overseas, some of the Italians I knew used the phrase "Una grande Cassino" meaning a huge brouhaha, referring to the battle of Monte Cassino which had left an indelible impression on the collective memory. My Dad, who is pretty old now, was sharing some stories the other day about his days overseas in Belgium. Obviously I've known my father all my life, yet sometimes he can use a phrase or a word I've never heard him use before, and I think, "How could he have known that all this time and I'm only hearing it now for the first time?" He's like that. I never know what he knows until an occasion presents itself, and then I realize his mind held on to something until the time arrived to bring it into play.

Danusha said...

Dear John,

thank you so much for this. I'm really grateful.

John, so much to talk about. So much.

Let me just say this much, because I am trying, for the 14 millionth time, to rewrite my dissertation, and my reading this is taking time away from that.

John, I keep emailing you asking you permission to ask you a hard, big question on your blog.

The question came to me some weeks ago. And I wanted to hear your answer. And tell you my answer.

And then, oddly enough, I came across a web posting that used the very word that had been in my mind.

Here's the question -- How does it feel to be scum?

And it was after I came up with that question that I came across the web posting about "Polish scum."

How does it feel to you, John, to be scum?

Your post, above, is not unconnected. You talk about being considered low class among the Poles.

Me, too. I'm Polish-Slovak-American. Before people even meet me, they form conclusions about me.

We are stupid, low class, blue collar, anti-Semitic, violent, drunk, ignorant...

If you want, John, I'll tell you my answer. It's something I've finally arrived at after years of thought.

Zack said...

Dr. Guzlowski-

It's your old student, Zack S. Lowe, here.

I've been reading your blog quite regularly, and I have to say this is my favorite piece. I was nearly brought to tears reading this.

Whether it's because it reminds me of my great-grandfather and great-grandmother (Andrew and Mary Krasnican, also refugees from Eastern Europe) or because I've heard you, for an entire semester, tell some of your tales is to be determined. So much of what you write reminds me of my own family and our history.

Keep on writing these. I like to read them to remind myself just how damn good I have it compared to others. I often thing about, and teach about, what it must like to be an Iraqi refugee. Nowhere to go. No money, no food, friends and family dead. And it makes me sad. Sad and angry.

Thanks a lot,

your former student.

John Guzlowski said...

Hi, this is John. My old chicago Polack friend from the old neighborhood sent me a note and said I could pass it on.

Here it is: some more old stories from the neighborhood:

As I was reading your piece about your Mom and Dad, I was thinking about my Uncle Stash, who spent most of his adult life living in that area. He was a drunk and made his living collecting rags and bottles. He would push his cart through the streets around The Triangle. This was 1961 and he seemed to belong to the 19th century, a figure out of the photos of Jacob Riis or Eugene Atget.

He lived in the basement of an apartment building, in the corner behind the boiler and some old ringer-washing machine. His home was an army cot, a box under the cot with some clothes in it, and a couple make-shift shelves on the wall for whatever a man like him would put there.

One time my Dad and I went to visit him. I remember he sat up in the cot, and his whole face seemed to be slowly surfacing from his drunk of the night before. Looking at him you almost could feel the sodden pain. He got drunk one night and fell asleep in the dirt parking lot in the alley behind the Vienna Red Hot stand on Ashland, just south of Division, and a car backed up over his head.

In the coffin his head looked a little like a deformed pumpkin. In those days the wakes went on for two nights and I remember he was getting pretty ripe by the end. Stash never married. At the wake he was identified to more distant friends and relatives as "the bachelor brother."

I'm sure he frequented the same bars as your dad. They probably got hammered together.

One story: I had just been chased by some Puerto Ricans and I ran pretty fast, so there were only a couple still keeping up with me. I turned on Cleveland and ran down the street past Holy Trinity Grade School and ducked into the apartment building we lived in. By this time there was only one kid still behind me. I ran up the stairs and banged on our apartment door. Stash was inside--who knows why--and he opened the door. I was crying and blubbering about being chased. "How many are out there?" "Well, there's this Puerto Rican kid..." He grabbed me by the collar and shoved me back into the stairwell. "No Polack runs from one Puerto Rican. Go back down there and kick his ass!" And slammed the door. And locked it.

John Guzlowski said...

Danusha, thanks for the question. Scum? I feel that way. I wrote an essay for an issue of Polish American Studies about why I'm a Polish American poet.

The essay talks about this. I don't use the word scum, but it's pretty much a word I could have used to describe how I felt about myself.

I want to post the essay here and will eventually but right now I have to wait for it to come out in the journal.

Danusha said...

Thanks for the story about Uncle Stash. And the Puerto Rican kids.

I have very similar stories.

Anna said...

Thank you so much for your story! It reminder me of my Dziadek (Grand-Father) he would get drunk, sing and tell stories of war as well.

Atlanta, Ga

John Guzlowski said...

Hi, I got some comments from my friend Don Binkowski. He make some very good points in reponse to my statements about the way my parents felt about the older Polish immigrants who they encountered in Chicago.

As he says, our views are often limited by our experiences, and this -- I must agree -- is true of my view of my parents' view of the older immigration. We did feel isolated from and rejected by the older Polish immigrants, and I appreciate his remarks about how and why the older immigrants responded as they did.

Here are his comments:

As disturbing as the perceptions of the old and the new immigrants were, there
is a definite disconnect that I wonder if you've taken into account in your
narrative? Let me try to emphasize that I am NOT TRYING to justify anyone's
behavior or lack of behavior, just trying to put some of the pieces of this
sociological puzzle in some kind of perspective with the hope that there may
be some better understanding.

1) As a very definite rule, practically everyone lives in their own, little,
limited world, regardless, even with their own cousins and uncles, generally
called the atomization of families, that started after WW II.

2) How could your parents come to the USA as DPs without an American sponsor?
Polonia, through the PAC, donated a great deal of money and effort to bringing
in and helping DPs all over the USA.

3) Perceptions become reality often based upon lack of communication. The
old, like me, do not speak po polsku so that we could not communicate. And,
remember critically that the huge urban center of Chicago, the home of the
second largest number of Poles in the world, was often isolated and
insensitive like all American urban centers, where people hardly talk to their
own neighbors. Experiences may have been better in smaller Polonian centers.

4) Because of similar experiences and background, DPs, like Jews, often chose
to only associate with other DPs who had those similarities because they had
little in common with others in Polonia who did not suffer like them.

5) Was there any actual evidence that the older Polonia looked down upon the
DPs and treated them like yokels/hillbillies?

6) The economic condition of Polonia must be taken into account. Remember
the GREAT DEPRESSION did not end until the war started and in 1942, for the
first time since the 1920s, there was full employment. Wages were regulated
so that Polonia was just getting over the Depression at the end of WW II. I
question where the average Pol Am was even in the middle class in 1945. They
too had to work and struggle. Only in the 1950s, for those who were
unionized, like the UAW, did the Pol Ams rise to the middle class and live in
the suburbs.

7) It's amazing that the upper class has been able to divide and conquer the
lower classes, as each individual family struggles for survival. Weren't the
DPs given the same opportunity for work that old Polonia continued to engage
in? Around this time, the old family structure began to break down and
American individualism took over so that when my Dad died in 1949 (I was 20),
NO ONE in either side of the family ever tried to help my Mom, who had a 14 yr
old and a 10 yr old to support.

8) It is virtually impossible to be "objective," but given the above
circumstnaces, how could the older Polonia have helped the DPs to adjust to a
new life?

BTW, have you seen Patrice Erdmans, OPPOSITE POLES? Mary Patrice Erdmans.
Opposite Poles: Immigrants and Ethnics in Polish Chicago, .... whose principal
allegiance is not with the new world but the old. ...


Manfred said...

I watched C-Span for a while last night and the author made an interesting statement: "History kills much information that wasn't deemed relevant at the time."

John Guzlowski said...

Manfred, thanks for the note.

edward staszewski said...

john i liked your article about dp in polish triangle in chicago.i did not have it as bad in clinton parents worked for francisican nuns and i went to catholic grade school.keep up good work.

Danusha said...

"Beauty is truth; truth, beauty."

John, your essay was beautiful, and it was true. It met my needs as a reader, and as a Polonian.

Members of stigmatized groups often respond to good, frank writing by becoming defensive.

the solution is not to give you a hard time for writing frankly. the solution is for Poles and Polonians to address the issues our writers bring to our attention.

In this case, the issues are rifts and lack of support.

Both of these issues are very real.

We solve them, not by becoming upset when our writers address them, but by organizing with each other and supporting each other.

Manfred said...

John, I'm impressed by the fact that your parents tried to show you kids a good time. The party picture and the other one on the paper moon. I know that's misleading, but after everything they went through, it seems to me they did the best they could to be good parents. I think it's true as some poets have pointed out that we remember the sad times more than the happy ones, but if we look back, we'd probably see in most cases there were quite a few of both kinds, and some that fell somewhere in between.

Christina Pacosz said...

Your mini-memoirs are important, John, not only to the sad events that happened to your family in Chicago in the 1950's, but to ask what about the displaced persons of our time? I am thinking of the millions of Iraqis who have been forced to flee their homes for their very lives because of the violence brought about by the collapse of their society brought about by the U.S. invasion. Why isn't the US taking in more than a few hundred, maybe upping that to a thousand or so just recently, but certainly only the proverbial drop in the bucket? Why is the U.S. relying on Syria and Jordan to try to house and feed these people who have done nothing wrong, except being in the wrong place at the wrong time? A humanitarian crisis looms and most of us are in denial about the consequences of U.S. military actions in Iraq.

John Guzlowski said...

Christina, Thank you for the post.

I agree with you completely. When we think about wars, we think about them inside a "thought box." There is the war. It has a beginning and an end. It has soldiers and killing, and the killing begins and then it ends.

This is what we think about when we think about war.

We don't realize that wars have lives, have effects, that go beyond the way we think about them.

Wars are never clean, never self-contained.

Wars never really end. The Iraqi refugees -- like the refugees of WWII -- will always be living in that war. Suffering their losses and feeling their confusion and pain.

The US will eventually withdraw, but the refugees will not. No matter where they are, they will still be in the war.

Jasia said...

I read your post with great interest hoping to have my question answered, "Why were the DPs looked down upon?" I've never understood this myself. My grandparents came from Poland during the Great Migration (1880-1920) and settled in Detroit. My mother was born here in 1918. I remember overhearing conversations where my mom would refer to DPs in a hushed tone, the same tone she would use when mentioning "negros". Back in those days, racial discrimination was fairly common but discrimnation among Poles seemed very odd to me. I asked her about it at one point and she told me that DPs were deported... kicked out of the country for being unpatriotic and disloyal to Poland. Obviously that wasn't true but that was her understanding. I wonder how many others misunderstood the situation and looked down on DPs thinking them disloyal. How sad. But information was not as open and free flowing as it is these days. Who knows what her sources for information were? Did her parents tell her that? Did she read it in the local paper? She's gone now and I can't ask her. But this attitude toward DPs has long bothered me.

John Guzlowski said...

Hi, Jasia, Thank you for your post.

I'm not sure where the negative connotations come from. Some one would have to do a sociological study probably to nail that down. One of the things I do know is that those negative connotations are pretty much universal. When I was growing up, being a DP meant you were foreign, an outsider, someone not to be trusted.

When I talk to people now who were DPs or who knew of DPs, they share stories that suggest that those negative connotations transcended a particular place. DP was a dirty word in Chicago where I grew up and also in Cleveland and Buffalo and Canada and Australia.

Who knows how these things happen?

I was recently reading Flannery O'Connor's short story "Displaced Person" ( has an e-copy for free), and the main character in that story talks about meeting this Polish DP. For all his European charm, she feels he carries some part of the howling chaos of the war about him like a typhus infection. He reminds her of the newsreel footage she saw of dead naked people in the concentration camps, their bodies piled up and entangled like dirty spaghetti.

One of the things I've learned is that most people believe that if things are truly bad there is nothing you can do about them. You just have to try to avoid this bad thing, push it away.

You see this in the way most people push away the poor and the sick and the abused. The victim is associated with the victimizer, and most people want to get as far away from both as they can.

Manfred said...

One thing suggests itself as a cause of DP derision. DP's reminded non-DP's of what they left behind, a past they'd rather forget. Then again, DP's were probably more needy that non-DP's and so, as a tax on people's sympathy and perhaps resources, they may have inspired some unacknowledged guilt and therefore revulsion. Non-DP's were more focused on getting ahead and probably didn't want to look back or stop or sacrifice to help others get to where they were. Sorry if I missed the mark

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
josil said...

Your Polish experience in the triangle seems quite similar to the Jewish immigrant experience in Chicago. In my day there was an older Jewish generation already in the suburbs (e.g., Skokie) and of a middle class culturally and economically. Then, there was a generation of immigrants who came after and struggled much like your parents but managed, toward the middle of their lives, to enter lower middle class. Finally, there were the recent immigrants living in poverty. As a member of this median group, we were looked down upon by the suburban jews and we, in turn, looked down on the recent arrivals. There was not much communication or intercourse (social or sexual) among the three classes. Even the language they employed tended to be distant from one another.

JimK said...


Very much enjoyed this riff by everyone--

As a Chicago Pilsen/Little village neighborhood kid growing up in the early sixties, I recall learning at about age 9, that the phrase DP did NOT mean "dumb polack".

But the phrase was indeed used by adults in my Pol-am family in a casual, slightly derisive way on occasion.

Oddly though, the eccentrics, old DPs and the marginally (and often quite) mentally ill characters remain firm fixtures in my good memories of the old neighborhood on 18th st.
A messy mix of cultures and people,and plenty of tragedy/violence to go around. For me, the Polish identity was a thin layer of a survival crust that grew on an urban kid at that time.

John Guzlowski said...

Thanks, Jim, I appreciate your comment.

Those inner city neighborhoods were -- as you say -- messy. A lot of people from different countries, different backgrounds, all struggling to make a living without a lot of help from social agencies and the like.

I would appreciate hearing from you about your experiences in the Pilsen area.

Anonymous said...

John, my Southern perspective obviously is very different, but the question of "first-wave" individuals looking down on "newcomers" reminds me of a parallel among Southerners who moved to Michigan after WWI & those who moved during & after WWII. I often wondered why some of my relatives made such a point of having arrived in the Twenties. I finally decided they wanted to be perceived as sophisticated urbanites (unlike me, their country cousin) & they were afraid they'd be labeled as "hillbillies" like the "newcomers." Later, my very limited research of "Scotch-Irish" immigration in the 18th century suggested that this kind of social insecurity among "first wave" groups probably is more common than otherwise.

Mim said...

I sent the link to this post to my husband to read and he said, "we lived in an apartment at 3223 Potomac when I was growing up." Wow, the old neighborhood.

thestorypoet said...

Do you have any information about Polish survivors sponsored by Irish Catholic farmers in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states? My daughter-in-law's family emigrated this way. Spent two years working on farms and made their way to Chicago. Do you know if there is any anecdotal or documented information on this? The Polish experience is neglected and history does not reflect the millions of non-Jews slaughtered and starved by the Nazis. Thank you, Mary

John Guzlowski said...

Storypoet, drop me an email and I'll see if I can help you find out more about the DPs in Wisconsin.

I'm at

Danny Two-Tone said...

Wow this is some powerful stuff.

Good to see one of us Chicago Polish create some meaningful art about our very unique experience on the fringes of two worlds

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Have you ever wondered what your mother would do if she were to read this? I guess reading it made me wonder. You make my childhood Italian-American home seem serene in comparison. That's not the stereotype, though, is it?

John Guzlowski said...

Hi, Anonymous, I did talk to my mom about the time I write about here.

Toward the end of her life, I asked her about that time, my memories.

She said that it wasn't as bad as all that.

I also talked to my sister Donna, who was two years older. She said it was worse. In fact, because of what happened in the old days between her and my mother, my sister refused to come see my mother when she was dying.

If you want to read more about my mom, take a look at a piece I wrote about making soup with her.

Jim said...

Hey John,

Just came across your site and I am a member of that "DP' group you write about. I was born in Haren Ams (Maczkow), the British sector of West Germany, in 1947 as well. My parents, sister and I came to the US in 1951 settling, of course, in Chicago. Our first place to live was on Ohio St. which we shared with an old man and then we later moved to an apartment building owned by St. John Cantius parish (attended school there until 1959). It was in that year we moved into our own home on Thomas St., a half block from St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital and I entered the 6th. grade at St. Helen's. Your childhood experience is so very similar to mine. The "DP" stigma had an effect on my self-esteem and even to this day, I will lie about my true birthplace as I have often done so in the past. I am definately interested in reading your written works and thanks for sharing.

Hubert C Proud then prouder noe said...

I am truly surprised at the comments i have read on this site> I am a product of the 50's immigration from Poland and my parents settled in the Polish Triangle as well>
The impression this blog is depicting Polish Americans is a complete shame. I am not naive that these circumstances may have occurred in certain communities and nationalities, but the experience my parents went thru was infact difficult as any immigrant in those times may have experienced, but the generalizations make me sick. My experience growing up along Milwaukee ave was infact a Pride of my nationality. Folks it all comes down to how and where you came from, not the nationality, and for sure not the isolation of Polish People .

Anonymous said...

The Guzlowski name came up often in discussions in my home.
I lived at 2620 W Potomac from 1955 to 1960 and then moved to 1446 N Fairfield just next to and north of the remote parish parking lots where the annual carnivals were held.
It may be that in or around 1959 my mother was dating a man by the name of Piotr Dryzba, an obsessed horse-loving lieutenant in the Polish Cavalary, who may have been a tenant in your 2nd or 3rd floor building and was your father's drinking buddy.
I may have even played ring toss or some such object tossing game with you and your sister one evening in his apartment next to a, silver round-headed tacked, red-vinyl telephone station he built with his own hands.
I was about 5 yrs old then (1958?) and sometimes played with a similar-aged girl called Halinka, if I'm not mistaken, in the same building I believe to have been your parent's building as I always remember crossing Potamac to the south side and a few homes to the west.
I was playing with this girl in the yard of that building one day and we were tossing a bone back and forth and she missed catching it one time and it hit her in the face. She began howling tears at which point I darted out of the yard and ran home, bolting across Potomac Ave between two cars being immediately hit by a car from the left that was traveling east. I remember rolling to the curb and waking up in the hospital. It was said that the poor, elderly, Polish fellow who hit me died a week later.
This is a story I'm sure you would remember as you would have been about 10 and this happened in front of your house.
Does this jog any memories?
E. Christo Gorawski,