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Zenon
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Joined: 28 Apr 2007
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 6:55 am      Post subject: Article: Two questions and no answers: A long search for...
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Article: Two questions and no answers: A long search for my ancestry and identity.

Wonderful and moving family history fulled with deep thoughts and genealogy hints by Ute.

An abstract from the story:

"(...)The conditions my father was brought up in during the years of the Great Depression in the 1920s and 1930s are unimaginable to us who, for the most part, never had to worry about where the next meal would come from, if we had decent clothes to go to school in, if we could afford to see a doctor and get the health care we needed, or if the rent would be paid on time. My father experienced his father's struggles to support his wife and 10 children working as a roofer in Chicago and his father's death from falling off a scaffold to the pavement below while working on a building. Like his father, he worked hard and invested all his energy in creating a better life for himself and his children than he had it when he grew up. Both generations, the immigrant generation as well as the first generation born in the United States, were too busy dealing with the present, with getting ahead economically and socially, to worry about the past. It is us, the grandchildren and greatgrandchildren of the first immigrants, who are asking the questions now and are rediscovering our ancestors' culture and roots in a country that is 'foreign' to us, whose language we don't speak, but to which we nevertheless feel deeply connected.(...)

People are sometimes surprised when I tell them that I'm researching my family history. Some are interested and ask questions, others argue that the past is over and done with and that it is more important to live in the present and to look at the future rather than wasting time dwelling on the past. I agree that we should live in the present and enjoy what we have now, but we must not forget that the good life most of us have today is the result of our parents', grandparents' and greatgrandparents' hard work and struggles. Like a tree that is blossoming and producing fruit because it is well connected to its roots, we are doing fine, not because we are separated from the past, but because we are connected to our roots and to the roots of past generations.(...)"

For full article click here: http://polishorigins.com/document/two_questions_and_no_answers .
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kr



Joined: 22 Dec 2010
Replies: 1

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Post Posted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:10 am      Post subject:
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What beautiful writing, thank you so much for your story! You have done a lot of research, and I am amazed at all the information you uncovered. I, too, had father, aunts, & uncles who spoke little of their heritage and of their father (my grandfather, Jozef Florek) who immigrated from Pekelnik, Slovakia in 1903 at the age of 17 years. He settled in Chicago and had a family of 6 children. I know my dad always said his father came here for a better life. You certainly have expanded upon the conditions of southern Poland, Hungary, Slovakia in those years around the turn of the century; and of course, also my parents generation during the Great Depression. It helps me to understand better, and I thank you, you who are so far away in Germany! I am near tears reading your story. Thank you for the name of the Chicago Polish newspaper, I want to google it to see if I can find information on my grandmother's death circa 1922. I am new to this site, and I am glad your story is one of the first I read!
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All Polska



Joined: 05 Jul 2010
Replies: 48
Location: Florida, USA

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Post Posted: Sat Dec 25, 2010 2:05 pm      Post subject:
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During the depression, with 7 children to feed, my paternal grandparents fed their children "coffee soup" - chunks of home made bread floating in weak coffee. What saved them was the Polish govenment had a lottery after their bank failed. My grandfather's name came up early and the Polish government sent him his money here in the U.S.A. It was a blessing!
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Henryk
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Joined: 05 Dec 2008
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Post Posted: Sat Dec 25, 2010 3:44 pm      Post subject:
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A very interesting article. I was born during the depression and was too young for my own recollections But I have heard many stories of hardships suffered by immigrants. In Canada immigrants avoided going on welfare, because they were then deported.
http://www.utesfamilyalbum.de/
This link is reported as broken.
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Bill Rushin
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Joined: 14 Dec 2009
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Post Posted: Sat Dec 25, 2010 4:11 pm      Post subject:
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My uncles all ate bread dunked in coffee. Seven boys and my GF were all coal miners in SE Ohio 1920's. They explained to me that a lot of times they didn't eat the bread with their lunch as it was dried out. So they put it back in their miners bucket (dinner pail) and brought it back home to eat with dinner. Being rock hard by then they naturally soaked it in the coffee. Us kids thought it was natural to eat bread this way. What did we know.
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Ute
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Joined: 13 Dec 2009
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Location: Germany

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Post Posted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:54 pm      Post subject:
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I would like to thank all of you for your nice comments on my personal story and for sharing some of your own memories. I was a little hesitant if I should have posted my story because it is a very personal glimpse into our family's life, but now I'm very glad I did.

Last edited by Ute on Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:14 am; edited 2 times in total
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Ute
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Post Posted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:30 am      Post subject:
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kr wrote:
What beautiful writing, thank you so much for your story! You have done a lot of research, and I am amazed at all the information you uncovered. I, too, had father, aunts, & uncles who spoke little of their heritage and of their father (my grandfather, Jozef Florek) who immigrated from Pekelnik, Slovakia in 1903 at the age of 17 years. He settled in Chicago and had a family of 6 children. I know my dad always said his father came here for a better life. You certainly have expanded upon the conditions of southern Poland, Hungary, Slovakia in those years around the turn of the century; and of course, also my parents generation during the Great Depression. It helps me to understand better, and I thank you, you who are so far away in Germany! I am near tears reading your story. Thank you for the name of the Chicago Polish newspaper, I want to google it to see if I can find information on my grandmother's death circa 1922. I am new to this site, and I am glad your story is one of the first I read!


Thank you for your kind words! My paternal grandparents settled in Chicago like yours, and I've been doing quite a bit of research in Chicago. If you don't mind giving me your grandmother's name and her dates of birth and death (if you know them), I will gladly check some databases for you. We also have some very knowledgeable people here at PolishOrigins who I'm sure are willing to try to help you if you are posting the names and dates of the ancestors you are researching resp. any questions you have in this respect. Anyway, I wish you good luck in your research and a very Happy New Year!
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Tina



Joined: 21 Apr 2012
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:52 am      Post subject:
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Hi Ute, I just read your wonderful memoir. You have patiently worked so hard to find your roots.
I found a great deal in your story that I could relate to. I lost my father too out of my life when I was 7; I didn't see him again till I was 34, but we had a great rekindled friendship until his death. I wish I had asked him more about his Polish heritage; I had always wondered a lot about it, but like some of your relatives, he didn't think the past was all that important. His mother was Jane (Janina), New Zealand-born daughter of the Polish couple, Jan & Clara Iskierka, that I am researching. Please write more about your searches and successes!
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Ute
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:57 am      Post subject:
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Hi Tina,
I just want to thank you for your comment and for sharing your story with me. It is hard to explain to someone who hasn't gone through that kind of experience what it is like to miss a parent. My father's absence was always like an empty space in my life that couldn't be filled, not with family or friends nor with material needs covered. I always had a sadness and restlessness that I couldn’t put into words. As a child you take things as they are (which choice do you have?). As an adult and mother myself, I realized that I would never find peace of mind until I found my father and found answers to the questions about him.
Some of us search for answers, even if it seems to be a hopeless endeavor, and some of us give up. I'm glad that you and I were among those who were successful in reuniting with their birth fathers. To me it was a life changing experience!
Ute


Last edited by Ute on Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:02 am; edited 2 times in total
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Tina



Joined: 21 Apr 2012
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:10 am      Post subject:
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Yes, Ute, you have described the feeling of "something missing" so well. I'm happy that you finally found what you were looking for.
If I can finally find the last piece of my own family puzzle -- the birthplace of my great-grandfather, I will also be content.
I am wondering these days who will carry on the seach for our forebears. I have three grown children but I think only one daughter will want to carry on these researches if I can't complete them.
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MaryLouZaino



Joined: 24 Mar 2012
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Post Posted: Fri May 04, 2012 2:33 pm      Post subject:
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Ute, I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed reading your story. I too was never interested in family history. I think I must have been in high school when I had to do a family tree and that sparked my interest. However, I became frustrated because my parents didn't have much information and what they did give me, seemed like a dead end since I too thought their information was accurate and I had to find the exact names, places and dates the way it was given to me. I also related to your story because I was raised in the Chicago area so the names your mentioned were very familiar. My maternal grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Austria or Poland. I wished I had talked to aunts, uncles, etc. when I was younger and they were alive. My mom is 86 and she has given me what information she was able although until reading your story, I couldn't understand why no one ever talked about where they came from. Thank you so much for sharing your personal story.
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Ute
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Post Posted: Sat May 05, 2012 8:40 am      Post subject:
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MaryLouZaino wrote:
Ute, I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed reading your story. I too was never interested in family history. I think I must have been in high school when I had to do a family tree and that sparked my interest. However, I became frustrated because my parents didn't have much information and what they did give me, seemed like a dead end since I too thought their information was accurate and I had to find the exact names, places and dates the way it was given to me. I also related to your story because I was raised in the Chicago area so the names your mentioned were very familiar. My maternal grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Austria or Poland. I wished I had talked to aunts, uncles, etc. when I was younger and they were alive. My mom is 86 and she has given me what information she was able although until reading your story, I couldn't understand why no one ever talked about where they came from. Thank you so much for sharing your personal story.

MaryLou,
Thank you for writing to me. I guess that's normal that we look to the future instead of looking backwards when we are young. When I think back to my teenage years, that old song comes to my mind “… Remember how we laughed away the hours, and dreamt of all the great things we would do. Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end, we’d sing and dance forever and a day, we’d live the life we choose, would fight and never lose, for we were young and sure to have our way.

In the course of our life we learn that we CAN lose. We lose people we dearly love, our grandparents, parents, partners, and sometimes one of our children. We lose our jobs and material things, and when we get older, we lose our health, youthful looks, and energy, and more and more we are getting conscious of the ticking clock.

And we start looking back at our lives, at the times “when we laughed away the hours, and dreamt of all the great things we would do”, and at the times when we faced sickness, death, and loss. And often it’s just the personal hell that we sometimes have to go through in our lives that helps us mature and eventually realize what really counts in life. And when we are finally ready to ask the questions we could have asked when we were young, those who could have answered them are gone.

I hope you'll find answers to the questions you have, MaryLou.

Ute


Last edited by Ute on Sun May 06, 2012 3:02 am; edited 4 times in total
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Helli
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Joined: 15 Jul 2011
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Post Posted: Sat May 05, 2012 12:50 pm      Post subject:
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Hi Ute,
I, too, just read your story and I found it very interesting. I also live in Germany. My parents and ancestors also lived in Poland, although they did emigrate to Poland in the 18th century ( I believe my dad mentioned that). Due to WW II, they had to leave their home in Poland, came to Germany and then immigrated to the USA. So, I grew up in Chicago. I, too, had little interest in family history while I was young. But I did get a chance to talk to my parents about their background. After my mom died, I had this feeling of wanting to know more about my ancestors and so I bought myself a recorder and started to interview my dad about his and my mom's background. That was back in the '80's. But it still took a long time until I finally got around to searching. And I must say, although I do have information on my dad's side - I just can't find a marriage or birth record of my grandfather -mother's side.
I don't know the names of my greatgrandparents, only what my father thought they were. But I'm not giving up !
So, again, thank you for sharing your story!
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Ute
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Post Posted: Sun May 06, 2012 6:28 am      Post subject:
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Helli wrote:
Hi Ute,
I, too, just read your story and I found it very interesting. I also live in Germany. My parents and ancestors also lived in Poland, although they did emigrate to Poland in the 18th century ( I believe my dad mentioned that). Due to WW II, they had to leave their home in Poland, came to Germany and then immigrated to the USA. So, I grew up in Chicago. I, too, had little interest in family history while I was young. But I did get a chance to talk to my parents about their background. After my mom died, I had this feeling of wanting to know more about my ancestors and so I bought myself a recorder and started to interview my dad about his and my mom's background. That was back in the '80's. But it still took a long time until I finally got around to searching. And I must say, although I do have information on my dad's side - I just can't find a marriage or birth record of my grandfather -mother's side.
I don't know the names of my greatgrandparents, only what my father thought they were. But I'm not giving up !
So, again, thank you for sharing your story!

Hi Helli,
That's quite an interesting family history as well. From Germany to Poland, back to Germany, then to the USA, and now you are in Germany again. I imagine it's not easy to find the records you are looking for. I wish you lots of luck in your search! Where do you live in Germany? I live about 45 min car drive north of Frankfurt/Main.
Ute
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Helli
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Post Posted: Sun May 06, 2012 7:55 am      Post subject:
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Hi Ute,
and I live between Hannover and Hamburg !
The thing about family history is, once you get infected you can't stop !
Have a nice rest weekend.
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