I woke up at 3:45am to the sun shining in my room! I was told later these are the longest days of the year here. Slept longer and then met Zenon for breakfast downstairs (no elevators, discovered Poland is not really handicap assessable), we are offered a breakfast buffet, but they prepare scrambled eggs for you, unfortunately they will not cook the eggs all the way, no matter how many times you ask!
After that we left for Poryte (this is what I’ve been waiting for) seeing the church. As we drove up we noticed construction at the rectory, so we went to the church hall. And there was the priest who explained he is new to the parish only one week. The rectory, church and hall are being remodeled and repaired. I took photos of pictures of prominent citizens of Poryte area that were hanging on the wall.
The priest explained that the books for the church are in the attic of the rectory and we cannot view them at this time, but perhaps in the winter would be better; Zenon agreed to come back and research for me in the winter. We asked if we could see the church, which had not been remodeled yet. As we entered, I got that lump in my throat again and started to cry! The poor priest did not understand, and thought that I was upset on the condition of the church; Zenon explained that I was overcome at being in the church where my father and grandmother were baptized. Just think any later and things might have been replaced!
I seen the actual baptismal font we took several photos, from there we took photos of the outside of the church and I took some dirt for the graves at home (I found out later this is actual a Polish custom to put dirt on graves from their homeland).
We said our goodbye and thank the priest. We then walked back to the cemetery behind the church, there we spent time going through all the graves, looking for family names and taking photos for later use in my research.
The cemeteries in Poland are a surprise to me, as the stones on most graves are very elaborate, but the general grounds of the cemetery are not kept up as in weeded. In some places in the cemetery the weeds are waist high! I also know that there is no record keeping of who is buried where and when, this is something that really bothers me. Also when someone dies, you see the priest and lease the land (grave) for 20 years, and you need to renew the lease or as needed the stone is removed and a new grave is added atop of the old, there is no perpetual care as in the United States.
From there we drove to Dzierzbia, where my Father and my Grandmother (maternal) were born. We drove through the village (about 140 people) with dairy farmers. We found a little store and post office, it looked like a garage, went back and rang a bell, a woman came from the house to help. Zenon explained we were looking for my family names Korytkowski, Grabowski, Lusinski, Baginski; she said she only recognized Grabowski, who were a young couple but gone away at the time. The neighbor came to the fence and told us to wait, and he went down the road. When he came back he told us to go see the oldest woman in the village who might be able to help.
We first went to the wrong house they took us to the correct one. I think we caused quite a stir in the village, a visitor from America! We were told to come in and sit down; I was smiled at and looked up and down by the 4 others in the room. Zenon asked about the family but she did not recognize any names. When we were back in Zenon’s car, I asked about the living arrangements there. I was told that when the oldest (usually son) gets married the parents (if all other children are gone) move to one room with the wood burning stove; and the new family takes over the home.
I also notice Zenon wore his wedding ring on his right hand and asked why, I was told this is correct and Americans are wearing it wrong! From there we drove to Romany, the next large church that might have records for the area. A funeral was just ending, Zenon spoke briefly with the priest, who asked we come tomorrow at 9am.
I saw a large nest atop a pole, Zenon told me that was a stork nest and it is considered a blessing if they nest on your property. Zenon said the storks fly to Africa for the winter, and back to northern Poland in the summer. We decided to walk up the hill (most cemeteries are at hilltops) to check out the cemetery. The area looked as though a tornado might have gone through recently as some trees were downed and a few very large headstones were felled. We walked through some of the cemetery (very large cemetery) and took photos, found graves of Baginski and Grabowski, this leaves me to believe my family were in this area too.
From here we went for lunch, I had tripe (which is not fish as I had thought). “Wieprzowe flaczki” is pork tripe soup, this again was delicious with broth, pieces of pork and vegetables.
We decided to drive around went to Stare Kupinski which is where my Grandfather Alekander Lusinski was born. This is another small village with no church and the records would be in Lomza.
Zenon thought I might like to visit an open-air museum of a typical Polish village from the 1800’s. It was interesting to see how they decorated with what they had and how they lived. It started to rain as we left and headed back to our B&B.
We had dinner across from our B&B I had the chicken, salad, potatoes and a sprite soda which is in an 8oz. glass bottle, they do not serve free water at restaurants. After dinner we drove to Jon Zalewski to pick him up as planned and then to Marianna Korytkowska. This was a visit I wasn’t sure how to plan, as our last visit was not so welcomed. What a surprise, Marianna was very warm and welcoming, she had prepared tea, coffee and cakes for us. She explained she knew nothing of our planning to visit yesterday and was not prepared to welcome us properly.
We took photos and she showed us some old photos (which Zenon had scan with his portable scanner). Through Zenon I asked what she knew of her father and grandparents; she said very little and Irena was the one with all the information, unfortunately it died with her. She did know and Jon agreed that her father and my Uncle Kazimerz was known in the area as a very good baker. I was later told from my brother Stan, he remembered that our father sent money to Kazimerz to go to school to be a baker. Marianna told us that her dad Kazimier and mother lived across the street and showed us where the house stood, down the street is another home still standing which was a lot like theirs, I took photos of both.
Marianna called her brother Bogdan and we all went to visit him. He and his wife, daughter and her two children live in a 3rd floor flat. I later learned a lot of people live in flats or apartments and do not own a home of their own. Bogdan is very sick with cancer, his hands shake a lot too. He was very happy to see me and showed me pictures Mom must have sent the family, he even had a baby picture of me! He explained how much my Mother helped the family out with money and packages. After our visit we took everyone home and again Jon invited us in for coffee, we said thank you and next time. We headed back to our B&B for the night.