Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

Scenes from a Polish American Catholic Childhood

Growing up on a farm in Michigan, the only Polish thing in my life was my grandmother, my babcia. I called her Busia and lived with her from the time I was 3 almost until she died, when I was 21. She came to America in 1913, to Hamtramck, a town encircled by Detroit and, [...]

Uncles At War: A Veterans Day Remembrance

They weren’t even uncles when they went to fight in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, three of my mother’s four brothers–Stan, Joe, and John. When I was born, in 1947, the war had been over for a mere two years. In all that time, I never recall having a single conversation about [...]

Mother’s Green Beret

My mother’s French beret is forest green and embroidered with beaded chains in noodle patterns reminiscent of human brains. The label says “Merrimac Hat Corp., made in USA, 100% wool,” size 22. It smells like cedar and moth balls. I don’t know when she bought it, but it looks like something Jean Harlow or Marlene [...]

Busia’s Butter Paddle

The lights are bright in the house tonight, a breeze wafts through the open door, cars zoom up Greenview and the yard-sale curtains hold their shape, white lace against the night. I’ve hung my busia’s butter paddle next to the new china cabinet. I found the perfect frame at a going-out-of-business sale on Kinzie, a [...]

Meeting Helene in Mexico

I met Helene Parr for the first time seven years ago in, of all places, Mexico. Her father, Piotr “Pete” Brodacki, was the youngest brother of my grandfather, Antoni Brodacki, who emigrated from Poland to Michigan in 1913. Pete followed him to America many years later and ended up homesteading in Canada. All through my [...]