Niwiska, August 16, 1999
To my Dear Cousin and Family,
A couple of days ago I received a letter from you with some pictures in it. Thank you very much. We are glad that trip to Poland was a success. Thank you very much for visiting us and for getting to know our family here. Now you have an idea of who are and how we live, what our village looks like, what kind of settlements we have, what our homes are life, how our apartments look, how we live and how we have lived.
Please allow me to call you “Uncle”. We’re happy dear Uncle that you desire to get to know the family and take an interest in our lives. Our (Grabiec) family’s roots come from when our Dad came from Tuszymy and settled in Niwiska and returned here after having been evicted during the Second World War, God what a family man this Uncle is to have gotten interested in discovering the beginning of our family going back 150 years ago when our forefathers went across the ocean for a bit of bread, for in the Fatherland there wasn’t any.
That’s probably how it was for the whole family of the children of my Father’s first marriage. They went across the ocean and they didn’t have the kind of possibilities of taking with them packages of things as we do today. They went according to the stipulations of the agents, with just a basket of the barest essentials and a bit of cheese for the trip. They were poor, but they had to go according to the wishes of the agent. They sure were poor then, and they didn’t know how to read or write. It took them a whole month on the deck of the boat where passage was the cheapest.
It is not surprising that they lost contact with the people who stayed in the village, since they didn’t know how to read or write letters. How were they to give any sign to them about how they were doing? They just knew how to work hard in America because life for people like them was not easy. The family only had an occasional word from sister Karoline, but there wasn’t much news in the correspondence. Even Clementine, who has been to Poland a few times, somehow didn’t say anything about you wanting to gather data about the family, and I’m so glad that you are making the effort to do so.
It’s only too bad that there was so little time to share with you her and that the weather was not so good. If there had been nice weather, I would have shown you more of the village, like where things were destroyed during the war.
I think that my brother (RIP) Walter’s daughter Mania (Anna) must have told you many things. I was also in the war, but thanks be to God I returned home and to its poverty for the Germans invaded and took many to labor in Germany like my brother Joseph (RIP) from my Dad’s second marriage or others were taken to Siberia. Stasia (the daughter of my brother Walter) endured a time as well when she was taken to the camp in Dachau. May God defend those people who suffered in the war, our whole society, all of Europe and especially the Poles and Jews who were the targeted races.
It’s good that the trip to Niwiska and to Italy went well and that you got to be in the papal audience. It’s a great honor that a Pole was selected Pope and it makes us very happy. On the last pilgrimage to Poland, the Holy Father said he loves all nations, but he loves the Poles the most. Be glad you have a wife who is of Polish descent! On this note I’ll conclude. All the best of greeting for your whole family!
P.S. Father Dwayne Bednar is going to have a lot of translating to do and for this work I apologize. All the best to Father Dwayne. This letter isn’t coming out well for me because my hand shakes and I don’t see too well. My dear friends, when you come in the future to visit us insofar as I am alive and there is good weather I’ll take you around and show you a lot of things including the destruction of the war.
(Note from Donna Gawell: this is the last letter that was included in the Michael Grabiec Family book. I believe Anna Grabiec died a few years after this letter was written.