Childhood, Home, Family
My parents were very religious and Polish patriots. They were religious. They were doing their best. The market on Monday, no work on Sunday. It was holiday — to the church. The church was 10 kilometres away from us. We were brought up with religion and patriotism. We knew that religion could give only good to man. We had two cows, two piglets, five–seven little sheep, fifteen–ten hens. Seventeen hectares.
Marian Bumblis
Everybody knows life is hard if you have many kids. But without kids there is no joy, either, with no kids at all. We all worked like beavers, we worked, prayed, learned, we were trying our best. Life was, in general, hard. The house was 12 metres long and 10 metres wide. Two rooms, the sleeping room, the kitchen, and then the hallway. Some in the sleeping room, others in the kitchen, because we were ten. When boys – in pairs. So I slept with my father, my two older brothers slept in one bed. And two sisters in another bed. But the older sister died, so one sister slept with my mum. And I slept with my father, and the smaller ones — they slept in pairs. We ate potatoes, milk, but with cream. We had hens, but we did not eat many eggs, because we had to sell them, we had to have money for the books, for school, clothes, taxes. Life was not easy. Potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, fruit: apples, pears, plums, sour cherries, currants, radish. Yes, that’s all, because we had a lot of land. We never bought anything, never ever, anything. And we sold eggs, we made butter and sold it. But we seldom used it for ourselves.
Marian Bumblis
What did we buy? Clothes, footwear, we paid taxes, and that’s all. A kilometre and a half to the school — you need shoes, you need clothes. Clothes were modest, shoes were modest. In summer, when it was warm, we walked barefoot. All the people, not only us. It was like that. But when you tore a whole in your trousers, the teacher would say: — Tell your mother to patch it. To prevent the knee from being seen. It was no shame to have a patch. And we made shoes: we sewed them from leather but the sole was wooden. When I was already 18, I went to learn to be a shoemaker, to make shoes and to go to the army. My older brother learnt to be and worked as a tailor, and another brother a blacksmith, and still another for Christianity. We all tried to find a job to work for our living. Our daddy died young, he was 55, and left us. We used to invite a tailor. He would come, stay a few days with us and sew. Our mother fed him on the spot. He measured and made it all. A jacket and trousers. We kept sheep and it was all made of cloth. And our mother washed and weaved cloth on her own. And we dyed it and made clothes of it. Our own, we did not buy any, never ever! Never ever! Nobody seen it, nobody remembers. White linen, our own, white, bleached and thin, and thicker. There was thicker linen, too.
Marian Bumblis
My father was a carpenter, my younger uncle — my father’s brother — also was a carpenter, and my third uncle (his name was Dymitrij) was a shoemaker, but he never liked shoemaking. He worked at the Stanisławów theatre. He was a ballet master. He taught artists to dance. He was very able. And he performed all the negative roles, because young artists did not want to perform negative roles.
Barbara Medyńska-Michajłow
We went to cinema every Saturday, depending what was on and where. Sztuka was here and Wanda was there. The price was 50 groszy. If the film was not so much for the youth, you went to the cinema and feared not to see any teacher, God forbid. You could be in great trouble. We were not allowed to walk in the corso in the evening. Corso was Mickiewicza Street. You went for a walk there, of course, you could meet girls from private secondary schools, too. There were such teachers who went there on purpose. When, for example, Mr. Krawczyszyn, a maths teacher, turned up, we were warned: — Hide in the gates, because Krawczyszyn is coming! It was even worse when our headmaster, Tadeusz Kaniowski, showed up, because he sometimes walked alone. Mainly the two of them were taking such walks. The headmaster, a Pole, and Krawczyszyn, an Ukrainian. The headmaster was very stern. He had such a high barking voice, and he himself was very small — “Pikuś” (Little Peanut). He did not teach. The geography teacher was a Jew: “Magellan”. Almost all of them were called names. Schulz was the only exception, he was never called any names. No nickname ever clung to him. He was liked very much. Schulz was first of all an extremely modest man. He was a man you did not see or hear. Always in his tidy grey suit, he would go down the corridor. He never talked loudly. He was exceptionally fair. He was very well aware that not all the students had a gift for drawing, but he never harmed anybody. As to craft, it was more likely, because all students should know it equally well, but he was a very fair man and a very good man. He never raised his voice. There was only a single case described by Chciuk in his Atlantyda. Once, during a class, a student got into mischief and made Schulz angry. It was very hard. Schulz hit that pupil on the back with the class register. He hit him terribly. It was a sensation for the entire school.
Alfred Schreyer
We always gathered in the gym on public holidays. At the beginning I only sang in the choir, but in higher forms I already conducted the choir. The choir sang only the national anthem “Poland Is Not Yet Lost …”. But on national holidays there was a torchlight procession on the eve of the holiday. So we went to Truskawiecka Street to the barracks. We were given guns there and we had such half-military uniforms with a belt, but the cap was the school cap. And there was such a torchlight march on the ever of 3 May and 11 November; it went from the market square to Mickiewicza Street and round. We always stopped first right away near the church. There was a memorial of the unknown soldier, the tomb of the unknown soldier. In fact, it was a memorial commemorating the Grunwald victory. Such a cone made of stones and a plaque. Later on a comrade from the obkom (district party committee) ordered to take it away, because it was Polish. — Who did you fight against during the war? They were Teutonic Knights! They were Germans! But there, who were you to talk to … So you went there with a band, a military band, naturally. In Drohobycz, the Third Battalion of the First Podhale Regiment was stationed, and both the First and the Second Battalion was in Sambir. And then military training. — Left turn! Present arms! And that bugle call and then further. It was all very ceremonial. Then, the same was repeated near the offices of district authorities. The starost went out on the balcony, and there was that bugle call again, and that was it. It was on the eve of the holiday, but on the holiday itself all the secondary school students went to their own churches. On 3 May and 11 November. So we would go to that huge synagogue, the central one, Poles to their church, and the Ukrainians to the Orthodox Church. There was always a service, I remember, in Hebrew. I remember that always that prayer asked for the health of the Polish president. That prayer included such words. And officials came to the synagogue. They sat in the first row. There was even such an old sergeant, he always came to the synagogue with a sabre. You must not do that. Who goes to the synagogue with a sabre?
Alfred Schreyer
We observed fasting. At home we fasted three days a week: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday and Saturday we had milk, but on Friday there was no milk. It was all the time like that when I was at my parents’. On Great Saturday there was cleaning and nobody touched anything before going to church, to the Sepulchre. When we came back from the church, we could eat then, but also fasting. You could not touch any Easter food. Easter food was served in the morning after the Resurrection Mass. When you came back the table was already set and you could eat what you wanted. It was very ceremonially at home. Can you imagine that our mum baked two poods of flour, and two poods are 32 kilos of flour. She baked cakes, various shortcrust tarts: lemon, almond and nutty ones. And she baked special cakes for the poor. Poor people were coming at that time, so she baked especially for them, to have something to give them, if they came. Of meats there had to be a whole ham. Not a kilo or two like now, but the whole ham and the whole veal. And you celebrated the whole week.
Albina Smołko
I was born in 1933. My daddy was a Pole and my mummy was Polish, too. We were eight kids. My daddy was taken to war. And daddy was killed in the war in 1944. And we were left alone. And I was 12. My mum was with the children, she slogged away, and that’s it. She would talk with the Germans in Polish and she was good. Nobody overburdened us. And the Soviets would not take us, because we were beggars. They kept on at those from the kolkhoz only. They took away everything and didn’t let us get across, because we were going to church, we celebrated holidays. It was like that, they kept on at us like that.
Teresa Szymko