21 November 2007

Day 21

Mom's dad, Pete. Don't know too much about him, only what mom knows. That's because he had a heart attack at the age of 42 and died. Mom was only 2 and doesn't remember him at all. One of the coolest things ever is the fact that I was able to look up on ellisisland.org the ship's log that recorded my grandfather's arrival at Ellis Island in 1922. Thank God he had a brother named Zigmond (Uncle Ziggy), because there were a lot of Polish Piotre's that came over. And their last name, while not a Polish equivalent of Smith or Jones, it's close. So amazing to see his family and their names, where they were headed, if they could read and write, etc. At ellisisland.org you can print copies of these records, which I did for my mom, and she framed. It's so amazing.*

We know his family first settled in western PA near Pittsburgh before heading to Detroit. In PA, he worked in the coal mines. Later, he worked for the railroad. I only ever met two of his brothers, Ziggy and Tony, they were both brilliant engineers who lived into their 80s or 90s. That side of the family kind of dropped most contact with my mom and her mom after Pete died. I think my mom had polite contact with her two uncles and a couple of cousins and that's it. Which is why it was odd that when Uncle Tony died a few years back, my mom was 3rd in line in his will. She didn't ask for anything from his estate except for any photographs and/or family documents found in the house. Amazing that she got some, since the two cousin's in front of her on the will were really grabby. Everything was in and out of court for ages as these cousin's tried to get every last penny they could, but finally a box arrived at my mom's door. I hope she can find some answers in these old documents and photos.

My great grandmother on this side never came to the US to stay permanently till after WWII. This means she lived in Warsaw through the occupation and all those horrors. So many questions I wish I could ask her, but, too late. I don't know that my mom even ever met her. Supposedly there are still some relatives in Poland, but we will probably never met. I would like to get over there someday, I hear Warsaw is beautiful, and I know the food would be damn good.

*I tried looking up people on my dad's side, but man, they had much more common names and so far I haven't had any luck

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