1959 Letter from Jablonka
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Augustine (Gusty) Ulmanek to brother John Ulmanek in Gallitzin, PA

This is one of several existing letters from Auguste to his brother John. It was dictated by Gusty to his daughter Marysia. It not only tells a great story about the past of the Ulmanek family, but also constitutes a wonderful historical document and tells a fascinating story about people's life in Poland in the 1950's.

Jabłonka, February 23,1959

Dear Uncle,

After a long time I want to write you these few words.  In the first words of my letter we want to apologize for not writing back immediately.  But first of all we also want to give you our warmest greetings, from all the family, and wish you lots of happiness and health in this our New Year.  We have received your letter and card, as well as dollars; we thank you cordially for everything.  We would like to ask whether you are all healthy and how you are.  We are all healthy so far and we are fine, however, how it is going to be further nobody knows.  Nothing especially new has been happening here, everything is as it used to be.  Winter this year is still quite mild.  

You are writing, Uncle, that you could help the two girls find work in America. They would very willingly go to America.  Last year one young woman from another village from Zubrzyca went to America with her two children.  She had her mother there, and this mother helped her to America.  It is very difficult to get to America if you do not have family there, but when you do have family -- it is possible.  So, Uncle, please write us if you really have such intention, so that we may send them.  They are young, healthy, taught to work, and so they will work.  And if not both, then maybe at least one of them [could go]. 

And you are writing that, since we have a radio, it must mean that we have electricity at home.  Indeed, we have had electricity for four years already here in Jabłonka, though not everybody has it available at home because it is expensive to have it installed.  But once you have the installation, the bills are not so high.  So, to be frank, 2/3 of Jabłonki village is wired for electricity, and is not.  Electricity is very convenient people have purchased a lot of electric engines so that they do not have to do everything manually.  Those engines speed up our work and help out a lot.

You are writing that you have such radios with a glass screen at home.  They also have them here in Poland, and they are called the same TV sets.  Here, in Jabłonka, there are five of those but not everyone can afford such a TV set.  Because such TV sets cost 18,000 zlotys only those with deep pockets can afford them.  Besides, the reception is not very good here because it is quite many kilometers from Warsaw (the reception is best up to 300 kilometers from Warsaw and we are further away).

Uncle, if you were to come to Jabłonka these days, you would for sure not recognize it.  Jabłonka has been re-built; it has new roads with asphalt surfaces.  It has been two years now since they built a road through Jabłonki, a main road running from Slowaks directly to Cracow.

You are writing, Uncle, that you have been working hard and that you have nothing.  If so, I think that if you were married and had children it would be much better for you now, in your elderly years, because you would at least have some joy.  It is difficult and sad to live alone in the world, but nothing can be done.  Everywhere human being has to do as he/she wishes, if he/she wants to live in this world (sic.).  It just seems that you are not so much overburdened there with everything as we are here.  Because those who have [money] get even more, while those who have nothing except for 10 fingers to work with do not ever get much.  And those who are alone, who do not have a wife or children they do not have to strive for anything, they may take care of themselves only.  But we cannot all live like that.  Those who have [money] need to work and give to the state, and those who do not have need to take from the state because, otherwise, what would they eat? 

These are really hard times but people do not care about anything.  They offend God and God has to punish them, in the end with war.  Because, in spite of everything, people do not repent but continue to sin.  They get married young, do not care about anything and get separated after two-three months.  They need a divorce because they just do not like each other anymore.  Really, it is horrible to watch what is going on in Poland and how people leave their faith.  They do not need God anymore.  And there are those who would say that God does not exist, those who were good Catholics a few years ago and who now do not go to church but prefer going to pubs to drink.  Imagine that in Warsaw only, in the year 1958, there were 20,000 divorces.  One just cannot describe the rest of Poland.  The communists are responsible for it.  God knows what is going to happen.  Recently, they have sent us draft cards.  If they need boys to go to war they are going to announce it on the radio, calling to duty all men under 50.

This is where I would like to end.  Enough writing for today -- I do not have any more paper left.  Next time I will write more.

We send you all our cordial greetings.  Agnieszka wrote us for the Holidays and Marta has sent us a card, for which we want to heartily thank them.  We will write them.

Stay with God.

Brother Gusty  (written by Marysia)

We wish you Happy Easter Holidays.

Please write back.  


People Mentioned in the letter:

Agnieszka = Agnes
Marta = Martha
Gusty = Auguste
Marysia = Auguste's daughter


Source: Mary Bayliss Talley & Christopher Novak

Last Reviewed: Sunday, 20 January 2013 All rights reserved.