My grandmother, Wladyslawa or "Wanda" Sznarbach, was the second child of Ignatius and Julianna, born on June 27, 1902.
When Wanda graduated from high school she got a job with an A & P store at 106th & Union. She walked to work from their home at 70th & Union. The store manager was engaged to Sznarbach's landlady's daughter. He was going into the Army and was looking for somebody to work in his store. Wanda managed the store whenever he was gone. "Believe it or not," she says, "I was only fourteen years old."
At the beginning of World War I, Wanda passed for eighteen years old for three years. When sugar was scarce, she had the task of making noises with the scale in the back room so the other clerks could tell the customers who asked for sugar, "They're in the back weighing it out now".
For a while, Wanda built lamp mounts at the Mazda Lamp Works of the General Electric Company on East 45th St. near Perkins. She took three street cars to get to work and worked nine hours a day. For a time, she also worked at the Telephone Company.
On October 18, 1922 Wanda married Harold C. Amacher, born on March 1, 1898.
Wanda and Harold had four children. Harold, born September 7, 1923, Caroline born December 11, 1927, Richard born November 1, 1930, and Thomas born November 7, 1936. The top picture was taken in August, 1950. From left to right are Harold Amacher, Wanda, their son Harold, his wife Genevieve Wargo, her mother, Julia, and her father Simon Wargo.
The second picture shows Wanda's four children together in 1974. Left to right is Caroline, Harold, Richard sporting a tie that Marylou had made, and Tom.
Wanda's son Richard recalls Christmas growing up. He writes, "Let me tell you about the tree we had one year in Cleveland. At the time we were as poor as church mice (I always liked that phrase) and we lived in this little rented house on west 83 street behind Mrs. Shawl's house who was our land lady . She did not speak very good English and her spinster daughter Mary, was the real brains and also a big pain as far as us kids were concerned.
This particular Christmas the tree we managed to buy cost about 75 cents. We got it so cheap, ...most trees were selling for 3 to 5 dollars in those days, was because right in the middle was a big bare area. My mother felt real bad about the bare spot, and began to cry because it Was such an awful tree. My father got mad, probably frustrated because we could not afford a better tree. So my brother Harry and I helping in my clumsy way, cut the bald part of the trunk out of the tree and "spliced" the top to the remaining tree. It turned out to be a very presentable tree, especially if you hung a lot of ornaments and tinsel in the middle.
What I remember most about my grandmother was that she always seemed to be making thing. She either was knitting afhgans, making stuffed animals like spotted red elephants or monkeys made out of socks with red heels. She was always doing the good Polish grandmother things like baking. She was a favorite of neighborhood children. She told me that some neighbor children had come to knock on her door to sell her clean stones for her driveway. The enterprising youngsters had taken the stones from her driveway, had washed them and were willing to sell them back to her. I also remember various reminders around the house of her faith, be it a religious calendar or a book of cartoons featuring a monk, Brother Juniper.
When I was about 12 father took Wanda and I on a trip to Washington D.C. John Kennedy was in the White House at the time, and Caroline Kennedy's pony grazed on the White House lawn. We visited the Franciscan Monastery with its reproduction of catacombs. This picture of Wanda was taken in 1978.
Wanda's health deteriorated, and she spent her last years in a nursing home in Euclid. One time she told me that she had thought of writing her own family history at one time, beginning with "I came from a very poor family..." Wanda died on February 21, 1993. She was laid to rest with her husband in Calvary Cemetery, off East 116th Street and Miles in Cleveland.
Copyright © 2000 Nancy McAdams
March 25, 2000
Updated September 12, 2000
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