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I Wish I Could Do More

Posted by on October 14, 2015

Mid-January, 1944. Dad receives several letters from friends and cousins back home in Albany, NY. With letters from three different people, the news is pretty disjointed. That said; two of the writers are members of the St. Cecilia’s Choir, so dad gets a good update on the latest from them. Please excuse the seemingly random details from these letters, but I wanted to leave some “bread crumbs” in case any descendants of those mentioned in these letters happen to google their ancestors. Here goes…

First off is a letter from cousin Catherine “Kay” (“Don’t call me Kate! Please”) Murawski on the 17th. She congratulates dad on his promotion to Staff Sergeant and assures him that she has not “joined the Waves, Wacs or anything.” She does mention that she “got a letter from Connie Lawson a W.A.C. private now. She completed her boot training and is now stationed in Washington.”

She also mentions that status of two other fellows. I am not sure whether they are family or friends. “We got a letter from Frankie & he is well. He expects a furlough to Australia soon.” The other reference is that “Johnny got his questionnaire from the Draft Board and he is now waiting to be called….I’ll let you know when he knows anything more. He tried to enlist in the Navy but they rejected him. Reason his left eye is weak.”  

Kay alludes to something that dad mentioned in his letter to her about support from the home front. “Now as for your statement to keep punching for you boys on the home front. Well we save waste paper, tin cans, salvage waste fats and buy War Bonds. But gosh I wish I could do more.”

From the choir, dad receives two letters from Florence Smolinski dated on the 18th. Florence is the new Secretary for the choir. One of her letters letter is strictly choir business and the other is more personal.  Dad also gets a letter dated January 19, 1944 from Stanislaus Kosinski, the Choir Director, who is sometimes referred to simply as “the professor”.  In the business letter, Florence tells dad who the new officers of the choir are:

  • President – Isabelle Pawluc
  • Vice President – Marie Predel
  • Secretary – Florence Smolinski
  • Treasurer – Ben Kuczynski

As Secretary, Florence notes that “upon me has fallen the pleasant duty of writing to the service men.” She writes that “We had a wonderful time at our annual Christmas Party at the Prof’s home. It wasn’t quite complete without the fellows but we managed.”

Florence also shares the news that the Choir also sang “at an inter-cultural meeting. The Prof had a talk on Polish music while the choir sang the songs he talked about. It was very educational and interesting. I believe we all gained something out of it about the history of Polish music. A dance team from Watervliet did a few numbers. Their costumes were very colorful.”

In her second letter, Florence gets into more personal matters, addressing dad as Tony as opposed to Anthony as she did in the first letter. She writes, “I hope the army is still treating you well. The world is treating me pretty swell.”  She writes that she is taking evening Accounting and Advanced Typing classes at Albany Business College and that she is working as a clerk at the Central Warehouse Corporation located “off Broadway on Colonie and Montgomery Sts.”

In other news in the Smolinsky family, Florence mentions that her brother did not make it home for the holidays ‘but he did have a ten day furlough this month. In fact he is leaving tonight. I think he is expecting sea duty.” As for her sister, “Frances got herself engaged….His name is John  Kozlowski from Schenectady.” As for her own prospects, Florence writes “I hope it doesn’t hit me as hard as it hit them.” Then goes on to ask “Have you found yourself a girlfriend yet? Are you waiting till after the war and get yourself a nice one?”

Finally, we have a letter from Professor Stanislaus Kosinski. He includes some clippings including one from a Polish newspaper about the program at the Interracial Council at which the choir appeared. He mentions that the choir held a concert on December 5th which was “a great success” and that on December 8th the choir attended a performance of Carmen that “was a good performance …we enjoyed very much.” As only a choir director would notice of the show, it featured a 54 piece orchestra and 4 soloists from the Metropolitan Opera.

Clipping from a Polish Newspaper about the program at the Interracial Council

Clipping from a Polish Newspaper about the program at the Interracial Council

As for the Polish program, it had “a very good attendance of Polish and American people” and “the group of dancers looked very pretty in their traditional costumes. For the Krakowiak they had peasant costumes and for the Polonaise…very rich costumes of the nobility.” He give accolades to the choir as well. “Isabelle Pawluc did a grand job in her solo at both occasions. The choir worked very hard from the beginning of the season in September…”

As for his own son, Kosinski writes that “Ted… is in Washington. I hope that he will study better than he did at the local colleges. He asked me to write to him in Polish so he can improve his conversation. There is a couple of Polish boys at the Georgetown University with whom he speaks Polish. He says that the is not self-conscious with the boys of his age when he makes mistakes.”

Finally, the Professor asks about Stanley and wraps up his letters with his best wishes. Does your brother Stanley write often to you? I had two letters from him from overseas. He must be terribly lonely and homesick. Both of you are often in my thoughts and always with kindest reflections. I hope that the end of this war comes soon and that you will be spared from going over.”

As it was mentioned in Kosinski’s letter, I leave you with a a video of a Polish dance troupe performing the Krakowiak.


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