Bonnie Shell's Life Stories

Did anyone in the family play a part in History with a capital h?

As far as I know, no one in my family has made history. My grandparents all immigrated from Poland. They never talked about their lives before they came to this country. My grandpa Kania served in the Polish Army in World War I. He was in the Cavalry.

I don't think my grandpa Rejczyk ever joined or was drafted into the Polish Army. I don't know how old they were when they came here.

They both settled in Polish neighborhoods and married in this country. My Grandpa Kania was a jack of all Trades. He worked in factories and as a real estate agent. In his later years, he worked as a garbage man until he retired. Grandpa Rejczyk was a carpenter. I know that at one time, he worked in a chair factory. I heard that my Great-Grandfather in Poland carved a huge crucifix for a church in his town, and it was a tourist attraction.

None of my grandmothers spoke English, but my grandfathers spoke at least a minimum level of English. My grandmother Kania read very little, but my grandmother Rejczyk was very smart. She once told me that when she graduated from High School, the teachers talked to her dad and wanted her to attend the University. Her father wouldn't permit it. He said women didn't need higher education to be housewives and mothers. When she came to this country, she wanted to attend school to learn English. The woman she and the other girls lived with told the girls only bad girls went to school because she didn't want them to leave, and she would be out of rent money.

My grandmother Kania lived with her older sister, who came here first, saved her money, and paid for my grandmother's arrival.

None of them had an easy life when they first came here, but they all worked hard, and eventually, life improved. Their parents and most of their siblings stayed in Poland. Grandpa Kania had one brother in America, as did Grandpa Rejczyk. Grandma Kania had a sister and two brothers, and Grandma Rejczyk had a sister who stayed and married and raised a family of seven children and two brothers who came for a few years and then returned to Poland.

I am proud of all my grandparents because even though they did not make "History," they instilled in their children the value of hard work and the love of family.