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October 6, 2016 - Buffalo Sunrise
Having lived in Buffalo as a boy, our family would often go to Crystal Beach, an amusement park on the Canadian side of the border. Along the way, we would sometimes pass Old Fort Erie, the site of bloody fighting during the War of 1812. (Image, Americans and Canadians killing one another! Terrible...) We never actually visited the fort, yet I thought that someday I would. I guess that was one of my earliest additions to what would later become my bucket list. I checked it off my list yesterday.

Across the road from Old Fort Erie, is a parking lot where people often park to enjoy the view of the Buffalo skyline. From that parking lot, you can drive your car down to a semi-secluded area just beyond the lake wall. This was the spot I chose to set up my cameras for a video that I had been planning to make ever since I started playing the Hayden-duet concertina about three years ago. I love the Polish Hymn, "Kiedy ranne wstają zorze" and I thought it would an appropriate expression of hope for my favorite city, which  is currently experiencing an urban renaissance and rising like the sun. Check off a second item on my very short bucket list.

​Hope you enjoy the above video. It's shorter than the first one I posted on YouTube and it includes spectacular views of the city's skyline.
View of Buffalo Skyline from Old Fort Erie
October 26, 2016 - Warszawa 1945 i 1962
Just the other day I received a package of materials from a friend living in Detroit. The packaged included Polish sheet music and a few pamphlets on Polish history and culture. It also included a collection of picture postcards comparing Warsaw as it was immediately after WW ll (in 1945) to successfully reconstructed portions of the city in 1962. I have always been amazed how well Poland was able to rebuild itself after the war. I am in the process of scanning these photos -- like the two on the right -- 
and will share them with you as soon as I can.

One of the pamphlets had to do with Polish history. As I got into it, I noticed there was something peculiar about it and I wondered why I had never read anything like it before. Sure enough, it was published in 1964, a quarter century before the fall of Communism and obviously written to justify Soviet Communist dominance imposed upon Poland after the end of World War II. Here is an example:

    In the very heart of Poland, in Warsaw, the tragedy of the Uprising, provoked by the emigration government in London was enacted before all the Polish territories could be liberated. In extremely difficult conditions, impossible to describe, in the glare of unending fires, amidst the aggressor's barbarous devastation of the city, the Uprising lasted through August and September of 1944. Whatever the political and military appraisal of those "days of blood and glory" the facts cannot be challenged. The SS and the Wehrmacht troops killed about 250,000 people. Eighty per cent of the buildings in the districts of Greater Warsaw were destroyed, as were many age-old, cultural monuments and treasures.

    The second half of 1944, however, brought not only the dawn of liberty to the people but also the inception of a People's Republic. On July 22, 1944, the Polish Committee of National Liberation, created by the National Home Council, issued a manifesto from Polish territories first liberated which bore the character of a declaration of principles. It contained the summons to the struggle against the Nazis until final victory, the delimitation of the boundaries of the reborn State on the Odra, Nysa and the Baltic and the enunciation of the principles of a new social system -- the agrarian reform, the nationalization of industry, universal dissemination of education and culture, people's government, peaceful cooperation with other nations and an alliance with the Soviet Union. At the beginning of January 1945 the Polish Committee of National Liberation was transformed into the government of Poland and continued to carry out the reforms already begun. - SOURCE: pp.95-96, "A Thousand Years of Polish History", Polonia Publishing House, Warsaw, 1964.

On a side note, I should mention that this kind of Russian propaganda is currently being dished out here in the USA via Russian-sponsored RT America. I try to get my news from a variety of sources, including those which I feel conflict with my personal political affinities. RT America clearly favors one of the two major candidates for president and disparages the other. In my opinion such nefarious Russian meddling is a threat to our democratic way of life. 

Damn Ruskies don't give up, do they? Neither do we.

ABOVE: Sigismund's Column, originally erected in 1644, is located in Castle Square, Warsaw, Poland and is one of Warsaw's most famous landmarks.
BELOW: Muranów Quarter- Muranów is a neighborhood consisting mainly of housing estates in the districts of Śródmieście and Wola in Warsaw. It was founded in the 17th century. The name is derived from the palace belonging to Józef Bellotti, a Venetian architect. The name of the estate comes from the island of Murano.
St. Mary's Church
Wąski Dunuj Street
St. Alexander's Church
Nowolipki Street
Krakowskie Przedmieście Street
Church and convent of the nuns of the Holy Sacrament
Hotel Warszawa
Aleje Jerozolimskie / Jerusalem Avenue
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Palac w Łasienkach
Holy Cross Church
Statue of Christ in front of Holy Cross Church
Nowy Świat
Krucza Street
Dąbrowski Bridge (Old Kierbedzia Bridge)
October 28, 2016 - Ancestor's Day
I plan on visiting St. Stanislaus Cemetery in Cheektowaga this Sunday, October 30 to join with others in praying for the souls of our dearly departed. At 3 p.m. a Mass for All Souls will be celebrated by Fr. Czesław Krysa in the Resurrection Mausoleum. During Mass, there will be a reading of "Wypominki" (names of our dearly departed). Following Mass, we will visit graves of family and friends. This event is sponsored by the Polish Legacy Project and is in keeping with the age-old Polish tradition of visiting the cemetery around All Saints and All Souls Day.

All Saints Day- Wszystkich Świętych - While I am on the subject, here is some information I read about death in one of the pamphlets I recently received:


    All Saints Day (November 1) traditionally has been associated in Polish legend with ghosts and wayward souls. In ancient times when death entered a Polish house, all doors and windows were opened at the moment of passing. Sometimes even a part of the roof was removed in order to liberate the soul. Mirrors were turned to the wall so the soul would not be captured in the room. The last rite included a funeral banquet. This usually took place during the night watch. The vigil lasted until the burial in order to protect the dead soul from evil spirits.

    Later these pagan customs were Christianized and prayers for the soul were substituted for the food. People were encouraged to light candles instead of conjuring up spirits. The candles were to symbolize the eternal light for which the soul yearns.

    Today All Saints Day i much like American Memorial Day -- when the dead are remembered by the placing of flowers and candles on their graves. No grave is supposed to be unattended on this day. -Source: Polish Customs, p.19, Friends of Polish Art, 1972, Detroit, Michigan, Anna Chrypinski, Editor

October 28, 2016 - Ancestor's Day
I plan on visiting St. Stanislaus Cemetery in Cheektowaga this Sunday, October 30 to join with others in praying for the souls of our dearly departed. At 3 p.m. a Mass for All Souls will be celebrated by Fr. Czesław Krysa in the Resurrection Mausoleum. During Mass, there will be a reading of "Wypominki" (names of our dearly departed). Following Mass, we will visit graves of family and friends. This event is sponsored by the Polish Legacy Project and is in keeping with the age-old Polish tradition of visiting the cemetery around All Saints and All Souls Day.

All Saints Day- Wszystkich Świętych - While I am on the subject, here is some information I read about death in one of the pamphlets I recently received:

  All Saints Day (November 1) traditionally has been associated in Polish legend with ghosts and wayward souls. In ancient times when death entered a Polish house, all doors and windows were opened at the moment of passing. Sometimes even a part of the roof was removed in order to liberate the soul. Mirrors were turned to the wall so the soul would not be captured in the room. The last rite included a funeral banquet. This usually took place during the night watch. The vigil lasted until the burial in order to protect the dead soul from evil spirits.

  Later these pagan customs were Christianized and prayers for the soul were substituted for the food. People were encouraged to light candles instead of conjuring up spirits. The candles were to symbolize the eternal light for which the soul yearns.

  Today All Saints Day is much like American Memorial Day -- when the dead are remembered by the placing of flowers and candles on their graves. No grave is supposed to be unattended on this day. - Source: Polish Customs, p.19, Friends of Polish Art, 1972, Detroit, Michigan, Anna Chrypinski, Editor
October 30, 2016 - Ancestor's Day Mass
The Mass for All Souls & Polish Ancestor's Day held at St. Stanislaus Cemetery today was very well attended. Mass was celebrated by Fr. Czesław Krysa,  rector of St. Casimir Church and hymns were led by Corpus Christi Polish Choir and Parish Musical Director, Dr. Thomas Witakowski. The Polish Legacy Project provided a nice selection of candles, which were blessed by Fr. Krysa after Mass. The Polish Genealogical Society was also on hand to offer their services to those interested in researching their family trees. The Polish hymns were beautiful, as always.
Zaduszki
The Mass for All Souls & Polish Ancestor's Day was very well attended. 
Manya at the Mausoleum
RIP: Frank and Antoinette (Adamska) Johnson; Jacob (Jasiek) Johnson and Ewa (Stopińska) Johnson, Ursula Johnson, Stanley Johnson and All The Souls.
RIP: Jan and Aniela (Skrobacz) Johnson, Ciocia Angie and All The Souls
November 14, 2016 - St. Stanislaus Kostka Fundraiser in Rochester, New York.
Well I had a great time at the zabawa Saturday evening. The event was a fundraiser for new kitchen equipment, and by the looks of things it was a great success. Melody Lane, joined by Mark Gierczak and vocalist Agnieszka Braun Wallace, provided dance music for the party. Revelers of all ages were in attendance. 

Check out the video -------------->
November 17, 2016 - It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Sad, but true. The Rockefeller Christmas tree is in place. Stores across North America have been stocking their shelves with Christmas-related items since the day after Halloween, and Christmas carols are already being played on the radio and in stores. The CBC last night reported that one business held their employee Christmas party on November 15! Yep, over and done with! Canadians have already celebrated Thanksgiving, but holding a Christmas party in mid-November is just weird in my opinion. 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I must confess I too have already been playing Christmas carols (Kolędy i Pastorałki), but in my defense, I am merely practicing for my annual Christmas appearances.

Early practice is especially necessary this year because I would like to add accordion to the mix and a few new tunes. I am not much of an accordionist, by the way, but if I practice enough I might be able to pull it off okay. So far, my playlist includes eighteen Polish song on guitar, eleven on Hayden-duet concertina, and five on accordion. I may also sing one or two in Polish, and maybe for the fun of it sing the French carol "Minuit chrétien" plus Cicha noc (in Polish, French and English. That makes thirty-six carols, hopefully enough to entertain my audiences for about one hour. In the past I have played three, four, even five hours straight, which for me is very demanding. Playing that long makes the muscles in my hands and arms cramp up, which as you can imagine, adversely effects my playing. Also I must remember that in preparation for my performances, I must play guitar everyday for one or two hours or so just to build up the callouses on the tips of my fingers. I play guitar everyday anyway, but now I will have to play more.

Here is my schedule if you are interested in hearing me play:

Saturday, December 3: Polska Chata, Irondequoit, NY - 5 PM - ?
Friday, December 9: Euro Café, Geneseo, NY - 5 PM - ?
Saturday, December 10: Wigilia Dinner at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY -  5:00 PM
​Friday, December 16: Polska Chata, Irondequoit, NY - 5 PM - ?
Saturday, December 17: Euro Café, Geneseo, NY - 5 PM - ?

Please remember to call for reservations. Seating is limited.


Kolędy i Pastorałki Playlist
2016




GUITAR
  • Wśród nocnej ciszy
  • Do szopy, hej pasterze
  • Dzisiaj w Betlejem
  • Gdy się Chrystus rodzi
  • Jezus malusieńki
  • Chwała Bogu w wysokości
  • Lulajże Jezuniu
  • Pójdźmy wszyscy do stajenki
  • Bóg się rodzi
  • Hej, w dzień narodzenia
  • Oj, maluśki, maluśki
  • Tryumfy Króla Niebieskiego
  • Ach ubogi żłobie
  • Przybieżeli do Betlejem
  • Mędrcy świata
  • O gwiazdo Betlejemska 
  • W żłobie leży
CONCERTINA
  • Wśród nocnej ciszy
  • Do szopy, hej pasterze
  • Dzisiaj w Betlejem
  • Gdy się Chrystus rodzi
  • Jezus malusieńki
  • Lulajże Jezuniu
  • Oj, maluśki, maluśki
  • Ach ubogi żłobie
  • Przybieżeli do Betlejem
  • Cicha noc
  • O gwiazdo Betlejemska 
  • Ej, byliśmy bracia

POLISH/FRENCH/ENGLISH​
  • Cicha noc/Douce nuit/Silent Night
  • Minuit chrétien
ACCORDION
  • Gdy się Chrystus rodzi
  • Ej, byliśmy bracia
  • Jam jest dudka
  • Dnia jednego o północy
  • W Betlejem się narodziło
  Andrzejki - November 30
On the feast day of St. Andrew (November 30) girls would gather together and tell each other's fortunes by pouring hot, melted wax into a bowl of cold water. The unusual shapes formed by the suddenly hardened wax were held against the light so that the shadows on the wall would reveal what the future held in store for the young lady who poured the wax. Naturally the "fortune" depended on the vivid imagination of the "teller".

If the shadow on the wall resembled something used by a man, it meant that the girl would marry soon; if the shape on the
   wall reminded one of women's accesories -- it was a bad omen.

  Later the girls would take off their shoes and put them alternately in a row from the stove the door. The     girl whose shoe went over the threshold first would be first to marry.

   - Source: Polish Customs, p.19-20, Friends of Polish Art, 1972, Detroit, Michigan, Anna Chrypinski,        Editor
  Andrzejki- November 30