|A highlight for my 2009 US visit was to be the Kosciuszko Conference and Observance at West Point, the 1st and 2nd of May, but I was kicked in the backside by a precipitous fall in the exchange rate. Was it meant to be?
For anyone traveling to the US and New York State, the web site below details the Kosciuszko Foundation and the events of May 1-2 this year.
The US Kosciuszko Celebrations
I took a glance at Puls Polonii, March 11, and voila, an illuminating and colourful evening at Ashfield Polish Club with the Bractwo Kurkowe. But I kick myself in the backside for not bringing my camera.
“Never mind Felix, someone is sure to put their snaps on Puls.” I say to myself.
A quick check, but ahh, only one photo to be seen, but wait, a bonus! I stumble onto the K’Ozzie Fest ad. Forget about West Point, here comes Jindabyne! But can it match American Polonia?
I deserve to be kicked in the backside for doubting. A weekend beyond expectations ensues. What accomplished, interesting people and conversations. Stunning colour, exuberant dancing, beautiful artwork, and emotional songs, not to mention the food, photo exhibition and films. And I can still hear Krzystof Malek’s performance and the audience reaction at the Horizon resort.
To top it all off there is Tony Lang! His and my parents migrated to Australia nearly sixty years ago as Displaced Persons (DP’s) on the General Blatchford (pictured).
For anyone interested to see how many Polish people were on this ship, below is a link to the passenger list and arrival details. Tony’s father was my Godfather and I hadn’t seen or talked to Tony for about fifty years.
or check out passenger lists on other immigrant ship here:
Other immigration ships
Sunday and off to Cooma and St Patrick’s Catholic Church, for a joyous experience of an English/Polish service. It was nice to hear the appreciative comments of the local worshippers.
Monica & Norbert Oksza Strzelecki & friends, Jindabyne Cinemas
Our new Aboriginal friends: traditional dancers of Monaro with the Lajkonik dancers
“A wonderful soprano.” “Generous people” “What beautiful costumes” “It’s nice seeing so many spiritual young people.”
Even the rain on Sunday didn’t spoil things for me because I chanced upon Les and Bogusia Strzelecki. A few years ago at a bridge tournament in Canberra I was discussing East and West Coast Australian accents with an Adelaide bridge player when I heard a distinct Polish/English accent being spoken by a passerby. Turns out it was Bogusia! In the mid 1970’s Bogusia had befriended Tenya Strzelecka, who was on a flight from Poland coming to stay at my home with her husband Zbyszek Strzelecki, who was already in Sydney playing for and eventually coaching Polonia Soccer Club. I was saddened when Bogusia told me that she had heard that Tenya had recently fallen ill and died. I visited Gdynia in 2006 and was pleasantly surprised to find Tenya had actually recovered from her illness and was alive and well! Now, finally, after three years I could pass on the good news to Bogusia.
Bogusia, if you happen to read this, here is a photo I took on the 11th of August 2006, of Tenya, Zbyszek and their family.
Thank you Ernestyna and Ursula for organizing such a marvelous festival. I have spent many months in the US and have been amazed at the energy and organization of the Polish community and what they offer to people of Polish heritage. Their cohesiveness and willingness to help is something I greatly admire. I believe that Ernestyna and Ursula did nearly all the Pre Festival organization, promotion and fund raising virtually on their own.
Mt Kosciuszko - a speech by Deputy Ambassador, Mr Witold Krzesinski
The Polish community in Australia would lose something precious in terms of recognition and positive profile in the broader Australian society, as well as losing a wonderful focus and outlet for the talents of youth to learn about or express their Polish roots. It’s a rare occasion for people of Polish background to make or renew acquaintances in an enjoyable, spectacular and festive environment.
We risk an Ernestyna and Ursula burnout if we can’t get off our backsides and offer them Pre Festival help. If the Polish Yanks can do it, why can’t Polish Aussies?
Text & Photos by Felix Molski