We Polish-Americans who are the very direct descendants of the First Polish Immigrants to come to the US are a proud bunch. People are surprised to hear that in 1854 the 1st Polish people to come to America to STAY came to Panna Maria, TEXAS and not Chicago or any other Yankee place…
Here is a short cheat sheet on us and our customs.Follow me, if you can on this first and for most to help you distinguish — Texas Poles from Yankee Poles: If you are a Texas Pole, when you first meet a Yankee Pole – they will try to impress you by saying that they just “loved the Pierogi’s that their Grandma used to make for them in Chicago”. In response, you just nod and smile, because you have no idea WHAT that is… You, in turn, will try to impress them by telling them that you used to date one of Bishop Yanta’s nephews – In response, they too just nod and smile, because they have no idea WHO that is…
Your knowledge of the Polish language is limited to
– One greeting – Jak się masz?
– Some Naughty words – ex. dupa, maupa dupa
– A Naughty phrase – Jak sie vieshe
– Counting up to 5: Yeddin, Vah, Shre, Steady, Pienche
– A Drinking toast – Nastrovia!
You know how to dance ALL of the following: the Two-Step, Waltz, Polka, Cotton Eyed Joe, and the Schottish.
Your Wedding had the following elements:
- Your Wedding Mass had to be held on a Saturday after 3:00 or all your guests would be mad because it didn’t count for Sunday
- You had to invite everyone within the entire county so as to not offend anyone. Weddings are up upwards to 1000 people, but could be held at only $7 a person total.
- You had your wedding reception in a Parish Dance Hall
- Your Bridal Party sold shots to your guests to make money for you and kept count by passing out ribbons or stickers for guests to place on their lapel or dress. (sometimes while in full view of the sheriff dept. security)
- You knew to stay away from the flirtier older guys if they had more than 3 ribbons/stickers on their clothes.
- You sold shots as a wedding party person and you drank more shots that others paid for you to drink than you’ve ever drank in your life.
- Your relatives extorted money from your guests for you by singing the folk song – ‘Dietche Dietche’ (Translated: “Diaper, Diaper” – A Polish Folk Song complete with metal aluminum stock pot and ceramic plate for lid to shake in all your guests ‘personal space’)
- You served good BBQ Brisquette and Sausage with all the fixin’s buffet style
- You knew the wedding dance was about to start because your male guests started moving tables out-of-the-way and started sweeping sawdust around the dance floor
- You started your wedding dance with the ‘Grand March’
- Your main beverage came in kegs and you floated several of them
Your Mom wants at least one of her kids to NOT get married but become a priest or nun.
Your Mom may have yelled at you for dressing rather immodestly by saying: “You are NOT dressed like the Blessed Virgin Mary!!!!”. Hahahaha! This rather catty Polish girl used to say behind her back: “Yea, but Mary wore a light blue burkah. That doesn’t fit the times!”
When you told your Grandma that you were dating someone, the first two things she asked in this order were: “Is he Polish?” and “Is he Catholic?”
You own at least one shot-gun and it’s mainly for dove hunting and you fish in “Tanks”. Ponds are in story books.
Your older relatives have a strong devotion to the Saints, the Blessed Virgin, the Pope (meaning the REAL one – John Paul II), and the Democratic Party.
Your Grandma has a shrine somewhere in her house complete with votive candles, Holy Water, a Rosary, Prayer Cards, Novenas, Scapula and at least one of the following forms of art- “The Sacred Heart of Jesus” picture with eyes that follow you around the room, “Our Lady of Czestochowa”, “Our Lady of Fatima” or the “Infant of Prague” .
Insight: My Mom used to bring the Infant of Prague home once a year to clean it. She didn’t know this, but when she went to the grocery store, we’d feel the need to take its crown off, touch its embroidered coat and wish we could pick it up and play with it without going an extra few months into purgatory. We never picked it up, at least I didn’t.
There is also a picture of the REAL Pope (JPII) – somewhere in the house. *Bonus: I touched his grave in the Vatican crypt this last month. Was wonderful.
You collect “prayer cards” from funerals and Priest ordinations and from a priest who goes the extra mile (like my BFF does) having them available at Reconciliation (aka Confession) Services.
Your parents have at least one Crucifix with the Corpus on it mounted on a wall in their house with palms tucked behind it.
Your church’s main fundraiser each year is a Parish Picnic or a Turkey Shoot.
The word kielbasa means something to you. And you’ve bought wedding ring kielbasa.
Buying store-bought generic sausage is beneath you. Your favorite brands are either Pollacks’s or Wiatrek’s.
The names Kosciusko, Moczygemba, Dworaczyk, Dzuik, et.al.- roll off your tongue quite easily. *You would NEVER pronounce Kusciusko -‘Kahs – E – ahs-kO” as Oprah calls it…
You aren’t fully sure of the entire story behind the founding of the U.S., but you know the WHOLE STORY of the very FAMOUS Polish migration to the U.S. on Dec. 24, 1854 and…
Fr. Leopold Moczygemba is your founding Father. The Germans in New Braunsfels, TX were flourishing, so he hoped to do the same for his own kindred.
Your ancestors did not merely come to the US in a straight shot across the Atlantic to gain entry via Ellis Island in NY.
Your initial families came via a 60+ day sailboat ride in steerage to Galveston, TX. Then rented carts and/or walked 158 miles to Indianola, TX. to gain entry into the US. Then, embarked on another 108 MILES north to their new home in Panna Maria.
You may have never been to Poland, but if you do decide to visit, you know to go with the great travel guide Fr. Frank Kurzaj to ensure the royal treatment while there.
Now with the Eagle Ford oil boom, Dads no longer dream for their daughters to marry Ivy-leaguers, they want them to marry Janyseks. 🙂
This last year, we put in lush perennial flower gardens in our backyard and added them to our front yard beds, as well. They’ve become a haven for hummingbirds, butterflies, bumblebees, dragonflies and rabbits. We have a lot of rabbits here where we live. I don’t mind them because they seem to only eat our weeds, thankfully. I like to think of them as our very own full-time gardeners. Late spring, we noticed a burrow hole under one of the AC units on the west side of our house. This area has 3 units and is covered by a large hedge to hide the equipment. We were pretty sure it was the rabbits moving in because we see a lot of them.
One late night a few weeks later, Rylie (our female Yorkie) had to go the bathroom at 3:00 a.m., so I took her out. (This rarely happens.) Out of the corner of my sleepy eye, I saw a faint shadow with a bushy black tail. I thought I was seeing things, so I dismissed it. But, a few nights later, Mark had to do the same again with Rylie and sure enough, he did see in his words, a Cute Little Baby Skunk in our backyard. This worried me, because I didn’t want Rylie to get bitten, but even more so – SPRAYED. I can’t imagine how to begin to get that smell out of a Yorkie’s lush coif. I had hoped that the skunk we saw was the lone ranger and just passing through.
A few days later, I trimmed up the front yard flower beds and this included that hedge by the AC units. I was on a small 2-step ladder with electric trimmers working away on all sides including the back behind the hedge for 2 hours even on my knees raking out leaves from the bottom and so on. That same evening at dusk, I received a frantic phone call from my neighbor saying that she had just seen a Momma Skunk with at least 5 baby skunks walking out from that AC unit/hedge in single file along the house as if going on a fun field trip to our front yard! That was too close a call on my part and I freaked out – Getting rabies, etc. from yard work? Really?!
The country boy in Mark wanted to take care of the situation himself and asked me to go buy a skunk trap at Tractor City. I was reluctant on so many levels, wondering the following:
- How’s Mark going to deal with trapping and not getting sprayed himself? I had visions of him going to a meeting with a Wall Street Stock Analyst at work the next day reeking and there being a big, white, skunk elephant in the room…
- Where is he going to take them once he traps them? To the country getting caught for trespassing… He would have probably taken them to the girls locker room if he was still in high school as he seriously did this with a possum when he was a teenager.
- And, if he brings a gun out, will the neighbors alert the local Police SWAT team that a crazy man is waiving a gun around in the neighborhood?…
- Also, he had back surgery a few weeks before this and was Vicodined up so much that he wasn’t quite his coherent self to do basic things around the house much less Skunk Extraction.
Reluctantly, I went to Tractor City, bought a cage and got on Facebook knowing surely that my Karnes City friends and family must have experience in this area. 🙂 I did get a lot of good advice. One of Mark’s classmates said that skunks just love bacon grease and that is what “his own mother uses”. Hm. I was also told by my Dad to just quietly sneak up behind the cage with a tarp in front of me and completely cover the cage and I wouldn’t have a problem as “he does it all the time”. Another – Hm.
So, Mark and I cooked up some bacon – put it in some tin foil in the back of the cage, got an old tarp ready in the garage and set the cage outside the AC units on our driveway. The next morning, Mark got up at dawn and went out just in time to see torn up foil everywhere – an un-sprung trap and a nocturnal skunk going back into the AC area for his daily rest, but not before stopping to look back and aggressively rearing up his tail as if to say: “Get us more bacon damn it!”
I knew we needed to up our game, so I called our County’s Animal Control division. They said it was too hot in the summer to deal with this type of thing and they gave me the name of a good Animal Extraction Company that they even use: Trutech. I called and made an appointment. An adorable young man came out. He, as with all technicians in this company hold college degrees in Wildlife Management and he had recently graduated from Texas A&M – a plus on our part.
We talked Skunks. I asked him how much right off the bat… Now, if a person doesn’t just come out and tell you the cost, but says “okay, but first let me tell you what this is going to entail” – you know to just hold on because it is probably going to be pricey.
So, the plan was this: We would sign a contract with him to hire him out as our Skunk Hitman. He said he couldn’t let them live because the State of Texas would not allow for it – turns out that they can’t be vaccinated for rabies… He would come out for up to 10 to 14 days… He’d place traps at the entrance to every burrow – which turned out to be a Plush, 3 Bedroom Condo, as they had made beds under every AC unit. Once they are were all trapped and “discarded”. I’m guessing in a river with little cement shoes, he would double check to make sure they were all gone… He would then fill up the holes with Sakrete to ensure that their friends/extended family don’t follow them as if by time-share to the Williams’ house…
The cost? $600 or $100 per critter! Mark said any redneck from our area would love to make $600 doing what he would be doing every Saturday night, anyway. Spotlightin’ creatures, deer no, really creatures for sport and cash… A dream job! My hair dresser said, “Pay the man!!!” He once had a lab get sprayed and before he could catch him, he ruined his master bedroom comforter and a number of area rugs, trying to get the smell off himself. That certainly put the price tag in better perspective for me.
Anyway, everyday, the tech came out and texted me a picture of his catch. One day he caught 2 for one. They were so cute, I felt mildly bad – but just mildly.
Just so you know, here is what I learned that the experts do:
They place the small traps which are wrapped completely in a Black Trash Bag cut up and taped to all sides except the front panel to make them blacked out, for ease of removal and to keep the animals calm and cozy… They also place little movable everyday used flower bed panels on either side of the cages from the entrance of each burrow to herd them directly into the cage like an airport ramp to an airplane… He said they don’t really need food, but if he thinks it may help – he uses Cheetos. I shrieked and asked what their favorite was: “Crunchy or Puffy!?!!!” As I’m a crunchy Cheetos lover and think puffys are for whimps (Mark likes puffy)… 🙂 The hitman laughed and said it really didn’t matter, however I’ll never think of Cheetos the same way again.
In a week, we were skunk free and I learned the fine art of skunk trapping not that I’d ever do it, but at least I can pass this $600 advice on to you… Let me know how it goes.
I’d like to introduce you to a long-time friend of our family, Eric Opiela. Eric and my own family, the Janysek’s, go back to the late 1800s. Our families were pioneers and settlers who bravely departed from their beloved homeland with a desire to live in freedom. This bold move and the success that came from it did not come without a lot of hard work, faith and visionary hope that the future would be bright if one stayed the good course.
Eric’s mother had a great impact on me, as she was my 1st grade teacher and taught me how to read. We saw Eric and his family at church each weekend and rallied with them on the sports fields during the week. Together we celebrated marriages and laid those in our families to rest. Our Dad’s would talk about the things farmers and ranchers talk about when they could find the time to do so, usually after church – the rain forecast and faith, crops, cattle, whether the dove hunting was going to be good this year and more. A rural way of life has been the center of Eric’s family, and my own for more than a century.
I had the distinct pleasure of working side by side with Eric starting three years ago as one of the founding board members of the Karnes City ISD Education Foundation. Both of us giving back to the community that gave so much to us. Eric served as founding President of the Foundation. He is a man that walks the talk and has lead us to where we are today. Each of us helping to pay it forward for the youth of tomorrow. I speak from experience on Eric’s work ethic. His word is his commitment and he is hard working, visionary, follows through on his promises, reflective, always composed and respectful, fiscally responsible, intelligent and well-spoken. This is hard for me to say as a person rather partial to the Aggies; but I have to say that he does those Longhorns proud having graduated from UT Law School!
Mark and I both whole-heartedly support Eric as candidate for the office of Texas Agriculture Commissioner. He was born into a rural Texas as a way of life. His experience is grounded from those values. Eric has spent many years serving at the State, County and local levels and also served as Executive Director of the Republican Party. He served as Chief Counsel for George P. Bush in his bid for Texas Land Commissioner before resigning to pursue the office of Texas Agriculture Commissioner. We are confident Eric will inspire others to safeguard our resources and encourage us all to make our great State of Texas even better.
Eric recently came out to talk our Prosper friends about the importance of the Texas Agriculture office and its impact on helping Texas’ with its current drought/water issues. Now is an important time to face this issue and we can’t think of a better candidate that can help navigate our state through this issue.
Please join us in endorsing Eric, as many great leaders have come from the position of Texas Agriculture Commissioner!
To Make an Online Donation: Click Here
To Mail in Your Donation, click here to print out a Donor Flyer:
We invite you to visit his website to size him up for yourself: www.ericopiela.com
Mark and D’Ann Williams
P.S. Check out the 2 following YouTube videos that his campaign has put out – the 2nd video is Funny!!