Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Bootleg Buggy: Stories of my Polish Family by Tina Lonski

About 1:30AM one morning  when I awoke and could not get back to sleep, I  wandered out to the living room , picked up this delightful small paperback that I'd bought at Legs Inn, MI on our last trip.  30 minutes passed quickly and I was nearly halfway through this mere 85 paged book but my eyelids said, time to get back to bed.  However the next day, I carved out some  time to finish the book.  It is just the kind of short interlude that I appreciate and for me also from a full Polish family I could relate to all her tales. While her family and Polish ancestors settled in Michigan and mine in Pennsylvania, the attitudes, the behaviors are clearly recognizable to me, the huge family gatherings, the music, the dances, the Catholic masses,Christmas Eve,  the Easter baskets and more.  While my granpap did not make bootleg booze, that I know of, hers did and true to Polish ingenuity delivered locally during prohibition having built a secret compartment below the baby in the buggy.  Besides the wonderful tales of growing up in that heritage, she writes  about visiting Poland where she sees people who could have been her relatives and recognizes  all the foods, their smells and so many traditions, feeling at home though she'd never been there before.  Perhaps a trip to Poland will work its way into my travels at some time, it is low on my bucket list but something I think of more and more as time goes on.

 There is a section of the Polish alphabet, pronunciations and words and terms and like me she admits to learning those Polish swear words by hearing them as a child and that is what we recall, probably because her grandparents as did mine said, "never say that."  I'm glad I bought this book which has reference to a few others that may be useful in my Polish research.  I was pleased that she mentioned James Michener's  "Poland" one of my all time favorites of my all time favorite author.  It was through that book that something I knew was in our nature, a fierce independence, a cautious wariness of others, an almost trigger finger if criticized  is inherent to being Polish and is attributable to the history of Poland, a land that historically was invaded over the ancient times  an occupied to modern day communism.  It's our nature, it's who we are.  I long ago accepted that but I remember my granpap saying, "that's who we are...." that's why we fight when we have to and maybe when we don"t have to.  He well knew, as he came to this country a penniless young boy and worked in the coal mines.  This was a very quick read and one I will treasure. It is a very fast read and a 5 star rating *****