My Dad (on the far left) with his brother and sisters, Christmas 1958.
In 1930, my great-grandfather lived with his family at 3110 E. 65th Street in Cleveland, Ohio where he owned and operated a hardware store. Dominik is living with his second wife, Lucy, who he married in 1921. After Lucy, we see Stanley, Joseph, and Kasimir (Casimer), who are Dominik's sons from his first marriage. The last two people listed are John and Anne, who are Lucy's children from her first marriage. John and Anne should be listed as step-children, and should not be listed under the surname of 'Kowalski.' They should instead have the name of Demitrus, which was their father's name. Mistakes like this are quite common in census forms where blended families are involved. The census enumerator simply assumes that all of the children in the household have the same surname as the head of household, which is, of course, not always the case. (Click on image for larger view.)
Dominik's eldest son, John, got married in 1929 and was living with his wife, Julia, just a half a mile away on Maurice Avenue.
Here is a photo of me and my brother (Minnie and Mickey Mouse) and two of our cousins from Halloween 1985. We are standing in our grandfather's TV room.
My son brought home his Kindergarten photos today, so, of course, I had to find mine in my box of old photos. His came out all right. I can tell that this isn't his 'natural' smile, but he looks happy and he's not making some weird face or anything. My Kindergarten photo, on the other hand, wasn't very good. Ok, so I was shy - really shy - and I'm five years old and this complete stranger is trying to make me laugh and smile? I wasn't buying it. (I remember I did LOVE that dress - purple was my favorite color.)
Earlier this week, I composed a post for a series that I am participating in on my other blog. Since it is related to one of my childhood homes, I thought I would reproduce it on my family history blog, too. The blogging prompt was 'Your Childhood Home.'
I lived in three homes between babyhood and young adulthood. The first home I lived in, I don't remember too much; we moved out of it when I was about four years old. The third home I lived in, we moved in when I was 16, and I left for college when I was 18, so I really only lived there full-time for a couple of years. Therefore, I'm going to talk about the house I lived in roughly between the ages of 5 and 15.
The house was located on Woodbury Hills Drive in Parma, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. Both sets of my grandparents lived in Parma, but we had been living about a hour away in Painesville, Ohio, because that is where my Dad worked. My Dad's mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was about three or four; we moved to Parma to be closer to family. (Dad continued to commute to Painesville for work for several more years.)
Our house in Painesville had been a small ranch, so my parents were looking for a larger house. My brother and I were getting bigger, accumulating more 'stuff,' and they wanted to have more children, so they needed a place where our family could grow. They bought the house on Woodbury Hills from an older 'empty-nest' couple. At that time they purchased it, the home was almost 20 years old. Structurally, it was in fine shape, but it needed a lot of maintenance-related and cosmetic upgrades. I remember my dad painting all of the shutters and siding by himself; he also put a new roof on with the help of one of his contractor friends. My parents re-wallpapered the kitchen and bathrooms on their own and they had just about all of the carpeting on the main floor and staircase replaced.
I do not have a great photo here at my house (my mom's probably got a better one), so I'll post the one from Google Street View. It's a four-bedroom 'Colonial style' two-story house with a two-car garage. The exterior is white aluminum siding with black shutters and a black roof. There was a small amount of red brick surrounding the large bay window on the left side of the photo. The house had a large all-brick wood-burning fire place, a poured concrete patio in the backyard and a concrete front porch (behind tree in this photo.)
The house was on a nice suburban street that had only local traffic and sidewalks, which was great because in our old house, the lack of sidewalks meant that I was only allowed to ride my bike up and down our long driveway. We had a nice big backyard, with a small metal swing set to play on and a plastic 'tire' swing on the big tree in the back corner. When we got our dog, Cookie, my Dad tied a clothesline from the house all the way out to that big tree, and attached an extended leash to it, so she could run the length of the yard.
Instead of just describing the home's floorplan, I've attempted to piece together photos to create my own panoramas of some of the rooms. This first compilation of photos takes you almost 360 degrees around our front living room. My parents added that nice dark red carpet after we moved in. My mom also got new window treatments on that bay window. When we moved in, that window had thick, mustard yellow drapes (and when I say 'drapes,' I mean DRAPES - big and bulky and not very attractive). (Click on photos to enlarge.)
A lot happened in the living room, as you can see. We kept our extra TV in there and it was where we usually set up our Christmas tree. For many of the years we lived there, there was a large wooden baby playpen somewhere in the room for whichever of my siblings was the baby at the time.
If you walked straight past the living room after entering the front door, you entered the kitchen. Our kitchen was way too small for a family of seven; our casual dining table barely even fit in there. Nonetheless, we cooked in there, fed babies, celebrated birthdays, carved pumpkins, and dyed Easter eggs in this room. When we moved in, the kitchen's walls were covered in *bright* orange, yellow and green flowers - talk about a trend from the 60s! My parents replaced that wallpaper with one that was more neutral and easier on the eyes. We had a "lovely" avocado green refrigerator. My mom kept a boom box on the ledge separating the kitchen from the living room. She would put on tapes to listen to while preparing meals. It was here, through that boom box, that my brother and I first listened to Michael Jackson's Thriller, Huey Lewis and the News' Sports and The Cars' Heartbeat City. My parents also kept a rather flimsy wine rack on the same ledge as the boom box. I am not sure how that thing made it through five kids and 10+ years without completely shattering all over the floor, but it did.
Adjacent to the kitchen was the 'formal' dining room. We usually only used it if we had company over for Easter, Thanksgiving, or birthday parties. There's a good shot of those mustard yellow drapes!
The basement door was located right off the kitchen. I don't have any photos from the basement, but my brother and I had lots of good times down there. Whenever my parents had to buy a new large appliance, they'd throw the box down there and we would roll around in it. My mom had a record player down there. I specifically remember listening and dancing to Linda Ronstadt's Greatest Hits albums, and, in particular, the song It's So Easy. My brother had a TON of Matchbox cars that we would race on his track sets. And, as we got older, the basement is where we played video games: first an Atari 2600, then a Classic Nintendo, and then a Sega Genesis system. My mom also did laundry down in the basement, and I remember helping her many times with that. (Ok, so maybe catching toys my brother tossed down the laundry chute from upstairs isn't exactly "helping," but it's a fun memory anyway.)
Just past the basement door was a hallway that lead to our large 'family room.' You had to take a step down in order to get into that hallway. At one time or another, all THREE of my brothers fell in that hallway and hit their heads on that step, leaving a gash in their foreheads, which required a trip to the ER (and stitches). For some reason, it never happened to me or my sister.
I wasn't able to make a 360 degree panorama of our family room, so I put two smaller ones together, instead. This is one of the west wall of the room, which included our large brick wood-burning fireplace. The walls of the entire room were wood paneling, which made it look rather dark most of the time. Along the south wall, we had a long church pew. My parents bought it from our church when they were building a new church and getting completely new furnishings. It was the church in which they were married, and they still have it in their current home. The door out to the garage was on the other side of that pew.
This other photo is the east wall of the family room. The door on the left was a tiny half bathroom and the door in the right was an exterior door that lead out to our patio. The large bookcase held most of our childhood books. During the summer months, the desk back in the corner had an Apple IIe computer that my brother and I used to enjoy playing games on. (My Dad was a school administrator and was able to 'check out' one of his school's computers for the summer.)
I don't have any photos right now of this home's upper floor. There were four bedrooms and two full baths, one of which was in the master bedroom. My room was painted blue and it was pretty large. As our family grew, there was a shuffling of rooms between my brothers, but I always remained in my blue room. My oldest younger brother got the smallest bedroom, and then my other two brothers who were closer in age shared the 'green' room. I briefly shared my room with my baby sister, but my parents moved her crib into their room when they realized I was at that age (12ish) when I really needed some privacy. I had a twin bed and dresser+mirror, which were painted a light gray color. I also had a larger wooden bookshelf and a smaller one, which doubled as a night stand. I was not a 'girly' girl, so there were not really a whole lot of baby dolls or Barbie dolls. I enjoyed playing with My Little Ponies for awhile, so those were usually strewn across my bedroom floor.
The staircase between the home's main floor and upper floor is memorable to my brother and me. We would collect every pillow in the house, lay them out on that staircase, and make a 'pillow slide.' That staircase wall was also where my mom hung all of our family photos.
My parents, Terry and Jennifer (Bellan) Kowalski were married on September 1, 1973 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Parma, Ohio. To commemorate the day, I've created a special online photo album of their wedding pictures. The album can be found at this link: http://kowalski-bellan.weebly.com/kowalski-bellan-wedding-album.html
The one "story" we (the kids) always hear about that day is how HOT it was. The church was not air-conditioned - it wasn't even air-conditioned after it was turned into our school gymnasium in the 1980s - BUT the reception hall thankfully was air-conditioned. Since I know the places in which to obtain historical weather information, I decided to look up the weather details of that day. I found two Cleveland observation stations not too far from Parma. Here are their temperature observations for September 1:
The average high temperature for September 1st in Cleveland is around 79F, so yes, that's pretty warm, and it was likely quite humid, too. Several observations stations mostly east of Parma recorded some precipitation for the day, likely due to smaller "pop-up" thunderstorms. (The second column shows rainfall for September 1, in inches.)
Today, August 31st, is Casimer Kowalski's birthday. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1915, so today would have been his 98th birthday. He was the youngest son of Wladyslawa ('Lottie') and Dominik Kowalski, who were Polish immigrants. His three older brothers had been born in Poland; he was the only member of his family born in America. He married my grandmother, Veronica Bodziony, in 1939, and they had four children together. My grandmother passed away in 1983, and Grandpa lived as a widower for almost 20 years. He passed away in 2002, about a month shy of his 87th birthday. We always used to celebrate Grandpa's birthday on Labor Day weekend. Here are a couple of photos of his birthday celebration from 1998:
My great-grandfather, Dominik Kowalski immigrated to the U.S. from Poland in 1912 and settled in one of Cleveland's Polish neighborhoods on the east side of the city. According to occupation listings in the Cleveland city directories, by the mid-1920s he had opened his own neighborhood hardware shop. It was located at 3110 E. 65th Street; the shop took up the main floor of the home and Dominik and his family lived above it. He operated the shop until about 1947, when he and his wife Lucy moved to Arizona to retire.
About a month ago, I was back in Cleveland for my brother's wedding. I had a little free time, so I went down to the Cuyahoga County Archives to see what types of records they had and if there was anything I could add to my collection of family history knowledge. One of the really unique record sets that they have are appraisal/tax duplicates for county properties. Since I knew the address of the Kowalski home/store, I asked the research associate (who was incredibly helpful) if she would look for any duplicates pertaining to this address. She came back with these copies:
So, these forms are basically telling me about the structure's "vital statistics:" how big, when it was built/remodeled, what it is made of, how much it is worth, etc. This appraisal was done a couple of years before Dominik and Lucy retired, and it's neat to see their names listed under 'owners.' But she also found something else in the property's file that was even better:
Many properties do have actual photos of the structures in their tax duplicate files. Now, this photo was taken in the 1950s when the property was appraised again, but this is probably very much what the Kowalski hardware store looked like from the 1920s through the 1940s. (The house IS still there today, but it's no longer a shop and there no longer any evidence of a storefront.) These are the types of finds that I live for when doing all this family research. Census schedules and death records are necessary and list great information, but stuff like this really helps to tell my family's story.
Emily Kowalski Schroeder