In remembrance on this Father’s Day.
My father, Francis Radjeski, lived a long and full life, passing away in his eighties. He was a foreman at Bowsers manufacturing for most of my youth, then worked for a company Called American Research. he built environmental test chambers.
He didn’t talk much about growing up in New York with seven brothers and sisters. He never said why he chose to leave all of them behind and move to Connecticut when I was a toddler. I do know he worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yards during World War II and wasn’t drafted because he was vital to the war effort.
My father was a skilled electrician, welder and carpenter.
His biggest gift to me was his love of books. Every evening he’d read a chapter from one of the classics to us. I heard Tarzan, Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, and many others.
His dream was to be a writer but he never published a word.
My grandfather, Anthony Radzijewski, was born in Poland and migrated to New York in the early 20th century. I don’t know why and never thought to ask. He arrived at Ellis Island with fifteen dollars and a suitcase with a change of clothes.
He had a job at the Parson’s estate on Long Island for as long as I can remember. He was the head gardener. His Rhododendrons won awards for their display.
From the stories he was a tough disciplinarian, using a razor strop to enforce his orders with the boys.
He grew grapes on an arbor at the house in Bayside and we picked the grapes to make jelly. Before my time, they raised a pig in the backyard. Even to this child his roses were beautiful and smelled like heaven.
My mother’s father, Cyprian Gadamowitz, also migrated from Poland. He and his brothers were going to be conscripted into the Russian Army and their father, a pharmacist, sent to them to America. They were to go to South America (Brazil?) but my grandfather had been so seasick he refused to get back on the ship. He also had seven children.
I remember he had a rooster in the backyard that chased me. I even have a photo of that bird somewhere.
Cyprian worked as a mason. He did tile work in the Empire State building when it was built. He worked hard and drank hard. I don’t recall him ever kissing us grandchildren or giving us a hug.
It’s my blessing that because these men lived, I live. I like to think I’m as strong and tough as they were.
Have you written down your family memories?
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