we found boxes of letters, cards, and newspaper clippings in our attic with her name all over them, addressed to THIS HOUSE that we stand poised to purchase (probably before the new year). the oldest ones are from 1918, and are letters from a soldier named Vincent Davis, who i gather was her sweet heart. the letters were written in the beginning of the year World War I ended. he wrote to her from a New Jersey address. in one of the letters, he was explaining to her why he was NOT a deserter, as he was being accused of.
i know that Wanda was catholic. she received invitations to lots of catholic weddings (some at St. Adalbert’s, two blocks from this house) and even an ordination into the priesthood. she was polish, and some cards and documents in these boxes were written entirely in polish, so i couldn’t understand those ones.
there’s reason to believe she worked as a clerk at Stoll & Son, which was a dry goods store located at 617-619 Bridge Street (i should drive by it this week). that would have been close enough for her to walk to work. once she received a letter “c/o” this business. and in a 1916 neighborhood directory, she was listed as being a clerk at this place. her brother John and Sister Pelagia were listed there, too. as well as a man named Frank who shared the same address, but whose relation to her i’m not certain of (Dad?).
she had two sisters (one named Pelagia) and a brother named John. i pieced this together from a letter John wrote to her from Detroit in 1920, where he was studying, trying to make something of himself so that his sisters and folks would be proud of him, he said. she had sent him some shirt collars and he was writing to say thanks. he also asked to borrow $38 from her next time he was home.
i found little cards with horoscopes and palm-reading results on them. another one predicting her future husband and children. i guess she desired marriage.
which she finally got. i gather that she was married in 1928 to a man named Stanley Kowalczyk (nope, not the soldier with whom she corresponded previously). they continued living at this house, even in their married life. and continued to receive mail here until 1934, at least. that’s when the letters end.
our elderly neighbor, marge, whose back yard backs into ours, has lived here her entire life, and her family has lived here since the late 1800s, she told me once. this past week she broke her hip, and this may be the beginning of the end, as they say. so that means i need to trot over to see her, these boxes of letters and clippings in tow, and see what she may recall about the people who called this home so many years ago. i would love to know a bit more.
and i do wish i could locate the living family members of Wanda. because i suspect they’d like have a look at these old things, and perhaps learn something about their roots. at the very least, they could have her ice box cookie recipe.