|Rivers in Poland are revered for their place in the history of the nation. Poland’s rivers have played an important part in the country’s history as the primary means for commerce throughout the nation and for export. At 651 miles, the Vistula or Wisła River is the longest. It starts high above sea level in the
Carpathian Mountains continues to flow over the vast Polish plains, making it part of the landscape of some of the nation’s most important cities on its way to empty into the Baltic Sea. Since the river touches so many of Poland’s citizens it is beloved and stands as a symbol of national pride and legend. The lyrics of the song “Plynie Wisła Plynie” reflect this reverence: “The Wisła River flows all around Poland and while it flows, Poland will never be lost.” Very cool!
We will learn more about this river and its legends at Polish Happy Hour on Thursday, January 12 at the Boxcar Lounge at B&O Station from 5:30-PM. Always a fun spot, Boxcar’s location allows us to reconnect with our own Mahoning River (which unfortunately has never been a source of entertainment or pride at least during my lifetime). Weather permitting; we plan to have a fire outside for roasting chestnuts and kielbasa. Inside we will finally enjoy Polish Karaoke (with phonetics!) something I have wanted to do for a long time. Of course, the Boxcar Lounge will feature Polish beer along with drink specials and shots of wintery Caramel Sobieski.
What’s your stand on Polish Jokes?
Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee was giving a pep talk to reporters and University supporters crowded Columbus Metropolitan Club yesterday to remind them of recent triumphs. But the 30-minute talk likely will be overshadowed by an off-the-cuff parallel Gee drew between the Polish army and cooperation among parts of the university. “When we had these 18 colleges all kind of floating around. They were like ... boats, they were shooting each other. It was kind of like the Polish army,” Gee said.
Business First points out that Gee was trying to make a point about the college’s infighting with each other when they should be cooperating, but he backpedaled on the statement after his speech. Asked by several reporters to explain the comment, Gee said, “I have no idea about the Polish army. It was just a statement about the fact that there was some issue I was commenting on.” “I could have used some other term, I guess,” he said.
Really? That’s it? Perhaps he needs to learn about Haller’s Blue Army, Battle of Britain, Monte Casino, the Warsaw Uprising or the modern day troops who fought and died to support the American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Tuesday morning before the 11 AM news, “Voice of the Valley” WKBN talk radio personality Dan Rivers, with the “Beer Barrel Polka” playing in the background, told a joke about a Polish guy ordering a kielbasa sandwich in Home Depot. When one of our readers called taking offense, he sloughed it off saying he “thought it was cute.”
It’s not cute. It’s an ethnic slur. Most of us grew up with it. It is the first thing someone says to you when they find out your of Polish extraction. Where did this all start? Mark Kohan, editor of the Polish American Journal published a piece on the history of the “joke” tracing its history to WWII.
Luckily my children don’t have to endure it at the same rate. Polish “jokes” started to decline in the United States in the 1980s when Polish Americans and their organizations aggressively spoke out against th is Anti-Polish hatred. Despite the fact there is less tolerance for Polish jokes today than decades ago, this obviously does not mean they have been eradicated.
My own husband’s reaction this morning was “You know what they say about being able to take a joke…” This created our own domestic issues … But having spent the last three years devoted to the subject perhaps I’m overly sensitive.
What do you think? Tell us your experiences and thoughts on the subject here
Witamy do Ohio!
Cleveland’s Polonia have been working hard for several years to create a Visiting Scholar program at Cleveland State University. They were excited last week to welcome Piotr Wilczek from the University of Warsaw. Dr. Wilczek will be teaching an academic course for CSU on "Polish Culture through Film," a non-credit class on contemporary Polish culture as well as offering some lectures. We hope one will take place here YSU. We will keep you posted! Our YSU Liaison Angela Messenger has been working several members of our Board of Trustees to create a similar program for students and faculty at the university and hope to learn from CSU’s success.
Free Language Classes
Speaking of teaching, I forgot to mention last week that there are FREE Polish lessons for those of you who are available during the daytime hours. Our friend Stanley Gerchak teaches Polish Basics every Tuesday from 10–11:30 at Sts. Peter & Paul Church on Covington Street near Downtown Youngstown. This class provides basic speaking, writing and reading skills that will help the students communicate in fundamental everyday situations. MORE
Progress report on Jake
Got good news this week from our friend Jake Kouwe of The Chardon Polka Band . His post auto accident recovery is going remarkably well although he is seeing a specialist in regard to his vocal chords because his voice is still troubling me. He will likely return to Cleveland next month and hopes to have the band back in operation soon after. The experience has given him some interesting insights. MORE
News from Poland
Our Survivalist Example
Perhaps the numerous times that Poland has had to rebuild its economy and culture from the ashes will actually pay off for it this year. Despite the depreciation of the złoty during the last months of 2011, watchers are betting that Poland can bring its experience of transformation to the aide of the rest of Europe. Learn more about this story and other news in Poland at our Polish Media Watch
Jan 12 Polish Happy Hour…January 15 1 PM Polish Arts Club meeting…Jan 27 Salem’s Spotlight Players --including Former PHH Chair Tom Kusiowski II—stages Ohio premiere of “Next to Normal” at the Masonic…Jan 28 Kuzman’s Polish Nite with Jimmy K & Ethnic Jazz…Jan 30 The Polish Arts Club of Youngstown scholarship application deadline…Saturday, Feb. 18 Ostatki
Aundréa and Your PolishYoungstown Team