IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

A blog about a life awakened and rejuvenated around Western New York.


Leave a comment

HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE – BROADWAY MARKET AT EASTERTIME

BUFFALO'S BROADWAY MARKET

BUFFALO’S BROADWAY MARKET

“Bring your car, come and park it. Meet me at the Broadway Market!”

Surveying the Polish Sausages.

Surveying the Polish Sausages.

A Tradition, tried and true. An Old World Market in the heart of the city district of Buffalo, known as “Polonia”. The Broadway Market, a Western New York Landmark, has stood to serve the Polish community for decades. This is the place to be as Easter time draws near. Treats and goodies are found here, and Polish foods have become the staples of  the Swieconka Easter meal. Aromatic Polish sausages (both smoked and fresh) fill the air. The fanciful painted Easter eggs in the Old World style draw the eye and elicits memories of youthful times with family and friends. Breads and butter lambs, and the famous Broadway Market Horseradish, the “bitter herbs” of traditional times all complete the feast. Each food is symbolic in representing Christ’s journey during Holy Week and at Easter.

Easter flowers on display

Easter flowers on display

Easter flowers add their fragrances with Lilies, azaleas, hyacinths, and tulips available amongst others. It is a festival of sorts, as Tony Krew, of Buffalo’s Krew Brothers Polka Band parades down the aisle with his accordion to play polish favorites. But with the times comes mush change as the Market has presumed an International flavor with Middle Eastern fair along with Native American music and even a man with his barrel organ (sans monkey) to complete the scene. 

Much to see at the Broadway Market - Janice picks her Easter lily.

Much to see at the Broadway Market – Janice picks her Easter lily.

Attending the 9:30 mass at the Mother Church of Buffalo’s Polish Community, St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr R.C Church, it was the perfect time for my wife, Janice and I to check out the wares on this yearly Pilgrimage. This week will spell a savory trek to the Polish Mecca, in the shadow of  Buffalo’s New York Central Terminal, for no Easter is truly complete in Buffalo without a visit to the Broadway Market.  IMG_0894

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THE BROADWAY MARKET LINK HERE!


Leave a comment

MAKING MY WAY BACK “HOME”

It’s been a while since I posted here. Situations and circumstances put life clearly on my doorstep. But we persevere. It’s what life is about.

So here I sit, less than two weeks to Christmas 2013. The tree’s up (the SECOND thing that gets my spirit right – the Christmas music that begins on Halloween not withstanding). That sight and those sounds brings the feeling closer to home. Those who know, understand. Losing both parents at Christmas time (mom on Christmas Eve ’86) it takes some doing every year to find my Christmas. It comes around eventually, but it is still a struggle. The girls are grown and all the magic of their wide-eyed Christmases lingers in the shadows. They “will” my spirit to come our and play!

So I am slowly coming home to Christmas. The decorations that have laced our traditions are being put into place. I will be ready.

A little known secret. Every year for twenty-six years, after all have retired to bed, I put on the suit to dress under the tree. All gifts wrapped and brightly adorned are placed beneath by me in the guise of the Jolly Old Guy! They believe because I believe. Even if only for ten minutes once a year on Christmas Eve, I AM the spirit of the Season. I am Santa Claus. We are all Santa Claus.

67282e2f0dc0a8758d69ccdf3f826abe

For a journey through my Walter-ego, visit my poetry blog, I AM SANTA CLAUS ( iamsantaclaus.wordpress.com )


Leave a comment

IN CELEBRATION OF FATHERS

Let’s see… I have two Martins, two Walters, two Josephs, a James, a Richard and a John. I celebrate them all today.

The “Martins” are the anglicized versions of the Polish, Marcin (both Great-Grandfathers – Marcin Wojtanik and Marcin Kura).

The succession of Walters ends with me; Walter Francis (Grandfather) and Walter Edwin (Father) broke the name in; I just added some flair.

One Joseph (Great-Grandfather, Josef Jakubowski – Paternal Grandmother’s father) lived well into his nineties (as did many of his progeny). One daughter, Theresa (a Felician Nun – S.M. Consolata) lived days shy of her 100th birthday.

Joseph (Jozef) Kura was my mother’s father. He was my mentor and role model, having spent many hours together in my formative years. A naturalized Polish immigrant, I didn’t know a day without his influence until the day he passed in September of 1974.

James (Maciej) Wasiela was my other Great-Grandfather, (my mother’s, mother’s father). Richard Wojtanik was my Godfather (Dad’s brother) and John Burkowski, my Father-in-law, is the only living celebrant – he is of a diminished capacity in the throes of Parkinson’s and Dementia, but still holding onto this precious life.

Congratulations to my brothers as well: Paul, Tim, Ken (Wojtanik) and Brother-in-law Ray Sahr for carrying on the “tradition”. Happy Father’s Day to every last one!


Leave a comment

RAISE THE FLAG

It’s my father’s flag. It flew in our yard for years and when he passed and it was lower for the last time, was the final statement of his life.

But now, I have his flag. A corner is a bit tattered, and my intention is to have it repaired and preserved. A noble gesture to some. A frustration for me in that I don’t want to fly it without. Plus, I can’t remember where I had put it since last year.

Picture 094So on this Flag Day, I needed to get a new flag. It’s still the standard under which we live and I love the idea and principals behind it. So I bought a new one, pretty much assuring I will find my father’s flag.

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone?

Who knew I’d be quoting “Big Yellow Taxi” on Flag Day?


Leave a comment

MEMORIAL DAY 2013

I cook dogs and burgers any day of the week. And with an “empty nest”, my wife and I can enjoy them when we want. They never make the day special. They just make us well fed. Shopping spree sales seduce shoppers to spend whenever the yen to do so hits. Still not making for a memorable day. A day off to cut the lawn and become broccoli (vegetate) is not the allure.

The end of May brings us to more pressing thoughts (or at least it ought to). Memorial Day is an abused celebration for most of the wrong reasons. Remembering the fallen heroes of our armed forces should be the sole reason; recollections and dedicating honor to those who are most deserving. A chance to decorate (a throwback to the original holiday, Decoration Day) lives offered up and spent in service of freedom and liberty.

A chance to renew my fervor for a project I began last Memorial Day. I named it, “Of Honor and Remembrance”.   The purpose of this site is to simply honor and remember the military men and women who have passed on. It started as I said, last May when I took my handful of flags to plant at my father’s grave and the neighboring “heroes” who lacked that honor (or someone to present it). I was overwhelmed by the number of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines (from many different conflicts – some decorated with Silver and Bronze Stars and many Purple Heart recipients) who had been neglected by time and age. Marker stones almost completely covered with mud and grass, nearly obliterated. I began the monumental task of cleaning and clearing the obstructions so these people would be remembered.

The “Honor” part is in accumulating the names and service designations, as well as their Death Dates to post on the “Of Honor and Remembrance” blog. Currently, I am working on the fact gathering at local Buffalo area cemeteries and trying to determine what form the tributes will take. But until these are completed, I will continue to honor and remember the fallen pillars of our Free Nation.

If there are service men and women whom you would like to add to the Honor Roll, send an e-mail to the address found at “Of Honor and Remembrance”. Send all the information as it appears on the marker or headstone and the cemetery (city and state) and I will be glad to include it. This is a monumental undertaking and I have been overwhelmed but the sheer number of names I have accumulated from a small corner of two local burial places. But it remains to be done… to in some small way, Honor and Remember in the hopes of reclaiming the Memorial of what should be a decorated day!


1 Comment

I CAN ALMOST HEAR THE BELLS FROM HERE…

I wrote a piece of flash fiction this morning about a young man’s relationship with a grandparent. For the curious, flash fiction is basically a short story. And the premise for this bit of muse has festered for the past few weeks.

Since I started posting to this “journal”, each day becomes a new page in my life story. And after 57+ years, a lot of pages have gone unwritten. I hope to somehow make up for lost time.

(But, back to the grandparents…)

My eldest daughter Melissa is getting married very soon. And for as much joy and pride she (and her sister, Andrea) has given us, I feel a twinge of sadness, that I’m sure comes with the territory. But no story comes without those little twists.

Eleven months after we were married (no shot gun necessary here), Melissa was born. Having her so early in our married life gave us little time together before it needed to be shared with another person. DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a COMPLAINT by and stretch of the imagination. It only illustrates that the three of us, Mel, my wife and I had to grow up together. At times, Melissa did a better job of it that than we did.

In her first nine months of life, Melissa had all she needed, being spoiled by both sets of grandparents. She was well dressed and entertained, spending an equal time with both families. Living a stones throw from home during her first four years, the opportunity presented itself to visit home as often as possible, with baby girl in tow. Melissa would “get to know” my mother very well.

Mom doted on her. Melissa was mom’s third grandchild, but you wouldn’t have known it. She treated her like her first. On Sundays after church, the three of us would stop for coffee and a visit, and mom would light up like her dreaded “Christmas tree” when she saw Melissa.

“My Missa!” she’d coo. “My good Catholic girl, My Missa!” as Melissa was dressed in her finest frilliest frocks (Say that fast a few times).

Mom promised to teach Melissa how to cook, and sew and crochet (mom’s afghans are legendary, adorning the back of the couch and the back seat of my car to this day, twenty-eight years after the fact). Mom for the first time in a long stretch looked forward to that Christmas, with two new baby grand-daughters (my niece Katie having been born a month before Melissa) to celebrate.

We never anticipated mom passing away from a brain aneurysm on Christmas Eve that first year.

Melissa has grown to a fine and beautiful young woman (both of my girls have, actually). She has become a wonderful cook. She doesn’t sew at all and her crocheting phase was short lived (having been taught by my mother’s sister, Anne who had become a surrogate grandmother at one point). We’re fairly certain, Mom has guided my daughter in “absentia”.

But she is loving and caring and will make a fine wife and somewhere down the line,  an excellent mother. She continues to be a source of joy and pride. There’s no hiding the fact that Dad will walk a misty aisle when the day is finally here. My wife’s parents are still with us, and will share in that day. My mom and Dad will be looking down proudly from their Celestial perch. Hidden in the peal of wedding bells will be the sound of my mother’s murmur, “Missa, my Missa!” loud and clear.

I can almost hear the bells from here…


Leave a comment

Piąty Może (Fifth of May)

Living in Buffalo, I’m nestled on the edge of Lake Erie on the opposite shore from Canada. We’re just a Peace Bridge away. I remember a few years back, my youngest daughter sat with me watching Fourth of July fireworks when she asked, “Dad, do they have a Fourth of July in Canada?” I knew what she was asking, but I couldn’t resist having fun with her.

“No sweetie”, I began “the Canadians go right from the third to the fifth!”

She knew I was full of it. She’s right about a lot of things.

I’ve applied that same logic to the Fifth of May – Cinco De Mayo. And I keep falling back on my heritage. Is there a Fifth of May in Poland? Of course there is. It would probably be called Piąty Może  which translates to, you guessed it Fifth of May. (See class, isn’t it great when things work out so nicely?)

It’s just a regular day between the fourth and sixth. There is no “Running of the Golumbke”, no “Kielbasa Fiesta”. There may be singing and dancing (Poles love to sing and dance), and there may be joyous merriment, but that could be just a reaction to being alive in Poland on the fifth of May.

The Polish people find simple pleasures in a complex life. That’s how their cabbage rolls!

Happy Cinco de Mayo, Piąty Może, Fifth of May. Celebrate today!