Chapter I

The Lukaszewicz Family


Sometimes people consider Poland as being a country in Eastern Europe. The truth is that Poland is located in Central Europe. This country was divided (prior to 1939) into regions called "Wojewodztwo". Wojewodztwo Nowogrodzkie (from the town of Nowogrodek) was located in the eastern part of Poland. It was a quiet country containing many forests, farm fields and beautiful meadows. The people were proud of this land because it was a cradle of great poets, writers and patriots. In one of the quiet places called Haciszcre Wielkie, I decided to join the Lukaszewicz family, on September 20th, 1925. There was already one son in this family namely my one and half year old brother Antoni.

The devastating World War I was over only a few years ago and people struggled to rebuild their homes destroyed by enemies and strive to make a better future for their young families. My parents Wladyslaw and Antonina Lukaszewicz shared a home with my grandfather Antoni and two uncles Julian and Bronislaw and their families. I was at first given a name Alina but the priest decided that I should have also a name of a saint because there was no St. Alina, therefore, I became Maria Alina. Of course I found out about it much later. From my early childhood, I remember only a few dramatic moments such as a funeral of my little sister Wanda who died when I was 3 years old. Later I remember one night when I was crying because I missed Wanda so much. When my brother Janek was born I was already five and from than on my memory served me better. Both my older brother and I were very fond of Janek and tried to "take good care" of our baby brother. Taking care sometimes turned to a disaster, for example, my dropping the baby on its head, over my shoulder. However, for the baby it was a lucky fall, which didn't result in injury. Everyone thought that Janek was a beautiful and good-natured child. Much affection was showered on him. Since these were the times when no one heard of kidnapping we three had much freedom to play with our friends and visit with relatives. My grandfather's house was about one kilometer from ours and we often walked across the meadow to visit him although we thought him to be very strict and so very tall. Those excursions however earned us scolding from our mother.

Up to grade four, we attended a school located close to our home and than we went to Stolowicze a distance of five kilometers. There were no buses and most of the time in summer and winter we walked. Only on stormy days we were given a ride in a decorated sleigh with horses. This was great! Playing in the snow on the way back was much fun and the journey home took much longer than the distance required. Some scolding for coming home much too late was inevitable. Winters were quite cold and rather long. In March on the way home we searched under the snow for blades of green grass. I remember how happy it made me that spring was coming and I loved it. Spring meant Easter, and new clothes. It meant tulips, lilacs all in bloom. Later all this was topped by the summer vacations. I was especially happy about that because it meant the arrival of the Karpowicz family from the city to their country home in Haciszcze. There were three girls in the family: Ala a year younger than me, Halina two years younger, and Irena five years younger. Almost every day I visited them and stayed to play, coming home for the night. I often teased my brothers that it was much more fun playing with the girls because they were not as rough as the boys.

There were many cousins and school friends to associate with. The family gatherings were large because my mother had three sisters: Mania, Maryla and Alexsandra and four brothers: Piotr, Stefan, Jan and Antoni. On my father's side there were two brothers: Julian and Bronislaw and a sister Bronislawa. All of them had three, four, or five children. The family ties and loyalties were strong and it was easy to find compatible playmates. We were looking forward to growing up together and building a better life in free Poland. The happy dreams however, were not destined to come true. Soon the evil forces, unknown to us at this stage were to shutter our lives with a strong blow.

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