36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 329: Village life


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 329 — Village life
26-Jun-1972 (Mon.)


Malomice children and John


Good sleep. Good breakfast.

Kitchen. Coal stove, no running water, slightly too many flies. Amazing how much we take for granted. The government has not provided the facilities. But I got used to everything.

Later on, there was a whole mess of kids around. Took a few pictures and the let everyone take a picture.

Talked to a neighbor who knew German. Strangers are friendly but perhaps cautious. They ask how America is and how I find their country.

Dinner. Chicken again. Helped pick peas from the garden. Raw peas are really tasty. Also, strawberries are delicious.

Went to Lubin. Moderate size town. Antiseptic and sterile development. More stores. Bought shoes for 40 zloty. A lot of money, but black market is good. So, I gave them American money.

Afterward, helped John pump the water by hand for the field garden. Real hard work.

People here see America as a land of prosperity and a good opportunity to have things in life. Americans don’t. A lot of people would love to go there [America]. I don’t blame them. Here in Poland, they work, but the government doesn’t do anything for the people.

Uncle John wants to go [to America] but the American government won’t let him.


Village life. Village life is not easy. If you live in the village, you are essentially a farmer, growing your own food (potatoes, vegetables) and raising your own livestock (chickens, sheep). Some of the pictures yesterday and today, depict that life. There is no running water—you fetch the water with pails. The stoves are either coal-fired or wood-fired.

Lubin. You will hear me say that towns look drab or just not exciting. It is actually part of the construction. Lot’s of things look the same. Lubin was probably a fine city but I am comparing it to the U.S. This may not be a fair criticism. Certainly, the lack of captalism does change the landscape—compare the neon lights of Broadway to that of Warsaw and you get the difference.

The garden. Every family has their patch of land for gardening, essential to keeping alive—you grow your own food for eating. These are large gardens but much smaller than farm acreage. I helped uncle John in the garden today, picking peas, weeding, and watering. Just pumping the water was not easy. Did I mention that fresh food tastes great?

America’s prosperity. A theme that has resonated for decades has been that America is the place where you can prosper and make a decent life for yourself. Thus, everyone wants to go to America. Unfortunately, most people were not allowed to go and it was almost impossible in the Iron Curtain countries. In those days, the U.S. dollar was highly valued and purchased a good number of goods compared to the local zloty, especially on the black market.

Immigrants. My entire family consists of immigrants. Once immigrants get here, they learn that living is also hard work, but you at least have a chance to do better. All of my relatives have contributed to this country with hard work and dedication, and their children go off to college and continue to work towards the American dream. As I’ve said before, America is built on the dreams of immigrants. I’m proud of my entire family.

Kids are kids. The best part of travel is seeing that kids are just kids, and act as kids. They gravitate towards the strange visitor (me) who speaks funny. I take a few photos of the kids in the garden.

Malomice photos. The opening photo is of myself with some of the children. Cousin Here are some additional photos.

Uncle John in his garden
Uncle John in his garden
Cousin Bohdan
Cousin Bohdan
Speaking with a neighbor
Speaking with a neighbor
The kids
The kids
Teta M and her father
Teta M and her father


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