36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 332: Tylawa, my mother’s birthplace


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

Day 332 — Tylawa, my mother’s birthplace
29-Jun-1972 (Thur.)


My mother’s birthplace
My mothers birthplace


Today, had a smaller breakfast. Bread and butter and cocoa. I don’t think they do much farming around here. However, this house (the sister of the husband of Eva) is extremely nice and furnished. No water and bathroom. But doesn’t matter.

Despite my talking about the facilities. I really like it here. Fresh air. Farm work is healthy, also. But, I don’t think I would be able to live here. No music. Spoiled by civilization.


The big day. Finally about to see the village where mom was born and grew up.

Well, we left. Very short distance. First saw Michael’s house nearby and then went to Tylawa. Took pictures of Teta Anna’s house. Beautiful countryside.

Mother’s house. It didn’t look like I thought it would. No one was living there and so it was run down. But the back fields directly behind the house, where mom said she did so much as a girl, was really, really, beautiful.
Took an awful lot of pictures to show mom. I was really excited when walking around. And it was so beautiful and I just thought of my mother living there. Felt jealous. Seemed she was lucky. With a good government it wouldn’t be such a bad life.

This area must be the loveliest part of Poland. Rolling hills, woods, wide fields, widely spaced houses. Really nice. Other parts are flat and houses are usually close together.

Met Uncle P’s father (quite old). Across the street. But could not find any other relatives. I thought my cousin was supposed to be here.

* I would love to bring mom here.

Young girl Maria. Really good looking, very nice and friendly. Intelligent. Works in Tylawa as a secretary.

Even though we had a language problem, we had a really nice time. Last night at dinner, we sat around and everyone drank. This afternoon, went for a nice long walk around the area. Have a few pictures.

I really like her and will try and write and learn Polish and see her when I return. But two years is a long time. I’m sure things will be different. In a way, I’m hoping she’ll be around. After another walk, returned to eat.

Everyone always drinks a lot of schnapps. Eva’s husband, great guy, has a lot.

I have to find the address of a teacher’s family (she is daughter). The name is in the address book. Also say hello and hug Eva and Roman from the three teachers and from her husband.

Really nice family atmosphere. Little girl (Magesha) running around. Cute. Everyone even started dancing around in the living room.

At night, went dancing with Maria. In a hall, there was what you might call a student club. A sizeable group of young people there. Danced to accordion music.

Slightly before, the same kids, mostly girls, were part of a local “fire fighting” group. They had some type of piece of junk fire engine. I don’t know where they would get the water to put a fire out. I seriously doubt how effective they could be.

Walked home. Beautiful night. Full moon over the mountains. Said goodbye. Too short a time. Only one day. I hope that I’ll meet her again.


Uncle Roman. The husband of Teta Eva (in the U.S.) is my uncle Roman. He was a nice guy, full of life, and joviality. He likes to eat, drink, sing, and be happy. We stayed in the next town in his brother’s house. I remember this house as being a nice house similar to any western house—except no water, and no bathroom. We take those utilities as essential and basic. In much of the world, even in 2009, many people still don’t have those basics. We should be thankful.

Tylawa. Tylawa (pronounced Tih-yla-va) was beautiful. It is somewhat near Krosnos and at the beginnings of the Carpathian Mountains and near Ukraine. Although the region was known as Lemko, the language was essentially Ukrainian (not Polish) and the culture was also Ukrainian. I remember the rolling hills, a winding river, many hundreds of sheep grazing in the hills, forests, and just a beautiful landscape. What a place in which to grow up.

My mother’s birthplace. Today was the reason that I came to Poland. I wanted to see my mother’s birthplace (see opening photo). The house, the land, the village where she was born. My mother came from a big family—there were 6 (or 7) girls. Wow! The opening picture shows my mother’s house, now unoccupied. The tin roof was rusting and the home looked a little run down. I remember that we couldn’t get inside—I really wanted to see the interior. Regardless, I walked slowly around the front and the back of the house, imagining what my mother would be doing here as she was growing up. In the back of the house was a beautiful vista of long, rolling hills. Very green, and filled with nature. It was an emotional experience. A good and welcomed experience.

One’s heritage. Seeing the culture, people, village, and house in which my mother grew up was something I’ll never forget. It made me appreciate the cultural heritage that she passed on to my brothers and myself. One story I remember is that she and her sisters would take the cows and sheep and go out into the fields. I remember she said that they owned the sliver of land behind their house for miles and miles. After WWII, the land was confiscated. Speaking of the war, she told me that when the German front came through Poland, she and her sisters ran through the woods and were pursued by Germans, firing shots, and with dogs. Imagine how terrifying that would be to a teenager.

We all owe our mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers all a tremendous amount of gratitude in raising us and giving us their heritage, language, culture, and upbringing. We should learn more about them. Imagine what they were like when they were growing up as young teens with dreams as well.

Relatives in Tylawa. My mother and her sisters all came from Tylawa, of course. Over time, they all emigrated to the United States and made their lives over here. I did get to see uncle Roman and my uncle P’s father’s house across the street. (Sometimes I think that the stove I pictured on Day 000 was actually from uncles Roman’s house.) Only a few people knew or remembered our family. In fairness, 1972 was over 20 years after most of my relatives came to the U.S. (right after WWII.)

Maria. I met a young Polish girl, Maria. She was good looking, intelligent, very nice, and a lot of fun. She showed me the village and what the young people were doing in Tylawa. We danced (to accordion music) and had fun at a local club, if you could call it that, and enjoyed ourselves. Young people do need a place to hang out and be together—all over the world. So, it’s good to see that teens are teens, everywhere. I liked Maria a lot.

I mentioned the “fire fighting” story. Maria and her fellow girlfriends were the local volunteer fire department for Tylawa. The fire engine was an old horse-drawn water wagon. Wow, that’s something.

What a great day. Here are some photos of Tylawa.

Tylawa 20+ years later. When I married my wife Olga, I visited her hometown and family in Borislaw, Ukraine and then took her to see Tylawa. There were significant changes. Poland was now free and democratic. In towns, there were a lot more buildings and lots of satellite dishes. Tylawa now had a busy two-line highway with trucks going through it—commerce and capitalism had arrived. My mother’s house had burned down and someone (a stranger) had built a new house and taken the land. How that happened, I don’t know. My relatives didn’t say much—perhaps, they sold the land or it was taken. At this time, my aunt Eva and her husband Roman retired to Tylawa and we met and stayed with them.

Tylawa itself was still beautiful.

Pictures of Tylawa:

Land behind my mother’s house
Land behind my mothers house 01
Land behind my mothers house 02
Land behind my mothers house 03
Land behind my mothers house 04
Land behind my mothers house 05
My mother’s house
My mothers house 01
My mothers house 02
My mothers house 03
Chickens in the hen house
Chickens in the hen house
Tylawa “Main Street”
Tylawa Main Street
Tylawa Strip Mall ??
Tylawa Strip Mall
Uncle Roman and uncle John
Uncle Roman and uncle John
Uncle P’s father and uncle John
Uncle P father and uncle John
Relatives and friends
Relatives and friends
Beautiful Tylawa
Beautiful Tylawa
Grazing sheep on rolling hills
Grazing sheep on rolling hills
By the river
By the river
Tylawa house
Tylawa house
Beautiful rolling hills
Beautiful rolling hills


- - - -