By Helen Rubin (Wagschal-Leser)
Daily life in our town of Rozwadow, Poland, during my early years was peaceful, comfortable and secure. I have not personally experienced the anti-Semitic acts that are so well-known in literature and history. My family was respected both by Jewish and Polish people alike. They ran what you might describe as a miniature department store, offering fishing gear, office and school supplies, a battery charging service, fine chocolates, a tobacco monopoly, silver gifts, and holiday decorations. We lived on the second floor of my grandparents’ house which was furnished in modern style with furniture that my father ordered from Krakow where he traveled often to buy merchandise for the store.
My family at that period of time consisted of my maternal grandparents, my parents, my two siblings, a young unmarried uncle, and a full-time young Polish housekeeper.
Our town was situated on the San river where my father occasionally took all three of us swimming in the summer. In the winter the young housekeeper, Marysia, would pull us in a sled warmly covered against the sharp weather.
Tuesday was market day. My mother was the official market shopper for live poultry, fruit, vegetables, eggs, fresh corn in season, all of which the neighboring farmers brought weekly to town. Dairy products like milk, butter, and cheese were delivered kosher by a Jewish woman: Ryshale. There were grocery shops where you purchased flour, sugar, salt, nuts, dry fruit and canned items like sardines. There was a kosher bread bakery that baked bread unequal in any other part of the world. The butcher sold meat but we had to “kasher” it at home, along with the chickens, geese, ducks or turkeys which the local “shochet” first had to slaughter.
Food preparation took many hours of the day but the aromas and skillful kitchen arts were fascinating.
The town also sported a Shul, a “mikvah”, a church, a town house, a “cheder”, a small Bais Yaakov, a movie house, an ice-cream parlor, a train station, a community soup kitchen – all amenities consistent with peaceful community living, as perceived by a child. In retrospect, discourse, disagreements and competitions were also present in our community as they invariably are in all communities among the grown-up, mature population.
Childhood home of Helen Rubin
Next to Gruszka Bar