Their daughter, Mary Evelyn Pawlak continues:
"Mary Evelyn Pawlak is a name that I got little by little, I guess. It says Maria in the church books. So that's the name I was born with, but they called me "Mauresh" at home. I don't know if that name has ever been written down so I don't really know how it's spelled, M-A-U-R-E-S-H, I guess. I don't know where that name came from - but it's a loving form of the name "Maria." They say that "Marishka" is more correct, but I didn't have that name, I had Mauresh. It wasn't till sometime in grade school that kids started to call me Mary. But even then we kept on using Mauresh at home.
And Evelyn wasn't a name that I had until I was, well, eighteen... nineteen... I was going to nursing school and they asked me for a middle name. I told them I didn't have one or something. So I asked my mother. At home we sort of used our father's name as something like a middle name. Back in Europe, back in the villages there had been so many people with the same names that they used the fathers' names for identity. But it wasn't a real middle name, it was just for identity, just for family identity, to tell the people apart if they had the same names.
So I asked my mother about a middle name and she said that in America I couldn't use my father's name as a middle name, it would be better to use hers, "Eva." But my mother didn't like "Eva". She had been to Russian school, to classes, to the religious classes, and she had studied about Adam and Eva. Eva in the bible was not very nice my mother said. She had done wrong - what she had done to the human race... So my mother told me to use something like "Eva," but not exactly Eva, as a middle name. She said to use "Evelyn" or just the letter "E." So I've been using one or the other of those ever since. That's how I got the name Mary Evelyn Pawlak.
I was born in Irishtown on June 8, 1919. My mother and father were boarding with my mother's parents at 40 North Street at the time. But the house was sort of behind another house and you had to go rather far up from the road and between two other houses to get to it, so I don't really see how it could have a street address at all.
I was baptized in the Russian Orthodox church in what people around there called Brookside, not far from Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. That church is torn down now. They put a new one up there. That's where I was baptized.
Not long after I was born Baba and Deedo (Rusyn for grandmother and grandfather) bought a 176 acre farm on Bald Mountain, about four miles from Irishtown. They moved up there in July of 1920. I'm not sure if all the kids moved up with them. Steve had a job at the time driving mules down in the mines, so he could have stayed on in Irishtown, I guess. Maybe Mary stayed on, too, 'cause she had a job, too, at the time - a garment worker. I'm not really sure about which of the kids went with them because I was too young to remember and I don't think anybody ever told me later on. But Peter and Anna must have gone with my grandparents because they were so young.
At the time Baba and Deedo left town, my parents had two children, me and my older sister Anna. We stayed on there in Irishtown for another five years.
One of the first things I remember was living in Zito's basement. In the Zito home. In the basement. That was a place where we lived very temporarily, maybe a few months, sometime after Baba and Deedo moved up to Bald Mountain, several years after, I guess. I remember my mother saying, "Be careful coming down the stairs." They were very steep. That's all I remember about that place.
Anna was my parents' oldest child. She was about a year and a half older than me. She had a bad heart. My parents had taken her the doctor but he said there was nothing that could be done and don't take her to doctors any more. Besides Anna and I, my brother Steve, my sister Helen and my brother John were all born during the time we lived in Irishtown.
Stesh, yeh, or Steshji, that was my brother Steve in those days. Those nicknames come from Stefan. I don't know how you'd spell Steshji - those Russian nicknames! Well, we called him Steshji up until he was... Well, all the time until he went into the military. Yeh, then all at once everybody forgot that name and when he came back from the war he was Steve. But he was always Stesh, Steshji before that. (1923 photo)
Helen, that's Olena in Russian. I know there are papers that show that my father said that her name was Olena, but I don't remember that we ever called her that. I think we always called her Helen.
John we called Iwanko. But I only remember my mother using that name when she called him and wanted him to come in the house. But it could be that we used that name some other time, too, but I don't remember it now.
After Zito's basement we moved someplace else, but I'm not sure I remember it right. Maybe that is the "rear, #12 Cleveland St." that is on my father's 1923 Petition for Naturalization.
That house was where my sister died, my sister Anna. She died there. In my father's arms. Died at the age of five. There were three of us there in the kitchen, my mother, my father, myself and my father was holding Anna in his arms. Steve wasn't there. I remember that Anna was very frightened when she died. She said she was afraid of a box underneath the table. I looked down there and I couldn't see anything - there wasn't any box. She told my parents she was afraid of the box and she wanted it taken away, removed, and then she died, in fear. My father was holding her in his arms there at the kitchen table and then she died. She had an open valve, a defect in the heart. There was nothing you could do for her, then, in those days. That was 1922.
After Anna was dead someone told my parents, "So foolish that you didn't take her into another room, away from that box before she died." I remember the casket coming into the house. When the casket was being carried into the house my mother said, "Watch out for the step, there's a bad step."
We buried her in the Russian Orthodox Cemetery. I was only three years old then and I didn't really understand what was going on. When the men started to shovel dirt down into the grave, over the casket, I went and tried to take the shovels away from them. I didn't want them putting dirt over my sister. That's all I remember about the funeral, but I remember that plain as day. I don't think we ever had a headstone for her. I looked last time I was at that cemetery and I didn't see any headstones for children.
My mother had a little picture of Anna in a locket. My mother kept that locket hanging on the wall behind the door leading up to the attic. Anna had light hair. Except for things surrounding her death, that's all I remember about her. I don't even remember ever playing with Anna. I guess she couldn't play. I guess she stayed in the house all the time because of her heart. And maybe I remember her hair color from looking at that picture later on. All I really remember for sure about Anna is her dying and her funeral.
Lots of people then were getting cars and trucks. Horses were on the way out. I remember that at some point or period in time my mother said that they were not going to have horse-drawn milk wagons coming through the streets any more. I remember those horses, the horse-drawn milk wagons. Oh, she said, now we are going to have cleaner streets!
That was about when my father bought his first car, too. It was a black 1921 Overland. I was about three and a half, I betcha, when he bought it and that would be about just after Anna died. I have my father's vehicle registration from 1925 and there it says that the Overland was a 19 horsepower "truck" with a seating capacity of 10. But I remember it as having room for four or five or six people. Maybe you could put in an extra seat if you wanted to. I remember it as a car with a collapsible roof, not canvas like a convertible, but a black collapsible roof. The roof had pipe-like supports and the windows, you just snapped them on, celluloid windows. It might have had a crank on the front to start it up, it might have. I remember that one of our cars did have a crank that you used to start it up, but I don't know if it was the Overland or not. He had that car until about 1929 so I think I remember it pretty good.
My father went for rides in the car. He'd travel up to the mountain in the car to see Baba and Deedo. We'd all go up, my mother and whatever children, too. We traveled up to the mountain all the time. Once we went up there and then we came back, but I didn't want to stay in Irishtown so I decided to go back, you know, to the mountain. I was just a little tyke but I got as far as Fox Hill before my father found me. He had come looking for me in the Overland. It's shocking to me that I would attempt such a thing. I don't think I was even four years old. My father gave me a spanking and put me on the seat of the car. That's why I remember that we had the car then.
Another thing I do remember is the last place we lived at in Irishtown. I have my father's vehicle registration from 1925 and it says that he was living at "14 Cleveland St." 1925 was just before we moved out of Irishtown so that must have been it, but I seem to recall that it was on the backside of the house. We must have lived there a year or so. It was a small house and there were other tenants living there, too, so we didn't have a lot of space. We had a bedroom and a kitchen on the backside of the bottom floor and we were five people when we moved in. I guess there was some people lived on the floor above us, but I don't remember them. In the kitchen there was like a stairway going upstairs. There was kind of a cubbyhole, a nook, in the wall underneath the steps. It was enclosed on all sides except the room side. That's where I slept. It was an open area about four feet off the floor and I couldn't get in and out by myself. My parents put me in there to sleep. It was like being put into a bunk bed. I couldn't get down by myself either, they'd get me down.
There was a streetcar that came down from Miner's Mills into Irishtown. When the streetcar got to Irishtown it didn't go in the street. It came down the hill and through somebody's backyard and along side of the house, two houses away and that was where it stopped. It just came down close to the street and then it went back up to Miner's Mills and then to Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. Steve and I played there near the streetcar tracks. Once we were putting stuff on the tracks to see if the streetcar would run over it. I think we put a penny on the tracks to see it get run over by the streetcar. My mother caught us doing that and we got a spanking.
I remember that one of our neighbors there had a swing. It was one of those that had two benches in it and a base and one would push on a bar with your feet and the other went up. You took turns pushing and you went back and forth that way. I think my brother Steve got a toy while we lived in that house. He had a train, a toy train. It was made out of metal, out of tin, I guess, and it had wheels that turned. It was an engine, a locomotive, an old-time engine like you might see in a museum somewhere. It didn't run on electricity or anything, you just pushed it along with your hand. I don't think Steve had any cars for it to pull.
I guess people must have been keeping chickens somewhere down there in Irishtown then. But I never remember seeing any running around, you know, in the yard, on the loose. Now that I think of it, I think they were keeping them in little coops behind the houses. I remember Steve and I picked up some dead little chicks we found somewhere so there were definitely chickens.
It was there in Irishtown that I saw my first airplane. I was five years old. The plane was flying around up there in the sky. It wasn't a biplane with two wings, it was a small... what you would call a cub plane today. I don't remember if you could see the pilot inside, but people came out of their homes to watch it. Everybody, everybody came out to watch it. I must have been four, five years old then.
There was a little store there in Irishtown where my parents used to buy things. There weren't any big stores in those days that I know of. It was a family named Moritz that owned that little store. They were Jews. Their daughter became a teacher at Plains High School. That's about all I remember from living in Irishtown. I was only four or five.
I spent one summer at Baba's and Deedo's farm up there on Bald mountain. The farm had a twenty-stall barn and there was room for about 18 cows and two horses. Deedo planted a lot of potatoes, too, and wheat. And he had cows. That must have been the summer of '24 that I stayed there with them (1924 photo). It was that same year, 1924, in the fall, that my father became an American citizen.
Towards the end of May, 1925 my mother and father moved up to Bald Mountain, too, to a house just a couple of hundred feet away from Baba and Deedo. My father and Deedo had decided that they would work the farm together. We moved just a few weeks after my brother John was born. He was born in early May.
Moving took just an hour or two. My goodness, our old apartment was just a kitchen and a bedroom, we didn't have much furniture. My father hired a man with a truck to haul the furniture. With that truck and my father's car moving from Irishtown to Bald Mountain was just one short trip.
The address of our new house was Bald Mountain Road R.D. #2. Bald Mountain Road was a single-lane dirt road in those days. Two cars could pass, but it wasn't any two lanes. You just swerved off the road a little bit, then you could pass each other on it - all you had to do was get off the road a little bit. The ground was soft on the sides but nobody ever got stuck if they passed a car. In the winter my father would put chains on the tires and just plowed though. Nobody did any snowplowing there the first years.
The house my father bought there on Bald Mountain Road had been part of Deedo's farm. He bought the house and an acre of land from Deedo. I have the title to the house and it is dated September 25, 1925 and when the sale went through we had already been living there a few months. I think my father paid $4000 for the house and an acre of land. That's what my mother said, $4000, but my brother Peter told me that the whole farm cost $9000. How could they have spent $4000 for a house? And the whole farm cost $9000! That was a lot at the time.
The original owner of the land around there on Bald Mountain was Amandes Kresge. He had bought the land sometime around 1883, I think. Then he sold it to John Long in 1893. John Long had been Township Supervisor. Long had it until he died. Then it was willed to his two sons, John and Anthony. They carved up the land and it was them that sold some of the land to the Stchurs. From 1893 to 1920, that's about 26 years, isn't it? I don't think the Longs did much with it, at least towards the end, because the farm was falling apart when my grandfather bought it. There were two houses on the farm. The Stchur house had been the main house and had a spring in the cellar for running water. Our house was supposed to have been where the farm workers lived and had been built in 1904. At least that's what's written in the concrete in the basement.