Michael (AKA Jaja, or Dziadzia, for grandpa in Polish) is believed to have been born in Tryncza, Poland, 1882. According to a World War II ration book No. 3, issued to him in 1943, Michael was listed as 61 years old, making his year of birth 1882. This year is confirmed by his being reportedly 10 years younger than his wife Wictoria born in 1892. Little is known of his early childhood years, except that his oldest daughter Amelia remembers his mentioning a brother who emigrated from Poland to the USA approx 1910, to live in Chicago. It is believed that Jaja’s father was known as Peter, which was Jaja’s middle initial and likely his middle name. As a youth, Jaja apparently had musical training due to his ability to play the violin beautifully with great skill and pleasure to the delight of audiences at marriages, birthdays, and party events. Jaja loved the outdoors, and especially loved fishing, gardening, hiking, mushrooming, orchard husbandry, and collecting/growing flowers, which activities he pursued throughout his life.
Here is what oldest daughter Amelia writes of Jaja: “My father was very closed mouthed about his past, so it was difficult to pin things together. He never did tell me the story, but he did tell Aunt Frannie. When he worked in the military service, they placed him in the stables where the Lipizzan horses were kept, and he took care of them.”
Wictoria (AKA Bopcha, or Babcia, for grandma in Polish) was born in Tryncza, Poland on 04 July 1892. She came from a family that was more wealthy than Jaja’s family. Little is known of her youth, except that she was industrious to learn the skills of gardening, cooking, sewing, cleaning, and laundry. Bopcha was meticulous in her housekeeping, which would indicate early childhood training in domestic skills during her youth.
Here is what oldest daughter Amelia writes of Bopcha: “Grandma Tolpa had 24 children. Only four survived. So she lost 20. She would be working on the farm, and when the labor pains started, she would go to the house, have her baby, and leave Wickcha the oldest to take care of the baby. And Grandma Tolpa would go back to the fields working. That is the way they did it in those days. However, not all 20 children died at birth. The Stiljah River runs through that area, and it often floods. Some of the children were lost in floods, and some of them died of childhood diseases. There was a variety of reasons. It wasn’t that they were unhealthy. It was just that those were times when hygiene was different from what it is today. Consequently, all the children didn’t live and only the hardiest survived. Only 4 survived. There was Uncle Stanley, and Uncle Simon, and Aunt Francis, and Mother, Wictoria Sally. Salomeja in Polish for Sally.”