Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Rockland Hotel - a little family history



Recently, I sent out some photos of my grandfather to commemorate his birthday. While I was collecting the photos I came across the biographical notes that my cousin Cynthia had made about our Grandfather. She remembers the hotel (even had some dreams of time spent there) but I was too young. Here are her notes:

"Anthony was smuggled across border to get out of Poland in 1901. Came to
U.S. Worked in the coal mines in Pennsylvania as a child (no child labor
laws). As a adult, he worked at Yale and Town. His sister Mary worked
there as a timekeeper and helped get him a job. Anthony got to be a
foreman (would be an engineer in modern times). He was very concerned
about the worker's finger tips that were always being cut. He invented a
shield or safety catch for Yale and Town lock company to prevent loss of
fingers of assembly line workers. Still in use. He got $500 for it
which is much too high for those days as one could buy a house to live in
during those days for that money. He spoke fluent English and knew how
to handle the foreigners. He had a wonderful sense of humor and charm.
Many evenings he would have a class for those who wanted to be citizens.
Naturalized at least 50 citizens through interpretation/translation
assistance. He sponsored such a large number that the governor gave him a
citation. He was a good citizen. Every evening he would walk to the
Advocate (newspaper) office. There was a big bulletin in the window with
daily news which he would read and come home and tell his family what was
going on. As Lillian said, "I think our interest in politics comes from
these reports".
With the $500, he bought a mansion that had to be razed. Took all the
lumber and built two apartments over their bungelow. Kowaleski's lived
in one. All the bathroom fixtures were transferred. Lamps and other
things were installed after being taken apart. Lillian remembers various
neighbors coming in to admire and pull the chain to flush the toilet.
"Goodbye outhouse. Boy, did we feel rich".
Anthony sold insurance at night after work. Whenever he made a sale he
would wake children up with ice cream or a chocolate bar.
Loved animals...dogs always followed him home and in his last years,
worked at a veterinarian hospital to be near them.
Helped build the Holy Name Church in Stamford, CT (stone by stone). Owned
and operated a hotel in Stamford -(Rockwell ??) and made quite a nice
living in real estate until the stock market crash in the 20's."