HUSBAND John Zanowiak
|DATE - M/D/Y||CITY||COUNTY||STATE (COUNTRY)|
|FATHER -||Other Wives:|
WIFE Helen Symochko
|DATE - M/D/Y||CITY||COUNTY||STATE (COUNTRY)|
|MOTHER - Natalia Peroh||Other Husbands:|
In order of birth
|Birth date - M/D/Y||Birthplace
City State Country
|Date of Marriage - Name of Spouse||Date of Death - City, State|
|M||John Steven Zanowiak||6/06/1985|
|M||Michael Peter Zanowiak||3/23/1989|
Helen Symochko was born in
Dobiegniew, Poland on March 16, 1956 to Michael and Natalia (Peroh) Symochko.
When I was one year old my parents and grandmother Anastazia Ryzyk moved
back to Wysowa, which was the town they lived in prior to their relocation
after WWII in 1947 by the Polish government.
There are many wonderful memories that I have of my life there. One in particular that stands out in my mind was the Christmas Eve when I was seven years old and my brother Peter was five. I remember helping my mother and father set the table with hay (representing Jesus' manger) and white tables clothe. Before sitting down to eat the Holy Supper we'd wash up with water from the well and stream by our house and then feed the livestock. After the feast we'd go from house to house singing joyous Christmas carols.
Unfortunately not all the memories of my life there are so happy. When I was seven years old, starting first grade, I accidentally stuck my right middle finger in between the gears of a hand-propelled machine that ground feed for the animals. I was rushed to the nearest hospital about half an hour from Wysowa to Uschie. The doctor cleaned and stitched up my finger but was doubtful that my fingernail would grow back because the nail bed was damaged. Two days later my mother noticed that my finger was reinfected so I was rushed to a hospital in Gorlice. I went into surgery and the first joint of my middle finger was removed.
I stayed in the hospital for a week and was very unhappy when my mother left to go home. For the next six weeks, I had to write with my left hand. My handwriting was horrible.
Our life in Wysowa was simple but happy. We had ten cows, one horse, pigs, chickens and ducks. I would love to go with my grandmother to take the cows to graze in the pasture. We would bake potatoes in the cinders of a fire and pick berries and hazelnuts. I also liked helping my mother in the garden by the house. My mother had rows of many different vegetables and beautiful flowers. We also had different types of fruit trees. After picking the fruit, we would can the fruit and make fruit juices and syrups to supply us during the winter.
Some of the other events throughout the year were harvesting wheat, picking potatoes, and killing a pig. For each of these events the people from the town would come and help. Everyone had a job to do and when they were finished, they would party.
I remember when we were making plans to go to America. We had to go through physicals, get immunizations, etc. After a year we finally were ready to leave. We arrived in the New York City Kennedy Airport on November 17, 1964. My father's oldest sister Anna Durkot and her husband John and my grandfather's brother Marko Symochko and his wife, Eva, met us there and drove us to Yonkers, New York. On the way I was amazed at all the lights and thought I was in heaven. In Wysowa we only had a few streetlights and our home was lit with kerosene lamps.
We arrived at our new home at 1 Mulberry Street. We had two bedrooms; a kitchen and a living room, all completely furnished with a refrigerator full of food. We were fascinated with this new way of life, the television, running water, electricity, and indoor plumbing. All of this was new to us.
School was definitely a challenge. We didn't know a word of English, but my second grade teacher was wonderful and helped me grasp the language quickly.
In 1966 we moved to stryk's (uncle's) house (Marko Symochko) where we lived for four years. Since he did not live there, my mother and father took care of the house for him. My mother and I would wash the steps and hallways and my father would do simple repairs for the tenants, eleven families lived there in the apartment building. My mother and father worked in factories at the time so my grandmother took care of us. In 1970 the city was planning to widen the street we lived on so the house had to be demolished. We moved back to 13 Mulberry St. and lived there for eight years.
When I was twelve I would help my Aunt Tekla Ryzyk (my father's youngest sister) clean homes. She would pay me a few dollars and that was the start of my working career. At fifteen I started working at a pharmacy and continued working there until I was eighteen
In Commerce High School I took tip bookkeeping and secretarial but graduated knowing that I did not like sitting at a desk all-day and typing. I applied to Elizabeth Seaton College and got into the Nursing Transfer Program. I graduated from Long Island University with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.
Tekla Ryzyk's husband, Peter, was the only one who drove and almost every weekend the Ryzyks, Durkots and Symochkos would go to Glen Island Park for the day. I met my future husband John Zanowiak at a Valentine's Day Dance at Lemko Hall in 1974. We became friends and saw each other occasionally on weekends because he lived in Shelton, Connecticut.
When I was 20 I applied for citizenship. I was proud to be sworn in as a citizen of the United States. This country has given me some wonderful opportunities that I would never have had in Poland.
In 1979, John and I became engaged and planned our wedding for July 19, 1980. We got married in Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ansonia, Connecticut.
My father's brother, Szymon Symochko, his wife, Milka and his two daughters, Malgosia and Anna, came from Poland to attend our wedding. I was happy that they were able to come.
In September I started working in Griffin Hospital as a Registered Nurse. John, at this time, was working for Gordela Trucking.
On May 27, 1982, our daughter, Jennifer Marie was born. She was a very active little girl and kept us very busy.
We lived in my mother-in-law's house for five years. We decided to find a house of our own when I got pregnant with our second child. We moved into our new home in April 1995 and John Stephen was born June 6. He was a happy little baby and was loved by his older sister.
During the next few years we enjoyed going to Lemko and Ukrainian festivals, dances, weddings, and family activities and then in 1989 our third child, Michael Peter was born on March 23rd.
My children speak the Lemko language and are learning to read and write Ukrainian. Jennifer and Johnny attend Ukrainian Folk Dancing classes. John has become quite a little Kozak and Jennifer attends Ukrainian Dance Camp.
In 1993, due to illness and past surgery my mother-in-law Tekla Zanowiak came to live with us permanently. The children love having grandma live with them. She does so much for them.
In November 1994 John's first cousin, Oksana Zanowiak came to live with us from Lviv, Ukraine. Being only ten years older than Jennifer and sharing a room together they became fast friends. Jennifer helps Oksana with her English and Oksana helps Jen with algebra. Now we are a family of seven and we love it.