Who Am I? – The Need to Understand 1st Millennium Slavic History

Who Am I? – The Need to Understand 1st Millennium Slavic History

Who Am I? My research strongly suggests that my father, four brothers and I are direct descendants of the Slavic tribes that populated the Original homeland of the Slavs at the time period of the Roman Empire. (See the map East Central Europe, ca. 400 in Paul Robert Magosci’s Historical Atlas of East Central Europe.)

Mr. Magosci references four different researchers each having a different territorial area and central point for the homeland. The most generous shows the Homeland to start just west of the Oder River and continues eastward to the Dnieper River. The southern border is at the Dniester River, and the northern at the Pripet River. The Vandals were to the west, and the Huns, Visigoths, and the Ostrogoths were to the south of the Slavs adjacent to demarcation line between the Roman Empire and the barbarians. These Slavs did not participate in the incursions of the barbarians into the Roman Empire.

Professor Frances Dvornik has extensively written about the Slavic Civilization. In his book, The Slavs: Their History and Civilization, he discusses the meagerness of information relative to the Slavs because of their distance and lack of interaction with the Roman Empire. Archeological investigation suggests that the Slavs lived in the northern part of East Central Europe earlier than 500 BC.

During the period between the 3rd and 6th centuries CE, the map of Europe changed drastically: the Roman Empire had its fall; and, the northern ’’barbarian” tribes left their northern lands and over-ran the Roman Empire. The Scandinavian barbarians – the Angles, Jutes, and Saxon started to occupy Britain between 441 and 443 CE. The formation of Attila’s Hun empire in 443 CE destabilized many parts of Europe. In 443 CE, the Roman Empire allowed the Burgundians to occupy Savoy. In 468 CE, the Visigoths took control of Spain. The Frankish tribe of Clovis moved into Belgium and then into northern Gaul. Clovis then gathered all of the Frankish tribes and then conquered Aquataine for the Visigoths. In 511, the Franks were masters of most of Gaul with the exception of Provence. The Visigoths conquered Italy in 493.

At the start of the sixth century CE: the Anglo-Saxons controlled Britain; the Franks held Gaul; the Burgundians were confined to Savoy; the Visigoths were the masters of Spain; the Vandals were esconced in Mediterranean Africa; and, the Ostrogoths ruled Italy.

Why the mass movement of the ”barbarian” tribes out of northern Europe? Jacques Le Goff in his Medieval Civilization 400-1500 suggests the following:

”The growth of population and the attraction of more fertile territories, which Jordanes mentions as causes, probably only came into play after an initial impulse which might well have been a change of climate, a cold spell which, from Siberia to Scandinavia, reduced the cultivable land and pasture of the barbarian peoples. This would have set in motion, with one tribe pushing the next, towards the south and west as far as the extremities such as Britain (most of which was later to become England), Gaul (which was to become France), Spain ( whose southernmost portion was to take the name of the Vandals, Andalusia), and Italy ( which was to preserve the name of its late-arriving invaders only in the north, in Lombardy).

The mass movement of the northern ”barbarian tribes to western and southern Europe and northern Africa depopulated much of central and eastern Europe and allowed a vast migration of a new batch of Slavic tribes from central Asia to northern Europe.

Julien Paolantoni’s three part series entitled The root of Russia published in January 2015 in the Orient Review.org) includes a map entitled Slavic tribes central – eastern Europe c. 8th century.  (The link is: The roots of Russia: from the early East Slavs to the Grand Duchy of Moscow (I)  ) shows both the extent and names of the Slavic tribes that took over central and eastern Europe in the period circa the 8th century.

This migration extended to the Oder River in the west, Denmark and Scandinavia in the north, to Russia on the east, to the Danube river in the south, and stopped at the Bulgar and Khazar Khanate areas in the south. The Slavic Balts – Lithuanians and Latvians, controlled a vast territory which was adjacent to the Baltic Sea and started just east of the Vistula River. Now the time approached for the fledgling nation-states of central and eastern Europe to form.

The Slavic homeland in the 11th century was transformed into the Kingdom of Poland. As Mr. Magosci states:

“East of the Oborites, Veletians, and the Germanic marks (borderlans) of Lusatia and Meissen, the first historic ruler of the house of Piast, Mieszko, (r. 960-992) brought under control territory that under his successor, Bolesław I (the Brave, r. 992-1025), would become the Kingdom of Poland. Bolesław laid groundwork for an administrative system (comites-castellani, with civil and military powers); he promoted an organizational structure for the Catholic Church; and he expanded the boundaries of his realm, incorporating at various times lands inhabited by the Pomeranians along the Baltic Sea (992-994), Silesia and Cracow (from 999), Slovakia (1001-1018), the Lusatian Mark and part of the Meissen Mark (1002-5), Moravia ((1003-1004), and the Czerwien fortress borderland (1018-31) with Kievan Rus’. Just before his death in 1025, Bolesław became the first king of Poland. Most of his territorial gains were lost during or after his lifetime, so that by the second half of the eleventh century the focal point of the Polish kingdom was north of the Carpathian mountains between the Oder and the Vistula rivers.”

I have had both the Y-DNA and the autosomal DNA tests. My Y-DNA 25 marker test states that I am in the R-CTS11962 haplogroup and that my terminal SNP is CTS- 11962. Spencer Wells in his book Deep Ancestry: Inside The Genographic Project defines a haplogroup: ”… as an ancestral clan – the descendants of one man who had a particular set of genetic markers on his Y-chromasome.” Research suggests that those characterized with an SNP CTS11962 have a common ancestor who lived 3100+/-350 years from the present. Haplogroup R-CTS11962 is a sub-group of Haplogroup R1a, and the highest concentration of R1a men happens to be in Poland and Belarus. ( Wiik_Haplogroup_R1a)

The map of Haplogroup R1a1, Central Europe branch ( Haplogroup R1a1, Central European branch ) has the following foreward:

“This branch belongs to the M458 subclass.

Yellow pins mark relic haplotypes which are tested positive to M458 and negative to known downstream SNP.

Magenta pins correspond to presumably parent branch, which is chara[c]terized by SNP CTS11962, with its common ancestor living 3100±350 years before present.

Deep-blue pins denote the major sub-branch which is characterized by downstream SNP L1029. Its most recent common ancestor lived 2900±310 years before present.

Light-blue pins denote a particular Ashkenazy Jewish sub-bra[n]ch, whose ancestor lived 1300±200 years ago.

Another branch of M458 subclade – West Slavic (L260) is shown in a separate map.”

The magenta pins, as stated in the foreword, are characterized by SNP CTS11962. My terminal SNP per Family Tree DNA is identical – SNP CTS11962. Examining the map carefully, shows that the magenta pins are concentrated in the geographical area associated with the Original homeland of the Slavs. I do not believe that this is a coincidence. I look askance at coincidents. My conclusion: My father, my four brothers, and I are direct descendants of the Slavs who inhabited the Original home land of the Slavs.

The number of deep blue pins, which signifies the downstream SNP L1029 sub- branch is visibly magnitudes greater than the magenta SNP CTS11962, and its most recent common ancestor is 3100 +/- 350 years from the present. This group of Slavs participated in the circa 8th century migration into central and eastern Europe as written above. These are the Slav tribes depicted in the link above. This, in my opinion, is consistent with my Ancestry.com DNA report which states that I am 100% Europe East. The geographical area that SNP L1029 encompasses comprises Germany, the lands south of the Baltic Sea, western Russia, western Ukraine, and the northern border of Hungary. A significant number are also found in Finland, and lesser amounts in southern Sweden, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Greece.

Of interest are the light blue pins which signifies the Ashkenazi Jewish sub-branch. They are the fewest in number and are dispersed along a north-south line extending from Estonia to the Ukraine. It appears that the Ashkenazi Jews are a sub-branch of the Slavs – the male founder being a Slav, and the female founder a Jew.

In summary, I believe that the research reasonably suggests that my father, my four brothers, and I are direct descendants of the Slavs who inhabited the Original home land of the Slavs at the time of the Roman Empire. Also, that all of my 1st cousins are either direct descendant’s of the Slavs who inhabited the original homeland, or are part of the much broader Slav grouping of SNP L1029.

Crimea: The End of the Line for the American Empire


Crimea: The End of the Line for the American Empire S.J. Kowalski, March 25, 2014

The recent Crimean fiasco has changed the geo-political landscape. It is now official – the US is no longer the lone superpower. The world is now officially multi-polar and the US is only one global power along with Russia and China. Why does the Crimean fiasco demonstrate that the US is no longer the sole superpower? It is quite simple: the US does not have the “guts” to engage Russia in a war. The US Ukraine plan had the following objectives: kick the Russians out of the Sevastopol naval base; install missiles directed towards Russia; install an anti-missile defense system to support a nuclear first strike against Russia; and to steal whatever wealth that Ukraine has. The US organized coup of February 21, was executed for these reasons. Immediately after the coup, Russia decisively took control of Crimea and, by so doing, nullified all of the US’s military objectives vis-à-vis Ukraine. In response, what did the US do? It sat with its thumb in its mouth and continued gazing at its navel. If the US were indeed the world’s lone superpower, as it ceaselessly trumpets, it would at that point have massively confronted Russia militarily. It did not; its so-called Full Spectrum Dominance is nothing but an empty threat. The United States does not have the “guts” to militarily confront Russia. In 19th and 20th century European history no country has been able to control Europe without, at the same time, being a military powerhouse.

The presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed the Belazvezha Accords on December 8,1991 the effect of which dissolved the Soviet Union. From this point on, the United States stole Russian wealth and extended NATO to its borders. Despite numerous US assurances to Gorbachev, NATO was extended into the Baltic states, and to Lithuania, and Poland. Numerous attempts to extend NATO into the Ukraine and Georgia were pushed back by Russia. The capstone of the US’s theft of Russian wealth was to be the 2003 proposed sale of Yukos, Russia’s leading oil producer to ChevronTexaco, by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, but by this time Vladimir Putin was installed as President and stopped the sale. Later, Yukos assets were sold to oil companies owned by the Russian government. Essentially, Yukos was nationalized. This was the beginning of Russia’s pushback to the US’s imperialistic objectives, and was also the beginning of the West’s hatred of Vladimir Putin. The United States lost its opportunity to control a large portion of Russia’s vast oil wealth.

It is clear, that the minimum objective of the United States and NATO is to encircle Russia with offensive weapons and forces. Its maximum objective likely is to destroy Russia. At the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy, Vladimir Putin remarked as follows:

“I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee”. Where are these guarantees?”

Nothing has changed. The drive to enfeeble and/or destroy Russia has continued. The present Ukraine crisis is the latest manifestation of the West’s provocation of Russia. But, unfortunately for the West, the Ukraine provocation turned into a massive “cock-up”. The plan for the Ukraine coup was deeply flawed; it was implemented by a motley crew of EU and US incompetents; and, the final result was Vladimir Putin’s successful integration of Crimea into Russia.

Since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, the objective of the United States has been to control Russia along with its previous control of the European Union. In the case of Russia, the United States will not succeed. Neither does it have the requisite military machine, nor does it have the requisite “guts”. The last country that came very close to controlling Europe was Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. Adolf Hitler had the necessary “guts” to challenge the Soviet Union, and almost succeeded. Unfortunately for Hitler, he was opposed by Joseph Stalin and Marshall of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov each having at least the “guts” of Hitler. Stalin and Zhukov liberated Europe by defeating Hitler and his Third Reich. Since Vladimir Putin has the “guts” of Stalin and Zhukov, and since neither the United States nor the European Union have the same “guts” as Adolf Hitler, the US and the EU will never have the capability to control Europe, and never will. Prior to the Crimean vote, Russia placed troops along Ukraine’s borders in preparation for any NATO military action aimed at Russia. Also, on the Friday prior to the Crimean vote, Russia sent four strategic bombers on 24-hour Arctic patrol. Putin, in effect, told the West that Russia is prepared to respond to any type of military provocation. Shortly thereafter, the West announced that no military action will be taken vis-à-vis the Ukraine.

Quo vadis? Whither goest thou? In an interview on March 30, 2014, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated what Russia’s bottom-line is:

“I confirmed the validity of the proposal we made a while ago, pertaining to the necessity to implement all of the issues registered in the Agreement of the 21 February and signed by Yanukovich, Yatsenyuk, Tyagnibok, Klitchko and Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Poland. First and foremost, order has to be restored in all cities, all illegal weapons must be surrendered, all buildings that have been taken over illegally must be released, all barriers from streets and squares must be removed, and there must be no more “Maidans” or “mini-Maidans.”

Once these obvious steps aimed at restoring normal law and order are undertaken, the constitutional reform process should be started immediately, which is something that has also been captured in the Agreement of the February 21. We are convinced that the success of this reform can only be ensured by participation of all political forces and movements representing all areas and regions without exception, and each of them must have an equal decision-making opportunity within the framework of these negotiations.

We are convinced that it would be impossible to work out solutions to all of Ukraine’s problems without a unanimous agreement on the introduction of the federal form of government in Ukraine. Each region needs to have the opportunity to elect directly its local authorities, the executive branch and the governors, and to have all the rights and needs of its citizens satisfied across all spheres, including economy, finances, culture, language, social activities or the right for friendly relations and travel to neighboring states, be it Poland, Lithuania or Russia.

We know from experience that the unitary state does not work in Ukraine. After every presidential election they change the Constitution: first they give more power to the president, then to the parliament, after that to the government. This merry-go-round cannot last for long. Federalization is a way to make all the regions feel comfortable, so that every region will know that its rights are being respected. And at the national level, they will have certain things in common, like defense, foreign policy, judiciary. We would be willing to do that – I mean guarantees that external players would offer to Ukraine after it implements these reforms.”

For Russia, the only acceptable solution for the Ukraine is federalism and with foreign policy unattached to either the West or Russia – a Finlandization of the Ukraine. The United States is slowly and reluctantly moving to accept Russia’s Ukraine position. In the meantime, the United States and the EU “own” the Ukraine that they shattered, and Russia is prepared to out-wait the West. Pepe Escobar stated all of this succinctly in his March 20, 2014 post in the Asia Times entitled How Crimea plays in Beijing: “Meanwhile, the Western dogs bark, and the Sino- Russian caravan passes.”


The US’s Ukraine Fiasco: End Of Empire?


The US’s Ukraine Fiasco: End Of Empire?

S.J. Kowalski, March 11, 2014

The current Ukraine crisis can be best understood, in my opinion, by understanding the geo-strategy of the United States. In my opinion, the script can be found in Zbigniew Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. We must remember that Brzezinski is the foreign policy eminence grise for the Obama administration.

The developing New Cold (Hot?) War between the United States and Russia over the US-engineered Ukraine regime change can best be understood if one understands that Zbigniew Brzezinski’s 1997 The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives provides the fabric and context for the America’s Eurasian geopolitical strategy. The following quotes from the Introduction clearly demonstrates what Zbigniew wishes to accomplish:

  • “Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power,”
  • “The last decade of the twentieth century has witnessed a tectonic shift in world affairs. For the first time ever, a non-Eurasian power [the United States] has emerged not only as the key arbiter of Eurasian power relations but also as the world’s paramount power.”
  • “Eurasia [after the defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union – Zbigniew’s words], however, retains its geopolitical importance. Not only is its western periphery – Europe – still the location of much of the world’s political and economic power, but also its eastern region – Asia – has lately become a vital center of economic growth and rising political influence. Hence the issue of how a globally engaged America copes with the complex Eurasian power relationships – and particularly whether it prevents the emergence of a dominant and antagonistic Eurasian power – remains central to America’s capacity to exercise global primacy.”
  • “Eurasia is thus the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played, and that struggle involves geostrategy – the strategic management of geopolitical interests.” “A half century later, the issue has been redefined: will America’s primacy in Eurasia endure, and to what ends might it be applies?”
  • “The ultimate objective of America’s policy should be benign and visionary: to shape a truly cooperative global community, in keeping with the fundamental interests in humankind. But in the meantime, it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging
  • America. The formulation of a comprehensive and integrated Eurasian geostrategy is therefore the purpose of this book.

Brzezinski’s geo-strategy has the following key points:

  • The over-arching objective of his strategy is the control of the world by the United States. [Tausendjähriges Reich]
  • Brzezinski is a follower of Harold Mackinder who in 1904 in his The Geographical Pivot of History propounded: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; Who rules the World-Island commands the world.
  • “The key players are located on the chessboard’s west [Western, Central, and Eastern Europe], east [China. Japan, South Korea], center [Russia], and south [India, Iran, and Turkey].” [Does the list have any surprises?]

A reasonable question to ask: Why does the US need such a geo-political strategy? Here are some additional quotes from The Grand Chessboard:

  • “Eurasia is also the location of most of the world’s politically assertive and dynamic states. After the United States, the next six largest economies and the next six biggest spenders on military weaponry are located in Eurasia.”
  • “Cumulatively, Eurasia’s power vastly overshadows America’s. Fortunately for America, Eurasia is too big to be politically one.” [This was true in 1997, but is not true in 2014.]
  • “Compounding the dilemmas facing the American leadership are the changes in character of the global situation itself: the direct use of power now tends to be more constrained than was the case in the past. Nuclear weapons have dramatically reduced the utility of war as a tool of policy or even as a threat. The growing economic interdependence among nations is making the political exploitation of economic blackmail less compelling. Thus maneuver, diplomacy, coalition building, co-optation, and the very deliberate deployment of one’s political assets have become the key ingredients of the successful exercise of geostrategic power on the Eurasian chessboard.
  • “A geostrategic issue of crucial importance is posed by China’s emergence as a major power.”
  • “Potentially, the most dangerous scenario [working against US hegemony] would be a grand coalition of China, Russia and perhaps Iran, an “antihegemonic” coalition united not by ideology but complementary grievances.” [While in 1997, an alliance of Russia, China, and Iran was not even a glitter in one’s eye, today, there is some such alliance of the three probably through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).”
  • “However, a coalition allying Russia with both China and Iran can develop only if the United States is shortsigthed enough to antagonize China and Iran simultaneously.” [Guess what Mr. Brzezinski. The collective group of succesive American president’s have smilingly did just that.]
  • “But the long-range task remains: how to encourage Russia’s democratic transformation and economic recovery while avoiding the reemergence of a Eurasian empire that could obstruct the American geostrategic goal of shaping alarger Euro-Atlantic system to which Russia can then be stably and safely related.” [Russia was an American “poodle” during the Yeltsin years, and, somewhat, during the Medvedev presidency. Under Putin, and especcially after his re-election to the presidency, Brzezinki’s fanciful fantasy has been dashed. Currently, we can see Brzezinski’s hysterical responses relative to the Ukraine fiasco in various news media.]
  • “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia.”

Emmanuel Todd’s AFTER THE EMPIRE: The Breakdown of the American Order is a must read for a superb analysis of all of America’s strategy of hegemony and why it will fail. Regarding Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard, Mr. Todd comments as follows:

“Brzezinski’s plan is clear and concise even if he suggests that wiping out Russia is for its own good. He proposes bringing Ukraine into the occidental fold and using Uzbekistan to pry Central Asia out of Russia’s control. He does not say that encircling Russia need necessarily lead to a breakup of the heart of the country. His high strategy does not forego a minimum of diplomatic caution. But there are things even more unspeakable. Brzezinski does not broach the subject of America’s economic inefficiency and the necessity for the United States to insure control over the world’s wealth through political and military means. However, his geopolitical experience does lead him to formulate this vital matter indirectly, first by underlining the fact that the bulk of the world’s population is in Eurasia, and second by pointing out that the United States is a long way from Eurasia. Read: Eurasia supplies the influx of goods and capital that are indispensable for maintaining the standard of living of all Americans, from the overclass to the plebeians.”

Mr. Brzezinski provided the United States with a strategy that would, if successful, insure the country’s long-term economic viability. But, only a fool would not recognize that, at best, his strategy was a desperate gamble with questionable odds. Mr. Brzezinski’s intricate strategy has been followed since the break-up of the Soviet Union. What Mr. Brzezinski has not articulated was the need for a competent leader who would execute this complex strategy from the time of Soviet Union break-up until the US has complete hegemony over Eurasia. In my opinion, the only world leader who could accomplish the above was the 19th century Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck was an exceptionally outstanding leader and a very astute practitioner of realpolitik. I have a feeling that Henry Kissinger would agree with me. Alas, the US does not have an Otto von Bismarck.

The above summary must be recognized as an abbreviated look at Brzezinski’s geo- strategy. A reading of his well-written The Grand Chessboard will be both illuminating and educational.

The recent coup of the Ukrainian government by the US and its shady accomplices looks to me as being incompetently developed, and, certainly, must have assumed that Russia would sit by as an American “poodle”. Obviously, the US was mistaken. It crossed Putin’s “red-line”, and now Russia is strongly ensconced in the Crimea. Vladimir Putin

is an outstanding leader, arguably, the best in the contemporary world. If the US masterminds had a fraction of his leadership ability, they would have easily recognized that Putin would not gratuitously give up the Crimea to the United States. Now, the United States is backed into a corner. If the US is not successful with its Ukrainian gambit, the world will see it as a decaying superpower. The US has no means, even conventional war, which will give it success in the Ukrainian fiasco. Will it, as a “cornered-rat”, do something as irrational as start a nuclear war? In my opinion, this risk is not zero.

The Kowalski Story: An Oral History and My Memories of the Great Depression

The Kowalski Story: An Oral History and My Memories of the Great Depression

Dedication to My Father, Sylvester Kowalski
A giver, and not a taker; he lived by the Golden Rule;
and unselfishly facilitated a better future life for his children.

This is a narrative of a particular Kowalski family; one that started with the 1882 emigration of first John Kowalski and, then in 1884, his wife-to-be Marya from Prussian occupied Poland to Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. This is also the narrative of my consciousness from my birth in 1929 until 1942 when the Kowalski family emigrated from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia.
John Kowalski was born about 1860 in the province of Posen (Poznan), Poland. His wife, Marya (Chenkie) was born in the same province about 1867. At that time, and until 1918, there was no Poland. Poland was partitioned since the late 1700’s by Russia, Austria and Prussia. Posen (Poznan) was in the Prussian area.
John and Marya married about 1889 in Nanticoke, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. According to the 1910 census, they lived at 24 Slope Street in Nanticoke. They had three children: Elizabeth, the oldest, born in 1893; Sylvester, my father, born in 1902; and, Edward, the youngest, born about 1912. Elizabeth likely married Stanley Janczak in 1910, and they had three children: Regina – born in 1911; Leopold – born in 1914; and Rose – born in 1917. Sylvester married Sophia Sysko in 1928, and had five children: Sylvester – born in 1929; Vincent – born in 1930; John – born in 1932; Ronald – born in 1936; and, Joseph – born in 1941.
Regina Janczak married Carl Heinrich in 1943. Rose married John Forconi somewhere between 1940 an1942 with the most probable date 1940. Leo married Modesta Goltz in 1946.
The Janczak family, from the time of my earliest consciousness, lived on Cedar Avenue near Brooks Street in Scranton which was quite close to where we initially lived on East Locust Street.
Sylvester Kowalski married Rita Rizzo in 1952; Vincent married Dolores Kersavage in 1963; John married Sally Leahey in 1955; Ronald married Jeanette Kennelly in 1956; and Joseph married Joyce Dare in 1961.

Most of what I would consider facts about the Kowalski’s is what I absorbed over the years from my father, who was an excellent conversationalist. A little comes from my memory. Most of what is in this story about the Sysko/Kosciuk family is what I and Brother Ronald learned from our cousin, Theresa Bohenek. She is an encyclopedia of knowledge in regards to my mother’s side of the family. Brother Ronald’s research and talking to the Janczak family provides insight on this important part of the family. But, a great deal of what is in this story is what the environment hammered into my consciousness. A number of blows made up this environment. The death of my paternal grandmother was, even though I was quite young, very difficult for me. I bonded to her, and there was nothing to take her place after her death. Her death was extremely difficult for my father, and he needed a number of years to make peace with her death. After my grandmother’s death, my father was my guardian angel. The period of my father’s involvement with the United Anthracite Miner’s of Pennsylvania (UAMP) was stressful. The meetings of my father’s local took place in our home. I overheard the violent and dangerous nature of the various strike actions. Later, after UAMP was disbanded, my father had neither employment nor income; he was black-balled from working in the coal industry. I was well aware of all this. When he was able to join the WPA (the Works Project Administration which was an early New Deal program), I was aware of its importance. Some money would be available for food. I can still remember his obtaining rubber boots with felt liners so that he could work outside in the extremely cold winters of that period. In 1937, when he was able to get a job as a miner in Taylor, Pennsylvania, the only thing that could be said was that he had private rather than governmental employment, but we were still in poverty. He was twice in mine cave-ins, and, in the second one, was covered with rock and coal for two hours. Only later, after his employment with Manor Farms as a mechanic, was a reasonable stability reached. During this entire period, the country, and especially, Scranton, was in a vicious depression. We, who were born during this period and which is called The Fourth Turning (see The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy by William Strauss and Neil Howe) were called the Silent Generation. The authors suggest that a Fourth Turning is analogous to winter. Fourth Turning’s are periods of revolution, and in the 1930s, the country had a far-reaching revolution: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal. We had destitution, homelessness, hunger, and little hope. We had Wall Street thieves stealing from everyone – from the rich to the poor. We had large corporations who controlled the country. FDR and the New Deal was indeed a revolution.
As today, the 1920s economy was dependent on increasing supply of debt. As Carroll Quigley states in his Tragedy and Hope:
“The stock market crash [the 1929 stock market crash] reduced the volume of foreign lending from the United States to Europe, and these two events together tore away the façade which until then had concealed the fundamental maladjustments between production and consumption, between debts and ability to pay, between creditors and willingness to receive goods, between the theories of 1914 and the practices of 1928. Not only were these maladjustments revealed but they began to be readjusted with a severity of degree and speed made all the worse by the fact that the adjustments had been so long delayed. Production began to fall to the level of consumption, creating idle men, idle factories, idle money, and idle resources. Debtors were called to account and found deficient. Creditors who had refused repayment now sought it, but in vain. All values of real wealth shrank drastically.  It was this shrinkage of values which carried the economic crisis into the stage of financial and banking crisis and beyond these to the stage of political crisis.”
Another insight of the Great Depression is found in The Great Depression: An International Disaster of Perverse Economic Policies by Thomas E. Hall and I. David Freeman, and gives a sense of that era.
“The Great Depression in the United States occurred from 1929 to 1941. The worst of it was during the first three and a half years when virtually every single indicator of economic prosperity reflected the disaster. The falling levels of economic output resulted in widespread human misery, the extent of which is measured by the rising level of unemployment, increased poverty, and high rates of default on debt by both firms and households. The Depression was so severe that the human perspective and drama of events cannot truly be shown through these numbers. It led to huge changes in our social fabric. Large migrations of people occurred from the dust bowl areas of mid-America to more prosperous places like California, and from the rural south to the industrial north. There were food riots, violent labor strikes, and widespread discontent that made many fearful that the socialist or communist political parties might enjoy great gains in popularity or even rise to power. Some might say that such a revolution indeed happened – through Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal.”
Poverty exploded. With no jobs available, many became hoboes and roamed across the country. The homeless population exploded. Hunger and malnourishment was very prevalent. We must keep in mind that in the early 1930s, the country had no safety nets: no food stamps; no unemployment compensation; no welfare to speak of; and, no retirement pay. The elderly were a sorry lot. In Scranton, many had serious occupational diseases from working in the coal mines, and therefore, unable to work. Their children were also living a meager existence, and the elderly were continuously shuttled to live with different family members. The Socialists and Communists found many individuals who were susceptible to their message. A fear arose that the country would go “red.” Workers were being ruthlessly exploited, and, in defense, joined labor unions and fought the enterprise owners. Frequently, these labor activities were quite bloody. The 1932 election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his subsequent New Deal was a major revolution. He saved the country from revolution and civil strife, and he also saved capitalism from its own aberrant behavior. Roosevelt had weekly radio – “fireside chats” – with the people, and, through that medium, gave them hope, and he succeeded. While the latter 1930s were not prosperous, the people had reasonable lives. I lived in this environment until I was thirteen years of age.
In 1942, when we permanently left Scranton, I knew that I was being reborn, that the darkness was being left behind, and that all of us Kowalski’s would enter a better life. And, so it was!
But first, we had to live through the Great Depression.
John and Marya lived in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania where all of the children were born, and where John died about 1915. Marya later married Stawni, and, relocated to Scranton, Pennsylvania about 1917 (date of move unknown, but this date is reasonable) where Sylvester, Sr. completed two years of high school education. After marriage, Stanley and Elizabeth lived in Butler Township, probably the Butler Township located in Luzerne County. This was the southwestern part of the anthracite coal region, and Stanley likely was a coal miner.
From what our father told me, John had at least several brothers back in Poland. One of brothers was in the Kaiser’s army. Another was a classical musician. Also, it is quite likely that John had a brother who was a farmer in Kansas. I made a search of the 1910 census for Kowalski’s in Kansas, and I found about eight. Only one was a farmer and he was born in German Poland. John Kowalski came from Poznan (Posen) in German Poland. This Kowalski’s first name was Ambrose and he was born about 1866. His wife, Agnes, was born in Texas about 1891 of parents born in German Poland. They had a son named John who at the time of the census was 1 1/2 years old. If this indeed was John Kowalski’s brother, our great-grandfather’s likely first name was John.
John was the owner of a saloon in Nanticoke. In the early 1910s, John sold the saloon and took the family west by train to visit relatives in Kansas. Probably to visit his brother who was a farmer and quite likely others, since they were gone for at least three years. My father told me that his uncle wanted him to stay and live with him on the farm. Shortly after they returned to Nanticoke, John died leaving Marya a widow with three children.
The best information that we have regarding Marya’s Polish background is through her sister’s Constance’s birth certificate. In 1995, as part of a trip to Nova Scotia, I was able to visit Constance’s daughter, Connie MacKinnon of Truro, Nova Scotia who shared with me the information on her mother’s birth certificate. From this document we know the following: Constance’s father’s name was Joseph Dywelski and her mother was Antoinette Kolodziejczak. She was born January 1, 1889 in the city of Rogozno, the District of Obernicki, in the Province of Poznan, of the Republic of Poland. Marya Kowalska’s maiden name was Chenkie (possibly Henke). This suggests that Marya and Constance might be half-sisters. My father, Sylvester Kowalski, related that his mother’s sister, Constance, was secretary to Eugene Debs during World War I. Debs was an American Socialist leader, pacifist, labor organizer and Socialist candidate for US president five times. During World War I, Debs was sentenced to ten years in jail for his pacifist beliefs.
Sylvester married Sophie Sysko in March of 1928. In 1929, the year that I was born, my parents lived in Brooklyn, and my father worked for a Westinghouse lamp plant located in Brooklyn. Since I have a Brooklyn birth certificate, this is where I was born. Shortly after birth, I developed rickets, and, for health reasons, was sent to live in Scranton with my paternal grandmother while my parents remained in Brooklyn. To the best of my knowledge, my mother came to live with my paternal grandmother late in her pregnancy with Vincent. While I was young, I can remember some scenes of when Vincent was an infant. We lived on Locust Street between Prospect and Webster Avenues. Everything was placid until my grandmother passed away about 1932 when I was three years old. My father immediately returned to Scranton. He asked a co-worker to advise his boss that he would return as soon as possible after his mother’s funeral. Whatever happened, when my father returned to Brooklyn, he was told he no longer had a job. He returned to Scranton and again became an anthracite coal miner. When he and Mom married in 1928, his occupation was listed as “Miner”; therefore, again becoming a miner was perfectly natural. Our placid life ended.
After my father resumed coal mining, he became president of his United Mine Worker’s local. My father, humanitarian that he was, entered the fight against John L. Lewis, the president of the United Mine Workers (UMW), and the mine owners because of labor exploitation and John L. Lewis not respecting the union’s negotiating committee’s remedy when he signed a new contract between the UMW and the mine owners. In 1933, John Maloney, a forceful and idealistic insurgent, was thrown out of the UMW, and shortly thereafter formed the United Anthracite Miners of Pennsylvania (UAMP). The movement grew, and my father changed his local’s allegiance from the UMW to the new UAMP. The result was that the entire anthracite coal region experienced violent and widespread strikes. Slowly, a number of mine owner’ signed contracts with the UAMP. My father’s local was one of them. In October of 1935, Judge W.A. Valentine ruled that the UAMP was not entitled to the union dues amassed as dues coupons. This effectively bankrupted the UAMP, and led to its demise. As Monroe Douglas Keith states in his dissertation A Decade of Turmoil: John L. Lewis and the Anthracite Miners 1929-1936:
“Lewis’ UMW, with the heavy-handed support of the federal government, and local police and court system, had finally destroyed the UAMP, and in private, Lewis and Gorman were jubilant in victory.”
And, further:
“The question which remains is not whether the cards were stacked against Maloney and his mine workers. They clearly were and under the conditions which were imposed on the new union, it was destined to fail. More important, however, is whether the UAMP’s failure was good or bad, and whether it had any impact in its brief life. In retrospect, the first question is fairly easy to deal with. Maloney was an idealist and in many respects a true radical, a man who was captivated by a strong sense of right and wrong. He was convinced that the UMW was corrupt, inefficient and lacking in the ideas needed to better the conditions of the anthracite workers. In this regard, he cannot be faulted.”
Even after the UAMP was destroyed, the viciousness did not stop.
“Maloney, his son Thomas. Jr., and Hanover Township School Director Michael Gallagher were all killed when packages sent to Maloney and Gallagher exploded on Good Friday, 1936.”
My father, as previously mentioned, was “black-balled” from working as a miner, and, because the Great Depression was raging and jobs in Scranton were non-existent, the family sunk into deep poverty: A sobering experience.
We had some pleasant activities from that period after the demise of UAMP. My father bought a 1928 Dodge sedan for $16. It was previously owned by his barber who purchased it for his two sons to drive. It was inoperable, and thus the low price. Pop found that the timing chain was broken, and replaced it. Pop didn’t have enough money to pay for the license fee, and he operated the Dodge illegally, and, always, on the un-policed dirt roads. There was ritual, and both Vince and I participated. I would go to the Richfield gas station at Locust street and Prospect avenue, and purchased enough gas which would fill two one-gallon jugs. Pop would drive toward East Mountain and get on the back roads which were in the general area of the Laurel Line intercity rail train. We would enter Minooka on the road adjacent to St. Stanislaus cemetery and after skirting all of the cemeteries and more dirt roads, we would get to Grandma Kosciuk’s home in Greenwood. Pop always turned the engine off when driving downhill in order to conserve gasoline. On those back roads, we saw stark Appalachia poverty. On those back roads were a few coal mines, and the few area residents lived in poorly constructed and poorly maintained sun-bleached wood houses. The children were all without shoes.
Another pleasant activity was to take a Sunday trolley excursion to Greenwood, and spend a pleasant Sunday with the Sysko/Kosciuk family. Grandma Kosciuk always fed us well. A third pleasant diversion was a sleep-over at Ciotka Janczak’s home. Along with treating us well, Ciotka’s house had central heat. What a luxury!
In 1937, Pop was able to work in the Moffat Coal Company coal mine in Taylor, Pennsylvania on the condition that he would not participate in any union activities. Later, in either late 1938 or early in 1939, Pop was able to get a job as the mechanic for Manor Farms, a milk bottler and milk retailer. From this point, the family’s economic situation became more stable, and the Kowalski family went from poverty to just being poor, as where most people in the Scranton area.
When Pop worked in the Taylor coal mine, we lived on Loomis Avenue in the town of Taylor. The Scranton-Taylor boundary was a few streets away. From here, Pop was able to walk to the coal mine. We continued our schooling and other activities at St. Stanislaus. Vince and I walked the two miles from Loomis Avenue to St. Stanislaus each day. The route that we used was about ¾ miles shorter that walking all the way on city streets. Our short-cut was through the mine and colliery property. And, we learned a little about coal mining. The route was next to the mine access, and we would see the low coal cars being pushed into the mine by the small, low electric locomotive. Further, we passed the “breaker” where the coal was crushed and sorted, the coal loaded onto rail cars, and the separated rock carried to the top of a huge culm pile by conveyors. This was the era of coal-fired steam engines. After the colliery, we crossed a number of railroad tracks, and walked along the tracks until we reached Luzerne Street. From this point, we walked on city streets to school. When we had to go to Stanislaus at night, we used the same route, and for illumination we used lit candles placed inside of discarded tin cans. We frequently saw the Waszko’s who also attended St. Stanislaus. The eldest was in my grade, and she had the same job of looking out for her siblings as I did. Her father had a truck, and one of his ways to earn a little money was to illegally mine coal at what were called boot-leg mines. The Waszko’s were very poor.
Vince and I spent most of our spare time exploring the wooded areas of Taylor when we lived there, and, later when we moved to Brooks Street, towards East Mountain in Scranton. These areas had a lot of huckleberry bushes, which we picked, and, in Taylor, bootleg coal mines. With Pop, Vince and I did go into one of these mines with our miner’s hats and carbide lamps, and mined coal for home. Separately, Vince and I would screen the tailings from these mines again for home fuel. When we lived in Scranton, without telling anyone, Vince and I would go “skinny-dipping” on the first warm day in May in a mountain stream.
Starting in the fifth grade, I attended Loomis Elementary School which was located roughly half way between where we lived and where Theresa now lives. My teacher was Miss Bahler – one of the few teacher’s names that I do remember. She had tremendous influence on me in getting me to take school seriously. Our fifth grade was very much Appalachia. One of my classmates was Cock-Eye. True to his nickname, he was cross-eyed. His family had a cow, and his job was each day to take their cow from the barn to the adjacent field and tether it. The cow would munch on the grass all day, and Cock-Eye would bring it into the barn after school. Another classmate was from a Russian family who lived across the street from us. He was a terror, and acted like his older brother who frequently was AWOL from the army. This was our education environment, and Miss Baihler wisely placed Francis Kowalski and I (we were not related) into desks in the unoccupied part of the room, and gave us special assignments. The rest of the class was unruly, and demanded a lot of Miss Baihler’s attention. This was the beginning of my interest in reading and education.
Early in the sixth grade, about October or November of 1939, we moved back to Scranton about a block away from St. Stanislaus. Until our relocation to Philadelphia, we did not experience the comfort of central heating, a hot water system, or electric refrigeration. Refrigeration was an ice-box. Also, when we lived on Loomis Avenue, out toilet was an outhouse. Since, Pop was on call, his company, provided him with a telephone – the first one for us. A little later, Pop received from Manor Farms, Blue Cross hospitalization. We were now living like millionaires. The major Kowalski entertainment was the radio programs: Amos ‘n’ Andy; Buck Rogers; Fibber McGee and Molly; Flash Gordon; Green Hornet; Jack Armstrong – The All American Boy; Lone Ranger; The Jack Benny Show; and, The Shadow. The branch library was only two blocks from Brooks Street, and Vince and I voraciously read their books – on average, three books per week. Before we left Scranton, we graduated from the children’s section to the adult. When we had the 11 cents admission, we would go to the Saturday double-feature matinee.
In Scranton, I attended Public School #8 located on Cedar Avenue nearer to central Scranton. Scranton’s elementary and junior high schools were first class with first-rate teachers, and my educational aspirations flourished.
During these years, I was fortunate to have several anchors which immensely helped a youngster get through this period. These were: our church, the Janczak family, and the Sysko/Kosciuk family.
The first was the Polish National Catholic Church, and, in particular, St. Stanislaus in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It is here in St. Stanislaus that the Polish National Catholic Church was founded in 1897 by The Reverend Franciszek Hodur, a young priest born and educated in Poland. In the Biographical Note of Hodur: A Compilation of Selected Translations by Theodore L. Zawistowski we find:
“As in many Roman Catholic parishes throughout the United States, a protest movement developed at Sacred Heart [a Scranton parish that Father Hodur was a vicar in 1895 but was subsequently transferred to Nanticoke, Pennsylvania] in 1896, leading to the building of a new church, St. Stanislaus. Father Hodur accepted the invitation of the dissident parish to become its first pastor in 1897. The date of his arrival, March 14, has become the traditional date marking the beginning of the Polish National Catholic Church.”
My education through the fourth grade was in St. Stanislaus parish school. Until we left Scranton, Vince and I were continually active in the church: school; altar-boys; summer camp at the church property in Minooka, Pennsylvania; summer camp at the Spójnia camp located next to Waymart, Pennsylvania; May Day parade from St. Stanislaus to the above mentioned church property in Minooka; and, on and on. Mr. Wysocki, the executive-director of the Polish National Union, first arranged for my tonsillectomy, and, then later, for my first pair of glasses. Joseph Nieminski became a good friend while we lived on Brook Street. He also participated in the above mentioned church activities. Later, he entered the PNCC seminary, and after ordination was assigned first to the Buffalo parish, and then later, to the Toronto parish. Nieminski was consecrated as bishop in 1968, and became the Bishop of the Canadian Diocese. While always grateful, the full significance of St. Stanislaus became much clearer much later. Bishop Hodur passionately worked to bring the Kingdom of God to St. Stanislaus and to the Polish National Catholic church.
When Father Hodur was assigned as pastor of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Parish in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania in 1894, our paternal grandparent’s lived in Nanticoke, and undoubtedly knew him. Our father always stated that his mother was a charter member of the PNCC. I have several English-translation of Bishop Hodur’s writing. He was extremely bright, and received an education in some of the best schools in Poland. He was an outstanding scholar in the excellent Jagellonian Univeristy, the oldest and best in Poland. From a theological standpoint, he compares favorably with Hans Kung, the renowned Catholic theologian. Both saw Christianity in the same way, and both looked at Martin Luther as a great Christian thinker. I value my nearness to Bishop Hodur, and my meeting Hans Kung when he spoke at Temple University.
Vince and I, as altar boys, were intimately aware of Bishop Hodur. We heard many of his Friday evening sermons at Vespers, and, since they were in Polish, they were difficult for us to completely understand. Later, when Bishop Hodur was unable to leave the Rectory, Vince and I would participate with Auxiliary Bishop John Misiaszek in a mini-procession from Church to the Rectory and Bishop Hodur with his communion. A lot of wonderful memories remain with me.
Equally important were the two extended families that we, the Kowalski’s, were part of: the Janczak family; and, the Sysko/Kosciuk family.
My mother, Sophie, was the oldest of the four Sysko children. Their parents were Joseph Sysko – born in 1885 in Russia, and Bronislawa Lewandoska – born in 1889 in Bialystok, part of Russian occupied Poland. They lived on Greenwood Avenue across the street from their Roman Catholic Polish-speaking parish. Indicative of our maternal grandmother’s internal strength and and determination, she, at the age of sixteen, secretly left Poland for America when her father wanted her to marry a Russian soldier. Sophie, my mother, was born in 1907; Anna in 1910; Joseph in 1912; and Jean in 1913. Sophie attended the Moosic Borough public school and completed five grades. Cousin Theresa was George Bohenek and Jean Sysko’s eldest child.
Joseph Sysko, our grandfather was a coal miner and died at an early age as did the typical coal miner of that period. Our grandmother’s second husband, Joseph Kosciuk, was also a coal miner. He was alive when we were young children, but, he also died at a young age. The Kosciuk family consisted of seven children; John, born 1916; Bertha, 1919; Florence; Edmund, 1924; Eleanor, 1927; Christine, 1931; and Henry, 1934.
Our grandmother was a kind, gentle woman who had a very strong Catholic faith, and was a survivor. She was born March 22, 1889 in Bialystok, Poland. Her entire life in Poland was under the extremely harsh Russian occupation rule. Bialystok is in the extreme eastern end of the 1918-1939 Poland, and near the border with the Soviet Union. It is just across the border from Minsk, Belarus.
As a young lady, she participated in the annual pilgrimage to Our Lady of Chestochowa. The pilgrimage was and still is a walking pilgrimage. The pilgrims walked together, prayed together, and sang as they walked. This pilgrimage is still traditional today and typically one would start in the capital Warsaw and walk to Chestochowa, which is slightly west of Krakow. In our grandmother’s case, she had to walk first from Bialystok to Warsaw and then to Chestochowa.
When the church bells tolled for the evening Angelus, Grandma, regardless of whatever she was doing, knelt and prayed the Angelus.
Her grandchildren loved her. We were frequently at her house on Sundays. She always had a feast of fried chicken, her own fresh sausage and plenty of fixins’. Dessert was her homemade pie, apple or strawberry-rhubarb all from her own yard. When Mom was young, Grandma raised, at times, a cow or a pig. When we were young she would have chickens and ducks besides having an ample vegetable garden.
One interesting facet was that she insisted listening each Sunday to Father Coughlin on the radio. Father Coughlin was an extreme reactionary who was rabidly against Roosevelt. So much so, that he joined forces with the two most powerful Protestant reactionary clerics and tried to prevent Roosevelt from being reelected in 1936. I also had the opportunity to help her with English so that she could take her citizenship test. Grandma Kosciuk was a wonderful person.
The Janczak family was the third leg of our support system, and provided the young Kowalski’s with much love and support. Ciotka, our father’s sister Elizabeth, and her three children, Regina, Rose, and Leo, provided us with sleep-overs, treats, such as, ice cream, and, at times, the only Christmas presents that we received. My father and Elizabeth were very close. She lived on Cedar Avenue near Brooks Street. A number of factories were located across Cedar Avenue from Elizabeth. There was a button factory, a silk mill, and a casket manufacturer. Regina and Rose, at times, worked in the first two factories. Later, when my father began working for the Manor Farms, he was able to arrange for Leo to be his assistant, and both traveled to the three Manor Farms business locations: Fleetville, the location of the dairy, and which was the main office; and, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre were distribution locations for dairy products. During the summer, Vince and I were able, at times, to accompany our father and Leo to the Wilkes-Barre location.
Elizabeth Janczak was a wonderful person, but had a taciturn personality. She kept her thoughts to herself. As a result, about the only thing that I knew of the Janczak history was
that, at one time, she lived in Glen Lyon which is a community in Luzerne County. From this, one can assume that since the three Janczak children were born in Butler Township and since Elizabeth spoke of Glen Lyon, a reasonable conclusion is that the three Janczak children were born in the Luzerne County Butler Township. Likewise, little is known other than the fact that Elizabeth married Stanley Janczak.
In 1941, Pop went to Philadelphia to work for the Baldwin Locomotive Works. War for the United States was imminent (December 7, 1941-Pearl Harbor) and the defense industry was mobilizing. Pop was hired by Baldwin to work on their army tank contract. The Kowalski family moved to Philadelphia in 1942.
Life for those living and working in the anthracite coal region was harsh and brutal. The immigration from the anthracite coal regions was similar to the migration of Okies to California and the rural south to the industrial north. We from the anthracite coal regions were referred to maliciously as coal-crackers. In reality, we were no different than the 19th century European immigrants who were seeking a better life in the New World. The coal-crackers migrated to: Schenectady, New York where General Electric had large industrial facilities; North Jersey which had considerable industrial activity; a few to Connecticut; and, a large number to Philadelphia. This was a huge social revolution. Many who came to Philadelphia, such as our family, moved to Bartram Village, a federally constructed residential project which is located at 54th Street and Elmwood Avenue. We were a Philadelphian sub-culture. Those living in Bartram Village were all seeking a better life, and they were good people. We were very friendly with Frank and Bessie Kersavage. When in high school, I worked after school at the Whitman chocolate factory with Betty and Peggy Kersavage. Later, brother Vince married Dolores Kersavage. Sally Leahy was from Lilly, Pennsylvania, and came to live in Bartram Village with her older sister. Sally married brother John. Mike Bobelick and his family came from the Tower City area of Pennsylvania, and we both started Tilden Junior High School on the same day. Others can add to this list. All were seeking to escape the 1930s exploitation.
A final thought. When we entered our spanking new Bartram Village apartment having central gas heat, a Servel gas refrigerator, a gas range, and a domestic hot water system magically the Great Depression stench left me, and I could “smell” the potential for a better life. And, better it was. The twenty five years post-World War II period was the most prosperous for ordinary Americans of any period in the country’s history. Ordinary people went from the depressing 1930s to a new era of hope and accomplishment. And, so did the Kowalskis.
Sylvester J. Kowalski, March 4, 2013

Why the 2013 Gold Swoon?

Why the 2013 Gold Swoon?
Since late in 2011, gold has been in a “swoon”. First, it went down from the $1900s to about $1750 in early 2012. The possible reasons were: deflation; government manipulation to keep the dollar strong; or, a combination of deflation and manipulation. Since late in 2012, and still continuing, gold has been hammered. The possible reasons could still be the previously stated reasons. I have had a feeling for some time that these explanations in 2013 are inadequate. I had the strong feeling that powerful insiders had access to information that the dollar’s valuation would, for some unknown reason, collapse, and were powerful enough to drive the price of gold down so that they and their powerful backers could purchase the maximum amount of gold at the lowest possible price. But, as I stated, this was just a hunch.
Along came three blogs posted in 2013 by www.zerohedge.com regarding QBAMCO:

  •  “QBAMCY On The Fed’s Exit” 03/13/2013
  •  “QBAMCO On Unreserved Credit Growth And Imperial Constraints” 04-21-2013 (the article has a link for one to read the full article)
  •  “QBAMCO On Precious Metals And The Coming ‘Great Reset’” 04/29/2013

My attempt to summarize the three papers is as follows:
1. The FED is controlled by the big banks, and functions in a way that maximizes big bank profits.
2. Up to 2007, the U.S. was in an inflationary leveraging mode. Hence, the enormous debt build-up by consumers, and federal, state, and local governments. Banks took on a lot of risk, but were very profitable to key people via bonuses.
3. In 2008, the U.S. entered a deflationary deleveraging mode. This is a disastrous mode , and can be the death-knell for an economy. This is what the 1930s was all about.
4. Sometime since 2008 and after all kinds of “stimulus” or reflation, such as, QE 1, QE 2, etc., the U.S. entered an inflationary deleveraging mode. Armageddon was avoided, but the deleveraging did not bring prosperity.
5. Late in 2012, the big banks decided that a new course of action was needed to get the banks profitable. Always, one needs to consider that the FED is a tool for the bank’s goals. The need was to get back to the pre-2007 inflationary leveraging mode, and the prevailing course of action was not successful. What is needed is a shedding of debt by consumers, government, and business. A good way is to default on most of the debt via currency devaluation, and when the debt burden is sufficiently reduced, initiate a new monetary system based on gold in the Bretton Woods principle. This was a G-7 decision, and this is what QAMCO calls the ‘Great Reset’.
6. Thanks to the so called “stimulus”, the U.S. banks balance sheets are in good shape.
Europe through first austerity in the periphery and, now, by seizure of bank deposits
(the Cyprus fiasco) is getting the core country bank balance sheets in good shape. Next,
Japan under Abe is now acting as if it wants to significantly destroy the yen. Then, it
would be Europe’s turn. The last would be the U.S. QBAMCO thesis is that in the
second half of 2013, the U.S. banks will have engineered a dollar collapse. To insure
that the proper person then becomes the FED head and becomes the hero, Bernanke is
out. The likely hero will be Tim Geithner who will engineer the “Great Reset”. The
dollar will be significantly devalued, and the “new” dollar will be based on gold. (There
is a lot of speculation that China, in the same time frame, is planning to do the same
with the yuan.) With the dollar significantly devalued, debt issues in the U.S. will be so
minor, that a new inflationary leveraging period can take place, and, hence, bank
profitability sky-rockets.
If the QAMCO thesis is correct, it goes a long way in explaining the recent, sharp drop in the
price of gold. The entities that would have decided on the “Great Reset” are smart enough
to buy all the gold that they can, and also significantly drive down the gold price in order to
enhance the future profitability of their gold holdings. This would suggest that sometime in
2013, the banks will want the price to rise as high as humanly possible.
QAMCO’s thesis is coherent, and can be the explanation for what has happened and what
will happen in 2013. Several months ago, Marc Faber in an interview predicted major
financial problems in the latter part of 2013. Within the last two weeks, Faber stated that
he buys gold every month, and has purchased gold at the current low price. Financial
observers are starting to comment that something unknown but very important happened
in the latter part of 2012.
While I have absolutely no knowledge of when and how the dollar will collapse, the
continuous “printing” of money by the FED will eventually destroy the dollar, and the value
of gold will sky-rocket. It looks as if the smart money thinks the shit will hit the fan during
the latter part of 2013.
S.J. Kowalski, May 20, 2013

What Went Wrong? : A Tale of Out-Of-Control Global Banking.

We are suffering through a very serious credit crisis which is the result of the super-liquidity wave (the availability of massive amounts of money injected into the financial system in a short period of time, a wave, and which facilitates massive investments, whether sound or unsound) generated by the global banking system, and which, in turn, spawned numerous fragile asset bubbles. The current liquidity boom, which is in its terminal state, was bred by never-ending debt which, in turn, produced a whole series of booms: the LDC lending boom of the 1990s; the 1990s stock market bubble; the commodity and real estate bubbles; the securitization boom of assets ( i.e. real estate mortgages and credit card debt); the U.S. Treasury bond bubble; recycling of Japanese, Chinese, other Asian countries; Middle Eastern oil producing states trade surpluses, and, the 800-ponnd gorilla, the unfathomably massive derivative market. All of these bubbles are related to the monstrous mountain of debt accumulated by the Western world. This debt is so large that it can neither be serviced nor protected from default. It can be inflated away, and this seems to be the stealth course pursued by the global central banks. The 2007 credit crisis is symptomatic of the size and fragility of this massive liquidity injection, and its partner, the massive global debt. What went wrong was the massive accumulation of debt, whether public or private. This is nothing new – history keeps repeating itself. Global capitalism’s parasitic 200 year history shows eight such lending waves each followed by a serious economic crisis. The present crisis is arguably the worst, and, in the worst case scenario, could result in a catastrophic implosion of the world-economies along with their fiat currencies.  To read the entire essay, please CLICK the following link:

What Went Wrong-Final 6-06-23-2012

The Consequences of a Failed Monetary System: The Great Depression and The Great Depression II


Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s election to the presidency in 1932 and his subsequent New Deal administration was a revolutionary event for the United States, but was not an isolated event in global affairs. At the turn of the 20th century, the world experienced a collapse of its monetary system, the international gold standard, a collapse which reverberated worldwide, and especially in the 1930s, produced calamitous economic disintegration and revolutionary political changes.  To read the essay, please CLICK the following link:

The Consequences of a Failed Monetary System

Rise and Fall of the American Empire: Quigley’s The Evolution of Civilization Applied by S. Joseph Kowalski

This essay applies Carroll Quigley’s The Evolution of Civilization to Western Civilization and particularly to that of the United States.  This essay argues that: Western Civilization is still mired in the Age of Conflict; the United States became Western Civilization’s Universal Empire at the conclusion of World War II; Western civilization was not fortunate to have a fourth period of Expansion; and, the United States has a high probability of entering its age of Decay.  To read the essay, please CLICK the following link:

The Rise and Fall of the American Empire


Halloween in New Orleans

Mardi Gras and Halloween are especially fun times to visit New Orleans.  We timed our 2009 visit to coincide with JJ Grey & Mofro’s scheduled appearances at both the Voodoo Experience Sunday afternoon and Tipitina that evening.  Andrew plays the bass in this group.  Tipitina is the New Orleans musical venue made famous by Professor Longhair and takes its name from his blues number Tipitina. Mofro has a talented leader, JJ Grey, and excellent musicians. To read the essay, please CLICK the following link:

Halloween in New Orleans

The Kowalski Story

An oral history of a Polish immigrant family who, in the latter part of the 19th century, settled in northeastern Pennsylvania. John and Marya Kowalski left their home in the Polish Province of Poznan, which, at the time, was a part of Germany, and settled in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.  Poland did not regain its sovereignty until the end of World War I.  To read the essay, please CLICK the following link:

The Kowalski Story