Page 31 - With Hilda Mleczko, Glace Bay
ISSUE : Issue 54
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/6/1
With anybody. Of course, at first I was with Polish people, on the hill here. There's lots more of us. A lot's dead now, all the old Polish people. They call this Polish Hill, but it's not really now. It was then, yes. But now, of course, all these houses built up. There's Newfound? lands and there's Frenchmen and there's all different people around here now, they're all mixed in--this is a nice road. But I'll say this for the Polish people. A lot of them couldn't speak English very well, including my own father-in-law, God rest his soul--he was a great man. He wouldn't let anybody talk about me. He said I was all right. And when I walked in their house, even if they could only speak a few words of English, they'd switch from Polish and talk in English so that I'd feel good. And I thought that was very nice of them.... Then so many of the young ones would even interpret for them so I would know what was going on. I thought it was very, very nice of them. They accepted me--I was Henry's wife.... I'm still Church of England. Now when I got married to Henry I didn't change my religion. He's Catholic, and we were mar? ried in a Catholic church, to be right. And I brought my children up in the faith of their father. I promised that orally to the priests. I didn't put it in writing, but I kept my word. And I'm comforta? ble.... I was raised by a mother who didn't believe in discrimination of any kind. And boy, if we ever did.... I'm like that with my kids, and I'll be like that-- I don't believe in anything against race, colours, or creed. Just because you've got kinky hair or slanty eyes, you're still a person. I'm happy and comfortable with anybody. As long as they treat me with the respect I think I deserve, as an elderly, respectable lady.... What can I say? I'm just happy as I am with what I've got. And the Polish people --I had thought when I'd come they'd treat me like a leper, that they'd say, "Go home, you bloody limey." Didn't happen. They really liked me. And my father-in? law- -I never knew till after he died, God love him, how much he did love me. But my mother-in-law said, "He loved you as much as his own daughter...." Well, I'll tell you. Henry went over there one day. And I was there. And he spoke Oceanside Assistance Providing Group Limited Small Renwick Place Business 11 Commercial St. Development Glace Bay, N. S. BIA 3B9 Assistance Tei. 349-0544 We Serve New Watetford, Glace Bay, and Surrounding Area Polish to his father, and I knew he was talking about me. And I thought, "Well, why is he doing that?" 'Cause he never used to. And Dad said something back to him in Polish, and Henry went red and swallowed, and walked out. So a long time afterwards I asked Mama. I said, "Mama, what did Henry say to Papa?" It was long after he was dead even. "When he walked in, he said something about me and you all laughed at that." She said, "Oh, I'll tell you. It wasn't nothing," She said, "He walked in and said, it's a good thing he had a cast-iron stomach because your cook? ing was awful. You forgot to put the yeast in the bread, and the cookies were like rocks, he had to pretend he liked them." He was going on about my cooking. And what chance did I have to learn cooking in a land that was bombarded all the time? And the rations, you weren't going to use them for experimenting with, I'm telling you. So he went on and on and on. And Papa said to him, "You shut up talking about Hilda like that to me. For a woman like that, you should go on your knees." That's the words he said. And I never knew he said it. He said it in Polish. He really liked me. He really did.... When Henry got hurt in the pit once, and I didn't know the extent of his injuries, and I was getting ready to go see him--I didn't know what condition he was in, and I was crying. 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