Vol. 2-Interview-Gyurko


[Note: This page is handwritten and has a drawing of a building in the middle of the page.]

Michael Gyurko A. Varesano 8/20/72 3:30-5:45 pm

Castle garda on Shandy St.

[Below the words above is a drawing of a long two-story building. Below the drawing is written “6 family, 2 story dwelling”. The roof appears to be pitched (the ends of the roof are slightly shorter at the top than the bottom). The roof overhangs the wide structure that is divided by dashed vertical evenly-spaced lines into six spaces. Each of the six spaces between the dashed lines has a rectangle, likely representing a door, in the middle of the lower edge of the space. Above each door are two squares with horizontal and vertical criss-crossed lines, likely representing windows.]

A similar building is located on Fern St. by St. Michael’s Church, near the brewery.


Date? [This is written at the top of the page. This page is handwritten.]

Mrs. Thomas Gyurko 6/12/72 10:30-11:00 am [There is a line of text here that is crossed out] Hasn’t that Mr. Banas–lived on Shandy St. and maybe able to help with remembering style of houses. Mrs. Gyurko says they looked like company houses on Main St. midwife–[illegible] remembers them. [crossed out text] When her mother had babies at home, the kids were chased upstairs. Then, they had to help with homework, washing, food prepartion, until mother O.K. Schoolhouse–Subjects: reading writing arithmetic [illegible] geography history Teachers she had: grade 1st: Johanna Pankoski; 4th: Genevieve Kora (now Mrs. McGowan) Freeland, Woodside Building; 5th: Peter Evanacho; 5th: Anna Chevlin [Shovlin?]–still teaching high school–Nellie O’Donnell: She lived in 3rd empty house from Emil Gera up on road to breaker (e.g. Buckley [?] Coal Co.) –Anna Gaffney (?)–not sure if she taught school. Schoolhouse– 1st floor–3 rooms rms basement–stairs to basement on 1st floor. 3 rooms rms upstairs style: Plain [there is a small drawing of what looks like a simple double sash window–a rectangle, taller than it is wide, with a horizontal line across the middle] double-pane windows heat–“stoker” in cellar A furnace gave heat to school.


ceiling – tin moulded plates She has 2 styles of these plates installed in her dining room & living room ceiling, these plates were similar to ones in schoolhouse

were [????] upstairs. Then, they had to help with housework, washing, food preparation, until mother O.K. schoolhouse – subjects reading writing arithmetic spelling geography history.

Teachers she had: grade 1st Johanna Penkoski 4th Genevieve Kora now: (Mrs. McGowan) Freeland Woodside Building 5th Peter Evancho 5th Anna Chevlia – still teaching

high school – Nellie O’Donnell she lived in 3rd empty house from Emil Gere, up on road to breaker. (eg Buckley Coal Co) Anna Gallney (?) – not sure if she taught school.

Schoolhouse – 1st floor – 3 rooms basement – stairs to basement on 1st floor. 3 rooms upstairs [drawing of double-pane windows] double-pane windows Style: Plain heat – “stoker” in cellar A furnace gave heat to school.


Angela Varasano 8/12/72 Mrs. Michael Gyurko

She remembers her mother taking the kids out for berries in the summer and picking coal. Down at Altamoses’ farm in the Poconos, she went picking string beans, turnips, and potatoes. The bus would pick up workers in Eckley in the morning at 7:00 and bring them back at 5:00 in the afternoon. She got paid for the picking about ffifty cents per bushel of beans, twenty-five or thirty cents a quartfor huckleberries. This she did before and after marriage, when she took the older kids. It started around July or June and continued till Sep tember. She went out every day. She prepared her husband’s supper the evening before – every day after comingo home from the farm, and prepared supper for the next day.

After supper she sat with the women. The men sat on the front porches, talked and played cards or hunted and fished. The women would sit with women on front porches, but the groups would be on different porches.

She worked the garden, weeding and hoeing the stuff. Her husband planted it. When the kids got bigger, they’d be out playing and out of her “hair.” The garden she did whenever she had some time. Her husband did most of the work.

She went to bed 9:30 or 10:00, whenever she felt tired. Before she went to bed, she would patch or sew if some had to be done. The men always used to come home with torn overalls to be mended. Washing was done whenever she wanted, when she had a load. She had no scheduled day. You had to watch the weather. Ironing was done after the kids went to school in the morning.

The house was cleaned around the weekend because of the kids, Fridays or Saturdays. Shopping was done on Friday or Saturday in Freeland. She used to go sometimes to the company store, but not often. They had a car, so they went to Freeland. The company store she used when she ran short of things.


Michael Gyurko A Varesano 8/20/72 3:39 – 5:45 pm.

Castle garda on Shandy St.

[Drawing of building showing roof line, six partioned areas each with a door and two windows above the door.]

6 family, 2 story dwelling

A similar building is located on Fern St. by St. Michael’s church, near the brewery.


Angela Varasano 8/12/72 Mrs. Michael Gyurko

Michael Girballa was her real father who died when she was eight months old. John Petrushka was her stepfather when she was about eight years old. He drowned years after in the water-filled stripping upby #1 while attempting to demonstrate how swam in the “old country”.

When widowed, her mother supported the family on savings, huckleberry money, and later on the money earnings of Mrs. Gyurko’s oldest brother. The children had to pick coal.

Mary went to work in a shirt factory in Freeland when she quit school in sixth pr seventh grade at sixteen years. The kids were picked up by the truant officer from school when he caught them picking coal.

It was hard to be a wife in those days. Her husband didnt help her when she washed and, for example, the baby was crying. He’d be sitting with the men on the porch and didn’t help. The man wouldn’t help.

When her husband was working, she got up at 5:30 to pre pare his lunch can and get the breatfast for him and the kids. He used to get up at 6:00 and leave at 6:30 for Buck Mountain or #6. Brekfaast was usually toast and coffee, even for the kids who were brought up on coffee. There was also butter bread and jelly bread. The husband had coffee but seldom ate. When she had time, in. between, she ate. The small babies werre crying. They wanted bottles. Crackersand milk was baby foodsince they could start eating and had teeth. They also got as cold meat sandwich or cookies and milk. The trouble is that she didnt have the time to eat right. She cared for three small children.

When her husband left, she started at the kids, getting them ready for school. When they went to Eckley school, they awoke at 7:00. When they went to high school out of town, the bus left at 8:30 or so; so they got up at the same time. Two. the older boy and girl, graduated from high school. The youngest boy quit school to work in a factory.

After breakfast she cleaned up. When the kids were small she had to clean up after them and clean them up. She used to pick huckleberries and coal with them along. They picked some too.

She had lunch for the kids around 11:00. This was a sandwich and cupcake or fruit. She ate lunch by grabbing something whenever she had a chance. About 1:00 she’d start supper. This could be soup, different meats, goulash, filled cabbage, chicken, pork chops, meat loaf, hamburgers spare ribs and cabbage, or fried minced balogna. She spent the whole afternnoon preparing the supper which was eaten any time her husband and the kids were home, around four or five o’clock.

TYhe kids would go out and play. Her husband would go out on somebody’s porch and sit and talk with the men. She’d take it easy a bit after supper.


Angela Varasano 6/12/72 Mrs. Thomas Gyurko

She knows that Mr. Banas lived on Shandy Street and may be able to help with remembering the style of the houses. Mrs. Gyurko says the” looled like the company houses on Main Street.

She doesn’t remember midwives. When her mother had babies the kids were chased upstairs. They had to help with housework, washing and food preparation until their mother was O.K.

The subjects taught in the schoolhouse were reading, writing, arithmatic, spelling, gorgraphy, and history. Her teachers were Johanna Pankoski in first grade, Genevieve Kora in fourth who is now Mrs. McGowan of the Woodside Building in Freeland, Anna Chevlin in fifth who is still teaching, and Peter Evancho in eighth. In high school she was taught by Nellie O’Donnell who lived in the third empty house from Emil Gera, up on the road to the Eckley Coal Company breaker. She is not sure if Anna Gaffney taught school.

The schoolhouse had three rooms on the first floor. The stairs to the basement were also on the first. There were three rooms upstairs too. It was a plain building heated by a “stoker” (furnace) in the cellar. It had double-pane windows

The ceiling was tin, molded plates. She has two styles of these plates in her dining room and living room ceilings. They are similar to the ones in the schoolhouse.


Angela Varesano Photograph record 8/9/72 Mary Gyurko

12 “Last Supper’ in summer kitchen

13 “Good Shepherd” picture in summer kitchen

15 holy card by dry sink

She got the Last Supper when her mother died in 1951. She keeps it in the kitchen because it’s appropriate for a kitchen, where you have your own supper. The Good Shepherd was a calendar given her by a man who used to come around selling groceries. Her mother fixed it up as a picture. Mrs. Gyurko didn’t want to throw it out; so she hung it in this room. The dry sink belonged to Mrs. Elizabeth Gyurko, her mother who had it for forty-seven years.

16 Last Supper in kitchen

17 crucifix and calendar in kitchen

The Last Supper was a gift of her daughter when she got married around the forties. She keeps it in the kitchen because it is a holy supper and you eat in the kitchen. The crucifix is kept there because she hates to throw things out. She uses the holy calendar to keep track of holy days and fast days.

1-12, color

The pictures in the dining room were in her mother-in-law’s. When she married, Mrs. Gyurko got the pictures. She keeps holy pictures becuse it’s the custom from years ago. She got the lighted picture from her daughter-in-law as a gift. It was placed there because she has no other place else to put it. The crucifix in the living room was gotten by an order from a peddler who came around selling them in the twenties and thirties. The Agony in the Garden is over twenty-five years in this place. She bought it from a furniture store. She thinks it’s Christ sitting on the mountain watching over His flock. Her daughter bought her the picture of The Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary. She keeps blessed pussy willows in back of the pictures; she said her priest said you shouldn’t put them anywhere else except in back of a holy picture. The old ones are burned every year and replaced with the new ones according to the priest’s instructions. “They say, too, if you’re afraid of thunder and lightenng, you should hold a piece of it in your hand or put a piece near you.”. She puts a piece under


Angela Varesano 8/9/72 Mary Gyurko

her pillow at night during storms. They ay “the fear won’t be in you” if you do this. They say it protects you because it’s blessed; it has thepower to protect you against lighten ing, and you won’t be afraid. If she has olld ones, or even new ones, she’ll burn a piece in the stove when it storms. She’ll burn some and keep a piece by her, in her apron pocket, during a stoem. The statues in the cabinet were a gift of her daughter.

She believes that it’s good to have holy pictures over the bed in the upstairs. The statues were gifts of daughters, neighbor, and a friend. Her daughter-in-law gave her St. Theresa many years ago.

Round pictures in the back bedroom and the square picture were her mother’s. The statue of the holy family belonged to her mother. Holy pictures are kept where you’re sleeping to display them and use as devotional objects. When she prays,

she looks at them. She uses set prayers, Our Father and Hail Mary, in English now. She used to pray in Greek. She’d rather not throw away any holy things; she’d rather burn it or bury it in the ground somewhere to destroy it.

Mr. Gyurko built the kitchen addition in 1941 and also the back upstairs bedroom. He built it on for space that was needed. The wood was gotten from when they tore down the Highland breaker; he payed very little for the lumber, almost nothing, and it was in good shape too.

For the Holy Supper on Christmas Eve the meal included: bean soup, mushroom soup, fish. pirohi, bobalkie. She didn’t want to make too much food because you had to taste a bit of every thing. Where there’s a small family, you can’t have a lot of tings to eat.

Bean soup: Boil canned lima beans. For six people use two cans of beans. Let it come to a boil. Add salt and pepper and a piece of celery to taste. Make a zaprashka. Brown magarine, about one or two heaped tablespoons (The more, the thinner it is.). Put in flour and brown it, stirring. When the paste is golden-brown, mix it into the soup. Bring the soup to a boil at least one time.

“When we (her family) bake bread, we from a flat, round loaf and bke on bare oven. This is eaten with honey during the supper. Oplatkis were used by the Polish.”


Angela Varesano 8/9/72 Mary Gyurko

Bobalkis: Roll out bread dough into finger-thick rolls. Cut up small, about a half inch. Bake till brown, fifteen to twenty minutes. They’ll be hard and dry. To serve, boil water and spill boiling water in a pot, enough to cover them. Stir now and then. When they’re soft, drain. Put in a dish; put condiment on them.

Poppy seed bobalkis: Put a bit of hot water, one-fourth cup, with one or two tablespoons of honey on them. Put canned poppy seed fillling over them and mix up.

Saurkraut and bobalkis: Fry saurkraut in. crisco and browned onions. Brown the saurkraut. Add to bobalkis and mix.

Mushroom Soup: Use dry mushrooms, red toppers. Wash well, about two or three times. Put in a pan in enough water to cover with salt and pepper to taste. When they’re done, drain in a culander. Wash off. Put in again and coverwith water. Let come to a boil and cook to taste, to the texture you want. Add salt an pepper again if necessary. Make zaprashka and stir in. Let come to a boil and stir around a bit to let it cook through.

Fish: Dress filets or cod fish pieces by dipping in beaten eggs, rolllinng in cracher meal, and frying in melted Crisco till golden-brown and done.

Pirohi (three corners): Make from dough used for soup noodles. For six people use about one and a hlaf to twocups of flour, two eggs, and a little water to work it. Mix in a bowl adding water till stiff enough to work. Roll out dough on a board, thin.

Fill with cokked prunes, potatoes, cottage cheese. Fold:


Angela Varesano 8/9/72 Mary Gyurko

Boil them by dropping into boiling water. Cook for ten min utes, till hard. Drain in a culander. Brown margarine and pour it over them. Mix around in a pot.

Prune filling: Cook pitted prunes till soft. Mix in a dish to get a pastey mass.

Cottage cheese filling: Mix around cottage cheese, one egg, and a pinch of salt.

Potato filling: Boil peeled potatoes. Drain and mash. Grate “store cheese” (American or Cracker Barrel mild cheese). For six medium potatoes add a half cup cheese. Mix in the cheese.

She doesn’t use oplatkis; the round bread was used instead. (The Greek Catholics use round bread.). The round bread was out in a triangle by her mother. Those who wanted took some. They ate it with honey if they wished. The bread was eaten with soup.

The supper was served by having all foods in separate dishes. Each one taken and eat some of each dish made. The meal begins with blessing yourself. “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” When sh lived at home with her mother, her family never did any ceremonies or customs for Christmas Eve.

Before you sat and ate, the father, or widowed mother, would pass a glass of sweet wine around the table so all would have a sip. She was used to having her mother so it, since her father and step-father were dead. This symbolizes the eating of the Last Supper. This is why they used broken-up bread and wine, as a commemoration of the Last Supper referred to as Holy Supper.

Bread: Take three seives of flour. Add three tablespoons of sugar, heaped, one tablespoon of salt, and three to four of Crisco, heaped. Get lukewarm water, add “canned cream”, a half can of eveporated milk, and add to flour to form thick dough.

Dissolve one cake of yeast in a half cup of lukewarm water and a bit of sugar. Let it rise till it forms a foamy mass. Spill in the yeast and mix it in. Add dry flour and stiffen for about a half hour until the dough “don’t stick to your hands. Don’t make it too thick, or the bread will be heavy. Put it in loaf pan, about half full. Let raise in a warm place, cover about a half hour. Punch down, cover, and let raise again, about one hour, or more in cold weather, until it’s up above the pan. Bake till brown. Yield is about five or six loaves.

Contributions Message

Barbara Olsav-Hudock, judyak, Melanie Akren-Dickson and Camille Westmont