In October 2016, the Polish Heritage Society presented a unique music program that combined the history of the Polish immigrant movement into Suffield with the development of the folk songs from their native land. The program was researched, written and produced by Jim Turek, a native of Suffield and professional musician. Seven other talented musicians donated their time to rehearse and perform the program.
In the early years of Polish settlement in Suffield, the Poles would gather in someone’s home to celebrate special events such as weddings and christenings. A sole violinist would begin to play and guests would start singing the songs they grew up with in Poland. Sometimes these gatherings were referred to as “kitchen rackets” due to the loud, boisterous singing that came from the house. As the Polish community grew, the socializing moved first to the Town Hall and then, in 1914, to the Morgan Horse Barn that eventually became St. Joseph’s Church. A trio of musicians provided music at these dance halls.
The musical history program, narrated by Jim, featured 17 folk songs. He explained the story behind each song and a sole violinist would play it in its most basic form. Jim brought in two more musicians to add more depth to the song. He explained that additional verses would be added to make the song long enough for a dance. Then all the musicians chimed in and the audience would spontaneously start singing along to the folk songs they grew up with in their parents’ or grandparents’ homes.
This presentation was recorded and subsequently produced in compact disc format by the Suffield Historical Society. The CD will be available for purchase at Suffield on the Green, September 7 and 8.
Please visit the Polish Heritage Society booth at Suffield on the Green. Share information and photos of your family history in Suffield. Learn about volunteer activities that are available for all ages. High schoolers (and their parents) may be interested to learn about scholarship opportunities for young Polish Americans. Please sign up to help with the Polish Heritage float for the 350th Town Anniversary Parade.
Also, the Polish Heritage Society will resume their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 10 a.m. at the Suffield Ambulance Center. All are welcome to attend.