The purpose of the Polish Heritage Society is to collect and preserve physical items and intangibles that represent the values, culture, and traditions our ancestors brought from their homeland in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. In addition, music and shared memories keep the PHS going strong. Sadly, we have lost most, if not all, of the first-generation Polish Americans from Suffield who used to come and share, first-hand, the stories of their parents’ travels to America and their childhood memories. Now we look forward to the second-generation Polish Americans keeping those stories alive.
The PHS is fortunate that one of its most active members, Jim Turek, is a professional musician, researcher and teacher. He often shares the history behind Polish music. For example, he recently explained that the traditional Polish wedding Grand March was actually derived from an Italian opera. Jim wrote and arranged an instrumental polka for the 350th Anniversary of the town, called Suffield Village, that was recorded by the Rich Bobinski Orchestra. He also master-minded a compact disc titled The History of Polish Folk Music in Suffield, Connecticut.
The CD, which was sponsored by the Suffield Historical Society, traces the Polish immigrants’ arrival into Suffield and their community socialization through music. Narration, along with 19 of the most popular Polish songs of the early 1900s, tells the stories of their lives. The CD brings back memories of how our ancestors worked and were entertained at the time. This is a keepsake for historians, music buffs and anyone of Polish heritage. The CD, which was recorded by seven professional musicians from Connecticut and Western Massachusetts in front of a live audience, will be available for purchase at our meetings.
The Polish Heritage Society will conduct its annual Polish Christmas Carol (Koledy) event on Wednesday, December, 7 at 10 a.m. at the Suffield Ambulance Center, 105 Bridge Street. As in the past, our own members, Jim Turek and Ed Zieminski, will play their trumpet and clarinet, but we also have a special guest. This year we look forward to the accompaniment of Eddie Forman, renowned Polka Band Leader. We can sing along or just enjoy the traditional songs of the season, such as Dzisiaj w Betlejem and Cicha Noc. For more details, call Sara Zak at 860-668-7194.