Chester, in Delaware County, PA
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Dave Komarnicki's Recollections of Growing Up in Chester
running away from some memories
Positive News from Chester | Komarnicki Family Portrait
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|"I still love beginnings, but I'm still puzzled by some endings."||There's no running away from some
By DAVE KOMARNICKI, Daily Times Community Adviser, August 9, 2001
With a clenched fist of rolled nickels, I plastered my nose to the Kinney's Shoe Store window, gawking like a one-eyed cat at a seafood store at the white, ankle-high, Joe Lapchick-signatured Converse sneakers on display. I entered the store like a phantom, slid into a seat, plopped my left foot down on the patented Brannock shoe-measuring device and ordered, "6½, the Joe Lapchicks in the window," before the salesman could saddle his bench.
He returned promptly with the coveted prize, shoehorn at the ready, but I
waved away his assistance and had both shoes unboxed and laced on my feet before you could
say Jesse Owens. I walked to the floor mirror on cushioned air, feeling I could catapult
to the ceiling with a flick of my toes. Handing over the rolled nickels and not bothering
to wait for my two cents change, I hustled home, breaking in my new footgear on the way.I
carefully hid the Lapchicks in the closet, already anticipating my run to Smedley Junior High the next morning.
© 2001 David Komarnicki, all rights reserved.
|"The winds of change are blowing below I-95. Those in charge of Chester today are small on talk and large on action, and a new theme song has emerged. Being a product of the war years, I like the lyrics: "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative."||Letters: Positive news from Chester
March 05, 2002
To the Times:
In the mid-1940s, Chester City rotated on an axis of economic prosperity. Money flowed like spring water from the subterranean streams of Sun Ship, Sun Oil, Scott Paper, Viscose, Congoleum, Baldwin Locomotive, Westinghouse, and Ford Motors.
Every Friday night, Edgmont and Market streets were filled with a parading populace eager to exchange cash for dreams. Money gushed geyser-like from wallet and purse in exchange for entertainment, food, clothing and all available fineries of life. A positive, vibrant, Norman Rockwell attitude prevailed. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed could have filmed "It's a Wonderful Life" in Chester.
By the 1970s, Chester was one of the most depressed cities in America. The factories and plants were dead or dying, and Jimmy and Donna had moved to the suburbs. Crime and poverty were rampant.
Local historians and old-timers continue to debate the pivotal reasons for Chester's gradual decline, but fortunately the current government is more interested in the future than the past. The winds of change are blowing below I-95. Those in charge of Chester today are small on talk and large on action, and a new theme song has emerged. Being a product of the war years, I like the lyrics: "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative ..
Mayor Pileggi and his team are orchestrating the song, and it was enough to convince me to move out of the suburbs two years ago and back into Chester City, where I could become part of the positive wind of change.
© 2002 David Komarnicki, all rights reserved.
|"How I wish, at times like these, that I could dig deep like a sand crab and lose myself, in what once was, in order that I might focus better on what is now. For if what was then is so beautiful to me now, what should I be doing to focus clearly the pictures my mind is taking in the present so that I may preserve them for the winters of my days to come?"||Komarnicki Family Portrait
To my family--
We act within a measurable point in time. In acting, we reflect upon what once was ... or rather what seemed to have been. For the recalling of times gone by is infused with emotions, and the emotions somehow alter the reality of what actually happened.
My sense of the past, as it relates to family, is nostalgic and admittedly romanticized. The actual pain in growing physically, mentally, and emotionally during the tortuous decade of the thirties has been obliterated by the pleasures of living through it surrounded by the warm patchwork quilt of family. On the wall before me now, a sepia-toned 11 x 14 photograph of the Komarnicki clan breathes life into this lonely room. The taking of that photograph turned out to be a history- making moment, for never before or since did we gather together for any one occasion so well-dressed, unified in smiles and frozen for all time by the deft hand of Kolasinski the photographer.
Thirty years have passed since that day, and I praise the name of Joseph, our Pop, who organized his offspring, sheep-dogged us onto a bus, and delivered us all to our South Chester destination. How could it have been known that Pop's primeval urge to photographically record us all together would someday provide so much spirit-satisfying pleasure to each of us?
Like rivers diverging from a central source, the lines of our lives have gone in many directions since then, but that central source continues to unify us. Each of us, I am sure, when reflecting on that moment we posed as Family and when chronicling the years of happiness since, will confess that we owe whatever we have today to the single-minded purpose of our father and mother. Mom and Pop were as powerful as the unifying essence of the atom, the nucleus around which it revolves and without which it would explode. Because of them, life had substance during those bleak days labeled "Depression, " and their unifying spirit has given substance to our lives ever since. Perhaps it was the day that Kolasinski snapped his photograph that I realized that the meaning of the word "I " was part of a larger "we ". . . and "we " was labeled "Komarnicki. To own that name, to wear that badge, during that time, in that place, was good - as good as any feeling worth recording. To come home was to come out of the cold, away from the heterogeneous masses into the smaller mass of family - as inviting to me as the winter den of a bear as he settles into winter hibernation.
I would dig a ditch or work a jack hammer for a week if I could feel again the warmth of the extra coat Mom gently laid over me to hold in my body heat on cold, skin-flaking winter nights. I would swim Crum Creek with feet tied if I could hear again the dialogue of mom and Pop talking room-to-room in Ukrainian.
Filet mignon is tasteless when compared to memory's version of Mom's left-over offerings; Ben & Jerry's pales next to Pop's occasional gift of a Breyer's hand-packed quart carried home from Charlie Peck's store.
In those germinal days of growing up in our overcrowded homes, life always seemed to be an awakening to firsts, to discovery, to anticipation, to a daily wrestling match with raw elements. Meaning in all of its earthly forms was present.
How I wish, at times like these, that I could dig deep like a
sand crab and lose myself, in what once was, in order that I might focus better on what is
now. For if what was then is so beautiful to me now, what should I be doing to focus
clearly the pictures my mind is taking in the present so that I may preserve them for the
winters of my days to come?
© 1975 & 1999 David Komarnicki, all rights reserved.
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