I was born on Nov. 19, 1944 at St. John’s hospital in Yonkers, New York. Many years later, my mom told me that I had wanted to come into this world with my feet first, and the umbilical cord was around my neck.
My ancestry was from Northern Ireland (County Armagh) on my mother’s side of our family and from Poland (Bialystok, and L’Wow [now L’vivin Western Ukraine]) on my father’s side of our family. My maternal grandparents were from Ulster County, New York, (Grandpa Ray from Shokan and Grandma Hazel from Kerhonkson). My paternal grandparents (naturalized citizens), Grandpa Stanley and Grandma Anita “Molly,” were from the Bronx. Molly traveled alone to New York City from Poland by steamship at age 16. She met Stanley working as a customs agent on Ellis Island. They married and had two children, Ludwig, my father, and Stella, my aunt. Ray and Hazel also had two children, Rae, my mom, and Carol, my aunt.
Rae Windrum, my mom, graduated from Hunter College, New York city, where she met my Aunt Stella Polanowski who introduced her to Ludwig Polanowski, my dad. He graduated from City College of New York and took a course in electronics at RCA Institute. Dad and Mom were married in 1941.
During World War II, Dad was drafted into the U.S. Army and was stationed at Camp Campbell, Kentucky. Mom got an apartment in nearby Nashville, Tennessee, so they could visit. Dad fought in Germany in World War II, while my mom worked for the U.S. Treasury Department in Chicago. Dad was transported to California from Germany with other troops to be shipped to and fight in Japan. Then two atom bombs were dropped on Japan and Dad was discharged.
After the war, my dad got a job as an electronics engineer at Lavoie Labs in Morganville, New Jersey. He had to commute several hours by train to his job from our home apartment in Canarsie, Brooklyn in government housing. Years later, we moved to West Keansburg, New Jersey. My brother Craig was born in February 1952 at Flowers 5th Avenue Hospital, New York city. Then we moved again to a rental house in Matawan, New Jersey.
My mom became an English teacher in Matawan Regional High School; she taught for 27 years.
I joined the Boy Scouts, attained the rank of Life Scout, Order of the Arrow (award) and made a junior assistant scoutmaster. I graduated Matawan Regional High School in June, 1962.
When I was 10 years old, I was hospitalized at Long Branch, New Jersey hospital with an inner ear infection. I had X-ray treatment for it, which worked.
In September 1962 I attended Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg. I lasted a semester; I was a shy introvert who found out college wasn’t for everyone. The Vietnam War had started and I was failing in college. The Army was taking failing students from college; I was afraid that I would die in Vietnam, so I tried to induce a self-mental breakdown. I was successful. My parents drove me home, had our doctor examine me. I spent nine months in Marlboro, New Jersey State Mental Hospital. After recovery, I registered with the draft board and was classified 1-Y. We bought a house in Middletown, New Jersey in 1969.
I got a job as a sorting mail clerk at the Matawan Post Office on Nov. 16, 1964 and worked for 46 years before I retired. I’ve had a hemi-thyroid operation and prostate cancer treatment.
My travels included: Poland in 1980 with Aunt Stella, Central Europe in 1982 with Mom, and France four times with Mom.
My brother Craig teaches Graphic Communications at Fresno City College. He married Vivian Aldridge on Nov. 12, 2016 in San Francisco. He moved me to California in 2012.