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These four go together, and even have something written on the back, yet they remain a complete mystery. These shots were at one time glued down to a scrapbook and then removed. Unfortunately, some of the words are covered by remnants of the black scrapbook paper (which is impossible to remove without damaging the image). For all I know these folks could be old relations of mine, yet off hand I don’t recognize any of them. I do have one clue and that is the little girl. She is named Cecilia and she shows up in one other photo (that doesn’t appear to be from this set because of size and no glue residue). She was from a Polish immigrant community in Hornsbyville, VA, a town that no longer exists. 

The first thing that struck me about this photo was that house. It appears to be a log farm house with a thatch roof. So right off the bat I think it’s safe to say this isn’t Detroit or Chicago. As for a location it sure feels like it could be in rural Poland.
On the back is the notation Kasia Renick Lapinski Nov. 24, 1937. I believe this is my Grandpa Pete Kownacki’s sister Katie. Kasia translated is Katie, so that makes sense, and her age in the photo also falls in line. We don’t know the name of her husband but my Dad remembers him speaking with a heavy accent. (The name Renick is also a mystery.) So, a guess would be that this photo was taken on a trip back to Poland to give Katie a change to meet his family. 

The first thing that struck me about this photo was that house. It appears to be a log farm house with a thatch roof. So right off the bat I think it’s safe to say this isn’t Detroit or Chicago. As for a location it sure feels like it could be in rural Poland.

On the back is the notation Kasia Renick Lapinski Nov. 24, 1937. I believe this is my Grandpa Pete Kownacki’s sister Katie. Kasia translated is Katie, so that makes sense, and her age in the photo also falls in line. We don’t know the name of her husband but my Dad remembers him speaking with a heavy accent. (The name Renick is also a mystery.) So, a guess would be that this photo was taken on a trip back to Poland to give Katie a change to meet his family. 

A torn photo of my Grandma Gen sometime in the early 1920s. I can’t tell exactly when, or how old she was, but my guess is that she was in her late teens or very early twenties at the most. And being she was born in 1906, well, you can do the math. As for the location I’m not sure. I don’t recognize the background, but behind that shed looks like a typical early 20th Century garage. So most likely this was either in Detroit or Hamtramck. 

A torn photo of my Grandma Gen sometime in the early 1920s. I can’t tell exactly when, or how old she was, but my guess is that she was in her late teens or very early twenties at the most. And being she was born in 1906, well, you can do the math. As for the location I’m not sure. I don’t recognize the background, but behind that shed looks like a typical early 20th Century garage. So most likely this was either in Detroit or Hamtramck. 

Anonymous asked: Hi - I was surfing the Internet and came across your page. I have some information on the sailing history of John A. Zabowski that may be of interest to you. I have a list of his position and a number of Pittsburgh boats that he worked on between 1943 - 1968. Regards, Russ

Hi Russ, 

Absolutely! I would love to see what you have. Feel free to use my email at FPKownacki@aol.com and we can chat from there. 

Thanks, Frank

After a bit of back and forth my family and I think this might be my Great Grandma Frances Zabowski’s twin sister Olesia. Now my knowledge of this side of the family gets a bit thin at this part. I think her maiden name (my Great Great Grandparents name) was Koscieszi. And, according to what I can find, her married name was Zepnikowski. Thats about all I know, other than I think they lived in Eastern PA. 
As for the location it’s most likely Detroit during the 1930s, and a guess would be that the two younger women are daughters. It also looks like they were dressed up, maybe for a special occasion or mass. The white gloves is a good tip off. 

After a bit of back and forth my family and I think this might be my Great Grandma Frances Zabowski’s twin sister Olesia. Now my knowledge of this side of the family gets a bit thin at this part. I think her maiden name (my Great Great Grandparents name) was Koscieszi. And, according to what I can find, her married name was Zepnikowski. Thats about all I know, other than I think they lived in Eastern PA. 

As for the location it’s most likely Detroit during the 1930s, and a guess would be that the two younger women are daughters. It also looks like they were dressed up, maybe for a special occasion or mass. The white gloves is a good tip off. 

I had overlooked this photo since I first found it, and it wasn’t until recently that I figured out that the older boy is my Grandpa Piotr (Peter) Kownacki. On the back of the photo someone wrote “11 yrs” and then in a different hand (most likely my Grandma) there is “Alex 2 yrs, Katie 4 yrs, and Peter 11 yrs.” Also, after I scanned it, I noticed in the lower left that someone had written their names on the print. The ink had long since faded and it wasn’t until I could increase the size did I find this little notation. 
My Grandpa was born in December of 1909, so that makes this summer of 1919, and I would imagine somewhere in Milwaukee. I’ve found some old Milwaukee addresses for them close to the now Historic Mitchell Street area. So that would be a good guess as to the location. I love shots like this because you get glimpses of daily life. No nicely trimmed grass but rough sod lots for a lawn. Plus, the clapboard house with shutters and a little fenced in yard. Most of which is probably long gone and since replaced with I-94. 

I had overlooked this photo since I first found it, and it wasn’t until recently that I figured out that the older boy is my Grandpa Piotr (Peter) Kownacki. On the back of the photo someone wrote “11 yrs” and then in a different hand (most likely my Grandma) there is “Alex 2 yrs, Katie 4 yrs, and Peter 11 yrs.” Also, after I scanned it, I noticed in the lower left that someone had written their names on the print. The ink had long since faded and it wasn’t until I could increase the size did I find this little notation. 

My Grandpa was born in December of 1909, so that makes this summer of 1919, and I would imagine somewhere in Milwaukee. I’ve found some old Milwaukee addresses for them close to the now Historic Mitchell Street area. So that would be a good guess as to the location. I love shots like this because you get glimpses of daily life. No nicely trimmed grass but rough sod lots for a lawn. Plus, the clapboard house with shutters and a little fenced in yard. Most of which is probably long gone and since replaced with I-94. 

This is a wallet sized print that was stuck amongst the photos my Grandma had taken. Obviously it’s a studio portrait that she wouldn’t have shot, and I would say it was taken sometime in the late 1920s or very early 1930s. Unfortunately she didn’t write down the name of the person on the back, and none of my relations recognize her. 
With this being a nameless individual a thought occurred to me. Chances are good that someone living today is related to this woman, and may even be a direct descendant. There is also a good chance that this living relation has never seen this photo. And since I can’t tag this post with her name, they most likely never will. 
That’s kind of a bummer. 

This is a wallet sized print that was stuck amongst the photos my Grandma had taken. Obviously it’s a studio portrait that she wouldn’t have shot, and I would say it was taken sometime in the late 1920s or very early 1930s. Unfortunately she didn’t write down the name of the person on the back, and none of my relations recognize her. 

With this being a nameless individual a thought occurred to me. Chances are good that someone living today is related to this woman, and may even be a direct descendant. There is also a good chance that this living relation has never seen this photo. And since I can’t tag this post with her name, they most likely never will. 

That’s kind of a bummer. 

I’ve asked around and no one recognizes these kids. The poor quality of the print doesn’t help matters, but being it is so poor makes me think that my Grandma kept it because it was somewhat rare to have a shot of them. Meaning that they might not be folks that she saw with any regularity. If they were immediate family the initial reaction would be to toss the print because it would be easy to get another shot. There is also a wood planked walkway on the left. That wouldn’t have been that common in Detroit or Chicago during this time period. So, maybe these are distant cousins that lived on a farm or the like. I know my family had connections to a Polish settlement in Virginia. As a matter of fact the girl on the left could be Cecilia from this shot. So, maybe that’s what I’m looking at.
One other thing strikes me about this shot. That would be the dresses the girls are wearing. They have a distinct Great Depression feel to them. They were obviously made from the some fabric. A common practice, albeit a more rural one, was to use flour or animal feed sacks as raw material for kids clothing. It was so common during the Dirty 30s that companies started to make sacks with patterns that little girls wouldn’t mind wearing. While these dresses don’t have a pattern that I’ve seen before they still have that look to them. If they are from sacks it would back up my theory of this being distant relations that lived on a farm. It really makes me wish I knew the background of this shot. 

I’ve asked around and no one recognizes these kids. The poor quality of the print doesn’t help matters, but being it is so poor makes me think that my Grandma kept it because it was somewhat rare to have a shot of them. Meaning that they might not be folks that she saw with any regularity. If they were immediate family the initial reaction would be to toss the print because it would be easy to get another shot. There is also a wood planked walkway on the left. That wouldn’t have been that common in Detroit or Chicago during this time period. So, maybe these are distant cousins that lived on a farm or the like. I know my family had connections to a Polish settlement in Virginia. As a matter of fact the girl on the left could be Cecilia from this shot. So, maybe that’s what I’m looking at.

One other thing strikes me about this shot. That would be the dresses the girls are wearing. They have a distinct Great Depression feel to them. They were obviously made from the some fabric. A common practice, albeit a more rural one, was to use flour or animal feed sacks as raw material for kids clothing. It was so common during the Dirty 30s that companies started to make sacks with patterns that little girls wouldn’t mind wearing. While these dresses don’t have a pattern that I’ve seen before they still have that look to them. If they are from sacks it would back up my theory of this being distant relations that lived on a farm. It really makes me wish I knew the background of this shot. 

With the obscene cold temps the Midwest is experiencing I figured a little reminder of summer might be in order. 
I can’t tell which kid this is, but it could be my father. One thing I like about this photo is the guy in the hat sitting on the park bench in the background. At first I thought he might be asleep, but then I noticed something on his lap. So maybe he is reading whatever that may be. Or maybe he is napping and that’s his newspaper he set down. Also, I think this is Chicago. I remember concrete lamp posts like that in the parks. 

With the obscene cold temps the Midwest is experiencing I figured a little reminder of summer might be in order. 

I can’t tell which kid this is, but it could be my father. One thing I like about this photo is the guy in the hat sitting on the park bench in the background. At first I thought he might be asleep, but then I noticed something on his lap. So maybe he is reading whatever that may be. Or maybe he is napping and that’s his newspaper he set down. Also, I think this is Chicago. I remember concrete lamp posts like that in the parks. 

My Dad thinks this is Nancy Nadolski. That would be the kiddo from my Great Aunt Rita Ann Zabowski. Sadly the image wasn’t fully exposed (probably the end of the roll), which is a shame because it’s a really cute shot. 

My Dad thinks this is Nancy Nadolski. That would be the kiddo from my Great Aunt Rita Ann Zabowski. Sadly the image wasn’t fully exposed (probably the end of the roll), which is a shame because it’s a really cute shot. 

This looks like it might be my Grandpa Pete’s half-sister Wanda Kownacki. Peter’s mom died when he was young and his dad, my Great Grandfather, remarried to his wife’s sister. While that sounds rather strange to our modern mind it was by no means out of the norm a century ago. As for Wanda, I know she became a nurse and lived in Detroit. As for her own family, I don’t know if she ever had one. As far as I know that could be her husband and baby.
Anyway, the room in the photo strikes me as rather odd. It is very stark, with high ceilings, and I can’t figure out what that is in the upper corner. It looks like an old vent you would see for a stove in an old kitchen, but that location doesn’t make sense here. 
Yet another photo mystery. 

This looks like it might be my Grandpa Pete’s half-sister Wanda Kownacki. Peter’s mom died when he was young and his dad, my Great Grandfather, remarried to his wife’s sister. While that sounds rather strange to our modern mind it was by no means out of the norm a century ago. As for Wanda, I know she became a nurse and lived in Detroit. As for her own family, I don’t know if she ever had one. As far as I know that could be her husband and baby.

Anyway, the room in the photo strikes me as rather odd. It is very stark, with high ceilings, and I can’t figure out what that is in the upper corner. It looks like an old vent you would see for a stove in an old kitchen, but that location doesn’t make sense here. 

Yet another photo mystery. 

These prints were with the previous set of my Uncle John Zabowski. While the first photo looks like John the name on the back is Ted. Ted is also named on the other shots. Now, John didn’t play guitar, and that really doesn’t look like him, so it’s pretty clear to me that it isn’t him. But that first one really makes me wonder. And of course I have no idea who Ted might have been. Good chance that it was a mutual friend of theirs that got a job on the ore boats as well. (And yes, that first shot was printed backwards.) 

This was my Grand Uncle John Zabowski. As I’ve shown before he was a boat man that spent his career working the Great Lakes. He eventually became a Chief Engineer on the ore boats, but obviously he was still a long way away from that rank when these photos were taken. Seeing how young he is in these shots, and how posed they are, I bet this could be his very first gig on a boat back in the early 1930s. Being it was in the midst of the Great Depression I can only imagine how happy he was to get this job. 

One of those photos that are a mystery. I don’t recognize the building or the person. The clothes look like they’re from the 1930s, which means this could be either Detroit or Chicago. Whatever the background to this shot may be, it meant enough to my Grandma for her to keep it. 

One of those photos that are a mystery. I don’t recognize the building or the person. The clothes look like they’re from the 1930s, which means this could be either Detroit or Chicago. Whatever the background to this shot may be, it meant enough to my Grandma for her to keep it. 

Being my Great Grandfather had 10 kids (though one died in infancy) it makes it awfully hard sometimes to tell just which Grandkid he’s holding in any one particular photo. 

Being my Great Grandfather had 10 kids (though one died in infancy) it makes it awfully hard sometimes to tell just which Grandkid he’s holding in any one particular photo. 

These four go together, and even have something written on the back, yet they remain a complete mystery. These shots were at one time glued down to a scrapbook and then removed. Unfortunately, some of the words are covered by remnants of the black scrapbook paper (which is impossible to remove without damaging the image). For all I know these folks could be old relations of mine, yet off hand I don’t recognize any of them. I do have one clue and that is the little girl. She is named Cecilia and she shows up in one other photo (that doesn’t appear to be from this set because of size and no glue residue). She was from a Polish immigrant community in Hornsbyville, VA, a town that no longer exists. 

The first thing that struck me about this photo was that house. It appears to be a log farm house with a thatch roof. So right off the bat I think it’s safe to say this isn’t Detroit or Chicago. As for a location it sure feels like it could be in rural Poland.
On the back is the notation Kasia Renick Lapinski Nov. 24, 1937. I believe this is my Grandpa Pete Kownacki’s sister Katie. Kasia translated is Katie, so that makes sense, and her age in the photo also falls in line. We don’t know the name of her husband but my Dad remembers him speaking with a heavy accent. (The name Renick is also a mystery.) So, a guess would be that this photo was taken on a trip back to Poland to give Katie a change to meet his family. 

The first thing that struck me about this photo was that house. It appears to be a log farm house with a thatch roof. So right off the bat I think it’s safe to say this isn’t Detroit or Chicago. As for a location it sure feels like it could be in rural Poland.

On the back is the notation Kasia Renick Lapinski Nov. 24, 1937. I believe this is my Grandpa Pete Kownacki’s sister Katie. Kasia translated is Katie, so that makes sense, and her age in the photo also falls in line. We don’t know the name of her husband but my Dad remembers him speaking with a heavy accent. (The name Renick is also a mystery.) So, a guess would be that this photo was taken on a trip back to Poland to give Katie a change to meet his family. 

A torn photo of my Grandma Gen sometime in the early 1920s. I can’t tell exactly when, or how old she was, but my guess is that she was in her late teens or very early twenties at the most. And being she was born in 1906, well, you can do the math. As for the location I’m not sure. I don’t recognize the background, but behind that shed looks like a typical early 20th Century garage. So most likely this was either in Detroit or Hamtramck. 

A torn photo of my Grandma Gen sometime in the early 1920s. I can’t tell exactly when, or how old she was, but my guess is that she was in her late teens or very early twenties at the most. And being she was born in 1906, well, you can do the math. As for the location I’m not sure. I don’t recognize the background, but behind that shed looks like a typical early 20th Century garage. So most likely this was either in Detroit or Hamtramck. 

Anonymous asked: Hi - I was surfing the Internet and came across your page. I have some information on the sailing history of John A. Zabowski that may be of interest to you. I have a list of his position and a number of Pittsburgh boats that he worked on between 1943 - 1968. Regards, Russ

Hi Russ, 

Absolutely! I would love to see what you have. Feel free to use my email at FPKownacki@aol.com and we can chat from there. 

Thanks, Frank

After a bit of back and forth my family and I think this might be my Great Grandma Frances Zabowski’s twin sister Olesia. Now my knowledge of this side of the family gets a bit thin at this part. I think her maiden name (my Great Great Grandparents name) was Koscieszi. And, according to what I can find, her married name was Zepnikowski. Thats about all I know, other than I think they lived in Eastern PA. 
As for the location it’s most likely Detroit during the 1930s, and a guess would be that the two younger women are daughters. It also looks like they were dressed up, maybe for a special occasion or mass. The white gloves is a good tip off. 

After a bit of back and forth my family and I think this might be my Great Grandma Frances Zabowski’s twin sister Olesia. Now my knowledge of this side of the family gets a bit thin at this part. I think her maiden name (my Great Great Grandparents name) was Koscieszi. And, according to what I can find, her married name was Zepnikowski. Thats about all I know, other than I think they lived in Eastern PA. 

As for the location it’s most likely Detroit during the 1930s, and a guess would be that the two younger women are daughters. It also looks like they were dressed up, maybe for a special occasion or mass. The white gloves is a good tip off. 

I had overlooked this photo since I first found it, and it wasn’t until recently that I figured out that the older boy is my Grandpa Piotr (Peter) Kownacki. On the back of the photo someone wrote “11 yrs” and then in a different hand (most likely my Grandma) there is “Alex 2 yrs, Katie 4 yrs, and Peter 11 yrs.” Also, after I scanned it, I noticed in the lower left that someone had written their names on the print. The ink had long since faded and it wasn’t until I could increase the size did I find this little notation. 
My Grandpa was born in December of 1909, so that makes this summer of 1919, and I would imagine somewhere in Milwaukee. I’ve found some old Milwaukee addresses for them close to the now Historic Mitchell Street area. So that would be a good guess as to the location. I love shots like this because you get glimpses of daily life. No nicely trimmed grass but rough sod lots for a lawn. Plus, the clapboard house with shutters and a little fenced in yard. Most of which is probably long gone and since replaced with I-94. 

I had overlooked this photo since I first found it, and it wasn’t until recently that I figured out that the older boy is my Grandpa Piotr (Peter) Kownacki. On the back of the photo someone wrote “11 yrs” and then in a different hand (most likely my Grandma) there is “Alex 2 yrs, Katie 4 yrs, and Peter 11 yrs.” Also, after I scanned it, I noticed in the lower left that someone had written their names on the print. The ink had long since faded and it wasn’t until I could increase the size did I find this little notation. 

My Grandpa was born in December of 1909, so that makes this summer of 1919, and I would imagine somewhere in Milwaukee. I’ve found some old Milwaukee addresses for them close to the now Historic Mitchell Street area. So that would be a good guess as to the location. I love shots like this because you get glimpses of daily life. No nicely trimmed grass but rough sod lots for a lawn. Plus, the clapboard house with shutters and a little fenced in yard. Most of which is probably long gone and since replaced with I-94. 

This is a wallet sized print that was stuck amongst the photos my Grandma had taken. Obviously it’s a studio portrait that she wouldn’t have shot, and I would say it was taken sometime in the late 1920s or very early 1930s. Unfortunately she didn’t write down the name of the person on the back, and none of my relations recognize her. 
With this being a nameless individual a thought occurred to me. Chances are good that someone living today is related to this woman, and may even be a direct descendant. There is also a good chance that this living relation has never seen this photo. And since I can’t tag this post with her name, they most likely never will. 
That’s kind of a bummer. 

This is a wallet sized print that was stuck amongst the photos my Grandma had taken. Obviously it’s a studio portrait that she wouldn’t have shot, and I would say it was taken sometime in the late 1920s or very early 1930s. Unfortunately she didn’t write down the name of the person on the back, and none of my relations recognize her. 

With this being a nameless individual a thought occurred to me. Chances are good that someone living today is related to this woman, and may even be a direct descendant. There is also a good chance that this living relation has never seen this photo. And since I can’t tag this post with her name, they most likely never will. 

That’s kind of a bummer. 

I’ve asked around and no one recognizes these kids. The poor quality of the print doesn’t help matters, but being it is so poor makes me think that my Grandma kept it because it was somewhat rare to have a shot of them. Meaning that they might not be folks that she saw with any regularity. If they were immediate family the initial reaction would be to toss the print because it would be easy to get another shot. There is also a wood planked walkway on the left. That wouldn’t have been that common in Detroit or Chicago during this time period. So, maybe these are distant cousins that lived on a farm or the like. I know my family had connections to a Polish settlement in Virginia. As a matter of fact the girl on the left could be Cecilia from this shot. So, maybe that’s what I’m looking at.
One other thing strikes me about this shot. That would be the dresses the girls are wearing. They have a distinct Great Depression feel to them. They were obviously made from the some fabric. A common practice, albeit a more rural one, was to use flour or animal feed sacks as raw material for kids clothing. It was so common during the Dirty 30s that companies started to make sacks with patterns that little girls wouldn’t mind wearing. While these dresses don’t have a pattern that I’ve seen before they still have that look to them. If they are from sacks it would back up my theory of this being distant relations that lived on a farm. It really makes me wish I knew the background of this shot. 

I’ve asked around and no one recognizes these kids. The poor quality of the print doesn’t help matters, but being it is so poor makes me think that my Grandma kept it because it was somewhat rare to have a shot of them. Meaning that they might not be folks that she saw with any regularity. If they were immediate family the initial reaction would be to toss the print because it would be easy to get another shot. There is also a wood planked walkway on the left. That wouldn’t have been that common in Detroit or Chicago during this time period. So, maybe these are distant cousins that lived on a farm or the like. I know my family had connections to a Polish settlement in Virginia. As a matter of fact the girl on the left could be Cecilia from this shot. So, maybe that’s what I’m looking at.

One other thing strikes me about this shot. That would be the dresses the girls are wearing. They have a distinct Great Depression feel to them. They were obviously made from the some fabric. A common practice, albeit a more rural one, was to use flour or animal feed sacks as raw material for kids clothing. It was so common during the Dirty 30s that companies started to make sacks with patterns that little girls wouldn’t mind wearing. While these dresses don’t have a pattern that I’ve seen before they still have that look to them. If they are from sacks it would back up my theory of this being distant relations that lived on a farm. It really makes me wish I knew the background of this shot. 

With the obscene cold temps the Midwest is experiencing I figured a little reminder of summer might be in order. 
I can’t tell which kid this is, but it could be my father. One thing I like about this photo is the guy in the hat sitting on the park bench in the background. At first I thought he might be asleep, but then I noticed something on his lap. So maybe he is reading whatever that may be. Or maybe he is napping and that’s his newspaper he set down. Also, I think this is Chicago. I remember concrete lamp posts like that in the parks. 

With the obscene cold temps the Midwest is experiencing I figured a little reminder of summer might be in order. 

I can’t tell which kid this is, but it could be my father. One thing I like about this photo is the guy in the hat sitting on the park bench in the background. At first I thought he might be asleep, but then I noticed something on his lap. So maybe he is reading whatever that may be. Or maybe he is napping and that’s his newspaper he set down. Also, I think this is Chicago. I remember concrete lamp posts like that in the parks. 

My Dad thinks this is Nancy Nadolski. That would be the kiddo from my Great Aunt Rita Ann Zabowski. Sadly the image wasn’t fully exposed (probably the end of the roll), which is a shame because it’s a really cute shot. 

My Dad thinks this is Nancy Nadolski. That would be the kiddo from my Great Aunt Rita Ann Zabowski. Sadly the image wasn’t fully exposed (probably the end of the roll), which is a shame because it’s a really cute shot. 

This looks like it might be my Grandpa Pete’s half-sister Wanda Kownacki. Peter’s mom died when he was young and his dad, my Great Grandfather, remarried to his wife’s sister. While that sounds rather strange to our modern mind it was by no means out of the norm a century ago. As for Wanda, I know she became a nurse and lived in Detroit. As for her own family, I don’t know if she ever had one. As far as I know that could be her husband and baby.
Anyway, the room in the photo strikes me as rather odd. It is very stark, with high ceilings, and I can’t figure out what that is in the upper corner. It looks like an old vent you would see for a stove in an old kitchen, but that location doesn’t make sense here. 
Yet another photo mystery. 

This looks like it might be my Grandpa Pete’s half-sister Wanda Kownacki. Peter’s mom died when he was young and his dad, my Great Grandfather, remarried to his wife’s sister. While that sounds rather strange to our modern mind it was by no means out of the norm a century ago. As for Wanda, I know she became a nurse and lived in Detroit. As for her own family, I don’t know if she ever had one. As far as I know that could be her husband and baby.

Anyway, the room in the photo strikes me as rather odd. It is very stark, with high ceilings, and I can’t figure out what that is in the upper corner. It looks like an old vent you would see for a stove in an old kitchen, but that location doesn’t make sense here. 

Yet another photo mystery. 

These prints were with the previous set of my Uncle John Zabowski. While the first photo looks like John the name on the back is Ted. Ted is also named on the other shots. Now, John didn’t play guitar, and that really doesn’t look like him, so it’s pretty clear to me that it isn’t him. But that first one really makes me wonder. And of course I have no idea who Ted might have been. Good chance that it was a mutual friend of theirs that got a job on the ore boats as well. (And yes, that first shot was printed backwards.) 

This was my Grand Uncle John Zabowski. As I’ve shown before he was a boat man that spent his career working the Great Lakes. He eventually became a Chief Engineer on the ore boats, but obviously he was still a long way away from that rank when these photos were taken. Seeing how young he is in these shots, and how posed they are, I bet this could be his very first gig on a boat back in the early 1930s. Being it was in the midst of the Great Depression I can only imagine how happy he was to get this job. 

One of those photos that are a mystery. I don’t recognize the building or the person. The clothes look like they’re from the 1930s, which means this could be either Detroit or Chicago. Whatever the background to this shot may be, it meant enough to my Grandma for her to keep it. 

One of those photos that are a mystery. I don’t recognize the building or the person. The clothes look like they’re from the 1930s, which means this could be either Detroit or Chicago. Whatever the background to this shot may be, it meant enough to my Grandma for her to keep it. 

Being my Great Grandfather had 10 kids (though one died in infancy) it makes it awfully hard sometimes to tell just which Grandkid he’s holding in any one particular photo. 

Being my Great Grandfather had 10 kids (though one died in infancy) it makes it awfully hard sometimes to tell just which Grandkid he’s holding in any one particular photo. 

About:

My Grandma Gen Kownacki, nee Zabowski, died in 2002. Shortly after her death I helped my father clean out her house and I came across hundreds of old photographs. Along with the photos there were plenty of negatives (sadly, I haven't had the chance to scan them). I never knew that she loved photography so much in her youth, though it does help explain why she supported my own interest. This collection of photos starts in the 1920s in Detroit and ends after WWII with her living in Chicago. Some of the images are simply snap shots of friends and relatives. Then there are some that are a little bit more. I hope you enjoy this peek into the past. Frank Kownacki


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