Thursday, December 16, 2010
Dan is a janitor from Buffalo,NY.
When I interviewed him, we talked about the accents and surnames of polish families in western New York. He told him me in his case he doesn't actually know what his last name is . In fact, no one in hi family knew.
Apparently right before the start of World War II, Dan's family fled the country after learning that the Russians were invading the east side of Poland where they lived. After arriving at Ellis Island the family where almost in the country when the customs officer asked them for their surname. Terrified of the repercussions they would have to endure had the Russians found out they fled the country ,they said nothing. But just when they thought they were going to be refused citizenship the customs officer revealed himself to be Polish, asked what town in Poland they were from and used that as their new surname.
After years came and gone and Dan's family members that immigrated from Poland passed away the true surname of his family was kept secret .
He told me that the last person to know the surname was his grandmother and even on her death bed decades after World War II she never revealed the family's true name for fear that the Russians would find out....
Posted by Ray Bonilla at 3:00 AM