Monday, February 23, 2009

The Roots

The two dapper young men you see above are John and Adam Iwaniszek. They were the only sons of Stephan Iwaniszek, Ukranian immigrant, and Victoria Yaz, of Krakow.

John, my father, was born in 1922, and as of this writing is still alive. Adam, born in 1912, died in the early 70's. This picture was taken in Livonia, Michigan after World War II.

The two branches of the Iwaniszek family are strangers to each other, separated by time and geography. John's family started in Michigan and migrated south to Virginia and then dissipated throughout Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Adam's family spread from its foothold in Maine to Florida and to the west. Adam's branch has been the most prolific and is represented by several generations spanning in ages from the 70's to infants. John's family (those that I think of as his family - he actually has two daughters from a previous marriage who are now in their late 60's) started late but now has a couple of great-grandchildren, although none bearing the Iwaniszek name. So far that honor belongs to my son and my brother Matthew's two daughters Megan and Sara.

Dad was a soldier, a builder, a tool maker, and a farmer. Adam was a bootlegger during prohibition, but had no trade beyond that that I am aware of.

There is a family story that Adam was on a run one night and realized that the police were chasing him. He drove his Ford coupe into the night until he came to an isolated place and then he set fire to the jalopy and its cargo. He earned nothing that night but an infernal debt to the man whose liquor he was transporting.

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