My grandparents on my mother’s side emigrated from Krakow, Poland in the early 1900’s. During that time, Canada was offering land to foreigners for free if they would move there to homestead. The land they acquired was in the Province of Saskatchewan. I don’t know how much land, but I think it was about five or ten acres. They had three children that they brought with them from Poland and would end up having a total of thirteen children. Their last name was Yaworski. I don’t know my grandparents’ first names.
My mother’s sister Katherine (Kay) was the oldest child and she was born in Krakow. My mother’s name was Frances (Frankie) and she never knew when she was born. Her mother gave birth to all of her children at home. When they had a chance to travel to the nearest town they would file papers to record the birth. The date the papers were filed became their official “birthday”. Frankie’s birthday was listed as February 9, 1914. She was somewhere in the middle of the birth order. She had several older brothers and two older sisters (Kay and Nettie). She also had several younger brothers and one younger sister (Elsie). All total, there were four girls and nine boys. There was also a boy who died on the boat during the trip from Poland, so there were 14 children.
They were extremely poor. They had a very small house that their father built himself, and a barn. There was a fireplace and a wood stove for cooking and baking. They kept it burning most of the time to also keep the house warm. It gets very cold in Saskatchewan. They had no electricity or running water. They had a well and hauled their water in buckets into the house. Of course, they used an outdoors outhouse to go to the bathroom. Everyone had horse drawn wagons for travel because there were no cars, nor paved roads. The family grew most of their food and raised cows, chickens, geese and pigs. I don’t know how they got their clothes but I’m sure they must have been made at home.
When they would go to town, the children saw other people there who had fine clothes and fancy carriages. They also attended school with other children who were far better off than they were. My aunt Kay and my mother wondered about that. They couldn’t figure out why they seemed to be the poorest family around. Since there were only four girls in the family, they were made to do all of the “women’s work” which kept them out of school a great deal. They began to resent their entire living situation.
Their mother (my grandmother) had epilepsy. One day she had a seizure and fell onto the hot wood stove. She was seriously burned. From what I was told, she was bedridden for almost an entire year while her burns healed. During that time, she gave birth to another child!! Kay and Frankie had to raise the smaller children. They were also illiterate because they missed so much school and they couldn’t afford to buy books to have at home. Their parents never learned to speak English.
When my aunt Kay was around 21 and my mother was 16, they ran away together. They never returned to Saskatchewan. I don’t know the entire story but I know they went to Chicago, Illinois and somehow ended up in Seattle, Washington. Frankie got a job when she was 18 at the Washington Athletic Club, as an elevator operator. She was quite pretty and caught the eye of my father who lived there....