This beautiful portrait of one of my Szczerba cousins from Poland has absolutely no clues as to her identity. That’s the way with many of my Polish grandparent’s photographs. This young girl could have been their niece, but she could also have been a great-niece. I’ve always loved this picture because the girl has an uncomfortable stance and she looks a little unwilling to be photographed. Maybe this was a school portrait. She has the same slump that I’ve always been guilty of. I can just feel that sharp nudge in the middle of my back and the loud bark to stand up straight. Her hair is tidy, but her curls are trying to escape from the large bow in the back. She has such a pretty heart shaped face. Maybe someone with Polish roots can help judge from her clothes when the portrait was taken.
Looking at the above photo, I then picked up another from our family album. The lovely young women below, Jozefa Szczerba, had written a short note on the back. She looks like she could be the sister of the girl above. From her note I know it was taken in 1959, her photo was printed in Krakow, Poland, and she lived in Glinik Mariampolski. This town is in the Gmina (community or administrative district) of Gorlice and also near Grybów . Most likely this is her engagement portrait. Her betrothed looks to have been a sailor or in the Polish Navy. We also have saved an envelope with this town as the the return address, and it is a little east of where our Sczcerba family came from. Jozefa could have been either the daughter or granddaughter of Agatha Sliwa and Pawel Szczerba (1871 – 1922). Pawel was the brother of my grandmother, Zofia. They came from a small nearby village called Berdechow au Bobowa. The couple seem to radiate love.
Here below is the back of the portrait. I’m always hoping that the handwritten little notes will give a clue to help track down these “lost” cousins. My mother was the last in our family to be fluent in both reading and writing Polish. After her death slowly the correspondence between New Jersey and Poland came to a halt. If Jozefa Szczerba is still alive she would at least be in her mid 70s by now. She would most likely not be using her maiden name. We also know for a fact that our Szczerba family have moved from the address we had. Still, my sister and I wonder about our Polish distant cousins and hope one day to be reunited.