Live From Allentown
I am sitting here in Allentown contemplating the demise of an over 50 year tradition. One of my fathers best friends Joseph Karpinski affectionately known as “Carp” is up in years and recently had a heart attack. He has been the sole proprietor and father hen of us all and of the St Stanislaus Orphanage (Sheatown, PA) reunion tomarrow 09/06/2009.
This was and is no ordinary orphanage or reunion. It was a Polish nun orphanage when and where times were tough and the nuns were tougher, in the days that would have put any CPS social worker of today into cardic arrest. The nuns were exceptionally hard on the “orphans” many of which were not orphans but victims of circumstance. Many the product of the times where the ’29 crash caused a situation where the parents could not take care of themselves let alone their kids, so rather than have their kids live in the street they were shipped off to orphanages.
The nuns were tough because times were tough and these kids needed survival skills in ways that no one today but rather an orphan or a kid of the kids as I like to call them, the people my age that are children of the orphans could understand. They endured unimaginable hardships and punishments. They had no good parental examples so as a result neither did the kids of the kids. Do not get me wrong I am not blaming my parents, I am understanding them and hopefully my kids will someday understand me. Things are still not going well for my family and I and I hope I have made my kids tough enough to tough it out.
This reunion was for the kids (orphans) so that they could get together and bond, share the good and bad times and attempt to understand why such a hard life could befall kids that did not deserve such a harsh world. From the get go this was for the kids and the kids of the kids, you see we also bonded, stole some beer and went into the fields and also talked about similar misfortunes and how messed up our parents were because of their upbringing. I was lucky, I was one of the first to start bringing kids of the kids of the kids. I hoped as the original kids started to “go home” that the kids of the kids and the kids of the kids of the kids would realize how important that this reunion was and that we all needed it, because it is nice to see that we are not the only ones that think the way that we do, understand things the way that we do and see that things are gradually becoming better at the hands and hard work and the foundation that the original kids have laid down for their kids and grand kids.
For my family and I it has become a different quest it is more of a way to stay in contact with my parents because they went home so 20 years now, and my wife, children, get to know my parents a little better and I get to stay in contact with them through some of their good friends. Our good friend “Carp” found where my father carved his name “bronek” in the mortar almost 70 years ago, it was . . . moving.
They had friend base once numbered in the hundreds now that is down to a few dozen, and I fear when “Carp” goes because you see that will be that. I would love to keep the reunion going in the memory of all those “orphans” that have gone on but mostly for “Carp” our father hen that keep us together for all those years, good times and bad it was always worth it. “Carp” is a true hero of the spirit and family that was not, but there is not a closer family that I know.
With some luck we have many years left together but regardless know that I have enjoyed and cherished our times together.
So now those of you that know me know what and why I do what I do every Labor Day weekend, I owe these people something, my life, they are why I am here today, they helped my parents survive things that you cannot come close to imagining and can only read about in the history books that believe it or not actually paint it a little more rosy than it was. Have respect for your elders, many have had some very hard times and because of them you are here today.
Bernie, Bronek’s son not Jumbo’s