Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I am named after my Grandmother~

~Marianna Luczaj Lapienska~

Marianna Luczaj was born in Poland in 1895. Her parents were Frank Luczaj and Katherine Olczewska, they were farmers. We don't know if she had any brothers or sisters.

Marianna came to the United States through Ellis Island in the early 1900s. We don't know who she traveled with but she must have had friends or family here, because to come into this country you needed a sponsor. She had family in Lebanon Pennsylvania but I don't know if they came here before or after she did.

Marianna worked as a laundress before she was married. The story is that she was introduced to Kazimierz Lapienski because friends thought they would make a good couple.

Kazimierz Lapienski and Marianna Luczaj were married on January 27, 1917 at St. Stanislas Roman Catholic Church in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. Their attendants were Stanley Ruszkowski and Eleonore Olczewski. Since this last name is the same as Marianna's mother Katherine I believe Eleonore must have been a relative.

They set up their first home at 124 Second Street in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. Marianna and Kazimierz had their first child a daughter Sophia Marion on December 7, 1917. Their next home was a 635 Ridge Street in Bethlehem. My Mom often talked about living over a Bakery.
They bought their own home at 1444 Phillip Street in Bethlehem. Four more children were added to their family. Stanislas Dominick on September 27, 1920. Casimir Charles on November 5, 1923. Edward Matthew on February 15, 1926 and Anthony Albert on September 17, 1928.

Marianna was a kind and gentle woman who was loved dearly by friends and neighbors. She took care of all the sick and lonely people in the neighborhood sharing soup and bread that she made everyday.
Marianna was an excellent seamstress. She had gone to school in Poland to learn dressmaking. She was very talented and could copy clothing from a picture in a catalog. She made clothing for rich heavy set people. She would also take a adult coat and refashion it into a child’s coat. She sewed all the children’s clothing.

Marianna was a petite woman of about 5 feet tall with long dark hair to her waist. Mom used to brush it for her every evening. She said her Moms hair was beautiful and that her father loved it also. Mom said that her father used to call Marianna "my little Jewish woman" in Polish.
Kazimierz used to buy her jewelry for her for gifts. She has a bracelet with a lions head on it with ruby eyes. She also had a fur coat that he bought her.
Marianna used to love to work out in her garden. Her favorite flowers were pansies.
She used to love to rock and sing her babies to sleep. She sang a song about Mary singing to baby Jesus in Polish. She learned to speak English when the children went to school.
Marianna was a frail woman. She had gotten sick with the flu in the big flu epidemic. Mom said her bones were left with pin holes in them and were brittle which left her a semi-invalid. I don't know how she managed to do all the things that she did.

We learned later that Marianna was Jewish. Kazimierz and Marianna were very involved with the Jewish community. Which often helped with the furniture and other things for the family. At the time Marianna came here, Jews were being persecuted in Poland so that when they came to the United States is was common practice for them to join a major religion to hide that they were Jewish. She became a devout Catholic and went to church every day.

My Mom told me that Marianna was sitting on the front porch swing on a warm August night, she was very ill. She has caught a cold from going outside without a coat or shoes to hand the laundry. She told my Mom to run and fetch the Doctor. When she was dying she made Kazimierz promise to keep the children together and not let relatives take them or she would haunt him. She said if she could come back after death to visit, she would. That same evening at 10:30 pm she died of Pneumonia on August 24, 1932.

Her funeral was held in the home of 1444 Phillip Street. The neighborhood ladies prepared Grammy for the funeral. The casket was in the living room by the front window so people could walk by and look in the window to pay their respects. It was there for a week. She didn't want money spent on a tombstone to take away from support of her children so Kazimierz planted a fir tree on her grave. She is buried in Union Cemetery in Hellertown Pennsylvania. Later the tree was cut down by the cemetery.

The headstone that was purchased in the 1970s by Kazimierz for her grave does not have the correct date for her birthday. He could not remember the date so they used the date May 10, 1895.

The facts listed here come from records and family stories told by
Sophia, Casimir and Anthony to their children.

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