All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. ~Leo Tolstoy
This past Saturday was the very first (at least in many, many years) Olczak family reunion. For some, it was the highlight of the year. (My mom being one of them.)
I always talk about the Piper reunion 65 Annual Piper Reunion, now I have another family function to attend, straight from my mom’s side. Granted, this reunion was much smaller in size compared to the Piper get togethers, but there was no shortage of GREAT food and good conversation.
This gathering was in the planning stages for quite some time now. Between my mom, my cousin Paula and my cousin John, they’ve been organizing and charting and listing all preparations to make the day a success, and it most certainly was! They got the ball rolling and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Of course, with such a great family how can you not?
This year it was held at the Planinsek Pavilion, the exact same place of the annual Fishing Derby Story & 25 Annual Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby We had the comforts of the pavilion as well as a bonfire. Did I mention there was a ton of delicious food? Yep! Without short siding anyone, I would like to call out a few dishes. My cousin Joe butchered one of his cows just for our fresh burgers and someone brought garden ripened tomatoes to accompany the fresh meat. Mom made her haluski, Cooking with Kyle – Gigi’s Haluski the noodles were done from scratch. She probably made too much, but nothing new there with Gigi. My cousin Paula (Ryan’s godmother) made my Aunt Mary’s (her mother’s) apple strudel, which was AWESOME!
On a side note, once mom and I tried to duplicate the recipe and more importantly the technique, without much luck. We did manage to stretch the dough over the edges of the kitchen table, but also manged to tear large holes throughout. Perhaps that was the reason for our lumpy and a-symmetrical rolling results. Granted, with anything that involves cinnamon, sugar, butter and flour, how can you ever go wrong? It just wasn’t the same but I must say, the experience was worth it.
While talking to Paula in regards to the apple strudel, she mentioned that she added a secret ingredient, one her mother never used. This mystery factor helps to make the dough more pliable, especially in the humidity, which it was. Paula never divulge this information, instead she said if we wanted to learn all the variables in her recipe, then we are come to her house and help her make the apple strudel. Good plan! I’m in!
During the reunion I learned a lot about the unknown Olczak side of the family. Yes, there is no denying we are indeed Polish, which was no secret, but I didn’t know grandpap Olczak (my great grandpap) had a first wife who died before marring my great grandmother. Therefore, I have distant half cousins I never knew was family. The same situation happened in the Piper family tree. I have half cousins on both sides of the family.
John also mentioned about our cousin Jean-Luke Olczak from France. Apparently, after one of the World Wars, his family migrated to France and there he remained. Although his last name is now spelled differently, he traced his family back to ours and we are related. John keeps in touch with him every once in a while and mentioned about inviting him to the reunion, but he guessed he wouldn’t have made it. That would have been really cool!
So did anyone speak Polish? A little. Mom was impressing our small crowd with her Polish counting abilities as was Jim. Although, there were some discrepancies. I’m guessing everyone who knew Polish as youngsters is now a bit out of practice. From what mom told me, all the kids meaning my grandpap Chester, Uncle Walter, Uncle Tex, Aunt Helen, Aunt Emily etc didn’t learn English till they went to school. Imagine that, your first language was truly Polish! The next generation down, my mom, my cousin Jim and Paula etc knew some Polish words to speak but could understand the elders speaking in some conversations. Alas those days are no longer. I wish I was taught Polish growing up, but along with the elders it too died in the family.
I will admit, I tease about these family functions, but I do love my family, both sides. I am one lucky gal to have great cousins and uncles and aunts. It’s nice to sit around and shoot the breeze with family and tell stories or listen to stories either forgotten about or never heard. Marybeth was there with Mikey (Yes, Karen’s crew is related on both sides, Jim and mom are cousins and Karen and my dad are cousins. Piper’s are everywhere!) and she said it best. You never need friends when you have such a large family, friends are already built in. We all agreed! Don’t get me wrong friends are wonderful and needed, but family is the best, especially with our group.
I look forward to hanging with the Olczak’s next year. Maybe we can get Maryanne and her crew to come down from Seattle for the occasion. Perhaps Nicole, Casey and Christina will break away from their busy lives and make their appearance. John already mentioned about uncovering the Olczak family crest and getting Polish beer. Paula was talking about raffling off a piece of Polish china. This year mom purchased a clock with the numbers written in Polish for the door prize. Yep, I’m guessing it’s going to get more intense year-over-year. Cześć (Bye)