10 – The summer at the Boguccy



In her memories, Fira Melamedzon often mentions two Polish families which were good friends of the Melamedzons, when they lived in Poznan. One of them were the Boguccy, who also had fled Soviet Russia. Another one were Wladyslaw Banaczyk, a socialist activist co-working with the envoy, Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, and his wife Rita. There is no photograph presenting the Boguccy nor the Banaczyks in Fira’s albums. There is only one copied photo of Rita Banaczyk, as the original got lost. There is also an empty place after another one, which Fira gave to Wladyslaw Banaczyk about 1942, when he suddenly knocked at the Melamedzons’doors in Jeruzalem. A story about both families can be found in the book Fira…”

Tha lacking photographs are complemented by documents regarding Wladyslaw Banaczyk, found in Poznan archives, and by colourful memories of the holidays 1929, spent by fourteen-year-old Fira Melamedzon at the Boguccy’s place in Jastrzebsko near Nowy Tomysl.


In the summer of 1929, the time when the great PeWuKa (Polish General Exhibition) exhibition took place in Poznan – I had seen it but I don’t remember much – I went for my holidays to the Boguccy’s house in the village. They invited me in gratitude for Daddy’s help. Just like us, the Boguccy family came from Russia and lost their house and fortune there. While listening to their story Tatulinski heard that they had bought the insurance in the company that he knew. – We also had this insurance but we cannot seek compensation as we lost the documents – he said. – But we have the documemts – they replied. Indeed, they had all needed papers but they didn’t know how to claim. So, Daddy helped them to write and apply suitable documents. As a result, the Boguccy got the compensation for lost fortune and bought a house with a piece of land in a village, which name I don’t remember. It was near Nowy Tomysl. They moved there soon with the whole family*. They certainly were very grateful to my Daddy and they invited me for summer holidays as soon as they set up their house.

Their croft was not rich but their own. They had a one-storey house with a few rooms, a big yard with a small stable and a large horse-barn, a little garden with fruit trees, and a piece of field, which, I think, wasn’t very profitable. Across the road there was a pine forest. The Boguccy weren’t rich, but they were not poor either. Their oldest son Waclaw

studied, I think medicine, in Poznan, so went to the university by train. Whenever he was around the Old Market Square he visited our shop to give respects and greetings to Tatulinski, ask how he was doing and exchange information. So, we kept in touch with the Boguccy.

The Boguccy were good and religious people. They ate no meat on Fridays, so before my arrival they asked Daddy whether I liked fish. He said I loved herring but I shouldn’t have been given too much of it. I don’t know why he said so. Anyway, the Boguccy followed his instruction exactly and they gave me herring every Friday, but no more than one piece. Everybody were laughing at this as breakfasts, dinners and suppers were always accompanied by jokes and bantering.

I remember those holidays as the great lazing. Unlike a city, a village is silent, calm and full of different smells. I spent time mostly with Anatol, a few years older than me son of the Boguccy, though our relationship was not even warm, and with their daughter Walentyna, who was three years younger than me. Also, I played with Larysa and Igor, the children of the Boguccy’s friends from Poznan, who were the fugitives from Russia too, and came here to spend their holidays. Larysa and Igor had no father. They were raised by their mother, who was a widow of some professor. Larysa was the oldest among us, excluding two adult sons of the Boguccy. Sometimes, in the evening, she sat with us, the young, on the edge of the forest and made up various stories and fairytales. Larysa was very pretty, she was chosen a second Vice Miss Poland one year later. She became popular then**. But now we walked through the meadows, or in the forest, or we lay down on hay.

We spent one night together in a barn. Anatol told us how beautiful the sunrise was and he persuaded us to sleep on hay. I think I didn’t sleep a wink. We lay and talked, looking from time to time through a small window to check whether it was already dawn. Adults joined us in the early morning. The sky started to come grey, then red and light. Looking through this window, we all watched the sun rise above the meadows and forest. It was really wonderful.


* The  family of Jadwiga and Waclaw Bogucki came from Smolensk, according to population records kept in the State Archives in Poznan. They lived in Poznan since May 1920 till October 1927, when they moved to Jastrzebsko (today Jastrzebsko Stare) near Nowy Tomysl. They had four sons and two daughters.


** Her name was Larysa Winkowska and she was chosen the second Vice Miss Poland in 1930, from among five thousand girls. She was working in the Poznan Chamber of Commerce and Industry at that time. This is how the press described the third most beautiful Polish woman then: „Tall and perfectly built. Long dark hair, unruffled and worn in a bun. Big, bright, sparkling and smiling eyes. Light pink complexion without a trace of lipstick”. (http://polskiemiss.blogspot.com/201106/historia-lata-30e-miss-polonia30.html)