33 – Love affairs in Orlowo



In summer of 1935, Fira Melamedzon goes with her cousin Bronka Szerc and her mom’s friend Anna-Aniela Reinowa to the seaside, to Orlowo. Anna got them to a dancing place, and they meet very interesting men in the very first evening. Reinowa meets some Swedish man, Bronka and Fira get to know three students of Lvov university. Fira falls in love with one of them. Is it just a summer love affair or true love which could have survived, if given a chance to flourish? A shorten version of a story about these events is placed in the book, and a full one is published below. There are no photographs documented that story, except for one, which is placed in the book.

It is an early night. Men decide to see the ladies to their guesthouse:

We didn’t remember our guesthouse’s name but we knew how to find it. „First we must go straight, along the main street”, I say. „We must do the same”, they say. „Now we should turn right, pass the cross streets and turn left”. „We should do the same”. „Then we must go down as the street is short”. They say again, „We go the same way”. „But our guesthouse is not short, it has a high foundation and a few steps”. „Just like ours”. I thought that they were putting us on, but it turned out they really lived there.

Aniela Reinowa was an unusual, beautiful and merry woman. Mr Rein was shorter and much older than his wife. He seemed to be rather boring while she loved to play, dance and tell jokes. She married him for his money. One day before our leaving to the seaside Mrs Reinowa visited my Mom, who was her friend, and learnt about our plans for holidays. „I am going with you!” she cried. She wanted to spend some time without her husband and this was a good occasion. She made unusual jokes at the seaside! Every evening we went dancing. She was liked by men, who always wanted to meet her again.

Once, she decided to jibe at them. „Ok, please come to my guesthouse tomorrow”, she started to make appointments with different men one day. „Please hide in a men’s toilet and wait till eleven at night. I will call you to my room then. But please remember to be very quiet”. Three or four men came and they hid  in a men’s toilets, according to her instruction.

I don’t know what they were doing there, but they must have been confused and uneasy. Aniela was waiting for them by the door but she didn’t call them at eleven. After that time they started to leave the toilet. One left, the second left, the third man left too. She was waiting and laughing at them. Yes, Aniela had a good sense of humour!

Two days after meeting students from Lvov, Bronka went for a cruise with her Warsaw friend, who joined us later. I learnt then, that they had a love affair and I was a chaperon for her. Anyway, I stayed for a couple of days only with my blonde haired man. His name was Wladek Lowenherz and he was a medicine student and a son of a doctor from Lvov. Wladek since the first evening stayed close to me. For these few days we went swimming, sunbathing and walking together. We were sitting in beach chairs, Wladek hugged and kissed me. He was beautiful: tall, blue-eyed, with a pretty face. One day, we were walking along the street where two small children stayed. They were probably brother and sister. She was around three, and he was five. When they saw us, the little boy sang, „Jewish man and Jewish woman are going for a walk”. „I am sorry that they suspect you of being a Jew just because I am one”, I said. I was sure he was a Christian. „But I am a Jew”, he replied.

I was more and more enchanted by him, and eventually became infatuated with him. He also seemed to be totally involved. „What will happen with us later?”, he asked. I assured him that it would be no us later. I did believe it. I treated our relationship as an episode which will vanish into the air. He didn’t agree with me. „It’s so beautiful and you say it’s only an episode”. „Yes, it is an episode. You will go and forget about me”, I repeated. I said so because I thought, „He is leaving. He is from Lvov, I am from Poznan. We can kiss”.

At the same time, Wladek’s friends watched with concern his growing affection towards me. Eventually, they called his fiancée form Lvov. They told her to come immediately and take Wladek home, if she didn’t want to lose him.

Bronka came back from her cruise after a few days. In the morning we agreed with Wladek to go together to a famous café in Zoppot after dinner. However, there was neither Wladek nor his friends at dinner. In the afternoon Bronka went to meet his friend, and I waited, waited and waited. Finally, Wladek knocked at my door. He told me, that his fiancée came, and that they had been a couple for a few years. She comes from poor background and she studies medicine with him. His parents provide for her, and they like her very much. There are family plans of their marriage in the future. If he breaks up with her, he will ruin her life! „I can’t do it, so I came to say good bye. My fiancée and friends are waiting for me at the railway station. We are coming back to Lvov today”, he said tearfully.

I said nothing. I didn’t confess that my affection towards him was growing, and that I started to love him. I repeated myself that I could have made that girl unhappy. I will survive if I lose him, but she won’t. Only tears sprang into my eyes. Wladek must have felt unsafe as he grasped his cap, put it on his head, said, „And you said it was only an episode”, and he run out.