A Lifetime in Sutton
A Lifetime in Sutton
This storyteller lived her entire life in Sutton, and had many, many stories to tell of it!
Talking about Christmas - we always had a lovely, lovely Christmas. My parents both came from Europe, they were immigrants here. My father came from Russia, he had a Russian father and a Lithuanian mother. My mother came from Poland, she had a Hungarian mother, and she was born in Austria, and her husband was a Polish general. They almost starved to death getting out of Europe. They came here around 1914 [separately]. My father went right to school at Worcester Tech, got out and got a very good job, and did not like it because he was working day and night all the time. After he met his wife, my mother, they both lived around Millbury Street in the city - that was a Polish area. Then they moved to Sutton.
My father did not like his job because they were having children, and the children were alone all the time - my mother would be cooking and sewing and things of that type. So he gave up his job and went to work in the mills so he could be home at 3 -00. The kids would be home at 3 -00, and he was the boss. He would order us around from that time till the rest of the day, and we had to do exactly what he said. He never laid his hand on one of us, it was just the way that he spoke, that was the law. So that's how we lived.
So getting back to Christmas, because of how they lived in Europe, they would always have straw on the table, and you'd put a linen tablecloth over the straw, and we thought that was dumb. We were kids, we thought that was real dumb, but we always had to do it. There had to be straw, because Jesus was born on the straw, and we had to have straw or some kind of hay under the tablecloth.
We had to have communion. We'd go to St Mary's church in the city. They'd give him great big large communion patties, that were printed like they do with the Christmas program, and we'd have to pray around the table, and would pray quite strenuously. Then we would have communion. Then we had to have a dish of wine, even when we were 2 inches tall we had to have wine with the communion. My mother would have made the wine in the fall.
Then we always had a nice Christmas tree. With the Christmas tree, we had to go get our own tree. We never bought a tree, never once. We always went out in the woods - we had 42 acres of land - we'd go out in the woods and we'd get out tree. We'd have a turn. This year it was your turn to get the tree. So we had to go all around our wood and find a tree we'd like. It had to be no longer than 6 feet tall. It could be any size you wanted, had to be 6' to get to the ceiling and fall. You'd walk and walk and walk in 42 acres of land to find the tree, and you always did.
Then you had to decorate it. We never bought a thing of decoration. We had to make the decorations. We would sew popcorn together, sew popcorn and berries and things together, to make a streamer to put on it. Then we'd make paper things, we'd take paper and cut different designs out of the paper. We worked like dogs, there were three girls and two boys. The boys would do nothing, but the girls would make all the decorations for the tree.
We did not get electricity until I was 16. So up to that point we had to have candles to put on the tree. It was just candles. There as a clamp of some kind that held the candles to the tree. So we could not leave that tree alone, because we didn't want to set the house on fire. So "It's your job tonight, and it's YOUR job tonight" and that would be it. So we had to take care of that. And it was really kind of lovely, when I think of it. We never took a picture, but they were absolutely fantastic. The stuff that we would do to decorate that tree.
We always had parties to celebrate, would be Christmas eve. We had to have 12 dishes for the 12 apostles. We could not have meat on the night before Christmas because Christ was not born yet. So we'd have to have other things. So we would have concoctions - they were very tasty - some would be dessert, and some would be baked potatoes, carrots with something special on them - honey on them or something, and we'd always have Polish pirogies, galumpki, and pastry. You're supposed to have the food first, and then the pastry. But because my parents almost starved getting out of Europe, we were taught not to waste food. So whatever was on the table, we'd put a spoonful on our dish, just a little tiny spoonful, because if you took it you had to eat it. You're not going to waste food. So after we tasted it, then we'd fill our plates up, if it was something that we liked. You'd try everything, every little spoonful. You wouldn't want to have to eat it if you didn't like it. Then we'd always start stealing dessert, because the 12 dishes would part be dessert and part the meal. So we'd always be stealing the dessert. But it was Christmas so she wouldn't scold us, anything went on Christmas eve.
Then, after Christmas eve, on Christmas day, after I got to be 10, 12, they'd leave us alone for Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day. They'd roast us a pig. We'd have a small pig, roasted, and we were all allowed to bring one friend. My father explained, the first time we did this, that if we didn't do it well and behave, he would never do it again for us. They had a lot of friends in Worcester from Poland and Germany, they wanted to see them on Christmas day. So we'd have this pig on Christmas day, and there'd be 10 of us - 5 kids and 5 friends. And we'd have the roast pig, and a thousand other things with it, but mostly you'd love the pig. He'd lay there with the apple in his mouth, and you'd tear him apart, and really really enjoy it. Our friends all wanted to come, "Be sure to take me next Christmas! Be sure to take me next Christmas!" And this went on until we were chasing other men to marry them. We had a wonderful time until then.
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