Paul, the Polish Guy

Mama spoke Polish very well, in addition to several other languages.  It came in handy with our hired hand on the chicken farm.  His name was Paul, but we called him the “workingman” or the “Polish guy.”

Paul was a giant of a man, and the strongest person I ever knew.  He was stooped and completely bald.  There was the tiniest cap on his head whether it was the coldest day in winter or the hottest day in summer.  I don’t think the cap had ever been cleaned.  He always wore that cap, except when he ate.  At meals it was carefully placed on his lap. 

Paul ate with our family.  He especially loved Mama’s soups—chicken with lokshn (noodles), beef barley, lentil, borscht and Papa’s favorite—potato.  Mama saved the parsnip for Paul. 

When mama asked if he wanted more he always said, “No, thank you.” But Mama gave him seconds anyway.  He never left a drop of food in his special, over-sized bowl.

One day it was raining hard.  It was so muddy that the truck could not come near the brooder house and baby chicks were coming in.  The coop had to be cleaned out of the old litter and disinfected.  We shoveled the litter into burlap feed bags and Paul carried them out one under each arm, until the building was emptied.

Paul called Mama “Hrabina,” (the countess.) I remember, one day, overhearing Papa asking Paul why he called Mama the countess, and he said, “She speaks like a fancy lady.”