Time Goes by so Fast

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My son, a Life-rank Boy Scout, Snellville, Georgia, June 2018

It has been several months since I last posted here on WordPress. It’s not for a lack of desire to write or post, but because the time goes by so fast and I’m very busy with life. It’s actually a good feeling to be busy because I know I’m using my time wisely and constructively. Being there as a support for my teenage son in all of his activities, and continuing my work as a counselor takes up most of my time. It’s all very rewarding and it’s great to enjoy this time in my life. Because the time goes by so quickly, I know it’s important to enjoy every moment as much as possible.

My son has accomplished some milestones in the past several months since I last posted. When he turned 15, he got his driver’s permit here in Georgia. Right now, he is actually very busy, so he has practiced driving very little. Of course, there is more of that to come. In Boy Scouts, he attended two leadership camps this past summer, including one at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It was a great experience for him. He also earned his Hornaday Badge Award and held his Honor Court for that in September. Now, he’s working on his Eagle project, and finishing up his last remaining Eagle-required merit badges. He really loves Boy Scouts and hopes to stick with it. School is also going well for him, and he is already a sophomore. I’m so proud of him! Indeed, the time goes by so fast!

North Collins, New York Photos from Yesteryear (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Recently, I was looking through photos of my relatives and ancestors, in order to show and explain to my son about some of his ancestral history.  There are many excellent original photographs that I have of people, and groups related to schools and Girl Scouts in North Collins, New York, where my grandmother, Bernice “Bernie” Gale (Briggs) Babcock-Sprague was raised by her parents, Clarence Briggs (of North Collins) and Julia (Gale) Briggs (of Hamburg, New York).  My grandmother was born in 1912 and died in 1987.

I also have many great original photos of people, and sports teams in Collins, Collins Center, and Gowanda, New York that I will provide in separate posts.  For now, please enjoy viewing these photos from yesteryear.  Please note that I have identified as many names of the people in the current photos as possible.

Bernice Briggs of North Collins, NY, Circa 1923

Bernice Briggs of North Collins, NY, Circa 1923

This is a photo of my grandmother when she was 11 years old.

Bernice (Briggs) and Charles A. Babcock, Gowanda, NY, 1933

Bernice (Briggs) and Charles A. Babcock, Gowanda, NY, 1933

This picture is of my grandparents after they were married.

Charles A., Bernice, & Bruce E. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1948

Charles A., Bernice, & Bruce E. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1948

This picture is of my grandparents with my dad when he was four years old.  My grandfather would have been 37 years old in this picture, and my grandmother, 36.  They waited until they were older before having a child.

View of Main Street, North Collins, NY, Circa 1920-1930

View of Main Street, North Collins, NY, Circa 1906

Here is a picture of Main Street in North Collins from 1906.  Notice the horse and buggy approaching from the far end of the road.

Second Grade Students at North Collins, NY One-Room Schoolhouse, 1920 (L to R-Charles Cocca, Bernice Briggs, Leona Reith, Daniel Mecca, Josephine Tempio, Naomi Heim, Georgia Butler)

Second Grade Students at North Collins, NY One-Room Schoolhouse, 1920 (L to R-Charles Cocca, Bernice Briggs, Leona Reith, Daniel Mecca, Josephine Tempio, Naomi Heim, George Butler)

This is my grandmother’s second grade class in North Collins, New York from 1920.  It was the end of the school year at the time this photo was taken.  They had school in a one-room schoolhouse.

Sunday School Class, N. Collins, NY, 1923 L to R-Mrs Whaley, Emogene Stearns, Lillian Burham, Marie Mackey, Wilma Mackey, Bernice Briggs, Grace Korthale, Marion North, Lorraine Tarbox

Sunday School Class, N. Collins, NY, 1923 L to R-Mrs Whaley, Emogene Stearns, Lillian Burham, Marie Mackey, Wilma Mackey, Bernice Briggs, Grace Korthale, Marion North, Lorraine Tarbox

This is a photo of my grandmother’s Sunday School Class in North Collins, New York from 1923.  She was 11 years old.  Notice that all of the girls are holding rabbits.  I believe they were rabbits from the teacher’s farm, where the photo was taken.  The teacher is identified as Mrs. Lee Whaley.

North Collins, New York First Grade Class with Miss Rockwell, 1918

North Collins, New York First Grade Class with Miss Rockwell, 1918

Here is a photo of my grandmother’s first grade class with Miss Rockwell in North Collins from 1918 or 1919.  My grandmother is seated at the far left row, in the third desk.

A listing of all but four of the the students in this photo includes the following: (Left to Right, Front to Back): First row: Doris Theil; Loretto Ognibene; Bernice Briggs; Naomi Heim; Joseph Diadoto.  Second row: Angeline George; John Alessi; Josephine Tempio; Daniel Mecca; Bertha -; Unknown name; Myrle Long.  Third row: Anthony Pelligrino; Elmer Bellanca; Joseph Musacchio; Carmella Cocca; Unknown name; Leonard Long; Harold Titus; Unknown name; Sam Agio; Charles Cocca; Sam Compisi; Ethel Valone; Dominic DeMaria.  Fourth row: Anthony Veccio; Woodrow Hunter; Jacob George; Peter Compisi; Milly Long; Unknown name; – Compisi.

North Collins, NY School 6th Grade Class, 1923

North Collins, NY School 6th Grade Class, 1923

Here, the 6th grade class of North Collins is pictured from 1923, with my grandmother seated in the middle row, at the far right.  All student in the photo are as follows: (Left to Right, Front to Back): First row: Daniel Mecca; Charles Cocca; Leander Russell; Woodrow Hunter; Jacob George; John Riefel.  Second row: Leona Reith; Elton Whaley; George Butler; Louis Taravella; Charles Pelligrina; Sam Compisi; Joseph Valone; Joseph Diadoto; Loretto Ognibene; Salvator Schillace; Paul Burgio; Bernice Briggs.  Third row: Wilma Mackey; Josephine Macaluso; Marie Ognibene; Nina LiVieeche; Catherine Compiere; Rose Veccio; Lee Percy; Genevieve Geiger; Anna Vara; Mary Thomas; Marion Mendola; Jennie Vara; Conqetta Savage.  The teacher, in the middle, back row is Elmer Stearns.

North Collins, NY High School 8th Grade Class, 1925

North Collins, NY High School 8th Grade Class, 1925

This photo is of the North Collins High School 8th grade class from 1925.  My grandmother is standing, just about in the center of the picture.  She was a top honor student all throughout her education.

Students in this picture are: (Left to Right, Front to Back): First row: Jacob George; Woodrow Hunter; Charles Pelligrina; Salvator Schillace; Jacob Scheflin; Sam Compisi; Elton Blakely; Leander Russell; Frederick Teltz; Harold Rebmann; Albert Smith. Second row: Wesley Herman; Elton Whaley; John Reifel; Nina LiVeeche; Catherine Compiere; Josephine Macaluso; Marguerite Lawton; Leona Reith; Bernice Briggs; Wilma Mackey; Madeline Thiel; Genevieve Geiger; Mary Thomas; Loretto Ognibene; Charles Cocca; George Butler; Daniel Mecca.  Third row: Mae Rehm (Teacher); Myrle Whaley; – Renaldo; Harlan Penharlow; John Ball; Joseph Diadoto; Louis Taravella.

North Collins, NY Girl Scout Troop 1, Circa 1927

North Collins, NY Girl Scout Troop 1, Circa 1927

And, how about this photo of the North Collins Girl Scout Troop 1 from about 1927.  My grandmother is standing in the rear at the right, next to the woman holding the trophy.

Pictured are, from left to right, front to back: First row: Jean Thiel; Doris Thiel; Edith Dickman; Margaret Ball; Dorothy Twichell; Jeanette Roeller; Rosemary Hewitt; Emogene Stearns.  Second row: Helen Ormsby; Delight Tice; Audrey Mitchell; Marguerite Lawton; Lillian Burnham; Marion North; Leona Reith; Pamelia Ormsby; Bernice Briggs; Jessie Walburg.  Third row: Josephine Tempio; Nine LiVieeche; Alice Butler; Elizabeth Thiel; Evelyn Ames; Dorothy Geiger; Genevieve Geiger; Marjorie Tarbox.

Source:

Family photos of Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague from 1918-1948.  Collins, New York.  Currently the Property of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014).  Snellville, Georgia.

“Poland and my Polish Heritage” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Four Generations of my Family, 2006

Four Generations of my Family, 2006

My grandparents (now deceased) on my mother’s side were pure-blooded Poles, having left Poland and immigrating to Germany before coming to Ellis Island around 1950.  My Polish-American grandmother was Władysława, or “Lottie,” and my Polish-American grandfather was Janek, or John.  I never knew either of my grandfathers as they both died before I was born.  Grandfather John died following a two year battle with cancer, possibly brought on by working with the many chemicals at the Tannery in Gowanda, New York, where he lived.  Both of my grandparents worked very hard to put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of four children, one being my mother.  Sometimes, my grandmother worked two or three jobs at a time, such as waitressing at a local restaurant and tending plants at a local nursery.

Life was not easy for my Polish-American grandparents who left Europe after World War II.  But, they left because they did not want to take the chance of experiencing another Great War, and they wanted better opportunities for their children.  After all, America was the country that was flowing with “milk and honey,” as they had heard.  For two people who did not have more than an elementary or middle school education, nor knew any English upon setting foot in the United States, they certainly worked hard and did the best they could.  Sponsorship of their family by cousins already in America helped pave the way for a different fate for their family than occurred for the siblings of my grandparents still in Poland.

My grandfather was one of about 10 children in his family.  I remember being told that his mother apparently told him when he was a young man that no woman would want to marry him because he had a glass eye.  In those days in Poland, being poor and having a disability meant having fewer opportunities, as well as potentially being a societal outcast.  When I think of such a statement, now, I think of how ridiculous it sounds, particularly with so many people who have disabilities making the best of their lives.

Me with the Drewin's, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Me with the Drewin’s, Krakow, Poland, 1992

My grandmother was the middle child in a family of three daughters.  Her sisters were Staca (pronounced “Stashia”) and Marianna.  Many years ago, Marianna visited and stayed with my grandmother for three months in the United States on a temporary visa.  And, many years following that, I had the privilege of studying at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and seeing her again!  As a senior at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, I participated in the popular study abroad program to the Jagiellonian University in 1992.

In the midst of studying intensive Polish language at the Jagiellonian – with the intention of being able to properly communicate with my Polish relatives in Poland – I sent a postcard to Marianna.  A few days later, Marianna and her family arrived at my dormitory building, surprisingly unannounced, and took me out for the day.  I then made plans to visit them for a weekend, and got to meet 15 of my Polish relatives in Poland, including Marianna’s family, the Drewin’s, who lived in Kielce.  It was wonderful to see and visit with them all, and to provide monies to them that I brought specifically for them from the family at home.

Jagiellonian University Study Group at Wawel Castle and Cathedral, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Jagiellonian University Study Group at Wawel Castle and Cathedral, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Studying in Poland at the Jagiellonian University was a wonderful experience.  If I could have the opportunity to do it all over again (and at the same age as I was at the time), I would.  Studying abroad in Poland was highly recommended to me by my fellow student colleagues who were members of the University at Buffalo Polish Club.  Many of them lauded praises about the program.  Because so many of them said such great things about their experiences, I decided to apply for the opportunity to go.  It was very exciting to be accepted into the program, and to have taken the opportunity to go there.

Tapestry in Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Tapestry in Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland, 1992

While in Poland, I did much sight-seeing with my English-speaking (mostly composed of Americans) study group at the Jagiellonian University.  We visited the historic Wawel Castle and Cathedral, the amazing Wieliczka Salt Mines, the religious pilgrimage destination of Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa,  and had regular opportunities to see Krakow’s St. Mary’s Basilica and visit Krakow’s main market square.

Entrance Building at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

Entrance Building at Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

On my own, I also traveled to and visited Berlin, Germany during one weekend; and with a student colleague, I went to Prague in the former Czechoslovakia, for another weekend.  On yet another weekend, the same student colleague and I visited Vienna.  I found Berlin to be a historic city, one in which a person could still obviously observe the differences between the former West and East Germanies.  And, Prague is just an amazingly beautiful and historic city, with many historic structures still standing, having not been demolished in previous wars.  Vienna was an incredibly beautiful city, also being extremely modernized and commercialized.

Life-size Madonna and Child Statue in Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

Life-size Madonna and Child Statue in Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland, 1992

I have many memories of my time spent studying abroad and travelling in Europe.  I had such a wonderful experience in studying abroad that I returned to Europe two years later.  At that time, I travelled with my mom through the British Isles, including England, Scotland, and Ireland.  Following that, I went solo, traveling through many European countries.

St. Mary's Basilica, Krakow, Poland, 1992

St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow, Poland, 1992

While in Europe in 1994, I used my Brit Rail and Eurail passes to travel by train, everywhere.  I traveled lightly with only a couple of bags, and remained in Europe for about one month.  In all, it was a fabulous experience, and I highly recommend it.  I would definitely do it all over again if I ever had the opportunity.

I am very proud of my family, my ancestors, and my Polish-American heritage.  While there are additional nationalities in my make-up from which I am descended, the Polish part of me is the strongest next to that of being American.  I am thankful that my Polish-American grandparents had the fortitude and courage to come to America, where they succeeded in creating a better life for their family, and their descendants to come.