Religious Articles

When my great-uncle Patrick “Taddle” Craven was killed in action on October 1, 1918 in Apremont, France, he had several religious articles in his possession. Here is a photo of his rosary:


I recently came across something Dorothy Day had written about the rosary. It made me think of Taddle:

“I have said rosaries on picket lines and in prisons, in sickness and in health, and one of our friends who lost a leg in the Second World War said that he held fast to his rosary as he lay wounded on the battlefield, holding on to it as he was hanging on to life. In peace, working for peace, suffering for peace, and suffering in war, in times of joy and pain and terror, Mary has been Refuge of Sinners.”

My great-grandmother Marya Janicki (nee Rybinska) belonged to the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St. Hedwig’s parish in Wilmington, Delaware. Here is a photo of the Miraculous Medal she wore when attending Mass with the Sodality, a pious association that engaged in devotional and charitable activities.


The inscription in Polish is the traditional one of the Miraculous Medal. In English it reads, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee.”

Marya also had a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Patroness of Poland.


The Wikipedia article describes the image thus:

“The Virgin Mary is shown as the Hodegetria (‘One Who Shows the Way’). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the Child extends His right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of the Gospels in His left hand.”

Additional information is available here:

According to my Mom, Marya kept this picture hanging on her bedroom wall. Mom remembers seeing it there when she was a child. It was probably part of a calendar at one point. Here is what is written on the back:


Mom thinks it is a Christmas greeting from a missionary association.

Both the medal and the picture date from the 1940’s.

These religious articles are little reminders of what was important to Taddle and Marya, of where they found hope and strength. The beads are worn, the medal is scuffed, but the passage of time seems to add an extra layer of holiness to them.




My great-grandfather William Charles McDonald owned a hardware store in Philadelphia. The address was 933 South Street. He and his family lived on the property, moving in sometime between 1895 and 1900. They rented the property at first, and then bought it in 1904. It was sold in 1914.

This item from The Philadelphia Inquirer, dated Friday, January 3, 1902, reports that the store was burglarized. Two revolvers were taken.

About eleven years ago, there was a break-in at the bookstore where I worked. It’s not a good feeling – in the pit of the stomach – to see a smashed window and know that you’ve been robbed.

Accordion, pt. 2


Here is another photo of Bob Lazarowski with the accordion. Next to Bob is his cousin, Sr. Joan Ference, and his father, Joe Lazarowski. Joan’s brother Charles is in front. Christmas 1965.

I like it when people provide their own entertainment instead of watching something on TV.



My godfather Bob Lazarowski played the accordion. Bob was the son of Elva Ference and Joseph Lazarowski, Elva being the sister of my grandfather. Unfortunately, I don’t have any memory of meeting Bob. He was born September 2, 1937 and died in June of 1991.

The name of Bob’s dog was Thor.


Bob performed at least once at an amateur night concert. I don’t know the date of this clipping.


Here is a later photo of Bob, taken in 1956.


At the Shore


Here are a few pictures of my aunt, Ciocia Hattie, enjoying some time at the beach with her friends. Ciocia means “aunt” in Polish; it’s sort of pronounced chow-cha. Her actual name was Hedwig and she lived from 1919 to 1996.

Ciocia Hattie is on the right wearing a white dress. I am guessing the pictures were taken in the 1940’s at the Jersey shore. I can see a sign in the background that says Atlantic City Beach Patrol.



Compensation Case


When she was in her early twenties, my Aunt Eliza (Elizabeth Craven) worked in a textile mill in Williamstown, Pennsylvania. Her job title was “Examiner.” She injured her arm at work, and this newspaper clipping refers to her quest to obtain compensation. The clipping is from The Evening News (Harrisburg, PA) of June 10, 1922.

Here is a picture of Aunt Eliza from around that time:


I found a paper trail about the compensation case in the boxes kept by Grandmom (Eliza’s sister). The first is a doctor’s receipt:


Grandmom wrote a thorough letter to Uncle Marty (Martin Doyle) about the situation. She described it as a “long drawn out affair.” It really seems like it was an ordeal for Aunt Eliza. Grandmom mentioned that Eliza was “able to hold her own end with the different men who have interviewed her.” I can believe it: Aunt Eliza was a strong person. The stationery Grandmom used for the letter is presumably from the company she worked for as a secretary.




This letter from a lawyer is addressed to Aunt Eliza’s father. It pertains to the additional compensation she was seeking.


Here is a letter from the textile mills’ insurance company directing Aunt Eliza about getting a medical examination:


Finally, here is a letter from the Department of Labor, about two years after the injury occurred. I don’t know what the final outcome was regarding Aunt Eliza’s compensation case. Whatever it was, they made her work for it.





My great uncle, Patrick “Taddle” Craven, was killed in action during World War I. Above is the casualty report submitted by his captain. Taddle was a member of a machine gun battalion with the 28th Division.

I once tried to decipher the map coordinates to no avail. Below is a picture from the scrapbook my Grandmother made about Taddle. It is labeled “Apremont.” I wonder if it is a picture of where he was killed. I didn’t know Taddle died on the main street until I found this report. I always pictured it happening in a field or woods. Reflecting on his manner of death is sobering.


Taddle’s remains were later transferred to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France. He was brought back home to Williamstown, Pennsylvania in 1921, and laid to rest in Sacred Heart Cemetery. Many other members of the Craven family reside there, too.

Private Patrick Francis Craven. I think my Dad resembles him.