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The Magda family: From Poland to Detroit

Updated January 19, 2002

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Early in 1900's my Grandfather Jan Repec came to America but saw no opportunity and returned to Poland and then married my Grandmother Katarzyna Repec.
My Parents came here 12/10/1950 with my 2 oldest brothers as Displaced Persons Post WWII. The streets of America were not paved with gold or human kindness. My parents were placed on a farm in Yale MI to work as indentured servants. They found out about the Polish Immigration to Detroit and got permission to leave the farm and the Polish Detroit Catholic Churches found them a place to live in the unheated upstairs rooms of a school building. My brothers slept in dresser drawers and boxes. My 2nd oldest brother got pnuemonia and died in March 1951. There was no funeral. My Mom held his casketed body on her lap as they drove to the cemetary and they buried him.
They tried to return to Poland but had no money or resources. My Parents tell of stories of immigrants jumping off the Belle Isle bridge as they were destitute with no way out. Many men of families hung themselves and poisoned themselves as they figured that would be the best resolution: one less mouth to feed.
My Father finally got a factory job but had no transportation and had a hard time finding a way to work each day.
They finally scraped up enough money by 1960 to buy a house on a main street so my Dad could open his own business as his trade was a Cobbler, in Poland he used to make Ski boots that he custom made for Ski shops in Switzerland. Their old house still stands today on Chene St. in Detroit with the store front sign "Magda Shoe Repair".
I have a few cousins in Chicago that came from Poland in the 1970's otherwise everyone else is scattered post WWII in Europe and Austrailia.
The immediate family: my Parents and my brothers, cousins in Chicago and I have kept contact and visit each other occasionally as we all live in different states.
Ironic is the fact that my brothers and I have all had girls so the Magda name has ceased to descend!

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