Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Family Treasure

This blog post is by Schenectady County Historical Society member Phyllis Zych Budka. Phyllis, along with Bernice Izzo, publishes the Project to Discover Schenectady County's Eastern European Roots newsletter which can be found at
Fig. 1 Honor Roll of St. Adalbert's
from unknown newspaper.

Opening a large plastic box from the attic, I steeled myself for the memories and emotions that would inevitably emerge.  I sat in the January sunshine and went page by page through my husband, Al’s St. Adalbert’s elementary school scrapbook and realized that it was both a family treasure and an historical document.

 As a scrapbook, it is amazingly complete.  Alfred John Budka (1936 – 1992) aka Freddie by family and Al by those who met him “after 7th grade,” was an only child.  His Mother, Henrietta, kept a record of Al’s kindergarten through 8th grade years at St. Adalbert’s elementary school in Schenectady, New York.  On Henrietta’s death in 1965, this scrapbook and many other family items, were boxed and stored.

 Al and I grew up in the same Mont Pleasant community, about a mile apart.  Al was more than 5 years older than I and 6 years ahead of me in St. Adalbert’s school.  I was surprised to find myself in his scrapbook in a few places: first, a newspaper article from ~1948 (Fig. 1) “Honor Roll Listed at St. Adalbert’s,” has the name Alfred Budka, grade 7, and me, with my surname misspelled, grade 1.  The picture in Figure 2 was taken about 1949, when Al was in 8th grade and I was in 2nd grade.  Also in the picture are my twin cousins, Gerard and Geraldine Zych, who were 2 years behind me in school.  Surrounding the children are the Sisters of the Resurrection, our teachers.  The picture was taken on the 3rd floor of the school building, the room which served as gym, theater, and the place of our wedding reception in 1964.

Fig 2. All grads of St. Adalbert's School from 1948.
As an historical document, this scrapbook describes the life not only of one person, Alfred John Budka, but also captures the life of the community in which Al and I grew up, a community which no longer exists.

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