January 29, 1930.

My dear Mr. Bachorowski:

It gives me great pleasure to tell you
all I remember of the early arrivals of Polish people on the
Naumkeag, but as the old time books were destroyed in the great
fire of 1914, I am obliged to rely on my memory and the re-
collections of some of my older executives for facts and names,
so you mustn't rely too much on the authenticity of what I write
of events so long passed.

As I recall the first Polish people to
be employed in the Mills arrived in Salem in 1890 - just about
40 years ago - coming from Webster and Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Carding Department in the less skilled operations, and as they
proved to be good workers, others were encouraged to move to
Salem, so that in a very short time there were thirty-five Polish
people employed in the Carding Room.

In a few years, after their industry and
application had been demonstrated, Polish men and women were
actively at work in all departments of the Mill and ranking well
with the best spinners and weavers. This efficiency has been
maintained to the present time.

The late 90's and the early years of this
century marked the arrival in Salem of many families coming direct-
ly from Central European Countries - Poland, Austria, Lithuania,
Russia - all generically called Polanders, and all naturally
settling in the immediate vicinity of fellow countrymen already
here.

As it happened the early arrivals found
domiciles on Derby Street, not far from where today the Hawthorne
Boulevard strikes that historic thoroughfare, and the abiding
place of later arrivals then, and for a good many years thereafter
centred around two ancient, and, at one time pretentious dwellings,
which had been divided up into small tenements. These two great
tenement houses were numbered 168 and 170, and for a long time,
indeed until their destruction, enjoyed a picturesque existence
as the "House of Blazes" and the "House of Damnation". I really
think these names were misnomers and the houses were dubbed so
by some joker - but anyway the names struck. To be sure there
were, in the natural order of things celebrations of marriages,
christenings, funerals there, and in those pro-volstead days, the

European disposition, so much more volatile than our colder
New England temperament, often lead to a hurry-up call for the
ambulance, a lot of sore heads, and possibly for somebody a day
or two in the "cooler". that was long ago and times have
changed! My Polish employees now are among the steadiest of
our workers - industrious, self-respecting citizens - worthy
members of the community.

From being the least skilled and lowest paid of
our operatives, the Polish people now rank with the best and
hold positions of responsibility and trust in every department
of the Mill, from the Opening Room to the Executive Offices

It is interesting to recall a few of the early
arrivals and the difficulty our overseers and foremen had in
comprehending the strange, and to them, grotesque and out-
landish names of the new employees. If the person could write
his name the problem was simple, otherwise the boss used a
phonetic spelling of his own, with the result that the payroll
was adorned with such names as Michael Goodwhiskey, Washington
Mazurkerwitz, Veronica Ryewhisky, or, in the event of utter
hopelessness in corraling the right name, the pay sheet would
come out bearing the names of Michael Poland and Felix Poland,
and of course the inevitable John Smith. Naturally in the
office these lapses in true names were picked up, and Mr. Simonds,
who was then the head Clerk, somehow or other dug out the correct
spelling.

Among these early operatives I recall the names
of Bik, Nowak. Rybicki, Smroczynski, Malinowski, Laskowski,
Chroniak, Kaminski, Dubiel, Piekos, Koialka, and there were
many others, whom I do not at the moment have in mind. Members
of all the above-named families worked in the Mill along about
1891, 1892, and 1893. Some of them are still faithful employees,
or the names have been perpetuated on the pay-roll by members of
their families - children and grandchildren.

From the first family, arriving less than forty
years ago, the number of Polish people has so increased, that now,
out of more than 1,600 employees, nearly one half are of that
nationality, or of direct decent from the original emigrants.

Outside the Mill, representatives of your people
have entered into every phase of our community life, the pro-
fessions - Medicine, law, accounting, banking, teaching - in
business, merchants, contractors, craftsmen, tradesmen - in
productive labor in all lines of work. They are represented in
the City Government and in the School Committee. In the schools
the children rank high - and just now in sports very high indeed.
Your people own houses and land, and pay taxes.

The Polish people have done well!

I cannot close these recollections of the early
Polish people in Salem without some mention of E. A. Yaskinski,
appeared at the Mill.

Mr. Yaskinski, a naturalized citizen, a Civil War
veteran and member of the Grand Army, kept a little old-fashion
tobacconist shop on Central Street, as I remember it, about where
No. 16 is to-day. It was a small shop, that one entered down a
step or two from the sidewalk, characteristic of a tobacconist
of those days - a little counter, a glass case or two, rows of
shelves, and stock of pipes, tobacco, cigars, snuff, matches,
perhaps (I'm not sure about this) a few packages of cigarettes -
Sweet Caporals. (In those days, forty years ago, cigarettes
were considered rank poison, and colloquially carried sinister
names - coffin nails, blood-suckers and the like. Times have
changed! At the back of the shop was a cigar maker's bench,
where Mr. Yasinski manufactured some very special cigars - I
forget the name. In later years Jesse Field worked for him and
perhaps subsequently carried on the business.

As you entered the door you were immediately struck
by the characteristic smell of an old time tobacconist shop - the
sweet fruity flavor of plug tobaccos, some of it beautifully
brown, some of it almost black and redolent of licorice and
molasses, the tangy smell of cigars and cedar, and the spicy odor
of the piles of raw weed and bunches of leaves for wrappers. On
the counter was a cutter with a levered handle, where customers
could have their smoking plug shaved for more handing pipe filling.
The black unctuous plug - eating tobacco - was cut from the
enormous flat "hand" into 5 or 10 cent pieces to meet the needs
of the customers. A limited number of pipes were displayed,
ranging from the common clay T D at a cent apiece to some very
good briars and meerschaums. Mr. Yasinski had a nice business,
which in those days was confined largely to regular customers -
that is the regulars furnished the backbone of the business -
transcient customers were incidental - and enjoyed the esteem and
confidence of everyone. He was particularly kind to the early
arrivals, about whom I have told you, and was of the greatest
assistance to them in those early years, when everything was so
new to them, the ways and language so strange. It was quite
natural that they should turn to a fellow countryman, who was so,
sophisticated, for information and advice - this he freely gave,
and became a real mentor to them, and I doubt not played a real
part in the establishment and building up of what is now an in-
tegral part of our historic city.

Very truly yours,
J. F. S.
[Subscription (recipient's name at foot of page)]

A. S. Buchorowski
259½ Essex St.,
Salem, Mass.

28 cm x 21.7 cm

From the J. Foster Smith and Josephine T. C. Smith papers