Carl and Theresa Przybyszewski Klan
Carl and Theresa Klan interviewed on May 14, 2018
I spoke with Carl and Theresa Klan at their apartment at Sarah Reed Retirement Home. They are lifelong members of St. Stanislaus Church.
Theresa’s parents, Stanley and Anna Rydzewski Przybyszewski were born in Erie, and they made their home at 537 East 14th Street.
Both of her grandparents were born in Poland before settling in Erie.
Her paternal grandparents were Joseph and Mary Przybyszewski.
Theresa’s maternal grandparents were Francisczek Rydzewski and Teofila “Tillie” Kisielewski Rydzewski.
Her father, Stanley, worked at Odin Stove and at part-time jobs here and there.
Theresa had one brother, Bernard, and three sisters, Florence, Irene, and Otillia (Tillie.) (Theresa was born August 1, 1928.)
When they started school at St. Stan’s there was no kindergarten and they didn’t wear uniforms.
They were taught by the Sisters of Nazareth. The hardest nun was Sister Justa. Theresa had fond memories of Sister Ludwina in 3rd Grade. She was chubby and jolly. If you wrote too close the margins she would come over with her pencil and say, “kinky dinky!” You received a lot of 100’s from her! Theresa also remembers Sr. Ludwina would give them a huge jar of Kool-Aid that they would all drink out of.
At school, you learned to be good. The nuns were strict enough and scared all your bad habits away! And Theresa said she also had very good parents.
Theresa remembered being an angel in the school plays and playing hopscotch and jump rope with her friends. Her friends were Florence Loncki, Theresa Jaskiewicz, Doris Inter, Margie Janczewski, Sophie Tatara, and Theresa Malinski.
Some of the boys nicknames she knew were Baldy, Blacky, Nook and Silver. Also, Nookie for a girl.
Theresa’s neighbors were the Jakubowski’s, Filipkowski’s, Kruszewski’s, and Bielanin’s.
Her remembrances of St. Stan’s Church growing up was whether it was summer of not, they always had a First Friday Procession. Theresa and her sisters processed together, and their mother always had candy from Polaski’s for them after.
At the Novena to St. Theresa, the Church was always full, and it was beautiful! On the last day of the Novena, they gave out roses.
The neighborhood had her favorite corner stores and bakeries. Mendelewski’s had a little bit of everything. When flannel came in, everybody came to shop. She remembers Mrs. Mendelewski had a wig that shifted!
Polaski’s had candy, eight or nine for a penny! Theresa thought someday she would have a whole nickel for a candy bar!
Walter’s Bakery was delicious and at Star Bakery, when that fresh bread came out of the oven, boy what a beautiful smell!
Theresa’s family didn’t have Christmas Wigilia, just Easter Swieconka. All her Christmases were special. The children didn’t receive many gifts, maybe just a coloring book and crayons to share, but they didn’t mind.
Theresa attended Academy High School after her family moved to 23rd and Wallace. Her first job was at Erie Laundry folding laundry for $14 a week. It was the other side of the tracks between Ash and Reed. It was very hot work, and Haibach’s Meats were behind them. The smells!
Carl Klan was born on October 27, 1928 and was grew up at 606 East 12th Street. His parents were Antoni and Helen Rybinski Klan. He had a brother Joe (who directed a band,) and sisters, Mary (organist at St. Stan’s,) Helen, Ann, Hedwig, and Cecelia (who was handicapped.)
Carl worked at U.S. Printing and Lithograph as a dot etcher. He was also a wonderful landscaper. He decorated for Fr. Bernie Urbaniak’s first Mass and also for Fr. Cas Wozniak’s first Mass at St. Stanislaus. Carl was very active in the church. He and Theresa also sang on the Choir.
Carl and Theresa were married on August 6, 1955 at St. Stanislaus Church. There were also two other weddings on that day. Their wedding was officiated by Msgr. Stanczak and Carl’s Uncle, Fr. Rybinski. The reception was held at the Polish Foresters Club.
Carl and Theresa lived on 11th Street for fifty-eight years, in a beautiful four-bedroom brick home. They are the loving parents of Susan, Barbara, and Christopher, all adopted from St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Sadly, they had to move from their home to an apartment after several break-ins.
Theresa and Carl loved attending daily Mass at St. Stan’s and led the Rosary on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Theresa would hate to see the old ways die out; she especially loves all the Polish songs.
Carl is now suffering from dementia but is devotedly cared for by his wife Theresa and their children. Carl still has a great sense of humor and entertained me with his jokes.
Theresa affectionately said that Carl never lost his religion and remembers all the songs and prayers. He is a wonderful man and father.
It was an honor getting to know and interview these wonderful people!
Trybuna Polska Newspaper clippings