Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and America

Growing up in a Polish neighborhood in Chicago, I  heard a lot about the people of the Tatra Highlands, the Górals; and sadly much that I heard was disparaging.  My neighbors were mostly from the north and east of Poland, and they felt that only the Poles from those region were true Poles.  According to them, the Górals  were uncouth, uneducated, and unwashed.  (Interestingly, my neighbors also didn't have much good to say about the people of Warsaw!  But that's another story.)

Thaddeus Gromada, a retired professor of European History and one of the great authorities on Tatra Highlander culture, has written a book that sets the record straight on the Górals.

The book consists of a series of short, very readable essays on the people of the highlands, their history and their ways and what happened to them when they came to America.  A number of these essays talk about Prof. Gromada's own roots in the highland.

I was especially interested in the memoiristic pieces about growing up in a Polish American home where the old traditions were still carried on.  

And I'm not the only one who likes the book.  Here's a blurb from Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Advisor.

A sentimental and illuminating collection of insights about  a unique mountain region of Poland which pulsates with invigorating mountain air, native patriotism, regional culture, distinctive traditions, and physical beauty characteristic both if its landscape and of its people.  Engaging to read, educational to absorb, it is the product of genuine scholarship and personal affection on part of its editor, a distinguished Polish-American educator with deep family roots in the Tatra Highlands.”


About the author

Thaddeus V. Gromada received his Ph.D. in East Central European History at Fordham University. He is currently Professor Emeritus of European History at New Jersey City University.  From 1991 to 2011 he served as Executive Director of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America (PIASA) and from 2008 to 2011 was also its President.  Editor and contributor of several books and author of many articles in scholarly journals dealing with Polish-Czech-Slovak relations, Immigration and Ethnic History of the U.S., and Polish Tatra folk culture. He is the founder and co-editor with his sister Jane Gromada Kedron of The Tatra Eagle (Tatrzański Orzeł). Elected honorary member of the Związek Podhalan (Highlanders Alliance) in Poland as well as in America. In 2000 he received the Commanders Cross of Merit from the President of Poland

Order books at 30% discount directly from Tatra Eagle Press: 31 Madison Ave, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604.  Sale price:  $10. Plus $2.50  Total; $12.50. Make checks payable to “Tatra Eagle Press”   Tel. 201 288-3815 or 336-940-5656 
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The book is also available through Amazon.  Click here.

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