History of Dinners

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The association’s first Kosciuszko-Washington dinner dance was held at the Embers Convention Center in Carlisle during the presidency of Ron Skubecz on Saturday, February 5, 1983. Eleanore (Dzienkiewicz) Kolasheski, who with her husband owned the Rekord Printing and Publishing Company in Shamokin, was the dinner speaker. Proceeds were used to subsidize the club’s aid to Poland fund. Tickets cost $15.00 for the dinner and dance and $5.00 for the dance only.

Ray Bobinski chaired the committee and Lorraine Buchinski handled publicity. This event was a fund-raiser to aid relief efforts during the Solidarity movement. Newspaper articles about the club’s role in sending shoes and other supplies to Poland generated gifts from individuals and organizations. The newsletter of March 10, 1983 acknowledged a gift of $190 from Pennsylvania American Legion Adjutant Edwin T. Hoak.
Attendance at the dance exceeded 200. Those who helped with ticket sales for first Kosciuszko-Washington dinner-dance included Mary and John Lefkowski, Ron Skubecz, Faye and George Tomczak, Jo Blake, John Garcy, Nina and Leonard Konikiewicz, Mary Berdanier, Al Kwiatek, Bud Budzinski, and Mary and Joe Ferrer.
Ray Bobinski organized another fundraiser on Sunday, September 18, 1983. The Pulaski Day observance featured a Mass in Polish at St. Catherine Laboure Church at 3:00 p.m. sung by Jan Lewan accompanied by the Denny Hardock Orchestra. A dance followed the Mass. Attendance exceeded 200. Ray Bobinski was the organizer. Net profit was $206.

The Second Annual Kosciuszko-Washington Dinner celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Polish Cultural Association was held on Saturday, February 25, 1984 at the Embers in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. John Kundrat was the toastmaster. Vicepresident George Tomczak led the pledge of allegiance and the Polish national anthem. Monsignor Matthias Siedlecki, who drove 70 miles from Kulpmont to attend, offered grace. Chet Comstock, managing partner of Modjeski & Masters, presented the keynote address entitled “Ralph Modjeski, World’s Leading Bridge Builder.” Another partner in the firm, T. Robert Kealey, who had met Ralph Modjeski, also attended. Attendance was 75. An article and photo about the dinner appeared in the Harrisburg Sunday Patriot News, February 26, 1984.
Besides the speech on Ralph Modjeski, Jim Zoll presented a talk on Kosciuszko. Past president Gene Urbanski discussed the history of the association. John S. Kundrat was the master of ceremonies. Rita Krantz received the annual award at the 10th anniversary dinner. Krantz, who worked in public relations for Bell of Pennsylvania, was recognized for her steadfast efforts in gaining publicity and placing stories in the dailies Harrisburg Patriot and Evening News and the weeklies The Paxton Herald and The Guide.

Paul Beers of the Harrisburg Patriot interviewed Ron Skubecz and Tom Duszak in January 1985 in a restaurant near 3rd and North streets across the street from the William Penn Museum, then called the State Museum, in Harrisburg. During conversation over cheeseburgers and coffee, the threesome discussed the Poles of the diaspora who had settled in Harrisburg.
Beers’s column in the Patriot on Monday, February 11, 1985, page C6 discussed the Third Annual Kosciuszko-Washington Dinner, the annual Christmas and Easter dinners, and the spring program on the life of actress Helena Modrzejewska (1840 – 1909). Beers wrote that, at the turn of the century, the Pennsylvania legislature adopted a resolution that stated “an ignorant and vicious class of immigrants” constitute “a great and growing evil.” Beers wrote: How wrong that was. The Poles ever since probably have had the lowest crime rate in the state. What ethnic group has ever worked harder and been better citizens than these friendly, courteous people?
The Third Annual Kosciuszko-Washington Dinner held at the Excellent Inn (later renamed The Arches) on North Front Street in Harrisburg on February 16, 1985 featured John Berta, Ph.D., who spoke on the historical connection between “Poland and Slovakia.” Marilyn Sitko, Ron Skubecz, Lorraine Buchinski, and Nina Konikiewicz were the dinner committee. Monsignor Matthias Siedlicki offered grace before the meal and Father Walter Sempko gave the benediction.

The Kosciuszko-Washington Dinner held in 1992 was erroneously called the Third Kosciuszko-Washington Dinner. Seventy members and guests attended the dinner at the Hershey Motor Lodge on Tuesday evening, Februrary 18, 1992. See the Hummelstown Sun, Wednesday, February 12, 1992. Father Robert Schwartz of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Polish National Catholic Church offered grace and benediction. Photo of Secretary Zazyczyny, Ingrid Kwiatek, and six children of members appeared in the Pol-Am Journal, May or June 1992.
Al Kwiatek presented a reminiscence of the role of the Polish Cultural Association in south central Pennsylvania. Heather Simoni, daughter of Suzanne Witkoski Simoni, spoke on the life of General Kosciuszko. The Honorable Joseph L. Zazyczny, secretary of administration in Governor Casey’s cabinet spoke on Polonian heritage. His wife, Martha, also attended. The program committee was Rita Krantz, Helen Wachter, and Suzanne Simoni and her sister, Catherine Wineski.
President Duszak gave special recognition to the following members as pillars of the association: Wanda Arecki, Stanley and Paula Barski, Michal and Anna Barta, Mary Berdanier, Ernie and Jo Blake, Ray Bobinski, Lorraine Buchinski, John Garcy, Felix and Jane Kadel, Henia Kania, Paula Kline, Hilda Klosowski, Alice Korsgen, Jozefa Kowaleski, Rita Krantz, Alan Kubarek, Lottie Kundrat, Al Kwiatek, Teresa Malesic, Walter and Connie Mattson, Helen Novakowski, Johanna Petrilak, Irene Petrina, Bill and Mary Jane Przybyla, Gertruda Salkaj, Irene Setlak, Ron Skubecz, Eugene Urbanski, Helen Wachter, Marcella Wall, Wojciech Wyczalkowski, Al Zawadski, and Virginia Zoll.
President Duszak greeted Shippensburg University education professor and member Jane Urbanowicz at the Pulaski Day Dinner held at the Harrisburg Marriott on Tuesday, October 20, 1992. Professor Urbanowicz’s address, “Sharing Our Children’s Heritage: From Princesses to Potatoes,” focused on Polish and Polish American themes in children’s literature. Attendance was 45.
The association presented the Henryk Sienkiewicz trilogy to Thais Gardy, who accepted the gift books on behalf of the West Shore Public Library located in Camp Hill. Father Robert Schwartz, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Polish National Catholic Church, said grace and offered the benediction.
Helen Wachter and Suzanne Simoni designed the program. An article about the dinner appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot on Wednesday, October 21, 1992, p.B7, and a photo of Professor Urbanowicz and three children appeared in the November 5, 1992 issue of the Shippensburg News Chronicle. Another photo in the January 16, 1993 issue of Rola Boza, the newspaper of the Polish National Catholic Church, featured Father Robert Schwartz, Mary Jane Urbanowicz, Thais Gardy, and Al Kwiatek.

The Polish American Association celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Kosciuszko-Washington Dinner on Thursday evening, February 10, 1994 at the Hershey Motor Lodge and Convention Center. Attendance was 46. Governor Casey’s secretary of administration Joseph L. Zazyczny substituted as the main speaker in place of State Representative Gerard Kosinski who was stranded at home in Philadelphia because of inclement weather. Zazyczny enthralled the audience with his insight about Polonia and state government. He recalled that his mentor in politics was Philadelphia attorney and state legislator, Walter S. Pytko, who served in the Senate of Pennsylvania from 1935-1938.
The photograph of eight women from the association–Anna Tulli, Dorothy Hess, Marcella and Carolyn Wall, Gertruda Salkaj, Paula Barski, Helen Wachter, Irene Petrina–appeared in the Hummelstown Sun on March 16, 1994. The dinner committee was Al and Ingrid Kwiatek, Ed and Rhoda Ziober, Tony Miscavige, and Florence Z. Keating.
The program, which included the biographies of Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817) and artist Anna Bilinska (1857-1893), was dedicated to Secretary Zazyczyny and Leo Jankowiak, Polish commissioner, Pennsylvania Heritage Affairs Commission. Dinner patrons included Felix and Jane Kadel, Ron and Maryann Skubecz, Irene A. Petrina, Arthur and Martha Wrzesiniewski, Lorraine Buchinski, Michael and Debra Dymkowski, Ed and Rhoda Ziober, Chester Duszak, and Frances Murawski.

The Kosciuszko-Washington Dinner 1995 at the Hershey Convention Center on Thursday, February 23 paid tribute to Nobel Prize laureate, Marie Sklodowska Curie. President Duszak led the singing of the Polish national anthem, “Jeszcze Polska Nie Zginęła”. Irene Setlak recited the pledge of allegiance and offered grace. Ray Clodoveo provided musical entertainment during the dinner. Anthony Miscavige, Sr. extended greetings from the Area Polish Cultural Club in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. The club’s president, Jan Grassa, also attended. Ed Ziober helped organize the dinner.
Carolyn Wall, Anna Matejko Tulli, and Irene Setlak read passages from Madame Curie: A Biography. Written by Eve Curie, Marie Curie’s daughter, in 1937, this book was the number three bestseller in the United States in 1938. Besides English, this book has been translated in braille, German, Polish, Portuguese, and other languages.
Madame Marie Curie (1867-1934) was the youngest of five children of Władysław and Bronisława Boguska Skłodowski. Maria Skłodowska and her husband, Pierre Curie, discovered polonium in 1898. They also discovered radium in 1898. Madame Curie shared the Nobel Prize in physics with Pierre in 1903 and won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1911.
Lorraine Buchinski presented a eulogy for past president, Jo Blake, who died October 13, 1994. President Duszak presented the Distinguished Service Award to retired Pennsylvania State Police Major Albert F. Kwiatek, Sr. The Honorable Ed Krebs, state representative from Lebanon, recognized the service of Al Kwiatek to the association.

The citation read:
Whereas, the Polish American Association of Harrisburg, Inc. is celebrating its annual Kosciuszko-Washington Dinner at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center on Thursday evening, February 23, 1995;
Whereas, the association has honored its members over the years, including Jo Blake, Ron Skubecz, Gene Urbanski, Rita Krantz, and Helen Wachter, for distinguished service;
Whereas, Albert F. Kwiatek, Sr., a resident of Palmyra, has been the backbone of the association for the last ten years, serving as an officer and member of the board of directors and editor of its newsletter;
Whereas, Mr. Kwiatek has been involved in every activity of the association, including its Polish language classes, its annual Christmas and Easter dinners, its participation in the International Festival at the Harrisburg Area Community College, its displays during Polish American Heritage Month in the Capitol Rotunda, and its sale of Polish and Polish-American books;
Whereas, Mr. Kwiatek is a gifted painter, adept sailor, and inveterate author of numerous letters on the subjects of freedom and liberty to the editors of the Harrisburg Patriot and the Baltimore Sun;
Whereas, Mr. Kwiatek is the loving spouse of Ingrid, a Swedish-American, and has helped her with many hundreds of hours of volunteer work in a labor of love in organizing the activities of Vasa Order of America, the Swedish-American fraternal society;
Whereas, Mr. Kwiatek has experience as an entrepreneur, having operated a gift shop where he and Ingrid sold Polish and German gifts and crafts;
Whereas, Mr. Kwiatek, a retired officer of the State Police, has been an excellent role model for his son, Al, Jr., who has followed him in this career and who is currently an active member of the State Police;
Now, therefore, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania honors Al Kwiatek, Sr. for his dedicated service and recognizes him for his achievements in receiving the Distinguished Service Award of the Polish American Association of Harrisburg, Inc.

Publicity included Kwiatek’s photo in the Lebanon Daily News, March 6, 1995, p.7, and the photo of Kwiatek, Ed Ziober, and Tony Miscavige in Zgoda, Polish National Alliance monthly from Chicago, on April 15, 1995. The photo of Kwiatek and Krebs appeared in the Polish American Journal, April 1995, p.11.

Pulaski Day Dinner 1996 during the presidency of Tony Miscavige at Harrisburg Sheraton East on Thursday, October 3, 1996 featured Chet Grabowski, editor, Post Eagle (Clifton, New Jersey) as the main speaker. Among the attendees was Mount Carmel native and historian, Ed Pinkowski.

Pulaski Day Dinner 1997 during the presidency of Tony Miscavige at the Arches Restaurant on Saturday, October 11 featured Sam Hayes, secretary of agriculture in the cabinet of Governor Tom Ridge. Secretary Hayes discussed the administration’s initiatives to promote Pennsylvania-Poland commerce in the field of food processing. On the topic of fruit cultivation in Poland, Secretary Hayes noted that the Polish apple crop was as good as that of any country. Dairy farming in Poland, however, was in need of advanced technology and breeding to improve the livestock. The legs and udders of the cows are too short for bountiful milk production. Secretary Hayes has led more than ten trade missions to Poland.

Pulaski Day Dinner 1998 at the Arches Restaurant on Tuesday, October 13 featured Boguslaw Majewski, minister-counselor at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, D.C.

Pulaski Day Dinner 1999 at the Arches on Thursday, October 28 featured Edward T. Giller. Giller worked for Pentor Communications International, the publisher of the Warsaw Voice.

Pulaski Day Dinner 2000 during the presidency of Bo Mangam was held at the Arches Restaurant on Tuesday, October 10. The guest speaker was Czeslaw Karkowski, senior editor at the New York daily newspaper Nowy Dziennik and professor of sociology and philosophy at Mercy College in New York. Attendance was 40.

Pulaski Day Dinner 2001 at the Arches Restaurant on Friday, October 12 again featured Joseph L. Zazyczny as the main speaker. Norman Kee introduced the speaker. Also, two Polish commercial economic advisors from New York attended.

Pulaski Day Dinner 2002 at the Arches Restaurant on Friday, October 4 featured Peter Obst, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation, whose speech was entitled “Pulaski and Modjeski: Two Icons in Polish-American History.” Obst had recently published a translation of a monograph about Ralph Modjeski (1861-1940), one of the founders of the internationally-known civil engineering firm Modjeski & Masters. His book is entitled “A Man Who Spanned Two Eras,” a translated and revised edition of Jozef Glomb’s “Czlowiek z Pogranicza Epok” published in Warsaw.
The program for Pulaski Day Dinner 2002 noted that General George Washington met Casimir Pulaski at the Moland House located on Old York Road in Warwick Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania in August 1777. The Moland House, in process of restoration as of October 2002, is situated 20 miles north of City Hall in Philadelphia and seven miles southeast of the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa near Doylestown.
On Sunday, August 11, 2002, to mark the 225th anniversary of the meeting of Washington and Pulaski at the Moland House, a plaque was dedicated by historian Edward Pinkowski. Other Polish-Americans, including Peter Obst, Walter and Florence Lasinski, and Ed Dybicz, were present. Ed Pinkowski researched the Washington-Pulaski meeting and composed and sponsored the plaque which reads:
On August 20, 1777, while the main body of Washington’s army was encamped around this stone dwelling on Little Neshaminy Creek, a Polish nobleman, born Kazimierz (Casimir) Pulaski in Warsaw, Poland, on March 6, 1745, arrived and presented a letter from Benjamin Franklin to General Washington, whom he met for the first time, offering to fight and die for American freedom. Pulaski also delivered a letter to Lafayette, who had recently joined the encampment where he received the rank of general, from his wife in France. The following day Washington and Lafayette both wrote letters of introduction here for Pulaski to take to the Continental Congress which, several weeks later, appointed him the first general of the cavalry forces. The Polish general lost his life on October 15, 1779, six days after he was wounded in the siege of Savannah, Georgia (gift of Edward Pinkowski, August 2002).

Pulaski Day Dinner 2003 at the Harrisburg-Hershey Marriott on Lindle Road near I-283 on Saturday, October 11 featured Dr. Stanley Glod, Esq., vice-president for Central Europe at the Boeing Company. His primary responsibility is government relations for eleven countries in Europe. Fluent in Polish and Ukrainian, Dr. Glod studied law at Georgetown University and received the doctorate in international and comparative law following studies at the University of Munich and the Ukrainian Free University.
Dr. Glod’s speech was entitled “New Europe vs. Old Europe: Pulaski’s Legacy for Poland’s New Partnership with America.” Dr. Glod discussed Poland’s role in NATO and European Union. Poland played a key role for admission of the Baltic countries, Slovakia, and Romania into NATO. Poland’s size, demographics, and stability serve as an example for other Central and Eastern European countries in their political and economic development.
Citing General Electric chairman and chief executive officer, Jeffrey Immelt, Glod noted that investors are searching for countries in the New Europe with a developed infrastructure, educated workforce, and stable currency. Poland meets these requisites. President Mangam acknowledged the help of Norman and Pat Kee, Agata Czopek, Meredith Poole, Bill Boshinski, and Dave Mangam in organizing Pulaski Day Dinner 2003.

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