I’m not scheduled for another post until next week, but I just had to share this.
What a joy it was to find a Farm and Dairy article in my Google alerts last week about one of the cowboys I interviewed in 2006 who made a return trip to Poland in November. Ralph Witmer, at age 88, was able to return to Gdansk with his son and grandson and revisit the place where he had delivered livestock on the S. S. Beloit Victory in December of 1946.
Ralph had one of the more challenging trips, as he and four of his fellow cowboys missed their ship home and had some tense times in Poland before finally catching another ship, very near the end of the UNRRA shipping program. You can read the article HERE.
Of particular interest to me in the article is the last picture showing the Witmers and a group of people from the surprise reception given the Americans. When you look at the article, the blond woman in the pink coat in the second row and the brunette to her left are Grace and Magda, respectively, who were my contacts when I visited Poland in 2013. Magda and Grace were so taken with the copies of photos from seagoing cowboy albums I had with me for the purpose of finding the locations in the photos that they arranged for a newspaper article about my collection while I was there.
The two women are working on plans for a photo exhibition of these post-WWII images of Gdansk and hoping to find the funding to carry it out. So, maybe one day, in the hopefully not too distant future, I’ll be making a post about an exhibition of seagoing cowboy photos in Poland! I’m guessing that Magda and Grace were extremely excited to meet one of these cowboys.
How exciting for Ralph, Grace, Magda and you!
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To be sure!
Thank you, Peggy – and thanks for the link to the article.
You’re welcome! Just talked with Ralph on the phone. What an incredible experience he had!
Dear Peggy, That was a great story you shared about Ralph Witmer and his return to Poland. Ralph is an uncle to my daughter-in-law, Donna Witmer Souder. I met Ralph at Donna’s wedding many years ago. Small world. A blessed Christmas to you and family. Eugene Souder
Yes, it IS a small world! Glad you enjoyed the story and found a personal connection to it — besides that of being a seagoing cowboy yourself!