As delegates started to arrive at the Wyndham Hotel on Wednesday, August 11, a constantly changing weather pattern also arrived and started to make life interesting with intermittent downpours throughout the weekend. On Thursday the convention opened with a welcome by ACPC President Tom Payne, presentation of colors, the national anthems of Poland and the United States sung by Margaret Gowaty, and an invocation by the Rev. Canon Philip Majka.
American Council for Polish CulturePittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 10 - 13, 2016
68th Annual Convention
Group Picture ACPC 68th Annual Convention on Mt. Washington overlooking the city
ACPC President Tom Payne is at center in red shirt with white eagle
(photograph taken by Dave Motak during group tour of the city)
U.S. Representative Timothy F. Murphy (R 18th District PA) delivered the keynote address. The son of Irish and Polish parents, he addressed the relations between Poland the United States and the strong bond that links the two countries. Following him was Pittsburgh City Council Member Natalia Rudiak who made everyone feel at home when she spoke about her Polish upbringing in Pittsburgh. Second generation Polish, she has shown potential for an outstanding political career.
After the morning business session that day Professor Oscar Swan gave the luncheon presentation on his book Kaleidoscope of Poland: A Cultural Encyclopedia which list all kinds of interesting and little known facts about Poland. It was a fascinating presentation, though some of the little known facts were already well known to this audience.
That evening's dinner was at the glass enclosed gazebo-like Schenley Park Cafe located several blocks from the Wyndham Hotel and the University of Pittsburgh main campus and near the beautiful grounds of Phipps Conservatory. In keeping with the evening's theme, Dave Motak created interesting centerpieces featuring portraits of famous Polish composers and recordings of Polish classical music, compliments of Debbie Majka, provided a delightful accompaniment to the meal.
The dinner was followed by a musical performance at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium by this year's Sembrich Award Winner, Rachel Ackerman, Coloratura Soprano, accompanied by Eunae Ko Han on the piano. It is a shame that more persons could not have heard her very spirited and highly polished performance.
The program started with the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's Magic Flute, progressed through short works by Szymanowski, Moniuszko, Gunod and Verdi, finishing with three selections from the American musical theater - Lerner-Lowe, Rogers-Hammerstein, and Leonard Bernstein. Musically, it was a delightful and very satisfying evening. Many thanks to Wanda O'Brien Trefil Ph.D., the outgoing chair of the Kochanska-Sembrich Committee for her excellent work in organizing the concert and publicizing the Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Vocal Competition over the last few years.
On Friday morning Mary Lou Ellena, former high school teacher, presented on writing project that she accomplished with her students, a book titled Polish Hill Remembered. The book is based on the lives of people who lived on Polish who were interviewed by the student research team. The book is an illustrated remembrance, not a history, a walk down memory lane. Mary Lou also encouraged Convention delegates to consider doing a similar project in their communities.
After the business session, our Pittsburgh host Dave Motak coordinated a "Polish Picnic" on the Terrace of the Wyndham Hotel. This special event featured a "make your own" chlodnik bar, various pierogi and golabki donated by Mrs. Helen Mannarino, owner of Pierogies Plus in McKees Rocks, PA, as well as kielbasa grilled by the hotel chef. We then spent the afternoon touring the city. Our group first visited the Cathedral of Learning, an ornate, forty-two story Gothic revival landmark that was literally next door to our hotel. The Cathedral of Learning is the University of Pittsburgh's main administrative building. Here our group participated in a walking tour to view the various Nationality Classrooms endowed by local ethnic groups. The high point of the visit to this truly magnificent building was, of course, the Polish Room. Dating to 1940 and reflecting various elements of Wawel Castle, the room features stained glass windows with Polish University coats of arms and a large replica of the 16th-century Jagiellonian Globe, one of the oldest existing globes to depict North America as a separate continent. The Polish Room also features a reproduction of Jan Matejko's famous painting Copernicus, and the original Paderewski score for the opera Manru. The cornerstone of the Polish classroom is a fragment of Gothic cornice preserved from Collegium Maius, the oldest building of Jagiellonian University, dating back to the 14th century.
Dave then led delegates on a bus tour that went through the Strip District and Polish Hill with a stop at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. St. Stan's was damaged in the 1930s when a banana storage warehouse across the street suffered an explosion of "ripening gas" (ethylene) and tons of yellow fruit went flying in the direction of the church at Mach 2 speed, destroying the domes of the two church towers and damaging a large part of the building. Over eighty years after this event, St. Stan's parish is still dealing with the structural damage caused by this explosion.
Intermittent rain interfered with the tour which concluded on Mount Washington overlooking the city and the confluence of the rivers Allegheny and Monongahela into the Ohio River. This is an unique and fabulous view of the city and many photographs were taken as souvenirs.
In addition to being exposed to the wonderful Pitt Campus and the smoke-less atmosphere of a post-industrial Pittsburgh, along with its rich immigrant culture, the conventioneers managed to finish up quite a few important pieces of business.
Discussions centered on finances and ongoing programs as well as the challenges of extending membership and various reports were given. Cecilia and Ray Glembocki made a presentation on the last NCSS conference in New Orleans and spoke about the next one to take place in Washington, D. C. Henrietta Nowakowski reported that no one has yet taken up the research grant for the Jamestown Strike of 1619. Marion Winters related the results of the Pulaski scholarship selection. This year, another five outstanding post-graduate students of Polish descent received a $5,000 grant each. Details may be found on the ACPC website.
In addition, the convention voted for ACPC to support the creation of a "National Museum of the American People" to be built in Washington D.C. This support is not linked to any mandatory financial donation.
Elections were concluded for the empty slots on the board and several committees; a general election is scheduled for the next convention. Every effort is being made to communicate our mission and events to the world through the ACPC Internet Site and Facebook. Among the resolutions was mention of the fact that historian Edward Pinkowski, one of the founders of the Philadelphia affiliate, the Polish Heritage Society, would reach age 100 in August 2016.
At the awards banquet, held at the hotel, Maestro Adrian Sylveen could not be present to accept the Cultural Award or his great service and musical accomplishments. Jaroslaw Golembiowski accepted in his place. The Distinguished Service award was presented to Dr. Oscar Swan for his many years of teaching Polish literature, culture and cinema. This University of Pittsburgh professor, is not of Polish descent, but learned to love Poland though his studies and travels there. The ACPC Founders Award recipient was Marie Hejnosz, past president of the Polish Heritage Society of Philadelphia for her many years of active service, especially in organizing the Styka Art Exhibit at the National Shrine of Czestochowa in Doylestown, PA. Present at the banquet, and sharing the moment, were her husband Andrzej and son Alexander.
The banquet closed the Pittsburgh convention on an upbeat note. All agreed that the Convention Committee had done an outstanding job on organizing the event. Many thanks to Dave Motak for being the "local host" in Pittsburgh and creating a really beautifully designed color program book. Now the organization needs someone to show similar initiative and drive to facilitate our 2017 ACPC convention.
by Jackie Kolowski
1. The 2016 Convention Program
2. Singing the National Anthem - (l. to r.) Natalia Rudiak,
Tom Payne, Margaret Gowaty (leading)
3. Congressman Timothy F. Murphy
and Cecilia Glembocki
4. Mary Lou Ellena with "Polish Hill" book
5. (l. to r.) Ann Bankowski, Richard Lapham, Richard Larkin, Cecilia Larkin, Fr. Phillip Majka
6. (l. to r.) - Natalia Rudiak, ACPC President Tom Payne, Congressman Timothy F. Murphy, Debbie Majka
7. Cecilia Glembcki, Representative Timothy F. Murphy, Barbara Lemecha, Jackie Kolowski
8. Sembrich Concert - accompanist Eunae Ko Han, Jaroslaw Golembiowski, singer Rachel Ackerman,
Wanda O'Brien Trefil Ph.D, Alicia Dutka, ACPC President Tom Payne
11. Dr. Oscar Swan and Barbara Lemecha
9. Dr. Oscar Swan receives award from Debbie Majka
10. Alicia Dutka presents award to Marie Hejnosz
11. (l. to. r.) Ray Glembocki, Polish Falcons President Timothy Kuzma, Cecile Glembocki
12. (l. to. r.) Judi Tompkins, Robert Synakowski, Tom Payne, Marion Winters,
Robert Dutka shows Polish-American Achievement Certificate" just received from Marion Winters.
13. (l. to. r.) Ray and Cecile Glembocki, Ann Bankowski, Henrietta Nowakowski, Barbara Lemecha, Andrew Pustelniak
in the Polish Room at the University of Pittsburgh
14. Thad and Helen Cooke, standing Richard Lapham
15. (l. to r.) Dave Motak, Ann Bankowski, Robert Synakowski
16. Emily and Dr. Oscar Swan, Cecilia and Ray Glembocki
17. (l. to r.) Tiffany Loomis, Alexander Hejnosz, Kristin Gagliardi, Andrew Pustelniak
18. (l. to r.) Richard Larkin, Henrietta Nowakowski, Dave Motak, Mary Ellen Tyszka, Judi Tompkins
Looking forward to seeing you at the 2017 ACPC convention in Toronto, Canada