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Adam Chciuk

Our family has one picture of my grandpa Adam, but I don’t have it digitized yet (and it’s packed away from recent moves). He was a barber and a “Bible Student” like my Dad’s folks. He was also an alcoholic which developed into cirrhosis. It killed him in 1937. My Mom was nine.

My Mom remembers his funeral vividly. Someone bought her a Snow White coloring book (the movie had just been released), and all her family and friends were at the house visiting. It just made her happy to have all those people there! She really didn’t understand the reason for their gathering.

Her other memories of him are few. She remembers him coming home one Christmas Eve and, in a drunken stupor, knocking over the Christmas tree. She remembers at age four being sent to the neighbor’s basement window, tapping on the window and saying, “I want some hooch!” — not knowing if “hooch” was an English or Polish word.

I believe his early and difficult death cast a pall over the Chciuk family. You could feel it. They were steely but always very quiet people. Here is a picture of Adam’s living descendants in 1982 — at least those who lived near Detroit at the time. Look at how similar we all look with our high Polish cheekbones and our fair coloring.


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