Wednesday, May 12, 2010
If you can pronounce the name of this city, I'll give you a dollar.
Day 2 of my foray into the Polish countryside. But first I had to make the five hour train trip from Gdansk back to the area I wanted to be in, near Poznan. The front desk made a train reservation for the earliest train I could get to Inowroclaw, another small town not far from Jankowo.
Inowroclaw was an actual town with paved streets and buildings. What a relief. It’s large enough to get a brief mention in my guidebook; they call it a health resort.
I saw no evidence of it’s renown as a health resort, but I was looking for very different things. I wanted to find what looked like the oldest parts of town. My great-grandmother, Victoria Lugowski, and both her parents (my g-great grandparents) were from Inowroclaw. I hoped to wander the oldest streets, hoping that one of them could have been their neighborhood; seeing the things that they might have seen even in the late-1800’s before they set sail for the New World.
The oldest Catholic church in Inowroclaw, and it’s most historic building, is the Church of Our Lady, dating from the turn of the 13th century. You are allowed to enter through the massively heavy doors, but only as far as the small entry area. Access to the church is closed by a heavy metal gate. The lights are left on, however, so visitors can still appreciate it’s rough, plain beauty. I’ll never know if the Lugowski family ever knelt in this church, but it was here when they lived here and I’m certain they would have known about it.
Directly across a large plaza is a newer, much larger and far more ornamented church. No doubt built by the devoted parishioners when the historic church became too small for the congregation. This newer church was lavished with the gilt, ornamentation, devotional paintings and statuary missing in the early church.
As I walked around admiring the interior I couldn’t help but notice that it was in constant use by what seemed to be local people. They would stop in, say a prayer, then leave. Some stayed just a minute or two, others stayed longer. I would have to call most of them middle-aged women, but there were a few men, too, as well as a couple of young people. I saw the same thing at other churches I visited in Poland during my trip. I was impressed that their churches were so much a part of their everyday lives.
Time to move on to Poznan. As I left Inowroclaw, there were two old buildings along the railroad tracks next to the large train station. I wondered if one of these could have been the old train station and if the Lugowski family might have started their journey to America from this spot. Pure speculation.