The Census - 13 - The Recipe and Epilogue
June 2, 1940
Here is a copy of the recipe for Susie's homemade wine/alcohol. I won't try it now, but shall when we get back to the Chicago area, and I have time for it to ferment properly. Alfred also sent me this little poem.
Mother's in the kitchen
Washing out the jugs;
Sister's in the pantry
Bottling the suds;
Father's in the cellar
Mixing up the hops;
Johnny's on the front porch
Watching for the cops
by a New York state Rotary Club member during Prohibition
This is the rest of his letter:
Make sure anything coming into contact with the product is sterilised. This is for the basic sugar only recipe, but if you are using fruit, you would cook it, pulp it, and strain it so you just have liquid.
We had an old fermenting bucket for mixing so all Ma had to do was put 2 lbs of sugar into it, add half a gallon of hot water (or fruit juice) and give it a really good mix, and set the ounce of yeast going separately in a little tepid water.
“Next she put the sugar and water, in a demijohn and topped it up to a gallon. The final addition is the yeast, then it needs a good shake for a couple of minutes. Put a tight plug in the top of the demijohn and leave it for about 2½ weeks. The key to achieving a higher alcohol content is a constant temperature somewhere around 65°. Our cellar was perfect for that.
“She wanted to make sure I told you the Polish names and customs.Zenicha Kresowa is liquor made of rosehips by young girls, who ae ready for marraige. If a fellow was welcomed favourably, he was given a glass of Zenicha by the father. Polish liquors called nalewka are made from fruit, spices, flowers or herbs. Usually it contains 40-45 percent alcohol just like vodka does.the Polish name for moonshine is bimber or ksiezycowka, whicih is roughtly equivalnt to moonshine, being a derivation of the word for moon. And the stuff made with plums is usually called sliwowica.
I hope you wll enjoy your Polish drinking experiences.
And I hope that we will be able to get together again soon, as we will be so much closer when we are back in Illinois.
The information regarding the census is all factual. The US 1940 census is free on line and full of details, unlike the earlier years when all you would find out was the name, age, address and nationality. However, it is my invention that Nan made friends with Susie.
The information regarding the Suchla family comes mostly from my second cousin, Ellen Orlesky, who went to North Dakota and interviewed all the remaining Suchlas in the area and their neighbours. She was the one who provided me with the details of the murders and possible murders. I found several accounts to verify my information in newspapers, especially the Jamestown Sun. Ellen was also the one who said that facing destitution after Tom's death, Susie went into the bootlegging business, and was very successful at it.
The idea that Susie (name she used for the 1910 census) Suchla was in cahoots with Oscar Seiler is speculation. His address in Jamestown from the earlier censuses showed that he lived in ward 1, as she did. I have no idea what his youngest son did, or how he died. His death is recorded, but there is no eulogy which seems strange, as his father was a very important in the Jamestown area for forty years.
Mary Woychik (sister of Tom and wife of JA) was my grandmother, although she died when my mother was 15, so I never met her. I've written a book about my mother's family, Rosie and Anna, which gives details of my mother's early life, and what it was like after her mother died. I was given several dozen letters written by my mother to her sister, Rose, which form the basis of the book.
The idea that Susie moved to Jamestown because of a fire is probably true. However, Joey, the boy who died in the fire, was listed as one of her first children – which would have made him 22 or so at the time of the fire. And Joey is missing from the 1910 census, which makes it likely that he died earlier. But it also was the custom to give a dead child's name to another child, so it might well be that Susie had another son, also called Joey, who was born in 1921 or so, and then the dates would fit in with the fire, and her moving to Jamestown.
In 1940 John Suchla was still living on a “truck” farm in Courtney, which he owned. In previous censuses they were always living on Thomas' farm. John died two years later in 1942, and Susie died in 1944. Alfred died in 1948, and my grandfather, JA died in 1949.
The photograph is a recent picture of the house that Susie owned.