Bremond Historical Society receives Polish oral history grant
Picture in your mind walking to church on the dark, cold night of Christmas Eve with your family and neighbors; or as a little girl making your escape from school to the dime store to buy all that candy; or picture soldiers home from WWII meeting the train at the depot downtown Bremond to retrieve the casket of a fallen comrade; or a little girl attending the funerals of those fallen heroes during the school day at St. Mary’s. These stories are just a tiny portion of the oral histories recorded from the Bremond Historical Society Polish Oral History Project. The historical society has spent this past year recording hours and hours of memories from 30 different people with Polish heritage originating in Bremond.
In February of 2012 the Bremond Historical Society received a grant to record oral histories from the Polish community in Bremond. The reason emphasis was put on the Polish community was because of the uniqueness of our town. At one point, Bremond was the largest Polish settlement in Texas. The grant was given by Baylor University Institute of Oral History. On the application for the grant, Mary Jim Allen, president of the historical society, wrote that the group would interview at least 18 people. During this past year, expectations were greatly exceeded and 30 people were interviewed. Not only did members of the historical society conduct the interviews, but there were also nonmembers who graciously volunteered their time as well. Each interview was from 30 minutes to 1 and ½ hours. The majority of those interviewed were octogenarians in their 80’s & 90’s.
Baylor loaned the historical society a recorder that captured quality audio. After the interview, a word list was made (to spell all the Polish names correctly!) and each disc was mailed to Baylor. Students and interns in the Oral History department then transcribed the interview and sent it back to the historical society for corrections. Each interviewee had full control of their interview and was allowed to add or take out anything they said. The final transcript will be bound by Baylor and presented to each interviewee as a keepsake for their family. At the completion of the project, each transcript will be made available on the Institute’s website www.baylor.edu/oralhistory for viewing worldwide. At some point, hopefully the audio will also be made available on the website. Can you believe that anyone around the world could access an interview from one of our citizens in Bremond?
The one regret of the historical society was that we didn’t have time to interview every single person of Polish heritage in Bremond. Our goal is to continue to do the interviews even after the completion of this project. If you would consider being interviewed, please call the Bremond Historical Museum at 254-746-5008 and leave a message or call Mary Jim Allen at 254-746-7771 or Frances Robertson at 254-746-7085. The Bremond Historical Society would also like to invite each one of you to join us in preserving the history of our wonderful town by becoming a member of the society. Yearly memberships are $15 for a single membership or $25 per couple. There is also a Lifetime Membership for $150 for one or $250 per couple.
The Bremond Historical Society plans to culminate this project with a banquet to honor the interviewees on Saturday, April 20. If you wish to get a seat at the event, you must purchase your tickets in advance no later than April 15. You can get tickets at Texas Slav and German Warehouse, Bremond Library or at Wilson Drug in Hearne. The whole community is invited as well as those out of our area with Polish heritage to come out to celebrate “An Evening of Heritage” in Bremond.