Grandpa Never Did Like Priests

(September 3, 2012, marks the 100th anniversary of my grandfather’s arrival in America, from Poland.  Though he seldom talked about the old country (he was sixteen when he emigrated), he would often tell tales about his life in Chicago, and in Michigan (or Mi-shi′-gan, as he called it). Sometimes, he would tell the same stories, but I guess that’s what helps us remember.  Some of what follows is from a tape recording I uncovered recently.  I seldom changed his mind about anything (particularly about religion), but I learned a great deal about seeing the world through a different set of eyes.)

When I was in the hospital, some priest come up.  First, he send somebody else, kinda feel me out.  Then he come down, second time already.  Well, I think of him what he thinks of me.  I thought (well, he kind of, uh, put a finger in here), I thought to myself, I would like to tell him exactly what I think of him.  What do you think I am?  I would like to tell him that.  What do you think I am?  So he tried telling me different, uh, different, uh, some highlights.

Fact, he says, uh, “Keep up the good work.”  Yeah, and he tried to coax me in so I should, uh, taking communion.

I said, “What do you think this is here—a trick?”  They think that you’re taking communion, ah, you already, you, you their sheep.  See?  I said, “I know the communion is.”  I say, “I used to make a communion myself!”  Ha, ha.

I was living onBlackhawk Street,Chicago, with the nuns, and the Sister Superior, with the six nuns in there, and uh, they had a divided basement.  I seen they, she, was doing something by their gassstove.  She make up what you call angel food-cake flour.  It was just warmed up, you know, and she put it on a pan, like a tart, hot little bit, but it’s white, not just burnt, see?  It’s just stiff, you know?  And they have it, uh, put your, uh, round, and she made it like a pancake, and she’s punching out there the communion.  Yeah.  I looked at first.  No, it’s the communion for sometimes they have at mass, and the, from altar there too, you know.  Priest come down, some habit, you know, when he’s learning how to be priest.  Though some people bring it to a house, here and there, and they have a mass.  And they have a communion.

          You know, I talk to her, Sister Superior, and she know that I’m not that stupid, either, see?  She understood.  She said, “Mr. Kabala, I don’t think the way they say.  Different.  I know you right.  It’s different than Jesus,” she told me, “and that ever-body is a human.”  I know what she meant by that.

          I had a coal shaft underneath the sidewalk (the streets were higher), and they have like a cover and you drop the coal in there for the winter for storage.  Sometimes I had to go get some coal for my stove.  They had a oil heater, in the first place, throughout the building.  I had a stove.  Hard coal and soft coal.  There was, sometimes they had some young ones, you know, they just joined in, and this and that, you know.  Young girls, you know.  And what they do, they join the convent.  And they not allowed to go by themselves.  They always had to go in pairs.  And so that didn’t bother me.

Florencewas only maybe little girl, maybe three or four years old at that time.  Chuck  was maybe year or year and a half.  And, uh, I, we lived there.  We had three rooms and a bathroom.  And I didn’t have to pay.  I done some work for them.  They want to, some painting, some this, and that, all around they house, you know.  Some construction work sometimes.  And for that I got rent, you know?  I didn’t have to pay rent.  I stayed there for ten years, I think.  Course, those days the rent was maybe fifteen, twelve dollars.  That’s all it was.  Yeah. 

And I had all kinds of experience with those nuns, you know.  The young girls that go for coal, before long they’re running after me.  But, the others, they’re running too.  It was, oh, she was so eager for the man, you know, she grab and shakes.  Oh, I had my ideas.  I didn’t touch them or anything like that, but so…

          There was a couple of them that was, they got married even, you know.  They, the men, they brought their kids to the, what you call, the  żłobka, the day nurse, and, uh, their wives passed away or something.  They got acquainted ,and they got married.  They went.  Su-ure.  I know all about.

The nuns, the priests, they take care of you, this, that, to see if you want to keep you barred to them, alright.  They, they know you, you their sheep.  ‘Cause heaven is not enough.  You can, ten towers upside down, and it don’t mean nothing.  I know.  I read a lot of books about those, you know, about the Popes, and this, and how they used to, what you call a Inquisition, thirteenth, fourteenth century.  If you said something against the Church, somebody heard you said something, you’d tell priest.  You know, they come pick you up, and throw you on a goddamn stack of fire!  That’s what they used to do.  I read how they poisoned each other Popes even.  You know, they get Pope, and then they poison each other.

Oh, I figure if there would have been such a thing as one religion all over the world, then you would be, well it would be something to start.  But, you go through the world, and you see so many different religions, so many different people twisting their Bibles and all this.  Well who the heck…it doesn’t match up at all!  You look on the educational viewpoint, and you have a, well, I pick up a rock, any kind of piece of rock.  And you see what they preach you, that the earth was created and all that.

So, I take a piece of rock, and I say, “Well, you so smart, tell me when that rock was created.  How old is it?  How old is it?  How?”  Tell me about it.  You say you preach to me.  I say I’ll give you a piece of rock.  Now, tell me.  When?  When was it created?  Thousand years?  Two thousand years?  Grow up, or what?  Doesn’t match up at all.

You know what they say, one part of the world has the black, coal kind of colors, people.  They don’t know even, if I say to stop, to, why, some people they want you Catholic, you this, you that. Some other people never heard of us even.  See?  And you tell them already, or you tell some Catholic, like you take your friends, and like they have an island, you know.  See?  They don’t care.  Kill the childrens, womans anyway.  Why?  What reason?  Where reason?  What kind of reason is that?  Why?  They teach them that way.  It’s the poison in their mind.  Some people say, well, there’s only this kind or that kind of way, you’re Buddhist, and all this, and they never heard of anything like that which we got.  They won’t do that, but some other people say, “Oh yeah, sure, if you’re Catholic,” and they some other one.  They used to kill each other.  Why?  ‘Cause that religion!

They say they use the psychology to confuse the people.  Say you outsmart somebody.  By what?  By psychology.  You use psychology to tell, oh, somebody’s looking at you, but you don’t know it, see?  But, you only trickster.  Sure.  You know, I told the priest, I said, I, uh, he said I should go to confession.

I said, “What for?  I ain’t got nothing to confess.”  Say, “If I had something, I go to police station to confess.”  If I commit some kind of sin.  What I want to confess?  They only testing you, how stupid you are!