Friday, May 21, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday Reigns!

Meeting of Boleslaw the Valiant, 1st King of Poland, and Otton III, Emperor of Germany (1000 AD) painting by The Brotherhood of St. Luke

Today's postcard was printed in 1939 for the New York World's Fair. The painting of Boleslaw and Otton's meeting was displayed in the Polish Pavilion.

Jan Sobieski III

Today in History has nothing to do with Boleslaw. I just could not find a postcard featuring Jan Sobieski III who on this date in 1674 was crowned King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Sobieski chose Boleslaw's crown for his own coronation and went on to become the most notable of the Polish Monarchs. He was a graduate of the Jagiellonian University (Astronomer,Copernicus, was a student of this University as well). Jan spoke four languages flawlessly and he also learned to speak the Tartar language, studied their military tactics and went on to defeat them in the Battle of Vienna. Sobiesky was a military genius who was hailed as "Saviour of Vienna and Western European Civilization". He brought peace and stability to Poland during his 22 year reign.

Sobiesky had a large head, a rotund body and small feet. A French diplomat described him as being a perfect oval and resembling an egg resting on its small end.

I chose this (very Polish) moment in history because I have been working on my (also very Polish) family tree for several months now.

The idyllic scene of the Polish countryside on this postcard (also printed in 1939) is not as it seems:

Note the stamp.

Poland was under Nazi rule at the time this card was printed. The 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany - the same year as the New York World's Fair - was the catalyst for WWII.

But more about the Polish King: You'll notice that Jan Sobieski, in the above painting, is wearing a crown of laurel leaves - bay leaves, actually. This is the crown of victors. The phrase "don't rest on your laurel's" refers to the crown of laurel.

The leaves of sweet bay, also called bay laurel are bay leaves. These are a wonderful addition to soups, stews, spaghetti sauce and chili. Just use one or two to round out the flavor. I had, for many years, a regular supply of fresh bay leaves from a bay laurel tree growing in my garden until it had to be moved to make room for a patio addition. It didn't appreciate being transplanted, and summarily curled up and died.

This week I finally found, ordered - and received a new one. ( The company I ordered from is Almost Eden, at They have some really unusual and exotic plants!)

I can't speak of Poland without mentioning some of the best food in the world! Pierogi is one of my favorites!
Pass the sour cream, please.

If you happen to have a Babushka who will make paczki for you, you'll know what heaven tastes like.

Boleslaw the First or Jerry the Last - which is it?

But I digress. As usual. My search for ancestors confirmed what I already knew: my family is not descended from Polish nobility - although some of them built carriages for Royalty. During my blog search I found this painting of Boleslaw the Valiant - he is the spitting image of my brother Jerry. Except for the crown.... so maybe....just maybe.....

Polish Nobility and the economic strata within the Noble Estate (Szlachta) is an interesting topic and much too detailed to discuss here. In a nutshell, there were no Polish titles. Those with titles received them as acknowledgement of some good work or perhaps a good marriage from other countries. All Szlachta were considered equal as men whether they owned vast estates or worked the land along side the serfs. That's not to say the big guys didn't pick on the little guys for their lack of carmine robes and a fine steed. Human nature reigns.

For more of the reigning Postcard Friendship Friday posts, visit Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy!


Snap said...

Your posts always bring a smile to my face. Reign indeed! Happy PFF!

Debs said...

i bought a mixed pack of thematic postage stamps quite recently and discovered that mixed in with the usual colourful worldwide commemorative stamps there were also a large number of third reich postage stamps with hitler's image...extraordinary how chilling it is even today to see his face on a stamp. great post, nevertheless! happy PFF!

MrCachet said...

I watched MIB last evening and watched the serving of Pierogi... It didn't look appetizing in the movie, but yours sure does!

Beth Niquette said...

What a perfectly marvelous post! A lot of really wonderful things happened on this day in May.

Your blog is SO interesting--I enjoyed every word, and of course, the postcards are marvelous!

Happy PFF!

Postcardy said...

When I was reading this, I pictured someone wearing a crown of bay leaves so they would have a handy supply for cooking.

Mary said...

Very fun post, in a lot of ways. Also made me want one of those donut looking things. They look delish!

Beth Niquette said...

What a wonderful post! I loved every word--and the postcards are marvelous!

Happy PFF!

Clytie said...

A very interesting post - good thing I just had breakfast - those food pictures made me salivate - even though I'm full!

We must have been thinking alike this week - I also posted a card from the 1939 New York World's Fair - the US Steel building!

Happy PFF!