Joseph Wesolowski and Wendy Wesolowski
Recorded February 21, 2022 Archived February 21, 2022 32:34 minutes
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DescriptionJoseph Wesolowski (76) talks with his wife, Wendy Wesolowski (59), about growing up as a street kid in the East Village of New York City, high school, his career in Engineering and adoption of their children.
Subject Log / Time Code
Wendy (W) asks Joseph (J) about his childhood apartment. J describes the street he grew up on 7th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue in 1957 at the age of 7. He describes being a street kid and being outside playing with out any supervision.
J talks about friends from the neighborhood and one friend who was nicknamed Joe Geek who he met at 11 years old. He describes them going to the Aqueduct Racetrack as they got older and them drifting apart during the time he went to college in California.
J shares childhood memories of playing stick ball and assigning certain children as roof kids to retrieve balls that would land on the nearby apartment building roof tops.
W asks J about his folk dance/Polish dancing at St. Mark's Place. He talks about joining because his aunt started the polish dance group and dancing outside the Statue of Liberty. He shares what he describes as the best memories of dancing in Boston, Chicago and with the polish opera at the Carnegie Hall.
J recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Polish dance group. He mentions they performed at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. W adds that this was before J's hereditary spastic paraplegia.
W talks about her family's ethnicity being of Irish and English origins and then asks J if he felt connected to his Polish heritage. J talks about not feeling connected but felt connected to being a street kid. He then talks about the mixture of his neighborhood that included Ukrainians and Italians.
W asks J about McSorley’s Old Ale House where he took her. He describes stealing saltine crackers from there as a child. W talks about J’s sister Tina not being allowed in there at the time.
J talks about attending P.S. 122, now a performance space, and then attending Stuyvesant High School where he first thought he'd be an architect but changed his mind after a visit to Cooper Union. He then decided to be an Engineer.
W mentions her daughter Robin who knew she wanted to be a teacher and compares her to J's desire to be an Engineer. J talks about working for the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA), working as an adjunct and field trips to water tunnel #3 where he worked at the time.
J talks about being a Construction Manager for NYCHA. W and J discuss Pensacola's construction of the three mile bridge. J says driving piles was satisfying.
W talks of J being married to Amy, his first wife and their son Paul. J shares being laid off from NYCHA and deciding to move to Memphis where it was a culture shock.
J shares his time running the NYC Marathon and slowing down near Marcus Garvey Park and a black man with a boom box telling him that white men can't walk in Harlem. W talks about color not being an issue and her appreciating this of J. Then they talk about being foster parents.
J talks about foreign adoption process of Paul in Colombia. W asks J about how he felt. J describes falling in love with Paul.
J and W talk about being guardians to foster children and adoption. W mentions they had 7 children in all and talks about the home being quiet now. Then J describes spending time weeding the garden.
W mentions meeting J online and that now they are on their 17th wedding anniversary. She says she wishes she met him earlier and that she knew she wanted to marry him when they first met.
- Joseph Wesolowski
- Wendy Wesolowski