Friday, August 5, 2016

Stephen A. Gabuzda 1885-1966 Part 3

After Stephen GABUZDA and Mary SARNA were married on 25 June, 1912, they move to a small 3 room house for six months on Birkbeck St. between the old silk mill and the lumber yard in Freeland, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. Because their first child, Irene, did not arrive for another year and a half; Mary said that she was often embarrassed by older women asking her, “Mary, when are you going to have a baby?”

After Steve’s marriage, his brother George GABUZDA continued to live at Palya’s for awhile. Around 1913, the Gabuzda brothers decide to move on with a business of their own. 

They rented the wooden building that still stands (quite barely) at the northeast corner of Center and Chestnut Streets in Freeland, and operated their new business from there. At this time, Mary finally had her first child, Irene, on 10 Jan 1914. 

In August/September 1914, the two brothers bought the land right across the street, at the southeast corner of the same intersection. In October, they had a contract started to build a brick store and house on that corner. Directly, across Centre from the store is St. Ann’s, the Irish Catholic church, now called Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. 

One day, Mary went over to watch the workmen pour the cement foundation for the new brick building. She was twisting her wedding ring on her finger, a habit she never got rid of, when it popped off and fell into the wet cement while they were pouring. The ring was never retrieved, and Steve had to buy her a new one. Sometime in 1915, Steve, Mary, little Irene and Steve’s brother George, moved into the new brick home and store at 899 Centre St.

899 Centre Street on corner of Chestnut and Centre Streets
My aunt Marion states that their home was unique in that it was built “as a big beautiful home with a built in store and small office. The large side porch led into a living room, large formal dining room and a very large eat in kitten; an open stairway to six large bedrooms upstairs, all with walk in closets, and one large bathroom.”

Later that same year, when the brothers had moved into the brand-new brick building, Stephen and Mary welcomed their first son, George, born 5 Nov 1915.

Two years later, Stephen’s brother George, brought home a new family member, marrying Anna SILVASI on 6 Aug 1917, at St. John Nepomucene Church. Months later, Steve and Mary welcomed their third child, Edward born 17 April 1918.

George & Anna Silvasi Gabuzda

By this time World War I was raging for four years in Europe. By August 1918, George Gabuzda left Freeland to join a US Army motor transportation corps as a truck mechanic, in Pittsburgh, Virginia and Florida. Sometime during his service in the south, George contracted a case of the influenza virus which killed about 600,00 Americans in 1918. It is possible that this influenza that almost killed him saved his life from being sent overseas for the last days of one the bloodiest wars in history.

When George finally came home, he quickly agreed it was time he and Anna had a place of their own. George and Steve signed papers renewing their business partnership interrupted by the war. George found an empty double lot just a half block away from their business at 941 Centre St.

The next decade would bring promise of hard work for these two immigrant brothers from Slovak peasant farmer parents. 

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