Saturday, September 24, 2016

Stephen A. Gabuzda 1885-1966 Part 7

Remembering My Grandparents

Mary and Stephen Gabuzda celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
The Gabuzda brothers, Stephen and George Gabuzda made the decision to split their meat market and farm business in the start of 1933. George took the Glen Almus Farm and Stephen kept the brick store at the corner of Centre and Chestnut Streets of Freeland, Luzerne, Pennsylvania.

All three of Stephen’s sons helped out their Pop in the store throughout the Depression. This included, his eldest George, who put off going to Villanova at the end of the decade on a football scholarship graduating with a chemical engineering degree in 1942. Eddie, below, works at arranging fruit in the store window.

With the start of World War II, all four of the Gabuzda families in Freeland, Luzerne County and Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania,  had sons or daughters who went to war or served at home as soldiers, sailors, airmen, or nurses during the war. George used his chemical engineering degree from home. Eddie worked as a nurse overseas in Burma and after the war also obtained a degree in chemical engineering. Steve, Jr., served in the famous battle of Remagen. Martha, my mother, 
graduated from Mesicordia Nursing Hospital in 

Philadelphia in 1944 and joined the Navy Nurse Corp and served for the next five years on the east coast. 

Stephen Gabuzda and Mary Sarna became grandparents with their first grandson born in 1939. All together they had sixteen grandchildren born between 1939 to 1966 (one born after his death). Photo to the left is Mary and Stephen proudly posing with their first granddaughter born in 1944. Photo to the right shows their first two grandsons in front of the Gabuzda Meat store at 899 Center Street in Freeland.

During the 1950s, son George helped his father renovate the store which included a new butcher meat refrigerator seen on the right. Stephen, like other small local business, began to feel the effects of competition from larger supermarkets coming into town, like A & P and Acme. His business, like others, went “down the tubes.”

The Gabuzda family had a family reunion on 23 June 1962 celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of their parents. Mary was privileged to hold her first great grand child, her son’s Steve Jr.’s grandson, as seen to the right. 

It was held at oldest son, George's home in Hometown, Pennsylvania. All seven adult children with their families were in attendance. 

Original photos in author's possession.
Seven granddaughters pose for the camera.
Stephen was diagnosed with bladder cancer three years later. He also lost functioning of his kidneys the following year. 

I remember our family driving up to Pennsylvania from Virginia several times the last six months of his life with my parents helping out the best way they could for Martha’s parents. 

My father does a “fake” nap with his father-in-law, Stephen, on a Sunday afternoon. This is a very special picture, seen on the right, in my memory as my father died six months after my grandfather.  

Stephen A. Gabuzda died on Friday, 22 July 1966, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, following a surgery three weeks earlier at the age of 80.

His daughters said that as he lay in his hospital bed he told them some of the stories of Slovakia and his journey to America that they had never heard before.

His viewing was held at the local Petrilli Funeral Home. His funeral was the following Monday, July 25. This was the first family funeral I attended. It was held with a mass at St. Ann's Auditorium since the church was being renovated at the time.  I remember seeing him in his open casket. It frightened me and I started crying uncontrollably. This followed with most of the people in attendance crying with me. 

He was buried at Calvary Roman Catholic Cemetery in Drums, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. 

Stephen’s sons were not interested in taking over their father’s business. Stephen’s nephew, Andy HAZARA, mentioned in a previous post, was given the family recipes for the kielbasa, bacon, and sausage. These meats are still made by Andy’s daughter with special orders throughout the year.

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