Thaddeus Kuznicki and Gertrude Szwejbka were married on Wednesday, March 8, 1946 at St. Hyacinth’s Church in Dunkirk, New York. “The bride wore a gown of white nylon check, with a fingertip-length tulle veil. She carried a bouquet of white roses and lillies of the valley. The maid of honor, Miss Angeline Kuznicki, wore aquamarine net and carried pink roses…Mrs. Szwejbka wore a blue silk dress, and the groom’s mother wore a blue and black print. A reception for 150 guests was held during the day at Tofil’s hall. Stanley Kuznicki’s orchestra played.” After a brief honeymoon, Thaddeus and Gertrude Kuznicki made their home at 70 McDonough Avenue, down the street from my great-grandparents, Stanley and Hattie Zielinski.
Thaddeus was working as a wire drawer operator at Bethlehem Steel in the city at the time of their marriage. He had enlisted in the U.S. Army on April 4, 1941 and was among the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Gertrude worked in the local silk mill, and she washed houses on the side for her older brother’s painting business. I’m not sure I believe in “true love” or “love at first sight,” but if either of these do exist, Thaddeus and Gertrude would be proof enough. They were simply meant to be.
I posted a photo of Thaddeus and Gertrude when they were first married and settling into life on McDonough Avenue as a part of my Wordless Wednesday series. I try to choose photographs that tell the story on their own, and this picture certainly speaks for itself, communicating all the love, support and mutal-respect that Thaddeus and Gertrude maintained throughout their marriage. Life wasn’t easy, and the pair had to work hard to provide for their three children, but their kids were constantly surrounded by love, happiness and joy–they truly had everything they needed. And when Thaddeus’ younger brother, Henry, passed away at the age of 42, he and Gertrude adopted their niece as their own daughter, completing their family of six.
Thaddeus died on September 7, 1981, and Gertrude never remarried; instead, she devoted her life to making memories with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Gertrude, too, passed away a few years ago, and losing both parents was difficult on everyone in the family. The Kuznicki kids are still close, though, and they constantly share photos and stories of Thaddeus, Gertrude and life in Dunkirk; it’s truly wonderful to see.