Francis Eustachius Fronczak 1874-1955 "A Loyal Buffalonianir Study in Cultural Dualism .


Stanislaw Dabrowski, Ph.D.


They Came from Tuczno 1

Wojciech Fronczak, supposedly a veteran of two Polish uprisings, against Prussia in 1848 and against Russia in 1863 2 , emigrated to the United States of North America in 1870. He b~ought with him his wife, Wiktoria (nee Jaworska) and a daughter, Anna, a lass in her upper teens. They came from Tuczno, a hamlet located ten kilometers north-west from Inowroclaw in the direction to Bydgoszcz, on a lake by the same name. Tuczno, which I visited in 1976, has been known in the Polish annals since ancient times, first as a royal fisc, and, since 1298 a presbitery of Sts. Peter and Paul, belonging to the dukes of Kujawy. As a result 2a of the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th centurJ!~ Tuczno, as the rest of the land of Kujawy, was engulfed by the enlarged Kingdom of Prussia, and subsequently, after 1871, by the Second German Empire. In consequence of this political metamophosis, Wojciech Fronczak was born a subject of the king of Prussia and carried with him, upon his arrival in the United States, a Prussian passport. Owing to this evidence of the involuntary allegiance Prussian monar~ch, the Fronczaks were, undoul tadly, registered by the American immigration authorities as German immigrants. ,- - 1 Tt is not certain whether Wojciech entered the United States under the name of Fronczak or Fraszczak. The last spelling seems to be the correct name used by the family. There is one male member of the family living today in Tuczno, a bachellor in his late seventies, Kazimierz Fraszczak, whom I visited in September 1976. He is a grandson of Franicszf Fraszczak, a brother of Wojciech. He immediately corrected me when I called him "Fronczak'' instead of 11 Fraszczak. However, the name appears in various forms. In the warranty deed on the house purchased by Wojciech Fronczak the name is spelled (probably misspelled) ttFronczka". One relati, of the family used the form of "Fre.czczak". "'· re ~Theis no document irrefutablly attesting to Fronczak's partici- pation in either of these uprisings. However, in all the biographical sketches of his son, the subject of the present study, 2 astownik geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego(Warszawa 1880-1893), tom XII. Ks. Kanonik Stanislaw D. Kozierowski, Szematyzm historyczny ustrojq parafialnych dzisiejszej diecezji poznanskiej"("Poznan: nakladem autora, 193

The Froncz2J:s left thej_r native Tuczno for the conditions at home were unbearable under the Prussian rule, both from economic as well as political side. The political aspect should not be underestimated in the motivation for emigration from Poland in the latter part of the 19th century. As one prominent Polish emigrant put it: 11 It was not the lack of soil and bread that forced us out from: )Ur country. We were chased out from our homeland by the triple enemy who chained our country. There would have been enough bread and soil for all of us in Poland, "– if it was not used to feed the Prussian and Muscovite worms. tv These words, although printed over thirty years after Fronczaks arrived in America, reflected the feeling and the rationale of Poles who left their homeland. So,,. economic reasons alone were seldom sufficient factors urging people to leave Poland in the 19th century. In the background loomed the political reality which created material hardship. It is a historic fa.ct th£,t the Prussian Government did its best to force the Poles fron the portion of Poland it occupied to emigrate somewhere, so that there would be no Polish population to claim this land for Poland in case it would be restored in the future. In Russian it is so stated. This is also tradition of the family. Since there are no val:Ld reasons to dispute Fronczak•s partici})ations in these historical events, we will leave this matter at that. We also do not dispute the claim that one of the ancestors of the family fought with King Sobieski at Vienn2, in 1683. Comp2re: Dziennik ili Wsz:ystkich, Buffalo, March, 1935. Pre.ca Polsk& (Buffalo) Oct. 22, 1908, mentioned that Wojciech Fronczak was engaged in both uprisings. 3Histori2, Zvriazku Narodowep:o Polslderc::o ( ed. Stanislaw Os.sda.) Chicago; T9?7 \Tol. I. pp. 574-575. Speech delivered by Marian Steczynski, P:~esident, Polish National Alliance (PN.A.) during the unveilins- cerer::onies of monument dedic2,tecl to Koscius7ko in Chicago Sept. 11, 1904.

part of Poland s;tate of siege existed most of the time. Only under Austria the Poles enjoyed limited political liberty. For the Froncz2Jr fcn,1ily the way to the Unj_ ted Ste tes ha.d been paved by Wiktoria's sister, Stasia who came to Buffa.Io o. year or two before. Stasia probably wrote back home to her sister that Buffalo was as beautiful as Bydgoszcz and the climate was suitable and jobs were plentiful. The newcomers made their home at 82 Bennet Street near Broadway in the rear house. Within a year after settling in Buffalo, Wojciech Fronczak decided to shake off his Prussian allegiance and on October 29, 1871, filed petition for United States citizenship, taking oath of intention to that effect in Erie County Courthouse before Judge William W. Hammond, accompanied by Jakob Johnson and Marcin Ruszaj as witnesses. These two witnesses were also present in the same court on October 11, 1884 when Fronczak was naturalized American ·t· 4 ci izen. By that time, Jakob Johnson became an organist in St. Stanislaus Church, and Marcin Ruszaj FronczaJ:• s son-in-law. It was in the rear house at 82 Bennet Street, where on September 20, 1874, a boy was born to the middle-aged Fronczaks. Wojciech was 46 and Wiktoria 40. The babe was duly baptized

4According to Ce:ctificate of Natur.e.lization, Liber 39, p. 227, State of New Yorl:, Erie County Court in Buffalo.

in newly founded St. Stanislaus church a week later, September ! ;:,70 -, receiving the name of Franciscus in La.tin or Francj_szek in Polish and Francis in English. For second nc'Jne he received: Eustachius or Eustachy in Polish and Eustace in English. According to the baptismal record book, he was the twelfth infant baptized in this parish which was established in 1873. We do not know what Wojciech Froncz&k did for living or what professional background he brought from Tuczno. On a copy of the birth certificate of his son, his occupation is stated as "Gardener". But, he would as well have other occupations and for certain not gainful ones for it was the fate of the immigrants to accept any menial work offered to them. Working physically, and at a low scale of wages at that, Froncza...~ never had accumulated comfortable financial assets. In all his life he never earned more than $400.00 within one year, according '7 to his son Francis~' One has to hear in mind, while trying to visualize the fate of Polish immigrants to this country at the end of the 19th century, that this ·eras. B. pe1--iod recurrent economic depressions. The depression of 1876, for instance, must have hit recent immigrants like the Froncza~s severely. 8 6 st. Stanislaus PariP.h, Baptismal Record Book. The baby's godparents were: Michal Szczepaniak and Katarzyna Galczewska. ?speech by Francis Fronczak before the Buffalo City Council in 1915. Fronczak Ee.pers, trFronczak Room", New York State University College at Buffalo. Hereafter: Fronczek Papers, B.S.C. 8Vivid account of the conditions of Polish immigrants in Buffalo w2.s written by Ja...~ob, (James) Rozan. See his "Hoje wspomnienia'', Ksiega Zlotego Jubileuszu Osad~ Polskiei ~ Parafii sw. Steilislawa B i 1·'1. w Buffalo, New York, 1, 7)-1923, Nak.Xadem - - - - - - ff - -., ' ,, • -v' Komi tetu Wydawniczego, drukiem Te..Legramu , ea. l'1J.eczys..Law Haiman, · pp. 119-134. Henceforth: Rozan, "Wspomnienia".

It is quite possible the.t \'lictori2, Fronczak spent many hours j_n "bread lines" in the City Hall or the "soup lines" in front of the Bishop's House. At any rate, such conditions prevailed at the time when, Francis Fronczak, the subject of this study, was learning how to walk. :J:n the late 1870' s a worker could 0 not find a job in Buffalo even for 50¢ a day./ Notwithstanding the difficult times, the Fronczaks pinched enough money to p.ir chase a lot on Fillmore Avenue, between Peckha111 and William Streets from George Bork, in 1881, for eleven hundred and twenty dollars paid in cash. lO The Bork family, although of German extraction, played an important role in the growth of the Polish colony in Buffalo. It was the father of George Bork, Joseph Bork, who donated several lots to Father John Pitass then newly ordained priest from Piekary in Silesia, whom Bishop Stefan Vincent Ryan of the Buffalo Diocese brought from Rome in 1873. On this ground, along Fillmore and Peckha.In Streets, the first St. Stanislc.us 11 Church was constructed before the year was over. 9~., p. 122. lOAccording to the "Warranty Deed" to be found in the Clerk's Office, Erie County, N.Y., Liber 336, p. 4i0, the transaction was concluded April 18, 1881. 11 01der citizens of the neighborhood remember that there flowed near St. Stanislaus Church, a brook, diagnally across PeclrJlam and Fillmore.

It is known that Wo,jciech Fronczal-: was the first to erect 12 a house 1n this area (508 Fillmore Ave.). The terrain was 13 then sw2,.mpy, uncultiVE'.ted and covered v1ith bushes. The houses were hasti. ly built, virtually in mud, on lots thirty feet wide in fro;1t facing the street and st&nding ten feet apart. This must have been a. very profitable arrangement for the Bork fai.-nily. But the Polish settlers e.lso derived benefits from this arrangement. They developed exclusively Polish section of Buffalo, with their own church. Father Pitass watched that no other nationality but Polish would settle in this area. Let us add, that in those pioneer days of the Polish settlement of Buffalo the sani ta.ry conditions in the form of sewage or running water did not exist. 1 4 The Fronczaks were anxious to live near St. Ste.nis1aus Church, not only to be among their own people, but mainly because their son, Francis had grown big enough to go to school and the only Polish school in Buffalo was that of St. StE ...nislaus. 12 Buffalo Daily Courier, August 5, 1913; Dziennik .£1..§. Wszystkich, August 5, 1913. 1 3on the construction of St. Stanislaus Church and the development of the Parish see Rozan's Wspomnienia. 1 4According to Rozan only the main streets in Buffalo were paved before the turn of the century. Construction of sewage ~ystem and running water went under construction in 1886. -- I ,'li r1 ~·


the family moved to the nev,1 house, ,;,;rhen Francis ·was enrolled in St. Stanislaus

sc;;ool. He learned his ABC's first in Polish then in English.

Fraricis evidently was a remarkable pu)il a.nd outstanding amo,,g :1 is classmates in w.any ·ways. Enougi:-1 so that he left unerase ~· a.ble :Lmpression of himself on his future friend and admirer -- a man much senior to him -- Dr. Stefan Szymanowski. Szymanmvski who visited Father Pitass in 18.3 7 or ld8B, vJrote to his younger colleague about thirty years thereafter telling him 110w he remembered him as a boy. Szymanewski recollected the moment when looking through the window from the parish rectory and observing the children going to school he noticed Fronczak:

Then I noticed a boy, with books tagged under nis arm, going to school. This boy was perhaps twelve years of age. He walked briskly and gaily, somehow differently than others, so that I could not take my eyes away from him. Then I heard a familiar voice behind me: 1 I see you are looking at that boy. He is a gifted lad and an outstanding pupil ... he will grow to be a promi? 5 nt mant ... perhaps a genius, I added decisively. 11 -

The ,;voice" explained further Dr. Szymanowski, nbelonged to Father Pitass, acd the boy was no one else but you my dear friend 11 • Tnese ,;,;rords of admiration for Fronczak ·were communicated to him when he was indeed a 11 prominent mann at the age of forty-five. 15 Szymanowski to Fronczak, Oc. 17, 1919. Fronczak Papers, BSC. Stefan Szymanowski must have been acquainted with Fronczak for many years. At the time of the mentioned correspondence he resided in Los Angeles.

Most of the Polish children did not go beyond their elementary education for the Polish families were large and their means were The Fronczaks were perhaps better off than their neighbors, if not for other reason than that they had only one child to provide for. They decided to make "something" out of him. No doubt, they were encouraged j_n this determination by fuose who recognized the boy's ability. Most certainly, among them were Rev. Pitass and the afore– mentioned Dr. Szymanowski. The last year or two of his primary schooling Fronczak spent in public school No. 31. Then he was sent to Canisius Preparatory School in Buffalo, where he most likely was a boarding student. He continued in Canisius College until he obtained the degree of bachelor of arts in 1894 and afterwards took graduate courses for which he was awarded master of arts degree in 1895. As a young student in high school he did all kinds of chores to alleviate the economic situation at home. 0 I also delivered newspapers and 1 r. shined shoes", he used to say in his more prosperous days. 1 Later when he was in college he used to earn extra cash by singing in opera choirs thanks to his well developed -tenor. But his more steady source of spending money came from reporting mainly on the events in "Little Poland" for the Buffalo Daily 16 usually the parents took the child out of school after he or she received the first communion which was at the age of twelxe. This problem was of great concern to the Polish Roman - Catholic Congress held in Buffalo in 1900. --Sprawa Szkolnictwa., Referat wypracowany przez Komi tet Edukacy 11 ny Pozostajacy YL. L~cznosci z Kongresem Polskim Rzymsko-Katolickim w Buffalo, "G t V "!'." l . 1 If r,h. ' 1 i\ ...,0 - aze a ~a~o~icKa ~icago, ii~. p. c. 17 According to information given to the author by Dr. Froncz&k Bukowska. Fronczak alluded to his difficult boyhood in "'· speech he made to the City Council in 1915.

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(''01'"'.: 8"' 1 lJ.. ...!~ ~ 2,nd the Buf f2,lo Evenin,c: ~. In journalistic apprenticeship he was guided by well known -i:::_,, I-{'-:, .;..->L,.t,J. .J. C..~..i. 1 0 r.fior11-i '" r" Px•-reSR \..,. ... .l.J. -!-Jl(J·; J..:..J :..f.}

experience he lad gained in reporting- for the English language newspapers he easily transferred to the Polish lansuage newspape:'.:'.'s like the ~ and Polak YI. Ameryce. T-n 1 co,– ..t.1. 0.,/) when Polak '1L Ameryce became a daily, Fronczal-;: was eppoin ted its "sub-editor". This dabbl.ing j_n .journalism brought Fronczak in touch with destiny, about which more will be said in the succeeding pages. At this juncture let us state that during his sophomore year at Canisius College he was assigned by the Buffalo Daily Courier to interview Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who gave 2:_ concert in Buffalo on January 1 Cl 1 Qo2 6 () ./ . Fronczaic•s acquaintance with Paderewski made during the interview developed into life lasting friendship and becrnne dominant factor in Fronczak 1 s life • .Although Fronczak was the first Polish-American who gr2du.sted from Cani.sius College and one of the not too m&ny who at +i."\ ..... + \,.,J.l.0. L, time attended any institution of higher learning, he was not alone from the Polish colony of Buffalo who attended that institution. According to his own account there were two other Polish students in Canis:i_us College at that time, namely Szczesny Brodnicki and Kazimierz Bieclrowski. But neither of them graduated. 1 n 0 Buffalo Enquirer, January 12, 1892. Fronczak's interview wi tl1 Pctderewski could not be found. Most likely he su':Jmi tted the material to senior writer, but it could not be traced in the newspaper. Paderewski's concert was received with great enthusias~. It was attended by 2400 people each time.


Brodnicki transferred to theological seminary, while Bienkowski,

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~ a son or -cne cus;,,o .ian o 0r.. ,..,1.,e.nJ.s1.2,us \.nturc1, enro1._ec. ::,_n tne IJia;ara University, then located on Elli cot Street nee.r Broadway, to study 1::1edic:Lne, while Froncza1: was still in Canisius Prep School. Unfortunately, Bie~towski 19 before obtaining medical-diploma. Fronczak grew in dual cul turc'


·u·11c'o 01 - .r. ronCZc:...r~ 0.J his narents, althou£h there is no written evidence to sunnort ,J.. .._, .I...;_ Like most of the Polish parents of those days, the Fronczaks would not imagine their son to be anything else but a Pole and a good Catholic. The Polish parish school, however, must have been the chief sower of Polishness in Fronczak's mind and soul. If it is true that the traits of human character are implanted in the first twenty years of one's life, then, in Froncza~'s case St. Stanislaus school with its stress ort Polish patriotism lay at the bottom of this truism. Besides the family and the Polish parish school there was however, the environment of the entire Polish colony that shaped Fronczak's character. The East-Side Buffalo, around St. Stanislaus Church and later St. Adalbert Church, disected by Broadway and Fillmore Avenues, was a "world apart" to the more established Buffaloniansi The newspaper reporters called this section of Buffalo "Little Poland"; an area to which reporters venture as if they were going on a foreign mission. 21 The Polish colony of Buffalo, was, by no means, 2 cultural wilderness. As times went on, the Poles developed various institutions which provided the basic cultural needs and incentives for further individualistic development. Naturally, there were not many educated intellectuals among the Poles. But it is unjust to maintain that all the Poles were uneducated workers. '"'ter1:" Po,-; sh p~+-.-...; o+-..; ~r-1 ,,,..,c, "'""'+-nr .,1 -; ,~ F· ~,~ ,~,. U>...I '-L--._J) .!- ---~-1- .J.• o. v.l ~I... \.,, __ i....,.; .. :. ,.o.. ..... .i.J.i..~ .... vv. ec.. _._,l_.,;_ ")f\ c.v t lr'l ~ .-. .-. ci.1-0 , 'Y1 J.. ~ ci..8S,.l!.1p \,..LO Il. fact there is very little reference to his parents in Fronczak 1 s Papers. 2 i An unknown reporter, who spent severe.l hours in "Little Polcrnd" complained that he drearned in terms of "s;.d 11 , 11 uski 11 c_ncl r,•czsz".


Their main handicap was the lack of English lanzuage which was exploit~d byothers. On the other hand, workers can also be cultural and patriotic. If nothing else, the great consumption of printed word by the Polish colony tends to sustain this 22 argument. In the upbringing of Fronczak and .:nany of his contemporaries the various cultural and political organizations played an important role. Great credit should be given in this respect to the singing societies. The oldest of them was the St. Cecylia Choir from which evolved the Moniuszko Singing Society organized in 1890 of which Fronczak was the president since 1894. The Moniuszko singers was an all male organization and was dedicated to perpetuation of Polish national and patriotic songs. Besides singing, the Moniuszko Society, on occasion, used to add short plays to the repertoire of its choral concerts. Whatever the contents of those dramatic pieces, they always conveyed much of Polish culture and reflected on the life in Poland, which had great effect on the audience, but especially the youth, who had never seen the "old countrytt • .Admission to these performances was free and the Moniuszko artists did their best to earn hearty applause. Critical accounts of these plays can ~e read in Buffalo press, like the Daily Courier and the Evening~ end in the Polish ~ and PolaJ.: w Amervce. Fronczak, &.s a reporter for the Dailv Courier, probably since 1891, submittedmost of the news information about the Polish plays, but on occasion a curious 22 By the end of the 19th century there were four Polish newsnauers in Buffalo: Echo, Polak w Amerycei Warta. The first issue c,f Pol2'.r W l'.n1er"rr,9~p"e&re" A.pr~l 1 1!~>''7 and VffS 0"1J!)82.!'::'..r:.r_' - .:. "-),. ..-~ ......... .... ·t v L ' \.4 .,_ _,_..._ ) \....,''-.._/ t ... , twice a week until Septesber 1895.


/1.1:1erican journalj_st would rnak8 s. point to see whc:t Vias co:'.ng on in "Little Poland 11. As tine v:ent on a reguler theatricE,l circle ViEtS co.l1ed. to l:Lfe, 11a.1r1el)r the F~da.n1 J',licl-:iev1icz DrarJ,s.

exists, although no longer engages in dramatical productions. In relation to Fronczak 1 s development it should be observed that he was not only the viewer and reporter of those cultural events, but .?,lso a very 2-.. ctive :pc:~_rticipant. As far as can be c;athered from newspaper pieces, he appeared in a play called "Blazek op~tany", a comedy by WJ.aays1.aw -Ariczyc· _'. on May 1 '7 I ) 1891 • On August 18, the se ..me year the Moniuszko pla.yers staged e .. comedy "Ch;iopi i arystokraci"(Peasants and Aristocrats), in v,rhich Froncze .. k .. che,racterised e. Polish .Jew, Mosiek. The foll01.ving year, 1892, (Feb. 23), he took part in "Stryj przyjecha.l" (Uncle has arrived) and age,in the same year (Msy 23) he portrayed "H2im the Usurer" in "Flisacy". To E1ention one more, in 1395, he c,9peared in "Bartek spod Krakowe, 11 (Bartek from neer Crecmv). 2 3 The theatre, the singing societies, and various pare military organizations, like the Hussars, the Ulhans, Kosynierzy, Rycerze Stefana Batorego, filled the East Side atmosphere with Polish exalted . . .,_. 2L~ pa"trio 1.,lsm. Theater lws s,lways been c:.n excellent . a T. clippinss fI.. oin ne\vspaper's in Fronczal:-Bul;-.ov1slre. ,..., f ~ ~ -T • o • 1 n • t ( 1 -C' .I- '"' ~T s \ nu ra~o h1s~orica~ 0oc1e y Jereai1.,er ~.h •• ; 2 4iTainan, listed 13 Polish orge..nizations in St. Stcu1islaus Parish for the year of 1390. -- I·:si~ga PaJnic\tkow,1, ) . 56. "F~:lce1'ze Ste_fc~11e\. Bato1'"'e50 11 --- I:11igl1ts of :ting Stefa_ri Ba.tory. "Kosynierzy" were named after the fa.mous r,e2,sents unit v1ho fought under Kosciuszko at RacXawice in 1794. They were armed • t" I 1 • I • 1 ~ , J_. -. • , J,. / ;-\ 1 • h r °' .£" wi 11 scy-cnes vri -en o..Lao.es moun 1.,eu uprig11,.,.1..y. ro ::,_s ... 1 v, ora 1 or ~CJ-'-J'' ~ ~ 0 l!>oQ~II lic1-ice i-'.'lo ',c,,·ne 11 '< .. 08".,,.,-; 8Y'ZV 11 0 l,. lt::;: _._..u ... _ ....,C:~ ) _._....,..,..,. ....,_.._....., l-G•.J.;.J. .,..., J ~.1.-'- - ,./ • 2-, ..?According to Papers, Vol. II.


vehicle for Polish ideology, culture, and attachment to Polis~

but most likely because of his willingness to be involved, Fronczci:, already in his tender age, was often called by Polish and American orga.nizations to be their secrete.ry. Such position gave him the opportunity to be engaged in executive capacity and learn the organizational craft from mature politicians ~nd activists. Opportunities for involvement turned up unexpectedly. 2 5In this view I have been confirmed by the retired Justice Michat Zimmer of Buffalo. He explained to me the origin of his Polish patriotism in th13e terns: 3efore World 'vVar I, e.s a boy, he was engaged in a play produced by Polish parish school in Erie, Pennsylvania. It so happened that the day the play was to be staged, he ripped his pants. His father bought him an unfashionable replacement which he refused to wear. He also refused to taJ:e his part in the play. This resulted in belting him by his unfashion– able father. Since the show had to go on, the nuns delegated someone to bring the actor to the theatre. There he was treated with more scolding and spanking by the nun in charge. In this miserable state he was virtually pushed on the stage to play his part of a Pole in Russian nrison. As he was recitinf his lines in which he condemned the ts~r for imprisoning him and-Poland, he was naturally crvin~ on account of the pants &Ed the treatment from his father an~l the mm. But the o.udie:nce was not aware of tbat. His crying– provoked general sobbing in the theatre. When he inquired after the show why the people were crying he was told: '~ecause you cried for Poland". "This moment left cm unexpungea.ble impression on my mind", said the Judge. "If Pola.nd v.ms so dear to the people that they cried for it, I decided to fight for its independence. The author of the plays mentioned above was Wl'.adysraw Ludwik Anczyc (1823-1883) who emphasized the importance of the Polish peasants in the history of Poland.

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One instance worth recording was the Polish demonstration of An occasion for this demonstration was a~ Etrticle i.TJ. the Buffalo Illustrated ~xnress which alleged Poles :L11 Bllf fe... lc ·_fQl.,, f .... ,e_i :''!f_·', c'~- ~1,?.}~rl.c.'hi_l,-·) tn t'he Y'P.C"t,- .--. .;" ~ J...r""l ~""01-,1 l ,-. -l-~ Q'~ • ._ ... _. , _.,.._, - ....,._._.___ v ..1. ... _.. ..._ ~i::i \.j ,.;__ - l.-C> l-' _.JL-..-Ci 1.,_L l.l, that the Fales lived off welfare; had unclean houses; and were The Poles reacted to this slander by a mass meeting in St. Stanislaus Hall to rebuke the allesa- tions. Fronczak, 2, lad of 19 at that time was honored with the secretarial duties by the assembly which organized ad hoc committee to handle this affair. The main speaker and the chairman of this gathering was Fronczak 1 s friend, ,Jakob Roz.:m, the future assemblyman in the New York legislature. 2 7 In 189Lh for example, Fronczak. held simultaneously three, if not more, organizational positions. He was president of the Moniuszko Singing Society, president of St. Francis Society, and secretary cf Canisius College 1894 Class Club. Undoubtedly, the most demanding position was the presidency of the Moniuszko Singing Society. This organization concentrated the best element of Polish youth in Buffalo. Its membership was very selective and second to none in patriotic Polish activities. At the end of 1894 it distinguished itself by having first Polish Club in Buffalo at corner of Wilson and Peckham. The opening of the Club v1a.s highlighted by a lecture on 'I1adeusz Kosciuszko delivered by Kazimierz Rosol, a future judge in independent Poland. For the demonstration see the Buffalo Enquirer, March 1 1 803 ' J...._., ..,I • 2 7 On Sozan 1 s poli ticc:.l career see: Wc:l ter r-i. Drze•::ienieckL, "J arn es H. Ro zcl11: 1:.. Pio11 e e1~, Po lis}1-.1.~ruer·i c2~11 in Duff a.lo, l'Tj~D..c~a.I~c. Frontiers, SuMmer, 1971. -'-' --'y, ·-., t"' 26 slaves to ~n~i~ yr~es o. 2G,,,. -!>f ~, o DU..J. cU. account of the Illustrated Exuress, Feb. 23, 1393.

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It was also during the opening ceremonies that the president of the Honiuszko Society, our Froncz2J:, 2.nnounced the 12.unchj_i:G of series of lectures on the subject of Polish history and literature to be delivered in Buffalo. This event, which took place on December 23, 1895, was recorded in Buffalo English language newspapers as well as in Polish. Who else but Fronczak could have engaged the reporter from Buffalo Daily Courier to be present at the openinc ceremonies to whom we owe the description of the fc=;_cili ties of the Club. The Club had two sitting and smoking rooms, there were carpets on the floors and Smyrna rues. The walls were decorated with pictures of Polish and American patriots and in eeneral the Club was a suitable place for a young man to spend an enjoyable evening. The libr8.ry consisted of 800 volumes of books in Polish, English and Gerr:1an, and 28 more Polish books were expected to arrive from Europe. It should not be assumed, however, that his preoccupation in Polish cultural and political affairs made him neglect the American part of his education. This part, as a matter of fact, was well taken care of by Jesuits in Canisius Collee;e, in ,::hose hands he had been since the first year of secondary school. Here he received liberal arts education, which included classical lancueges Greek and Latin. As far as it can be ascertained, nothing was imp&rtecl to him of ?olish culture or history in this Catholic institution. But a student of Fronczak 1 s caliber, with his agility and ability, could not be satisfied with ~ust fulfilling the requirements.

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His urge for social involvement led him to extracurricular engagements. Among others, he was a member, then a secreta~y r, t C2.nisius College a.no. 2-. .1_3 0 a member of the Debate Club. To the satisfaction of his friends, he proved to be a good debater, if one known evidence of his Demosthenic performance is sufficient to pass such judgement. In any case, he along with his cla.ssmates -- J. A. Kerker and V/. M. Carroll -- argued for the neg2.ti ve in the debate held at Canisius College on the Eve of St. Patrick's day in 1893, on the proposition: 11 Can the gunpowder plot be Justified 2.s an act of self-defense." The annals of Canisius College ~a recorded a win for Fronczak 1 s team.c:./ Even at Canisius College Fronczak championed the Polish cause. In one instance, at a banquet of the Catholic Young Men's Club, of which he was a secretary, held on Dec. 15, 1892, in honor of Bishop Ryan of the Buffalo Diocese, Froncz2J,;:, beir..g called to reulv to ~

Ttis socj_al com;ni tnei.1 t tm:)osed upon himself, Fronczr

will ~ry to carry out all his life. The urofessors at Canisius Ccllece who instructed in

English history, English literature and the sciences but nothing of Polish culture must have been amazed at Fronczal~'s Polish nE, tionc,l awarness. Even today, vre h.s.ve no adequ2, te expl2:;v:: tion v.rhere and hov, h0.d the young Polish-American scholB.r, educated in American Jesuit school, assimilated so much of Polish culture. The above quoted words gi vi21g the gist of Froncz2..k I s speech v.rere a result of deeper thought on the subject of the plight of the Polish nation. Only a student, young as Fronczak was, entirely fanili2,r with the current developr.:1ents in Polond, fully knowled5e&.ble of the pa.st of Pole.no. could think "of advanceT.1ent of his people". One expl£mation of this extre- ordinary concern for the Polish people and his currency in Polish matters is the probability that besides recular courses in Canisius College Fronczcit must have bee~ t~rinc lectures in Polist history and literature soraewhere 30a else. Ee graduated froD Canisius College at the end of acadeuic year 1894 with a bachelor decree in arts. However, he continued at this institution courses in philosophy, evidently on part- 30T, e ('-::i·f-}1o'~c TT·n-io·1 ..-,•c-,:1 f"f'~nec:- 1S92. 30aFronczak's notebooks from Canisius Preparatory School and College do not contain any notes on Poland. Among his professors none seemed to be Polish. All the professors mentioned by h:irn had Germe.n name Zahm, Krim, Pfeil, Hartmann, Bucholtz, Schulte, Ming, Rensch, Guggenberg Bunse, Meckel, Sindele, Bischoff, Eichhorn, Weber, Schreck, Pfluger, T --- _, __ ,._ - -t. c.'-1.-.-i -i:--1>,.. ..... 1"" -0,...1,,,,.. Polili-i 11 rr- _ noll. Neuchause. Bogenschutz. ,),--"-"..-,'o T'\c~ :._,,. ,._,, \..., • "'.:>Q .::._ n vc ... v • J_J.. .J ~J. • ..1... l c:' ... L. 1 .i.. .,i._,:.~.L 0) _;; .... i. .t. .L v . ...L J ) - -

assttnecl tl:D.t tl1e last :/ear c:lt C.::.r1j_sj_1Js c;ol1e,e;·e l1e st110.iec1 on part-tiue basis, 1ecause in September of that ye~r ~e started

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curricular year at Canisius College, Fro11czol: entered a literary contest sponsored bu Li5a Polske (Polish Le.s.gue) a Polish-Catholic orgariizo.tio:r1, based in Chicaco, wi tl1 a paper in the Polish language on the tonic: obliiations of Polish youth in "7 1 t.rrer-1 c::=. u.) __,...1 - -- ... ...... "W:l1a t are the The Jesuit father at Canisius College did not prepare him to write essays in Polish. Recretably, we don't know the contents nor q_u.elity of Fronczak 1 s paper. It most certainly would have revealed to us the intellectual climate and the political ideals amonc Polish youth in Ar:1eric2., but above all, it would have told us much about Froncz~~'s oent&l E12J;:e-t:..p. f~ t any 1---a te, FronczcJ~ I'ecei ·veci seco:id prize for 11is effort. The very foct, towever, that he entered the contest, a~d that a contest of this sort wss held~~ Ame~ica, is indicative of Fronczal-;: 1 s involvement in Polish cultural and politic&.J_ 2ffairs, 2.nd of his knov..rledce of the Polish lc,nguaze. 3lThe contest was annouced in Polonia~ Ameryce, Chicago, ~arch (?), 1895, the orsan of the 1iga Polska. ·1·ne topic of the essav in Polish read: "Jakie Sc\ obov::Ls.zki 2:1Xodziezy polskie;; w Ameryce 1'. First prize vrnnt to VJ. 3. Pol2'.czyl::, 13 ye2.rs of ace, 2. seminarian from Morria.:m PErl:, Wisconsin. -- - - . ,--, 1 1 • ', • ., , 1' ( ''> \ 1 n ~ ~ m• ' • C'J_rJ.er ro..,_s.r;:i, J·ilJ..Waur:ee, ·-my . J, o';f;,>. .Lne seco~1a prize co::1s2.s-ced. 01 t}1ree volumes of Ignacy Chodzko 1 s works, Pisms. Ignace~o Chodzki, which constitute part of Fronczak 1 s Collections 1. ·~ -i-1,,9 '\';i--.--.0'"C'7"1r DOO"" :~ C'. ,n -l.!. v_.1,. ..;....!.. .i..:. ~c....n•. _..._ . ii, .. .,,1•t--1•V•


TJ:1e c1..1l ttiral anc1 15..nguistj_c du_a.l:Lsn1 of Fr'onczc_l,: V/2.s ir~ c" sense startling. For a greater part of his formative years Froncza}: had little if E\l1Y chance to ).1eo.r flci.VIless :Si1glisl1 spoke::. Perhaps it was not until he was in Canisius High School that he was seriously exposed to the English language. And yet he acquired 2, style in written English which ma.ny a journ2.list would envy. Parallelly with English he developed idiomatic Polish, although at times studded with Anglicisms. On the other hand, there are discernable traces of Polish in Fronczak 1 s English, especially,- proverbial expressions, metaphores and similes. The accumulation of two different cultural elements by Fronczak complemented one another, producing happy cultural dualism. He imbibed the ideals of love for fellmvman, the respect for the rights of others and the exalted principles of life first from books written in the Polish language, from his Polish parents, the Polish sermons and the Polish environment. He knew the names of the kings of Poland and their deeg~fore he learned the accomplishments of the presidents of the United States and ti1e names of the kin:::;s of England. His mind was opened to the esthetical beauty and hume.n values contained in the poetry of AdaJU Mickiewicz, Juliusz SXowe.cki, Zygmunt Krasinski 811d other Polish sages before he embrased Lord ~ Byron, John Keats or Percy Shelley. The extraordinary a.ssir.1ilation of Polish culture by Froncz2.k, his total identification with the Polish nation, his comprehension of the problems and anxieties which pervaded that nation, is the more astounding if we stop to realize that this phenomenon occurred sever2.J. thousc~nd miles avmy fror:1 the heart .C' "! • 0 J.. l1lS 2.ncestral land where this culture was created. The exarr::;)le of

2 1

F1~or1czct1: sl1ot:lct 1Je a_ testi1nony j_11 tl1e s111J901.,t of t11e proposi tior. that the ~rocess of Americanization of the Polish iDmigrants,

w2s not divested of Polist heritage and yet this did not interfere with his Americ2nism. In looking for the factors which influenced the sha?ing of Fronczak 1 s "Polish soult! great iE1portance sho1..J.ld be 2.scribed to his acquaintance with Pe.derevrnl;:i. As w2.s already mentioned, Froncza1: met Paderevrnki in January 1892 when he vms i 8 e.nd ?Rde- rewski 32. Fronczal-: was sent by his superior on the Buf fe.lo 31a Daily Courier to interview the Polish artist. The interview undoubtedly went beyond the forme.lities of journab.stic routine. During this singulal" interview warm attachment sprung up , J. • De ;.,iJ'e81:l the virtuoso and the student. Of course neither of them forsaw that the acquaintance would soon bloom into a beautiful flower of friendshin that will last for half a century. Reflectine upon his mutual friendship with Paderewski over forty ye2rs after the in terv·i ev1, FroJ1czeJ-: v,1 ... ote: "Ignacy Jan Pa(lerevlslr.i 11ad b:r fa.r greater influence on my whole life, on ny entire Polish patriotic activities tha.n any person I met in my life. The s2.me can oe said of thousand Poles in America." 1 1 hen he went on to say that 11 since 1891 Poles in Amerj_ce. C&'J:1e to knov.r Pe.derewski not only as virtuoso but prinarily as a man ••. who implanted in those who met hiD his boundless love for Poland and everythinc Polish." interview, e..ccord.ing to Fronczak' s reminiscences , In 1932 (~ept. 21~ Fronczak wrote to Charles Phillips, tbe r~] 3 ):"of Paderewski, the S-corv o,LHodern Immortal, (Me.eniillan, New York. b · In ~888 I.became a reporter on the Buffalo Courier staff and late~ ~came. an interviewer •••I .had the pleasure of havin,O' my first ; n.i..er · ·• ~ with him (Paderewski).--Fronczak-Bukowska Papers, B~H.S. Box 7: ~ vie~ 31a


11 r1as 2, success in the opinion of the newspa.pe.:r o.:r1cl my countrymen. 11 But the journo.list:Lc success was of secono.e.17 j_mportance. The

J'\.21c1 Vle

re.::"cd further in FronczeJ: 1 s tribute to P2.derewski: 11 ?ctc1e1.,e~~vsJ.::i was our master, we his faithful students; he was our outstanding professor of patriotism, we his attentive listeners o.nxious to profit from his learning .s.nd experience in Polish ne..tional &ffairs". By Fronczak 1 s own admission, which was, no doubt, colored by bonds later friendship, he and many Poles in America. like hir.1, 11 lec:_rned how to love Poland and the Polish nation, how to spread her good name amonc alien, and many a time hostile to PolD.nd, ele1:1ents in ..1.rom ... a erewsi:i. ~ Fronczc1.J.: me.tured rapidly s.nd very early in his life e.sserted his position in the Polish community as a growing figure. At .,_, L,D.8 srune time, the eyes of his compatriots were focused on him as a potential lee.der. Perhaps 1vords of achnoni tion like those cited below had been addressed to him often durinz his studies •. Father ' Antoni Gorski, rector of St. Ste.nislaus Parish in Ansterdam, N. Y. reminded him of his obligations to the Polish people on the occasion of Froncz.ak's matrimony in these words: Accept, my Dear Doctor and a Pole, these modest wishes and have a lonG life fo~ the /\ Jil11er1ca, · 11 .;:- p d , · ~2

~') .Ji:::.Froncza.k, 11 I;_;ne.cy JE.n Pa.derewski'', Dz,j_ennil: dlD. V!szystkich, 1935. l-ianuscript in Fronczak P2.pers, 3.S.C.

glory of Polonia 2n Buffa!o ana 2n Auerica; for· t11e s·lo2:--y of ot1r lJE~rti tionec1 :F\s.theI

as a Polish political activist. And by the same token Rev. Walenty Swinarski who officiated Fronczak's nuptial ritual felt "Remember Doctor th.s.t you c.re a son of the Polish folk and since God has endowed you with special ta:le21ts, you ought to employ them for the benefit of our countrymen". notably enou,Gh, he wa.s reminded of those words from the nuptial sermon of Fr. Swinarsl:i eighteen years later v1her: he was totally. dedicatinc himself in the service of hj_s ' 3li cou111:ry::1en, ' what v1ill be discussed j_n suoseq_uent cl1c:,.pters. The confidence these Polish priests , . 11CtC. willincness to serve the Polish cause Tias expressed by others oblj_5ed to ste.te to Fronczal:::

was a physician wit~ three years practice be~ind hia, ~rrried for about six ~ont~s and jad just returned from a tour to Pal2nd. In Scpten1Jer 2nd Octoi::;e2."' of 1900 cl prominent Po1is11 w2.. iter

t~e Jnited States at the invitation of the Polish Hctional

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At a banquet followed


Polish Amer:Lcan physician made e f2,vora.ble :I.1!1pression OI: the c:-ged writer, to r1hich Fronczak owed his place j_n r.I:Llkowsl:i •s bool: describing his tour. H~ving expressed his dis&ppointment in Fronczal-:' s spoken Polish a.ccentu.s.ted by EngJ.j_sh accent, I-Iilkor1Sl:i spareo. no ·words to assert his admiration for Fronczc:=:J:. Hill:ovrsl;:i ts a.ccount of his encounter with Froncza.h: confirns the above o bsorvations re.carding Froncz2}: 1 s poli ticel invo1vemen t Hill:ows}:i, v:llo dedicated his life for Polc:-~nc. 1 s cc:nrne, stated in his book, that people like Fronczak filled his heart with hope that the young ceneration of Polish-Americans would not abandon the Polish cause. In ViiJ.l;:owsl:i 's vi err, 2.nd he was in a ~;re2.t extent correct, Fronc2,2l: represe1:ted the ~eneration of Poles born and reared in America and yet was vitally interested in the fate of their nother country. Envisasinc future possibilities for the revival of Poland, the sace of in Polish affairs.

CE APTER II Medicine and Politics

To become a physician it was indeed a tall order for a son of a Polish immigrant in America. Not only because it was difficult undertaking from the economic view point, but because it was unbecoming a1nong Poles who recently settled in Americc. to venture into the frightful world of the academia, and into that of medicine, especially. Had he chosen priesthocxl, no one would be amazed. Priesthood among Polish peasants was more common calling than medicine. Such tradition was brought from the "Old Country". Whether the young Froncza1'::: ever contempla. ted to enter the priestly career will remain in the realm of speculation. Most likely this alternative was considered by the family. This conjuncture is based on the close ties between the Froncza}::. family B.nd the persuasive Rev. J. Pi tass. The fact that Fronczak was in the hands of the clergy for almost the entire period of his formative years, could have inclined him in that direction. There is also some v.rri tten evidence 1 th.s,t 1 Hints to that effect are found in a letter from Kazimierz Rosol to Fronczak, January 10, 1899. Kazimierz Rosol was a known judge in independent Poland in Cracow. In 1895 he was a teacher in St. St9.nislaus School in Buffalo. In 1899 he v1as in Cracow, vmrking in court of .justice as "auscultant". But in 189G'' he was,. back in Buffalo. -- See Polak !~.f·meryce, HBy .5 ?, 12,95. Clippings, Fronczak-Eukowslrn. Papers, Vol. II. B.H.S.



Fro11czol: 1ni.gl1 t }1a-ve l-1.ad priesthood i11 1I1i11d. Tl1is 11i11 t corn es fron o. letter to Froncze.k from his friend i1:. Cracow, KHzimierz ~Rosol, who wes previously in the Unitet States. In the letter written yea~ and & half after Fronczak's graduation fro~ the medical school, Rosol stated he would praise him not so highly ecome a pries. If.there is any truth in the cliche that an individual is 2, product of his environment, then it has to be concluded J-" ..L L..na l, the choice of medical career by Fronczak had its roots in his Polish environment. No doubt the parents were involved in the decision making in the choice of their son's career. But there were others who perhaps more then the patents conditioned the boy for the medical career. They certainly realized that a priest of Polish origin in America had a very limited scope e Irish Catholic clergy. In those days it ·was extremely difficult for a Polish priest to attain rank higher than monsignor. The felicitous decision of Froncz2.k' s medical ca.reer, could be attributed to a number of internal subjective and external factors. Without attempting to psychoanalize Fronczak, among the subjective factors must have been what could be called 2 For unknown reason Fronczak inquired with certain Cha.rles Denby (or Dendy) in Peking, Aug. 30, 1895, what chances he would hs.ve to practice medicine or law in China. There is only a letter fron Denby to Fronczc:,.k (Oct. 11, 1895) In which the former strongly advised against such venture. ' naa 11e , 1-- b . t 2 .c- O.L ac 1v1 l,ies oecause t · · J.. • ' the,..h h b · h J.. \j urc __ierarc y vras conl,rO..L"e. oy , 1 d 1 th


and the medical degree. As he revealed in a letter to his younger friend more than two decades after he finished medical ' , SCl10Q_t_, as a boy he wc:s tormented by the 2,nxi0ty to dissociate· the :i?olish names with the clicheic -:; ''di tel1 diggi11c'' . ../ v,i tnessed much maltreatment of his kinsmen in Buffalo and one should not wonder that he desired to contribute to c11:.1elior.stion of their conditions. There was also a deeper touch of personal experience which might have influenced the selection of his career. As a youns boy Fronczak. assisted the priest during funeral services in St. Stanislaus Church. There is-a tradition in the family that he v1as deeply impressed with the death of his h elder bro~her 'who died in his childhood from s:rr.allpox and he himself was carrier of perpetual\rna~ts as result of the same affliction. The mortality of infants and little children in the Polish community of Buffalo at the time when Fronczak: in his teens r:as very high. This WEtS d8::ts!8sJ:f e unsax1i te.ry housinc conditions, the in.s_dequate sevrnr system, lack of public vaccination, uncontrol1ed tuberculosis of the lungs and consu1:1ption of un::_Jasteurized milk by the infants Ernd mc::my 3Froncza1': to Feliks A. Bukowski, Oct. 20, 1919. Bukov.rski ive.s a k11ov.rn Buff.sJ_o lawyer, a ce21ere.U_on Fronczd: • s junior. In 1919 he studied at Fordhai.11. University in Eew York City .s,:1d i'iorked in the Polish Consulate in New York City. The above letter \'!D.s written in connection with Polish art exhibit .s1-t the Albright Lrt Gallery in Buffalo. Fronczo.k who Vlc,s involved in this undert£Jdn5 wrote to his ;younger correspondent th2.t the purpose of such exhioi t was ''to show to the Americans that all the various so-called foreigner t . 1 ..; ,- ,, -id.,..._,_. -"-ipa.1 \''..;.!..1, ,1-i· ,.,,,..-inr-' o.t:' se·ners 'C'Y\0 are 110 men NDO are S_c..TI!p.1.J .J_ 8u t,l-i...i..~ ,_;_ l,il u bb-1...i.-u l \, c.'""'·'· ~ +-i- ,., ~s c1oci~ 1 1-=1ndc- II c:.:.c v ........ 1. 6 c;;..1 \. .c::.. ... <....,.,,._ .... .. u.


others. The impressionable boy witnessed many of the sad burial rituals with the rincin~ of the church bells were mixed with the sobs of the obsequious mothers. It is quite possible that he micl:t eve:: help carryin5 ~:he sme.ll coffins contei1:int; the childre~•s remains. The entire Polish community, clustered arou~d several churches on the eastern side of Buffalo, was painfully reminded of any premature deuise of a child or an adult by a r:ythrnic toll of the church bell •. Everyone knew for whom the bell tolled.5 This gruesome picture of ~is childhood, Fronczak retained in his me1:10ry vividly for the rest of his life. Tl1ese gloo– JJ2¥. . '. mer.1ories of the past had been the topic of convers2,tion in Fronczak's household as they are remembered by his dauchter. Factors like this evidently influenced the younc Fronczak to become a. physician with the deteri:1ination toa.1lev:_2te the si tustion. None:, horrnver, includinc Fronczak himself, would su:9pose 2.t t!1ct time, that it would be his fortune to be cc:,lled upon ~ officio to concern himself with the health and well bein 0 of the citizens of Buffs.lo. We are refefl_nc here to his future ce.reer ao I-31.1 ff <:).lo I-Ieal tl1 CoITJJissioner. The Polish settlement :Lr1 Buffalo :Ln 2., "~'!211 t Of :;_ who could "speak and feel" Polish. This v1ant surely wa.s c.~ te.blo talk in Dany households amons the Polish imraicr~nts. Unavoidably r- .-) 'Accordinc to J. Rozan the sanitary conditions in the Polish settleuent were miserc,ble crnd mortality 11 .:'~n:onc c~1j_:J_dren especiaJ.J.y r!rJ.s ";:ei--y 11igl: 1'. --RoZEL11, r.Js11on111j_eni0., p. 129.


cences ' 118 rec2.J.lec1 there were practiced in Polish colony.

Some of ther:I could even s1JesJ::

s.ccorcli11g to FronczaJ:. Tl1eir 11aJ?1es rrer·e Eerbersteir, Strock, SD.muel Door, Julius I:rug, Me_rcel, ·Hc:;r-ti.2.1.~, the Golbe:cgs Brothers, and others. These names Fronczak recordeo. in a speech when there were enough Polish physici2~11s in Buffalo to organize an orgz,nizc:tion. Did Fronczak decide to fill in the medical Vctcum11'? Host likely so. But he had predecessors. And what is importn11t at this juncture, they conttibuted to the mental constitution of Fronczak. Tha.n 1 ~feo him vie know that the first physici2.n who 11 fel t and spoke Polish" appeared in Buffalo in 1888. His 11cu~1e was WJ.adys/..avr Vlolf. Dr. Wolf was an accomplished hydrother2,pist and hcd his credentic,ls from Vienna University. Fronczal-~ We,s fortunate to have him for a !1eighbor. He recalled he visited the doctor quite often as a boy. Whatever they conversed about, they most 2.ssurecUy 11 t&.11:ed medici.ne". Perhaps the PoJ.oniD ,. of 3uffalo owed her first pl1~rs~:.. cii::-trr to We' f' b .. -'- ... But Fronczcl: had other medical associations in his youth. A physician, with definitely strong "Polish feelings", who

(' 0 See Fronczc:J:'s speech deliverec. in 1930.

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