Today is Veteran’s Day. Thank a vet for his service, remember a vet who died in service to our country.

St. Hyacinth World War II memorial to its lost men, Calvary Cemetery

St. Hyacinth World War II memorial to its lost men, Calvary Cemetery

I am the Resurrection and the Life
For God and Country
World War II
1941 — 1945
Dedicated to and
in memory of
the youth of
St. Hyacinth’s Parish

Casimer Augustyniak
Francis Balcerzak
Harry Czaplinski
Melvin Klofta
Francis Myłek
Stanley Szkatulski
Theodore Stachowiak
Stanley Szczepankiewicz

Let none forget they gave
their all and faltered not
when come the call

Eternal rest grant
unto them O Lord
may they rest in peace

Erected by St. Hyacinth’s Parish

Still sifting through miles of information that I have and still receiving plenty of new information daily.

While sorting through all of the information that has piled up and that I haven’t sorted through is another photo my cousin John had sent to me of St. Hyacinth’s 8th Grade Graduation in 1932. I previously posted one from 1933. Click the photo to download a high-resolution larger copy and to be able to read the caption beneath. Possible follow ups for me in the future are the names Zielinski, Siwa (one of my dad’s best pals was Bernie Siwa), Kaminski (my kids’ paternal great-grandmother was a Kaminski). Amazing that it took me this long to take a long hard look at this photo and realize there were new angles to look into!

1932 St. Hyacinth 8th Grade Graduation

1932 St. Hyacinth 8th Grade Graduation

Here is a photo of the 8th grade graduating class of 1933 from St. Hyacinth’s school. Alice and Aloysius (Ollie) Przybylski are twins, my first cousins. Thanks to John Plenzler for sharing this photo. Click photo for larger, high-res copy and to read the attached identification of class members.

St. Hyacinth 1933 8th Grade Graduation

St. Hyacinth 1933 8th Grade Graduation

We all have various ideas of what “home” means to us. To me, part of that idea encompasses the notions of comfort, where we physically are located, what we put into our lives emotionally, spiritually, and physically, and where we have come from. And part of that notion also includes the idea that we can never really return “home.” Time moves forward, waiting for no man or for no reason. Yet we move on, claiming new places as home, placing into these locations people, ideas, and things that comfort and nourish us.

For me, a place that will always be considered “home” in my heart is St. Hyacinth’s parish. It’s a small parish to be sure, but it was one of the parishes built for and supported by the Polish community in Toledo. It’s history is nowhere near as grand or complex as that of say St. Hedwig’s, St. Anthony’s, or even St. Stanislaus in Toledo. Those were the original Polish parishes in Toledo. St. Hyacinth was actually a parish that developed due to the growth of second and third generation Polish Americans.

St. Hyacinth was formed in 1927 and its first Mass was said on Christmas Eve that year. It was sometime before 1930 that my father’s family moved into the parish and were one of the original families belonging to the parish. Originally, dad and his family lived on Woodstock; however, the Great Depression affected the family enough so that they lost the home on Woodstock. Eventually (I don’t know all of the details) they managed to purchase the property at 813 Evesham where my aunt and her husband remained for many years. This is where my grandparents had lived with Celia and Joe until each passed away. This property is immediately in back of the parking lot of St. Hyacinth’s elementary school.

Sometime in the 1950s, the parish outgrew its church building and instituted a fund raising drive where each parishioner who was employed donated $2 per Sunday to expand and re-build the church. Each parishioner promised to donate an additional $2 per week until his or her donations reached $300. Over 260 families contributed this amount, others exceeded it. The church was expanded to seat about 700 and was completed in 1960. As a child born during this period, I was one of the first baptized in the new church (although that really meant in the basement!–the story I’ve been told was that the baptismal font wasn’t complete yet). The church was dedicated later in 1960.

The church is amazingly beautiful with its modern architecture and stunning stained glass windows. It’s a simple design, but gorgeous! Some folks in the neighborhood have called it the “Jewel of the Boulevard.” I have no interior pictures of it handy–I’m sure I have some but these would need to be scanned. If I have a chance I’ll have to scan some. The interior is amazingly beautiful despite the fact it was not built with the traditional Gothic architecture of many of the Toledo parishes such as St. Anthony.

However, visit this blog: Catholic Architecture and History of Toledo, Ohio. Jeffery Smith has some stunning pictures of the church. In particular, see these photos he has of the stained glass windows and main altar.

A small bit of trivia: my sister was married in the church in October 1984. A beautiful wedding. However, a few hours after Mass was concluded and we completed the obligatory photo sessions, an arsonist torched the beautiful church in an attempt to cover up a robbery. Again, generous parishioners conducted a drive to collect funds to clean and restore the church after the sacristy, altar, and forward area of the interior were damaged.

You can’t miss the church as you drive down Parkside Boulevard. It’s about a mile or so from Calvary Cemetery, not far from the intersection of Parkside and Nebraska. Be sure to look for the windmills located at Scott Park. Drive towards the windmills and you’ll eventually reach the church as you come from Dorr Street.

I do have a photo of the exterior and a photo of the elementary school, taken last summer on quick trip. I would have stopped to see if I could enter; however, it was a hot July Saturday that I was photographing the cemetery and I was filthy and smelly and almost time for Saturday evening Mass. (Having mud caked on one’s knees and smelling like you’ve just rolled in a pile of it doesn’t make one feel comfortable in joining in for Saturday evening Mass, although dress restrictions have eased significantly over the years for Mass attendance!)

St. Hyacinth Catholic Church, Toledo, Ohio

St. Hyacinth Catholic Church, Toledo, Ohio

St. Hyacinth Parish Elementary School, Toledo, Ohio

St. Hyacinth Parish Elementary School, Toledo, Ohio

A special memory of the church is that it was served by Father Zygmunt Pitula, perhaps in the mid 1960s or so. Fr. Pitula was assigned to the Toledo Diocese through the years to particularly serve the Polish community–he was a native of Poznan, Poland and spent five years as a prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp. A newspaper article published in the Toledo Blade on June 7, 1979 provides a small bit of his history. While the article doesn’t state it outright, Fr. Pitula had the honor of concelebrating Mass with Pope John Paul II. See article below.

Helena was my grandmother. She was born in Borowcze, Poland about 1889. All I know about Helena is her life here in the States and that her maiden name was Mierzejewska, although she was most likely unrelated to her husband, Wladyslaw.

Helena was the third child of the four known children of Stanislaw Mierzejewski and Anna Keijewska. Her siblings were:

Helena immigrated here with her husband, Wladyslaw (Walter) and two children: Wlaclaw (Walter, Jr.) and Czeslawa (Celia) in 1923. A third child, my father, Edward, was born in Toledo after their immigration.

Wladyslaw and Helena traveled back to Poland in 1927 in order to visit one of their parents in Kaczyny, Poland. This is a fact to be followed up in the future to see if it relates to a date of death or other event in the family. Unfortunately, I do not know yet whose father they went to visit. However, they were in Poland for quite sometime. The manifest indicates that the ship sailed from Havre, France September 14, 1927 and arrived in New York on September 21, 1927. Looking closely at the manifest, it indicates that Wladyslaw’s immigration visa #NQ311 was issued at Warsaw on July 6, 1927 but Helena’s (her name is noted at Bronislawa–the Polish name) immigration visa #NQ726 was issued at Warsaw on August 23, 1927. So, there was about eight weeks between the time they each obtained their visas to return to the US and this doesn’t consider when they arrived in Poland. Oddly, the children did not travel with them to Poland.

I have very little knowledge of my grandmother’s life other than this. She passed away on May 7, 1959, about two months after her son, Walter, Jr. passed away. I have not located an obituary for Helena yet. I do have her burial record from St. Hyacinth Parish and Calvary Cemetery.  If you read the entire St. Hyacinth document, you’ll note that record #2 is her son, Walter. This branch of the family shortened their name to Myers.

The burial record from St. Hyacinth is transcribed below:

Name: Mierzejewski, Helen
Cemetery: Calvary
Died: 5-7-59
Buried 5-11-59
Officiatingi Priest: W. A. Czajkowski
Age: 69 Sacraments: All
Nearest kin: Cecelia Starzynski
Adm.: Z. Pitula

The Calvary Cemetery record is transcribed below:

No.: 60321
Name: Helen Mierzejewski
Residence: St. Vincent’s Hosp.
Age: 70
Cause of death: Cerebral hemorrhage
Date of interment: 5/11
Grave: 210
Range or Lot: 17
Section: 41
Funeral Director: Sujkowski & Son
Remarks: 1771

Celia Mierzejewski Starzynski

Celia Mierzejewski Starzynski

Celia was my father’s sister, the second child born to Wladyslaw and Helena Mierzejewski. Her mother, Helena was an unrelated Mierzejewska when she married Wladyslaw (Walter). Celia was born December 13, 1913 in Gerwaty, Poland.  

Celia immigrated to the US with her parents in 1923, at the age of 9, on the S. S. Frederick VIII sailing from Copehagen on February 8 and arriving in New York on February 20. The manifest notes that Wladyslaw (Walter) and Helena are traveling to Toledo to meet a brother, Jan. Jan is a brother to Helena.The address noted is on Boeckingham; however, this is a misspelling or mistranslation. The street is Buckingham, as there are other documents such as my father’s birth certificate that note this address.  

The 1930 census shows Celia living with her parents and siblings at 622 Woodstock. She and Joe married sometime after 1930.  

Joe was born March 13, 1910 and was baptized the same day in St. Hedwig’s parish as Adam Joseph Starzynski. Joe’s baptismal record is transcribed below: 

No. 50
Name of Person Baptized: Adam Joseph Starzynski
Date and Place of Birth: March 13, 1910
Date of Baptism: March 13, 1910
Father’s Name, Mother’s Maiden Name: Marianus Starzynski, Maria Lewandowski
Sponsors: Ignatius Kiszal, Stanislava Gorska
Priest: L. A. Kuzius (sp?)

His parents were Marion (Maryjan) Starzynski and Mary Lewandowski. Joe was the second of four sons born to Marion and Mary. Somewhere along the way as a child, Joe’s name changed from Adam to Joseph. I always simply knew him as Uncle Joe. The Starzynski family lived on Pearl Street as indicated in the 1910, 1920, and 1930 census records.  

Joe and Celia’s marriage produced one child, a daughter named Marcia. They lived at 813 Evesham. My sisters and I knew Celia as “Ciocia.” (Polish for “aunt” or “auntie.”) 

Celia worked at Champion Spark Plugs, as did my father, for many years. Joe worked at Kaiser Jeep, the predecessor to Chrysler Jeep. 

Celia died suddenly at home on December 21, 1978. Her obituary was published in the Toledo Blade on December 23, 1978 and is transcribed below:  

Celia Starzynski  

Mrs. Celia Starzynski, 65, of 813 Evesham Ave., died Thursday in her home. She was an employee of the Champion Spark Plug Co., 35 years, retiring in 1970. Surviving are her husband, Joseph, daughter, Mrs. Marcia Zielinski, and brother Edward Mierzejewski Services will be at 1 p.m. today in St. Hyacinth Church (link takes you to the St. Hyacinth death register record). She was buried in Calvary Cemetery. Her burial record is transcribed below:  

No. 83452
Name: Celia Starzynski
Address: 813 Evesham
Age: 65
Cause of Death: Bureau Vital Statistics
Date of Interment: 12/23/1978
Grave E-Pt
Range or Lot 130
Section 33
Funeral Director: Sujkowski
Remarks: Police Sta.  

(Note: The Police Station remark is made because Celia died just as the Christmas holidays were occurring. The night she passed away, Thursday December 21st, meant there was a difficult decision to be made–either hold the funeral and bury her on the 23rd of December or wait until after the holidays. While her death was due to natural causes, the report of death was held at the local police station until the death certificate could be issued at the Bureau of Vital Statistics. I wanted to make that clear lest anyone think something criminal happened–if you look closely at the burial records, there are a number of burials listed that way. It was simply due to the timing and government bureaucracy closing down for the holidays.) 

Joe passed away April 15, 1989.  His obituary was published in the Toledo Blade on April 17, 1989 and is transcribed below: 

Joe Starzynski

Joe Starzynski

Joseph A. Starzynski 

Joseph A. Starzynski, 79, formerly of Evesham Avenue, died Saturday in Oaks Care Center, Lima, O., where he was a patient four days. He worked 40 years in the trim shop at the former Jeep Corp, retiring in 1969. He was the widower of Celia Starzynski. Surviving are his daughter, Mrs. Marcia Zielinski and three grandchildren. Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in St. Hyacinth Church. The body will be in the Sujkowski Mortuary, Airport Highway, after 2 today, with recitation of the Rosary at 8:30 tonight. 

Joe was buried through St. Hyacinth Parish. (Link takes you to the death record of the parish.) Burial was at Calvary Cemetery and the burial record is transcribed below: 

No. 93224
Name: Joseph A. Starzynski
Residence: Form. 813 Evesham
Age: 79
Cause of death: Prov. Death Cert.
Date of interment: 4/18
Grave: E Pt.
Range or Lot: 130
Section: 33
Funeral director: Sujkowski PP

Frank was the seventh child of Joseph Plenzler and Eva Dauer, born February 8, 1895. All records I’ve located stated his birth as 1896, but the St. Anthony’s baptismal register shows that Frank was born in 1895. His baptismal record is transcribed below:

A.D. Die Mensis: 17 Feb.
Ego infrascriptus baptizavi: Fransiscus ??
natum 8 Februarii
ex Josepho Plencner
et Eva Dauer
Patrini Fuerunt: Franciscus Szerpa??, Maria Falkenstejce (sp?)
Rev. V. Zaleski

Frank was enlisted into the Army in World War I. A copy of his World War I draft card is here. His draft card notes his employment at Seiss Manufacturing, a manufacturer that produced and sold bicycle parts. As a bit of nostalgia, here is a link to an advertisement for Seiss bicycle horns published in Boys’ Life Magazine, March 1921.

As with his brother, Robert, a record of his World War I service is provided in the Ohio Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, World War 1917-18. The record for Frank in the Ohio Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, World War 1917-1917 is transcribed below:

Plenzler, Frank J.
3583302
White
1541 Avondale Ave.
Toledo, O.

NA LB 4 Toledo, O. June 26/18. Br Toledo, O. Feb. 8/95. 158 Dep Brig to July 18/18, Co F 335 Inf to Oct 5/18; Co K 358 Inf to disc. Pvt. Meuse-Argonne. AEF Sept 9/18 to June 8/19. Hon Disc June 15/19.

Like Robert, Frank served at Meuse-Argonne and with the American Expeditionary Forces.

Sophia Szymanowski was the daughter of Michael and Maryanna Jablonski, born September 25, 1897 and baptized September 27, 1897. Her baptismal record is transcribed below:

Nomen Familiae: Szymanowski
A.D. Die Mensis: 27 Sept.
Ego infrascriptus baptizavi: Sophiam
Natum 25 Sept.
ex Michaele Szymanowski et Maryanna Jablonska
Patrini Fuerunt: Aldalbertus Pufe (sp?), Apolonia Szymanowski

Sophia and Frank married between 1920 and 1930. The 1930 census placed them at 1240 Campbell Street. One son is produced from this marriage, Edwin, born about 1927. Edwin never married and passed away June 14, 1974. He was buried through St. Anthony’s Parish and interred at Calvary Cemetery.

Edwin’s burial record through St. Anthony’s is transcribed below:

Name: Plenzler, Edwin, 1240 Campbell
Died: June 14, ’74
Buried June 18 ’74
Cemetery: Calv.
Officiating Priest: Th. Extejt
Age: Date of Birth: 47 y.
Sacraments: Sudden death – Mercy H.
Nearest Kin: Mother Sophia

Edwin’s burial record from Calvary Cemetery is transcribed below:

No. 78517
Name: Edwin Plenzler
Residence: 1240 Campbell
Age: 47
Cause of death: Prov. death cert.
Date of interment: June 18
Grave: 9
Range or Lot: 150
Section: 46
Funeral Director: Sujkowski
Remarks: 1338

Frank passed away January 1, 1970 and was interred through St. Anthony’s parish and buried at Calvary Cemetery.

Frank’s death record from St. Anthony’s is transcribed below.

Name: Frank Plenzler
Cemetery: Calvary
Age: Date of birth: 74
Nearest Kin: Wife
Died: Jan. 1, 1970
Buried: Jan. 6, 1970
Officiating Priest: G. G. Radecki
Sacraments: All
Adm. By: Chaplain at Mercy Hosp.

Frank’s burial record through Calvary is transcribed below:

No.: 73161
Name: Frank Plenzler
Residence: 1240 Campbell
Age; 74
Cause of Death: Myocardial Infarction
Date of Interment: Jan. 6, 1970
Grave: 11
Range or Lot: 150
Section: 46
Funeral Director: Sujkowski
Remarks: 10

Sophia passed away February 21, 1990. She was interred through St. Hyacinth Parish and buried in Calvary Cemetery.

Sophia’s death record through St. Hyacinth Parish is transcribed below:

Name of deceased: Sophia Plenzler
Residence: 1240 Campbell
Age: 92
Parents, Wife or Husband: Ronald Rejent, 3526 Secor Rd., Apt. 228, 43606
Date of Death: 2-21-90
Priest: Fr. Tom Extejt
Place and Date of Burial: 2-23-90, Calvary

Sophia’s burial record from Calvary Cemetery is transcribed below:

No.: 93903
Name: Sophia Plenzler
Residence: 1240 Campbell
Age: 92
Cause of Death: Prov. Death Cert.
Date of Interment: 2-23
Grave: 10
Range or Lot: 150
Section: 46
Funeral Director: Sujkowski AP
Remarks: 2046

Sophia’s obituary was published February 22, 1990 in the Toledo Blade and is transcribed below:

Sophia Plenzler, age 92 years, formerly of Campbell St., died on Wednesday, February 21 in the Toledo Hospital. Preceded in death by her husband, Frank and son, Edwin. Survived by sister, Mrs. Clara B. Zion of Tiffin, OH; also nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be Friday 12:30 p.m. from the Sujkowski & Son Funeral Home, Airport Hwy. Funeral Mass at St. Hyacinth Church at 1 PM. Scripture services Thursday at 7 PM in the mortuary, where visitation will be Thursday after 5 PM. Burial Calvary.

My mother’s name is Virginia Plenzler. Mom was born September 12, 1926 to John and Anastasia Plenzler.

Here is a screen snap of my mother’s family tree on ancestry.com.

Like my father, she is the youngest of three children and was considerably younger than her siblings: Raymond and Florence. Raymond was born in 1914 and Florence was born in 1916. Raymond never married. Florence had a son named David and was married to someone with the last name of Soborowski.

I have little in the way of documentation regarding my mother. While searching online records for the Catholic Diocese of Toledo at familysearch.org, it seems as if mom was born a bit too late to have had her records scanned currently — there is a 70 year limit placed on most records — however I was fortunate enough to find a record of her confirmation at St. Stanislaus. There are also are a few photographs of mom while she was dating dad and I literally found an overwhelming amount of information on her parents and their siblings, which provided me quite a bit of background.

Mom’s confirmation at St. Stanislaus May 6, 1937

The woman named as my mother’s confirmation sponsor I believe to be Cora or Constance Plenzler — Konstacja would likely be the Polish version of her name. Cora was her aunt by marriage, she married my mother’s uncle, Casper. Mom made her confirmation May 6, 1937, about eight months after her father, John, had passed away from stomach cancer.

Young mom and dad

This is a photo of my parents, presumably just before or just after they were married. By the time mom and dad were married, mom had lost both of her parents. Her mother, Anastasia had passed away on March 13, 1946 when mom was just 19 years old. Sometime shortly before or after mom and dad had married, they took in her nephew, David (“Davey”) and raised him for several  years. Davey was Florence’s son and he passed away in 1994. Mom’s brother, Raymond, never married and passed away in 1960.

Florence passed away in 1999 in Detroit, Michigan. She had married a man by the name of Soborowski.

New Years Day 1953: Dad, Mom, Davey, and Karen (about 15 months of age)

Mom went on to raise three daughters, work at the Woolworth’s in downtown Toledo as a buyer/sales clerk, and be a parishioner at St. Hyacinth’s until moving to central Ohio. She has six grandchildren who are all adults and living all across the country in Dayton and Columbus Ohio;  Carmel, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Chicago, Illinois;  and Erie, Pennsylvania.

Mom today

Edward Mierzejewski was my father — the guy in the center of the photograph as the header of this blog. A fun-loving guy, he was shooting craps and drinking beer in the middle of winter in that photo.

Here is the full photo.

There is no date on this photo, and no identification for the other two fellows playing with my dad.

Edward Mierzejewski was born December 23, 1924 at home at 1763 Buckingham Street to Walter (Wladyslaw) and Helen Mierzejewski.

Here is a screen snap of the ancestry.com family tree showing my dad’s family.

The Buckingham address was quite important when researching my father’s family. Through that address, I could trace a number of the Mierzejewski family. Several of my father’s relatives used this address on either ship manifests, draft registration cards, or other documents. So far, it is the first address I can locate for my father’s family in the Toledo, Ohio area.

I have not yet located my grandmother’s maiden name. But it is also important to realize and understand that Walter Sr. and Helen also had a son and daughter-in-law known as Walter (Wlclaw) and Helen. However, Walter Jr. had eventually changed his last name to Myers.

Dad was the youngest of three children — Walter, Celia (Cseslawa), and Edward. Walter and Celia both were born in Poland and were considerably older than my father. My father also was the only child born in the US, just shy of two years after his parents, Walter and Helen, landed in the Toledo area. Celia was born December 13, 1913 and Walter was born in 1910. These facts do lead me to wonder whether there were other siblings, possibly older siblings who may have been left behind in Poland. I cannot find so far any record of other siblings in Toledo and I do not remember my father ever mentioning siblings other than Celia and Walter however.

Because my dad was born in 1923, just as the time St. Hyacinth Parish was forming, it seems I cannot locate his baptismal certificate. However, I did locate records of both his First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

First Holy Communion Record

Confirmation Record

Dad seems to have used his confirmation name, Bernard, as his middle name. Most of his records are signed Edward B. Mierzejewski. Most likely, this was an attempt to distinguish himself from a number of other Edwards Mierzejewskis and dad was not given a middle name at birth. My assumption is that dad’s older brother, Walter Jr., was his confirmation sponsor. Ladislaus is the Latin form of Walter. Many Catholic records that I’ve located and found during the time of the Kuschwantz neighborhood settlement and development were maintained in Latin or Polish. Earlier records were in Latin, later in Polish or English.

Goodbye, Toledo...dad shipping out

Dad enlisted into the Army Air Corps in 1943 and was honorably discharged in 1945, having an interesting and dangerous assignment as a ball turret gunner. He kept a log of his missions in 1944, after attending training at MacDill. Additionally, we have a photo of dad with his crew at MacDill along with a legend of the members of the crew.

MacDill crew photo June 10, 1944 (My dad is front row, center.)

Handwritten legend on back of photo identifying crew

Log of 1944 missions of the 49th Bomb Squad 2nd Bomber Group page 1

Log of 1944 missions of the 49th Bomb Squad 2nd Bomber Group page 2

Log of 1944 missions of the 49th Bomb Squad 2nd Bomber Group page 3

Log of 1944 missions of the 49th Bomb Squad 2nd Bomber Group page 4

Log of 1944 missions of the 49th Bomb Squad 2nd Bomber Group page 5

It appears as if the squad had missions to destroy enemy supply lines. The Finito! at the end of the log indicates my father’s probable relief at having completed the missions.  I do not know what the numbers indicate in the log; a guess is that the numbers indicate the number of the mission and the number of successful hits they had made.

A poem, in dad’s handwriting, was found in his personal papers after he passed away.  The poem is the lyrics to Taps.  (Thanks to my sister for recognizing that — I never thought there were lyrics.)  But knowing my father, it was probably written as a release after witnessing what he did during the war.

Dad did have furlough to come home for his 20th birthday. A newsclip from the Toledo Blade indicates that he was a veteran of 40 combat raids and earned an Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.

Vet of 40 Combat Raids Home for 20th Birthday

Dad returned home after an honorable discharge.

Discharge page 1

Discharge page 2

He met and and then married my mother, Virginia Plenzler, in November 1946. Settling down in the neighborhood surrounding the St. Hyacinth parish, near his sister Celia and brother Walter and their families, he raised a family of three daughters. He was a member of the St. Hyacinth Holy Name Society and a 30+ year production worker at Champion Spark Plug.

Dad passed away on September 7, 1985 at the age of 60 after a stroke and surgery and being hospitalized for about three months. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Toledo, Ohio.

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