Recently, I had come across a burial for Waclaw Gawronski and ended up doing a bit of research on him. He was an interesting character, whose history included a stint as president and editor-in-chief of the Ameryka Echo in Toledo.
As a child, I vaguely remembered a newspaper called the “Ameryka Echo” which was written for and by Poles. However, I don’t remember reading it myself (I never did learn Polish other than a handful of words and knowing how to use my handy dandy well-worn Polish-English dictionary.) In fact, I don’t remember if my parents had ever read it. I suspect they may have, but I don’t think I remember seeing it in the home. I do remember seeing it for sale occasionally in news shops in downtown Toledo as a kid. The newspaper suspended publication in 1971. At that time, I would have been more interested in the funny pages rather than any actual news or editorial pieces.
The Ameryka Echo had an interesting history. Started in Toledo by A.A. Paryski in 1889, it was a cultural newspaper that was often pro-labor. Paryski had used his publishing corporation to also publish books and other materials on a wide range of subjects from religion and anti-Catholicism to home economics to pulp fiction. He had his admirers and detractors, detractors who believed he was making profit off of illiterate or uneducated immigrants. But his diversified subject matter and the low cost of these publications is precisely what drew his audiences. For a small sum and with language and matter geared toward the Polish immigrant, he was able to sell what he believed was valuable editorial and educational information. The Ameryka Echo was published in Toledo and Chicago, reaching a wide immigrant audience. With this audience, letters to the editor were written (often in Polish) and published.
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities has a short history and inventory of publications of A.A. Paryski and the Ameryka Echo here.
Late last year, Lexington Books had published Letters from Readers in the Polish American Press, 1902 – 1969: A Corner for Everyone, written by Anna D. Jaroszynska-Kirchman and Theodore L. Zawistowski. A preview of the book can be obtained through Google Books. The letters are often utterly fascinating to read: there are debates on Polish-American views on labor movements and strikes, the Cold War, political events in Poland, the Roman Catholic Church, and US government. These letters reflect what I felt was an astoundingly well-informed audience who were well able to express their views, hardly the “illiterate” or “uneducated” that Paryski’s detractors called them.
Issues of the Ameryka Echo are on microfilm, held at Bowling Green State University.
Getting back to Waclaw Gawronski, it seemed as if we may have had a man of some importance within the Toledo Polish community. Not only was he president and editor of the Ameryka Echo, he was Consul of the Republic of Poland in France and Consul General in Berlin and Chicago before he lived in Toledo. Mr. Gawronski lived in Toledo from about 1939 to 1961, moving back to Chicago. During his time in Toledo, he was also founder of the Toledo Polish Arts Club. He died 27 March 1979 in Chicago. His obit is below.
Ameryka-Echo Editor, Former Polish Consul
Waclaw M. Gawronski, 86, of Chicago, formerly of the 2700 block of Collingwood Boulevard, retired Polish language journalist and former Polish consul, died Tuesday in a Chicago hospital.
Mr. Gawronski was president and editor-in-chief of the Ameryka-Echo in Toledo in the late 1950s.
He moved to Chicago in 1961 after the newspaper, then considered one of the foremost foreign-language publication in America, ceased publication here.
He was also a writer for Polish-language newspapers in Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit, and was founder of the Polish Arts Club of Toledo.
He held a doctor of law degree from the King John Casimer University, Lwow, Poland.
Mr. Gawronski was consul of the Republic of Poland in France and consul general in Berlin and Chicago before moving to Toledo in 1939.
His wife, Halina, survives.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Stanislaus Church, Toledo.
There will be no visitation.
The family requests that any tributes be in the form of contributions to the Heart Association.
Mr. Gawronski is buried in Calvary Cemetery, alongside his first wife, Zofia.