Let’s Talk Clovis: Peter Maslolwski, 1889-1978, Part II

By Peg Bos, Clovis Museum

We continue the story of the Maslowski family that is based on the family history written by their daughter Helen Maslowski-Holecek. Simon Maslowski (born in Smiguel, Poland) and his wife Elizabeth arrived in the United States in 1887. They settled in St. Paul, Minnesota. Peter was the second child of their 12 children.

In 1892 the Maslowski’s homesteaded 10 acres of land in Thorpe, Wisconsin. Their belongings (plus three small children five, three and one years old) were placed in a prairie schooner as they joined a wagon train to Thorpe. They were extremely disappointed when they discovered their land was a wilderness (thick dense over growth) with no place to park their schooner. They were determined to create a working family farm.

Peter completed the third grade in school and began working on the family farm to help support his family. He was competent in reading, writing and arithmetic. He was also fluent in writing and speaking the Polish language.

He was tall, strong and good looking. He was described as dapper (neat, trim and stylish). It is said that he liked the girls and they liked him. He possessed a strong work ethic. In addition to helping at the farm, he worked as a logger, liveryman, mason and carpenter.

Peter’s brother Leon enlisted in the army during WW I (April 6, 1917-November 11, 1918). His letters to Peter suggested that he should also serve his country. Peter enlisted in the army on May 5, 1918 at the age of 28. He was deployed to France and fought at Argonne. His unit would dig a trench each night and sleep with gas masks in place since poisonous gas was used in battle.

At the end of the war, General Pershing ordered Colonel Babcock to organize the famous A.E.F. Composite Regiments that would march in Paris, London and New York. The men were selected for their moral fortitude, physical strength and fighting record. Peter was chosen and on July 14, 1919 he marched in the Victory Parade down the Champs Elysees under the Arc de Triumphs.

Peter “swore” that while marching in London (being reviewed by the Queen and the Prince of Wales) the Queen smiled and winked at him. The regiment’s final march was down 5th Avenue, New York City. Peter was discharged on September 26, 1919.

He returned to the family farm. His brother Frank had purchased five acres of land in Fresno (Tulare & Chestnut) and suggested Peter join them. Peter arrived in Fresno on Thanksgiving Day, 1920. Beautiful Rosie (his future bride) was also living with Frank. Peter’s goal was to save money to purchase land and Rosie’s goal was to return to Czechoslovakia to marry boyfriend Ludovic.

In early 1925 Peter purchased twenty acres on Helm Avenue between Gettysburg and Shaw. The small home had no water, electricity or indoor plumbing. There were a few acres of peaches and a small vineyard on the farm. Rosie and Peter did not see each other often but at a family gathering in April that year Rosie needed work and a place to live. The couple agreed that Rosie and her four year old son Ludovis would work for Peter and receive a very, very small wage.

Letters from Rosie’s family in Czechoslovakia described Ludvoic’s drunkenness and cavorting with women. Rosie decided she would not return home.

Peter and Rosie shared a hardworking, goal-orientated life. Their respect for each other matured into love. They were married on October 14, 1925. The money Rosie had been saving was applied to the loan on their property ($4,000).

Peter and a mid-wife delivered their first child Alexander who was named after Father Alexander Monroe of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Additional children: Frank, Lillian, Helen and Tom would follow. Dr. McMurtry was summoned for the births but Peter and a mid-wife always delivered prior to his arrival.

Daughter Helen remembers that her parents instilled in them to be honest, live with integrity, be a good citizen, to love and live with honor. The Maslowski family is an important part of our rich heritage.