Image of the city of Brest from wikipedia. This column appeared in The Redland Times in August.
THE overalls that featured in our for-sale column at a bargain price may have been a symbolic offering from Cleveland’s Taddeusz "Ted" Lewandowski.
Ted is happy he doesn’t need them any more after his life of hard work.
The overalls were a relic of Ted’s last 11-year stint as a boilermaker. He is 80 years old and looks back on a lot of hard work in many jobs since he migrated from Germany after his discharge from the allied occupation force.
August 19 will be the 59th anniversary of his arrival in Queensland for a new life in 1949 after the suffering of World War II.
He was born in a small Polish town that went under Russian control and he grew up in the city of Brest, on the Polish side of the border.
His dad was Bolesaw Lewandowski, the city’s police commissioner.
TED says he was only 11 years old in 1939 when the Russians arrested his father.
"All the police and the army were trying to get somewhere else and they were caught by the Russians," he says.
"I think my father was in Romania."
He says his dad was among 12,000 Polish prisoners – "all the top people … doctors, teachers …" – whom the Russians massacred in a camp near Moscow about two years later, as the Germans advanced on the capital.
In 1947, Ted enlisted in a British army transport company. The reward was an offer to migrate to "England, America, Canada, you name it -- I chose Australia".
His first work here came through a two-year contract with the Federal Government. He made boxing, mixed concrete and helped fill a dam wall near Dimbulah in Far North Queensland.
TED then had a Sydney holiday. "I went single and came back married," he says.
On January 1, 1953, Ted married his Polish-born wife, Helen.
Ted and Helen have lived in Queensland since then and moved to the Redlands 20 years ago.
They had two children, Victoria and Richard.
The son has work clothes that are quite different from those boilermaker’s overalls.
Dr Richard Lewandowski, a plastic surgeon, is the founder of the Australian arm of Operation Smile, which focuses on developing countries to help children with severe facial deformities "become a normal face in the crowd".
Ted and Helen are now keenly awaiting the Olympic Games opening, where Victoria’s daughter, Dana Hendley, 13, will play cymbals with a contingent from her Sheldon College band.
The grandparents expect a visit from Dana this morning, before she leaves for Beijing.
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