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PAC Salvages a Piece of Long Island Ethnic History

Port Washington, NY, March 10, 2011 ... "One manís junk is another manís treasure." Itís an old saying with a lot of truth in it, especially among people who deal in antiques like Chet Szarejko.

Szarejko (left) is vice president of the Downstate New York Division of the Polish American Congress and chairman of the organizationís Political Activities Committee. Along with his family, he also owns an antique shop in upstate New York.

The combination of his ethnic background and his business involvement allowed him to recognize a Pol ish "treasure" which will now find its proper place at the Polish American Museum in Port Washington, on New Yorkís Long Island.

As a property owner on Long Island, Szarejko spends considerable time at garage and yard sales his neighbors hold. He tries to spot an antique or other valuable items among the clutter suburban homeowners put out on their lawn or in their garage to get rid of it and maybe make a few dollars besides.

The Polish "treasure" Szarejko discovered was a framed document from 1927 at a Nassau County yard sale with a $7 price tag attached.

He could hardly believe somebody was disposing this way of the Certificate of Incorporation of the Polish American Democratic Club of Port Washington. It bore the signature of the legendary city planner and highway builder, Robert Moses, who happened to be New Yorkís Secretary of State in 1927.

"This discarded certificate is priceless. Itís a significant find. Itís a piece of Polish immigrant history that gives us important insight into the political consciousness of the Polish immigrants who owned and worked the farmlands of Long Island," said Szarejko.

The club is no longer in existence and inquiries about its origin directed to longtime residents of Port Washington have not yet produced any results.

The years just before and just after 1900 represent the period of the great immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe. Many Polish farmers came to Long Island Ė from the city line out to Riverhead, according to Szarejko.

"The baseball great and Hall of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski, grew up on the potato farms around Riverhead," he said.

At Szarejkoís initiative, the Downstate N.Y. Congress will donate the certificate to the Polish American Museum at 16 Belleview Ave., Port Washington on Sunday, March 27th at 3:00 p.m.

It will be a formal ceremony with participation by civic and political dignitaries, among whom will be Nassau County Legislator, Wayne H. Wink, Jr.

Barbara Szyd, president of the Polish American Museum, extends her invitation to the public for the ceremony and the reception that follows. Refreshments will be served and visitors are invited to tour the museum and view its various exhibits.

Contact: Frank Milewski
       (516) 352-7125

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