The Melnick / Melnyk Family

Chapter 3

The Early Years

On November 1st, 1911, Joseph (1), the first of eight children, was born. Shortly followed the births of William (Stone) November 1st, 1912; Peter, February 24th, 1915; Nick, April 29th, 1916; Paul, February , 1918; Sonia, April 1st, 1920; Ann, December 9th, 1921; and finally Michael, March 21st, 1925.

The new world for Ivan would not be the dream that he had intended it to be. He had been absorbed into the labour market and neither he nor his children would rise out of the rank of the working class. He worked at the steel plant from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week. Sundays, however, were frequently taken off; it was a holy day, a time to celebrate. On such days Ivan would call a few of his friends together for a jam session and sooner or later, a bottle of rum would emerge, then several more. The musical practice would turn into a party and frequently the workers would be absent from work again on Monday. However, despite the partying, Ivan was very religious. When the Holy Ghost Church was completed in 1913, he became a chanter (2). His band performed concerts in the hall for the enjoyment of all. At home it was different. Ivan became an extremely harsh and strict father. But it must be emphasized that life was not easy, in any sense of the word, and most individuals acted in the same manner towards their wives and children. Obedience and control were required at all times.

However, the kind ways of Maria made up for the harshness of Ivan. On special occasions such as Christmas and Easter, Maria would take the children to the local tailor, a Jewish man by the name of Philip Gausie, and outfit them from head to toe. Being married to a man like Ivan enabled Maria to be strong, and to be able to stand up to anyone or anything. She would stand up to Mr. Gausie and bargain for each piece of clothing she intended to purchase, reducing the price by ten or twenty cents. When everything that was needed was bought, Maria would again bargain with Mr. Gausie over the entire price and again succeed in reducing the total cost by a dollar or two, thus, saving herself about three dollars. Mr. Gausie would comment, “Please, please go Mrs. Melnyk; the more clothing you buy, the more money I lose!” When Easter Sunday came, the Melnyks were easily noticed in their new outfits and Maria would look so proud; never could things like this happen in the old country.

 Webmaster's Notes:

(1) Additional information on Joseph can be found on the Melnick / Melnyk Homepage

(2) Chanter A lay person who assists the priest by chanting the responses and hymns in the services or sacraments of the church. Today chanters have been replaced to some extent by choirs.

Copyright © 2006 Robert Stephen Melnick. All rights reserved