BADINOV Polka Band

By The K.I.N.G. - Krajewski Internet News Group

THE INSTIGATOR - Explosive News Inside and Out

PRESIDENT'S DAY DANCE: (C.P.A.) Excerpts by: M. Patterson   

Feb 15, 2015, Brooklyn, OH: Cleveland Polka Association. - On Sunday, February 14th, the temperature was in the high teens/low twenties and it was, to our way of thinking, a perfect day to stay home by the fire eating toasted cheese sandwiches on multi-grain bread served with chunky tomato bisque soup but we love polka music so we donned our overcoat and headed over to Agostino’s Event Center on Ridge Road in Brooklyn in order to attend the President’s Day Dance of the Cleveland Polka Association (C.P.A.) although it was announced that it COULD be regarded as the Sweetheart’s Dance too since it took place on Valentine’s Day.

It was estimated that 150 people were there and the place was lively, indeed. The band playing was Polish Polka Band named “Badinov” and it was led by veteran musician Mr. Randy Krajewski.

We talked to Mr. Krajewski about this and he readily acknowledged that polka’s initial roots were more Czech than Polish and he believed that polka just might be more popular in the United States than it is in Poland. He explained to us that each ethnic group has its own unique polka style and there are even different styles within the ethnic group. Polish polka, for instance, has three styles which are “Eastern”, “Chicago”, and “Honky.”

The C.P.A. is a Polish-American polka organization that works closely with the U.S.P.A. (United States Polka Association) promoting the Polish Polka and its heritage. The C.P.A reminded us to come to the U.S.P.A. Memorial Day Polka Festival in Independence, OH coming up in May, 2016 which is expected to have an attendance of 1,000 people.

JIM AND LOU'S BAR Recalled- re-printed Mar. 1, 2016

Oct, 15 2005 ToledoOhioThe Polish Village- Mulberry St.- Jim and Lou Ratajski (brothers) opened "Jim and Lou's Bar" on September 28th, 1951 in the north end of Toledo on the corner of Mulberry and Central Avenue. 54 years later and a series of unfortunate events have led the bar to close permanently thus ending a chapter in the historic Polish Village of Toledo, Ohio.

The last of its kind in the "old north end", Jim and Lou's was a genuine Polish, neighborhood, corner bar.  It was a slice of history with character and charm unique to those who patronized the storied establishment.  Much of the bar's appeal was due to the boss, Lou Ratajski's personality and wit.  Engaging conversation about politics, neighborhood history, or current events could always be found there.

Jim and Lou's often found itself playing host to Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, City Councilmen, a few movie stars and a plethora of local polka musicians.   A source of inspiration, the bar spawned the original composition called "Jim and Lou's" (polka) by Randy Krajewski and performed by Crusade on their recording,  In response to Exile.

On October 15th, 2005, Jim and Lou's bar at 3032 Mulberry St., was destroyed by fire during an anti-Nazi demonstration that escalated into a neighborhood riot captivating the nation and putting Toledo into an unfavorable national spot light.  With violence not seen in Toledo since the race riots of the 1960s, crowds sometimes numbering more than 500 threw rocks, bottles, and bricks at law enforcement officials on that fateful day. Police responded with clouds of tear gas and wooden “knee-knocker” pellets.  

The neo-Nazis' rally was greeted by a large crowd of protesters. Even though Toledo police canceled the event, the neo-Nazis' presence sparked assaults on bystanders and vandalism that cost more than $336,000 in personnel costs, damages to government vehicles, private businesses, and other costs.

At its ugliest, looters struck at least four businesses, including Jim and Lou’s which they set on fire. More than 120 Toledo residents, most from the neighborhood, were arrested in connection with the rioting. Rioters burned Jim & Lou's bar, looted two carryouts and other businesses, flipped over a car, and injured a police officer and two firefighters with rocks.

Police arrested at least 60 people — 43 adults and 17 juveniles — primarily for aggravated rioting, assault, and vandalism. Some were gang members, police and Mayor Jack Ford said.

The area around Central and Mulberry near Woodward High School erupted into violence after crowds in the predominantly black neighborhood were angry about a planned neo-Nazi march. Even though police canceled the march by the National Socialist Movement before it began, it wasn’t enough to stop the violence.                

That intersection quickly became ground zero for the mob that took over that section of town. Numerous vehicles were showered with bricks, stones, and just about any object people could find. Some took large, broken stones and threw them against the edge of the curb to break it into more stones so others could throw them at police and others.

Police fired back with pepper spray, mace, and wooden bullets. People scattered from the intersection, only to quickly gather back. By midafternoon Police Chief Navarre said 60 percent of the city’s entire police force, or roughly 400 officers, were on duty in the area.

At around 2:30 p.m., Mayor Jack Ford, Mr Walter, Toledo Fire Chief Mike Bell, and the Rev. Mansour Bey, associate pastor of First Church of God, approached a crowd of about 600 people at the intersection of Mulberry and Central in an attempt to calm the crowd. It didn’t work.          

Using a megaphone to make themselves heard over the shouts from the crowd, Mr. Ford and Mr. Bell tried to explain that the Nazis had left hours ago.      

As the officials talked with the crowd, looters just across the intersection broke into Jim and Lou’s Bar and began stealing merchandise.                 

At one point, Mr. Bell appeared to be successful in negotiating. He approached a crowd of police officers gathered a couple of blocks away and announced that the crowd “said they’d disperse if the police left.” He returned to the intersection, but someone had set Jim and Lou’s bar on fire. Walking back toward the police, Chief Bell just shook his head. “No negotiating. We’re done,” he said. “They set the building on fire.”  

Unable to kick a side door of the bar open, one rioter had used a gun to shoot the lock open. The stairway inside led to the upstairs apartment. Rioters started throwing furniture and appliances and book shelves from the apartment’s windows before setting it on fire. They chanted and waved their hands outside as the blaze roared through the upstairs apartment.

Nothing can change the sad events that took place on that day in October, 2005.  Differences of opinion will never justify running through the streets destroying property, destroying lives just because someone doesn't see "eye to eye" with someone else. Violence and hatred begets more violence and hatred. We lost a lot of things that day but none as storied as Jim and Lou's. And we hope its not without reason.  Maybe the loss of Jim and Lou's was about bringing a community back together.  Maybe it was about destroying fears and rebuilding a new plan of life and community.  Nearly nine months later, the community has grown, and it is on the road to recovery. 

NOTE: The Krajewski recording "A Tribute – Jim and Lou's (1951-2005)" carried the original tune "Jim and Lou's" polka along with a tune called, "North End Tears" commemorating the tragic loss of the Jim and Lou's bar during the riot of October 15th, 2005.  Randy and Lou's Boys have released the CD available in Limited copies are available through Randy Krajewski himself.

"Come down to Jim and Lou's to shake your blues, the worries of today Friends are sharing"

Parts of this story was written and reported by Blade Staff Writer Luke Shockman with reporting by Kim Bates, Joshua Boak, Erica Blake, Roberta de Boer, Dale Emch, Tom Henry, Clyde Hughes, Andre Monroe, Mike Sigov, Tom Troy, and Mark Zaborney.

The Joy of Growing up Polish (In toledo) Reprinted on Feb 29, 2016: author unknown

Toledo, Ohio: The Polish Village- Lagrange St.- I was well into adulthood before I realized that I was an American. Of course, I had been born in America and had lived here all of my life, but somehow it never occurred to me that just being a citizen of the United States meant I was an American.  Americans were people who ate peanut butter and jelly on mushy white bread that came out of plastic packages.  ME?? I was Polish! 

For me ... as I am sure for most second-generation Polish-American children who grew up in the 50s or 60s, there was a definite distinction drawn between US and THEM. We were Poles.  Everybody else – the Irish, German, Italians, Jewish – they were the "Americans."  There were no hard feelings, just – well – we were sure ours was the better way. 

Truly, I pitied their loss. When it came to food, it always amazed me that my American friends or classmates only ate turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Or rather, that they only ate turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.  Now we Poles – we also had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, but – only after we had finished the borcht, kielbasa, kapuszta, pierogis, and whatever else Babcia (Grandma) thought might be appropriate for that particular holiday. The turkey was usually accompanied by a roast of some kind (just in case somebody walked in who didn't like turkey) and was followed by an assortment of fruits, nuts, pastries, cakes and, of course, homemade cookies.  No holiday was complete without some home baking, none of that store-bought stuff for us. This is where you learned to eat a seven-course meal between Noon and 4:00 p.m.   

Speaking of food – Sunday was truly the big day of the week. That was the day you'd wake up to the smell of a roast in the oven and fresh baked breads.  As you lay in bed, you could hear the hiss of the pierogis as they were dropped into the pan.  Sunday we always had pot roast and kielbasa (usually smoked) with rye bread.  Sunday would not be Sunday without going to Mass and of course, you couldn't eat before Mass because you had to fast before receiving Communion. But, the good part was we knew that when we got home, we'd find a hot Polish meal with all the trimmings. 

There was another difference between US and THEM. We had gardens, not just flower gardens, but huge gardens where we grew tomatoes, and cucumbers. We ate them, cooked them, jarred them. Of course, we also grew mushrooms, dill, lettuce and squash. Everybody had a grapevine and a fig tree, and in the fall everyone made homemade wine, lots of it. Of course, those gardens thrived so because we also had something else it seemed our American friends didn't seem to have. We had a Grandfather (Dziadek). It's not they didn't have grandfathers; it's just that they didn't live in the same house, or nearby. They visited their grandfathers. We ate with ours, and God forbid we didn't see him at least once a week. I can still remember my Dziadek telling me how he came to America as a young man "on the boat." How the family lived in a rented tenement on Manhattan St. in Toledo's Lagrinka (Lagrange St.) area and struggled to make ends meet; how he decided he didn't want his children, one son and two daughters, to grow up in that environment.  All of this, of course, in his version of Polish/English which I soon learned to understand quite well.  

So, when he saved enough, and I could never figure out how, he bought a house in the Polish Village of North Toledo. The house served as the family headquarters for the next 40 years. I remember how he hated to leave, would rather sit by the window and watch his garden grow and when he did leave for some special occasion, had to return as quickly as possible.  After all, "Nobody's watching the house."  I also remember the holiday when all the relatives would gather at my Grandfather's house and there'd be tables full of food and homemade spiritus and polka music. The women were always in the kitchen, men in the living room and kids everywhere. I have a lot of cousins, first and second. And my Grandfather, his fine moustache trimmed, would sit in the middle of it all surveying his domain, proud of his family, smoking his cigar and admiring how well his children had done.  

He had achieved a goal in coming to America and to Toledo and knew his children and their children were achieving the same goals that were available to them in this country because they were Polish Americans with that strong Polish work ethic. When my Grandfather died years ago at the age of 79, things began to change slowly at first. Family gatherings were fewer and something seemed to be missing, although when we did get together, I always had the feeling he was there somehow. It was understandable; of course, everyone now had families and grandchildren of their own

When my grandfather died years ago, things began to change. The differences between us and them aren't so easily defined anymore and I guess that's good. My grandparents were Polish, Poles, my parents are Polish Americans, maybe I'm an American- Pole and maybe my children are American Americans. Oh, I'm American alright and proud of it, just as my grandfather would want me to be.  In fact, we are all Americans now .. Irish, Germans, Italians and Jews.. US citizens all .. but somehow, I still feel POLISH! Call it culture, call it tradition, call it roots.  Whatever its called, I'm proud of it.  

Polish immigrants settled in two distinct Toledo neighborhoods: "Lagrinka" in the north and "Kuschwantz" on the southern outskirts of the city. The Poles helped to build Toledo with a sense of pride, rooted in their desire to claim a part of it as their own. Nothing could ever break the spirit of the Polish soul or adherence to heritage, customs and traditions.   

Here in Toledo, our little corner of Polonia, we cherish the triumphs and struggles of our ancestral past and embrace with jubilation the customs we still follow - Polish Pride runs strong and we are proud to be Polish-Americans.