Today I received a message about someone I met in 2013 through my Weaving Yarns oral history project. Jerzy Szauman-Szumski was born in Poland in 1922. He told me how he came to work in the carpet industry in Kidderminster. His warm, generous personality made an impression on me straight away, and there is a page in my book (Weaving Yarns, Black Pear Press) dedicated to him. I’m sad to know that he died a few weeks ago at the age of 97. I have fond memories of our conversation and can still hear his beautiful voice.
Anna, who took the trouble to contact me, said this about him:
A wonderful gentleman whom I had known all my life. I’m glad you have “immortalised” him in your book.
To honour his memory, here are his words:
I lost my country, lost everything I had. I had to start from nothing. We lost everything generations had worked for – houses, horses, cows… They just came, arrested you and you go. So instead of being a wealthy man, you are beggar. They close you down.
I had good schooling in Poland. I love agriculture, I love country, I love animals. So when I first went to Carpet Trades I remember I was horrified because I never saw factory, never mind work in factory! I was impressed. It was very good, all automatic, chik-chik! I thought, what can I do here? I couldn’t understand anything about it!
I love Tomkinsons family; they’ve been fantastic people, very good to the workers, and I had a good pension, so I can’t grumble. I don’t know whether I deserve it or not!