Friday, August 29, 2014

Chapter 15 - "Let The Dead Be Heard": Part 6 - The Polish Mechanics Company

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

The International Labor Conference had not adjourned, but Alfred—either because his official role had ended or because he had resigned in disgust—left Washington with Mira at the end of December. The new year—1920—found them in New York City with their base of operations at the National Arts Club on 15th Street. Since they were delaying their move to Poland, Mira was in search of new painting commissions. In the meantime, Alfred had gotten involved with the Polish Mechanics Company, recently formed in Toledo, Ohio with branches in Chicago, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Rochester, and Warsaw, Poland. The company leaders, a group of Polish-American engineers and businessmen, hoped to get Polish immigrants in America to invest in manufacturing ventures in Poland. The firm, which continued operating until 1940, became the largest and most successful of a number of such companies set up by Poles in the U.S.

In mid-January, Korzybski began a whirlwind speaking/fund-raising tour for the company. From January 17 until the end of the month he traveled and lectured in Philadelphia, Chester, Wilmington, Camden, Trenton, Perth Amboy, Elizabeth, Passaic, Paterson, Jersey City, Newark, Schenectady, Amsterdam, Utica, Syracuse, Fulton and Oswego. Then it was back to New York City for a couple of weeks—he and Mira had moved to an apartment on 8th Street—before going on another lecture tour. In mid-February he went to Toledo, then Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Jackson, Detroit, and back to Toledo before returning to New York on February 25. (31) A poster in Polish advertised one of Korzybski’s talks in Michigan:
WHY? Every Pole and Polish Woman to whose hands this flyer will fall should participate in the great rally of the Polish Mechanics Company in America. Engineer A. Korzybski, the most gifted speaker in New York, a veteran of the last war, will speak on Saturday February 14 at 7 p.m. in the Polish Falcons’ Hall on Larch Ave. 1) The government of Poland and the whole society support our work. 2) You will assure a better future for your children. 3) You will return to Poland to your own benchwork. 4) You won’t give away the industry into foreign hands. 5) You will hear about the first cooperative organization in the world. 6) You will be a member of an organization numbering 6,000 intelligent Poles in the United States. 7) You will not disappoint the hope invested in you by your brothers and sisters waiting with happiness for you in the father land. 8) You will move the industry in Poland and you will pull from misery the Polish worker. 9) You will create an exemplary school. 10) You will be among your own where your heart and your understanding are calling you. All these questions will be mostly clarified at the rally. The attendance is free to everyone. No political disputes... (32)

Soon after Alfred’s return to New York City in the beginning of March, Mira went to Detroit to do a portrait. Meanwhile Alfred, continuing his work for the Polish Mechanics Company, applied to the Fidelity and Deposit Company in Maryland to become the company’s bonded representative, worked to set up a private banking business for the company in New York in order to help Poles forward money to their relations in Poland without the excessive exchange rates demanded from other banks, and investigated New York City real estate for the company, which wanted to buy an apartment building in the city. He was applying himself to company business with vigor. In turn, the people at the company seemed appreciative and eager for him to continue the relationship.

In April, he went to Michigan to meet Mira. Having completed the portrait in Detroit, she visited her childhood home of Jackson, where the Art Association was sponsoring an exhibition of her paintings. Alfred got there in time to attend a reception in Mira’s honor. From Michigan, they made their way to Kansas City to visit Mira’s sister, Amy, on her farm. From there they planned to return to New York and leave for Europe and Poland in the fall.

Before leaving New York City, at the beginning of April, Alfred had written a note to Ferguson, still expressing his admiration for The Revolution Absolute. He wanted to shorten the text and add more explicit chapters on cooperatives. It seems likely he was still planning to do this when he and Mira got to Amy’s farm in mid-April. However, Alfred’s focus was already shifting from Ferguson’s work, from his business with the Polish Mechanics Company, and from Poland. He had gotten sidetracked by a vision.

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 
31. Bill to Polish Mechanics, 25 Lutego (February) 1920, (trans. by Zahava Sweet). AKDA 37.65. 

32. Polish Mechanics Poster, (trans. by Zahava Sweet). AKDA 37.143.

No comments: