Taxidermized Squirrels

My Dzidze (great-grandfather) immigrated from Stanislawa, Poland to Amsterdam, New York when he was 16 years old. In Poland, he worked as a cobbler making boots for the military, but when he arrived in America, like many other Polish immigrants in Amsterdam, he worked in the carpet mills. He met my Babci (great-grandmother) in Amsterdam, where they were married and had three daughters and a son. After many years working in the mills, they bought a farm where they raised livestock and lived off the land. Dzidze even took up carpentry on the farm. Even though he had lived in America for years, Dzidze's English wasn't very good, and he decided to subscribe to a mail order taxidermy school in Omaha, Nebraska to help him learn English through the written instructions. My grandmother remembers reading the instructions to him and holding the animals while he skinned them to do the work. These squirrels are some of Dzidze's handiwork. To me, they symbolize his resourcefulness and his work with his hands - from shoemaking to the mills to carpentry and, obviously, to taxidermy. They also symbolize my family's love of the outdoors and reliance on the land. During the Great Depression, Dzidze hunted whatever he could, and my grandmother remembers eating many a squirrel when times were tough. Finally, they symbolize the value of never letting anything go to waste, a value which remains very important to my family to this day.

Year: 1914

– Alison

Relationship:  unknown unknown