Edmund’s father owned a farm ten kilometers away from the city of Warsaw, Poland. Whatever people needed, they sold. They grew cherries, rhubarb, potatoes, Swiss chard, strawberries, raspberries, pears and apples. They owned cows and chickens that produced milk and eggs. They made their own cheese. Edmund’s father would fill the wagon at 4:00 in the morning and wouldn’t come home from Warsaw until every last thing was sold.
Although the farm was successful, Edmund’s family didn’t quite fit in because they were ethnically German, but Polish citizens. They lived in an area that was like a swath of Germany located in Poland. They spoke German. They had their own Evangelical Lutheran church. Their own school. Their own Mayor.
Living in a German outcrop when Hitler invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939 made their living situation difficult, to say the least. The Polish people didn’t like them because they were the same ethnicity of the army that had just invaded Poland.
In 1944 Hitler was forced out of Poland by the Russians. Even though they were technically Polish, Edmund and his family knew that once the German forces were out of Poland, they would be killed by either the Polish or by the Russian “Red Army” that was marching towards Warsaw. As the German armies were retreating, and in a last ditch effort to save the German people, Hitler tried to consolidate all the “ethnic Germans” from neighboring countries into Germany.
Fearing for their life if they remained in Poland, Edmund’s family traveled to Schlesien where they lived with hundreds of other refugees in a castle for a year. When the Russians advanced towards Schlesien, Edmund and his family were loaded onto trains and sent to Czechoslovakia. But the living situation in Czechoslovakia was so dire that Edmund’s family never even unloaded – they spent days eating, sleeping and living out of railroad cars parked in the rail depot.
After leaving Czechoslovakia, Edmund’s family ended up Bavaria, but the Bavarians didn't like them because they were technically Polish and 99% of Bavarians were Catholic and Edmund’s family was Lutheran. But there was nowhere else to go so they stayed in Bavaria. Edmund had nothing but a suitcase with a coat, underwear and pair of socks in it. His family slept in schools and barns and anywhere else where there was shelter from the wet and cold and brutal Bavarian winters. They lived like this for ten years.
Eventually Edmund learned the trade of tailoring, but there were no jobs in Bavaria – he was a fine tailor surrounded by mountains and cheese making facilities. In the 1950’s America encouraged immigrants to come to the United States. A Polish and German church on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan paid for Edmund to immigrate and he came to America on August 22, 1956. After being in America for three months Edmund was forced to join the army and ended up in Fort Knox, Kentucky as a tanker in the sixth armored division. After a year of service he was discharged as a Private First Class Officer.
When Edmund arrived back in New York there was a German paper with an advertisement: 'Brooks Brothers is looking for good hand tailors and professional men.' Edmund began his career in the United States working for Brooks Brothers. He was with the company for twelve years when Brooks Brothers opened a store in Pittsburgh and asked him to manage it. Years later, when the head manager of Brooks Brothers on 44th and Madison died, Edmund was asked to take the assignment as head fitter and head tailor of the Madison Avenue location.
Eventually Edmund was asked to take over the Brooks Brothers factory in Long Island City, where he was responsible for the 220 tailors that manufactured the Brooks Brothers clothing line. Aspiring to own his own business, Edmund quit Brooks brothers and opened a dry cleaning store in Glendale. The name of the store was A&H French Dry cleaners. Even though Edmund was a Polish man with a German ethnicity operating a French dry cleaning store, A&H became the finest dry cleaning store in all of Queens.
Goose Chronicles Outtakes:
“What is your recollection of Hitler?”
“We always hated Hitler. How could a German be so aggressive and dumb and animal like? Hitler did what Donald Trump is doing right now. He always needed to be the center of attention. Nobody had the guts to stand up to him and say enough is enough.”
“What is your most interesting story?”
“My most interesting story is that I had the guts to do what I did. Everything was always my decision. I am a completely self-made man. Nobody ever gave me anything. I came here with nothing and eventually I owned by own business, my own house and even a five family house across the street.”
“Where is the best place to get good tailored clothing?”
“There are no more US tailors.
“What happened to the tailoring?”
“We used to have a lot of Italian and Czechoslovakian people doing the tailoring in America. Now all the work is being done in Asia.”
“How do you feel about the crisis in Syria?”
“They are in the same situation I was in. I feel sorry for them. Not for the government, but for the people. The leader in Syria (Bashar al-Assad), he's another bastard.”
“You were a tanker in the Army?”
“Yeah. (smiling) A tailored tanker.”