The Rockland Hotel

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Anthony Poltrack (left) and Rockland Hotel Chef
Anthony Poltrack and Rockland Hotel Chef

Recently, I sent out some photos of my grandfather to commemorate his birthday. While I was collecting the photos I came across the biographical notes that my cousin Cynthia had made about our Grandfather. She remembers the hotel (even had some dreams of time spent there) but I was too young. Here are her notes:

Anthony was smuggled across border to get out of Poland in 1901. Came to
U.S. Worked in the coal mines in Pennsylvania as a child (no child labor
laws). As a adult, he worked at Yale and Town. His sister Mary worked
there as a timekeeper and helped get him a job. Anthony got to be a
foreman (would be an engineer in modern times). He was very concerned
about the worker’s finger tips that were always being cut. He invented a
shield or safety catch for Yale and Town lock company to prevent loss of
fingers of assembly line workers. Still in use. He got $500 for it
which is much too high for those days as one could buy a house to live in
during those days for that money. He spoke fluent English and knew how
to handle the foreigners. He had a wonderful sense of humor and charm.
Many evenings he would have a class for those who wanted to be citizens.
Naturalized at least 50 citizens through interpretation/translation
assistance. He sponsored such a large number that the governor gave him a
citation. He was a good citizen. Every evening he would walk to the
Advocate (newspaper) office. There was a big bulletin in the window with
daily news which he would read and come home and tell his family what was
going on. As Lillian said, “I think our interest in politics comes from
these reports”.
With the $500, he bought a mansion that had to be razed. Took all the
lumber and built two apartments over their bungelow. Kowaleski’s lived
in one. All the bathroom fixtures were transferred. Lamps and other
things were installed after being taken apart. Lillian remembers various
neighbors coming in to admire and pull the chain to flush the toilet.
“Goodbye outhouse. Boy, did we feel rich”.
Anthony sold insurance at night after work. Whenever he made a sale he
would wake children up with ice cream or a chocolate bar.
Loved animals…dogs always followed him home and in his last years,
worked at a veterinarian hospital to be near them.
Helped build the Holy Name Church in Stamford, CT (stone by stone). Owned
and operated a hotel in Stamford -(Rockwell ??) and made quite a nice
living in real estate until the stock market crash in the 20’s.

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7 thoughts on “The Rockland Hotel

  1. I remember Rockland as a huge gorgeous place, the wood and huge staircase. Mom always said she loved to glide down the grand staircase. I also remember the huge living room to the left….with a huge floor to ceiling Christmas tree and a train that ran under it and around it. I also remember being in that room with everyone crying and crying…..I think it was when Uncle Frankie died…. Willow Court…..I remember you walk in and to the left was like a living room with a piano in it……straight ahead was the stairs going up…..It was a small gray house….on a short street right in town. Memories…are made of this ! Shar send this on to all, as there was no reply to all…..

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  2. I have fond recollections of your father when I was a boy the few times we met. I have boxes of old pictures from my father’s estate including some of the Rockland and many of the family. I believe we crossed paths when we were both at Digital. /johnkjr

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  3. Yes my Dad was always fishing with his cousin “Johnny K”. We shared the Digital experience, and as I remember you were doing some sophisticated engineering. Are you still working with computers? I’m still working at HP from Compaq from Digital. I’m very excited to hear that you have old photos of the family. I’ve been sharing the few old ones I have with the family. But I’ve been trying to locate more. If you are willing to share, I’d like to borrow the “boxes” and scan them in to share. I promise to get them back in good shape and I’ll throw in a CD of the digital files for the effort. You can email me for my home address John.Poltrack@gmail.com. Great hearing from you cousin.

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  4. My memories are just like Sharrie’s. The crying was definitely when they got word that Fran had been killed in action.Mom and I have both asked Frances K. about family photos of the Rockland and she said Johnny Jr had them. I am so glad he is offering them – I can assure you, Johnny Jr, that John P will put them on disks for you and it won’t take him long at all. Seems to be his passion – collecting old family photos. And he does a remarkable job sharing them.

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  5. I found your blog when researching the Rockland House/Hotel. What happened to the picture? I would love to see it if you can get it working again.

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