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Interview with Joe Polansky

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Joe Polansky speaks about leaving high school to go and work in the coal mine in Coaldale, (Schuylkill County), PA after his father died. He stayed there for one year. During that year he became an amateur boxer and then attended a training course in Philadelphia under Jack O'Brien. He then had traveled thoughout PA for boxing matches. He moved to Binghamton and began participating in boxing matches in this region. The matches were held at Johnson Field and the Kalurah Temple. He boxed throughout New York, New Jersey and Ohio. He later became a professional boxer and retired from boxing in 1929. He discusses his boxing matches. He served as a referee for boxing and wrestling and was a boxing instructor. He was also associated with the New York State Athletic Commission. He recollects knowing notable boxers such as local boxer, Jack Sharkey, and Max Schmeling. He talks of meeting Jim Thorpe. He was a Boy Scout Commissioner in Binghamton's First Ward.


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Broome County Oral History Project
Interview with: Joe Polansky
Interviewed by: Dan O’Neil
Date of interview: 22 February 1978

Dan: This is Dan O’Neil, and I’m speaking to Joe Sheppe Polansky. 54 Glenwood Avenue, Binghamton, New York. The date is February 22, 1978. Okay, ah, Joe, would you, ah, relate to me your life and working experiences in the community with emphasis on your affiliation with the boxing profession?
Joe: Well, the boxing profession?
Dan: Yeah, you can start out with that. [Referring to outline that he had been given earlier]
Joe: Well, first I want to say that I was born June 18, 1902 in Coaldale, Pennsylvania in Schuylkill County in the coal mining fields and, ah…at the age of 16 my Father died and being the first - the oldest - boy of the family, nine, I went to work in the mines. And, eh, my education consisted of first year High School and then I had to go into the mines. I worked in the mines for one year and during that time I was boxing as an amateur, and boxing as an amateur at that time was 1918, during the War, and we had amateur fights all throughout the coal regions and I participated in all of them. They had, ah, community sings which consisted of boys being draft- eh, asked to get into the service, and they had boxing bouts at all those meetings, and I participated in every one. And I was very successful in the amateur ranks, knocking out a number of  boys, and, ah, at one time, I had two fights in one night. The first fight and the last fight. Because winning them both - knocking both boys out and, ah, my employment at that time? Well, I worked sporadically, learning the barber trade which I worked at time and time again because I was busily training for the fights, and I started my career in Tunakwa, Pennsylvania Hall. I scored four knockouts in a row then I, at that time, I met a lot of tough coal region boys. I was trained by the Chief of Police of my home town Coaldale, P.A. His name was James Foagallagher. He took great interest in me and at one of the fights I knocked out a soldier boy, and the soldier boy was very popular at that time so I wasn't so popular myself by knocking him out, however, that night Tiny Maxwell was the principle speaker at the banquet and Tiny Maxwell was a great sportswriter of the Philadelphia newspaper, and after I knocked both those boys out, the following week I was in the Philadelphia - Jack O’Brien’s gymnasium in Philadephia - training. I stayed there for 10 days, taking my training course from the great Philadelphia Jack O'Brien. And, ah, after I got through there, I boxed in Allentown, Pottsville, Lansford, Flagstaff, P.A., Nesquehoning, P.A., and a number of others - Reading and on to Philadelphia. Again, to box. Ah…that was what I called my employment at that time, was boxing and ah…(will ya shut that off now?). After I got through boxing in Philadelphia, I came to Binghamton for a 10 day vacation and, ah, I was working out at the YMCA and Smut Smith, who was Sports Editor of the Binghamton Sun, came over to the YMCA to watch me work out and he told, after watching me work out he says to me, he says, "What do you weigh?" I said, "135 pounds." He says, "Would you like to fight next Friday?" Here I'm in town only 5 days and Friday night was the big Binghamton Sun Community, ah, Contest that was run every year by the Sun Bulletin for, ah, some charitable affair and, ah, he says, "You're on to fight next Friday night." I said, "OK." So, Friday night came and there’s, the Kalurah Temple was packed to the hilt and that night I knocked out a young fellow - a very popular Binghamton boy by the name of Billy Kinney - and that night was one of the most notable nights in my career because I met George F. Johnson.
I met Mayor Tom Wilson and that time Senator Billy Hill - those were the three men I met that night I was in my, my first night in town. I, ah, and it was a great entry for me into the City of Binghamton. [inaudible] And, ah, at that time, I was living in Johnson Field right across from the ballpark and every morning I used to run around the ballpark to get my exercise and, ah…from then on, I kept boxing here in the City of Binghamton; Endicott; Johnson City; Syracuse; Rochester; Buffalo. And that was the start of my, my, ah, entry into Binghamton.
Talking about George F. Johnson, I met George F. Johnson a week later. And, ah, I says to Mr. Johnson that I would like to buy one of the E.J. homes. Mr. Johnson answered me, and he says, "Joe, the only one man, people can buy an E.J. home, are people who work for Endicott Johnson." And I said, "Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Johnson," but I said, "I'm thinking I know a man who wants to sell me their home and, ah, on Carlton Street, and I'd like to buy it." Three days later, Mr. Johnson called me to his office and he says, "Joe." He says, "You asked me about buying the E.J. home." I says, "Yes, I'd like to get my Mother up here and my family."
"Well,” he says, "you have a sister working for me, haven't you?"
I says, "Yeah, she's been working for ya for the past 20 years." He says, "Well, have her sign on the Deed and you can buy the home." And that’s how I bought the home at 40 Carlton Street, Johnson City - where we lived for many, many years.
Dan: Ah, what year did you come to Binghamton, Joe?
Joe: May 16, 1921.
Dan: Okay…and, ah, the reason was to, to…what was the reason you came to Binghamton, was for vacation, and you came to visit your sister?
Joe: That’s right. [inaudible] Her name is Mrs. Anna Gavula.
Dan: Gavula? Okay.
Joe: She lived on Broad Street, right across from the ballpark.
Dan: Okay, so you bought the house on Carlton Street?
Joe: That’s right.
Dan: Okay, and then from where then, then what did you do? After you bought the house - I mean, did you continue boxing?
Joe: Yes. Oh, I continued boxing until, uh…until 1929.
Dan: Until 1929. And that’s when you retired from actually, from actually-
Joe: That's right. That’s right.
Dan: Uh-huh. And then, wha - and then what?
Joe: I retired from boxing, and then I became the boxing instructor of the YMCA.
Dan: I see. Uh-huh.
Joe: And after - during that time, though, I was a boxing commissioner - ah, no, a boxing commissioner, ah…the boxing commissioner at that time was, um…Tom Farley.
Dan: Tom Farley?
Joe: Jim Farley.
Dan: Oh, the Postmaster?
Joe: Brother of the Postmaster General.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And I was interested in getting on the boxing commission, however it didn't get on there for awhile. But from 1930 until 1933, I was a New York State referee of boxing and wrestling, and after 1933…in 1937…I was, ah, boxing instructor at the old Binghamton Police gymnasium. Then Senator Lehman appointed me as Boxing Commissioner, ah, Inspector of the State Athletic Commission.
Dan: That was in 1937?
Joe: That - 1937.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And I was on it, nine - from 1937 until 1972.
Dan: Mm-hm. As a boxing commissioner - er, boxing instructor, rather?
Joe: That’s right.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: That’s what I think is 35 years altogether.
Dan: Mm-hm. Now Joe, as a boxing referee, were the bouts that you refereed locally or were they all over?
Joe: All over New York State.
Dan: And, and what, eh-?
Joe: Buffalo, Utica, ah…Auburn, Elmira, Binghamton, and all the other cities that had boxing bouts at that time.
Dan: Mm-hm. And, uh, in your travels, did you, ah, meet any, ah, notables?
Joe: Well, the most notable was the, the boxing bouts that I had was some of
Carmen Basilio's Championship fights in Syracuse.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And, ah…what'd I say? Well, Jack Sharkey was my famous, my favorite, ah, ah, man that I met in New York City at all the fights ‘cause he came down from his, ah, place in Boston, and I met him at all the fights in New York. And, ah, we always went out together, and we've been wonderful friends ever since. And, ah…Sharkey, to me, was a great fighter. He should, uh, when he was boxing Jack Dempsey, he was beating Jack Dempsey until Jack Dempsey really fouled him, and the he looked away and the first thing you know, Jack Dempsey hit him on the chin and knocked him out.
Dan: In what year was that, Joe?
Joe: 1928 or -29, I'm, uh…
Dan: Uh-huh.
Joe:I’m not sure.
Dan: Yeah.
Joe: I can't tell.
Dan: Now, now Jack Sharkey's given name was, what?
Joe: Za k- Z-A-U-K-A-U-S-K-A-S.[sic]
Dan: Uh-huh.
Joe: Zukauskas.
Dan: Uh-huh.
Joe: Joe Zukauskas.
Dan: And they lived on the lower end of Clinton Street. Down, ah, where…where that shop is now. I can't think of the name of it.
Dan: And how did, did, Joe happen to, ah, or Jack happen to get into the boxing, ah, profession? How did Jack Sharkey happen-?
Joe: Jack Sharkey was in the Navy. And that’s where he learned to box. And, uh…after he got out of the Navy, he, he was one of the first boxers to box Harry Wills. Jack Dempsey was Champion at the time and the color line was drawn pretty close, and Jack Dempsey would not fight Harry Wills.
Dan: In what year was this, Joe?
Joe: In, uh, the early - the late 20s.
Dan: Late 20s.
Joe: And, ah, Jack Sharkey fought Harry Wills despite the color line and beat Harry Wills at the time, and that made him very popular because Jack Dempsey wouldn't fight Harry Wills, yet Sharkey did and beat him. It wasn't whether Dempsey was afraid of him or what, but Sharkey fought him and beat him. And that's what made him a very popular fighter at that time. And, ah…Jack Sharkey visited here immediately after he got out of the Navy in 1924, I believe, -25, and he was my guest at, uh, the Carlton Hotel at that time and, ah…we went out on dates together at the time. And, ah, he was boxing under the name of…well, I think it was “Jack Sharkey” at that time, too. And, ah, he fought in Syracuse. He fought in Syracuse, eh, I don't know, I think it was -26, -27 in 1927. And, ah…Sharkey was not the most popular guy in Binghamton at that time because of something that happened previous to when he went into the Navy, which I don't know anything about.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And, ah…
Dan: Now, was - wasn’t he known, eh, as the Boston Gob?
Joe: That’s right. that’s right.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: Yeah. Yes, he was.
Dan: And he retired in what year? Do you remember…Joe?
Joe: After the, in the…late 30s, I think.
Dan: In the late 30s?
Joe: Sometime after  the - after 1930.
Dan: Uh-huh. And what do you recall of, uh - the Max Schmeling training here for his fight with Jack Sharkey?
Joe: Well, at that time he, uh, uh, as I just said, he wasn't the most popular, and that’s why George F. Johnson invited Max Schmeling to train in Endicott, and he trained at the old dance hall in Endicott. And, ah, I went down there quite often to watch him train because, ah, I knew his manager and some of his trainers through, ah, being on, ah…in boxing in New York. And, ah…I already knew him pretty well. I…I didn't get to meet, ah, Schmeling very often, but I met him a number of times down there and we talked. But the greatest athlete I think I ever met was a football player, and a baseball player, and a great Indian. And you know who he is?
Dan: Jim Thorpe.
Joe: Jim Thorpe. I met Jim Thorpe in Kalurah Temple. He came here with a wrestler by the name of Indian, Indian…Stock, I think his name was. and Bill Irving, who was one of the fi - allplayers here at that time…ah, was an old friend of Jim Thorpe. And we three of us sat in Kalurah Temple for two hours in the, the, ah…in the dressing room talking about old times, when Jim Thorpe played with the, with the baseball team in, in Ohio with Bill Irving. Ah…his early, ah, training in…at the…ah, University he attended at that time. And, ah, he was telling us about coming to Philadelphia for the ge - for the, eh, All-Star track events in Philadelphia, which was a yearly, was one of the, the biggest attractions throughout all, uh, colleges. And they waited, waited for the team to come in with Jim Thorpe from, uh, his university. It was an Indian School.
Dan: Yeah.
Joe: And, ah, I just can't think of the name-
Dan: Carlisle?
Joe: Carlisle College. And they waited for Carlisle College to come in on the train, and Erie, the Princeton team come in - they had 24, ah, runners. The Yale team come in, they had about 36 participants. And when the Carlisle team come off the, off the train, there was just 4 Indian runners and Jim Thorpe was one of ‘em. And he, that day, at the Philadelphia races, he won all the track events. And here they waited for ah ah the teams to come in and this team come in with only 4 men on it: Jim Thorpe and three other Indians - but Jim Thorpe was the main one that won most the race - all the races - all the track events that, that afternoon. So, it was a great day for me because I knew Tiny Maxwell - Tiny Maxwell was a sports editor of the Philadelphia Ledger, I believe it was at that time. And he was a personal friend of my manager's. My manager was a, a man who run a restaurant in Philadelphia and ah, and ah, him and Tiny Maxwell were very close friends, and that’s how I, I happen to…happen to know him. 
Dan: Mm-hm. Now, who were some of the, ah, ah…fighters that you instructed here, locally?
Joe: Well, Joe Banovic was one of my, my boys that I worked with, Johnny Haystack, Joe Zinck and, ah, and I-
Dan: Ya have anything to do with Phil Shay - Phil Vanderbeck?
Joe: Vanderbeck, I was his trainer when he went to, to, ah…New York to fight in the Golden Gloves. Tommy Curry was one of the trainers and I was the other trainer. And, ah…we stayed in New York that, that night, and Vanderbeck boxed the next day. And, ah… some of the other participants were, were, ah…well, I got a picture of ‘em there but I just can't think of any of them, but Vanderbeck was the outstanding one at the, Joe - I think Joe Matisi boxed in that-
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: -tournament, too.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: Although, he didn't do too good at the time, but he showed up very well.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: But he didn't win any championship.
Dan: Mm-hm. Did ya - how ‘bout, di - Joe Taylor? Did you have anything to do with him?
Joe: Joe Taylor? No, I never - I refereed his bouts after I got through boxing, but I never had much to do with Joe Taylor outside of him being a, a member of our old-time boxers association - of which I was Secretary - and that was the only contact I had with Joe Taylor.
Dan: Mm-hm. Ah, outside of Jack Sharkey, Joe, uh, who would you say would be the best, ah, fighter to come out of this area?
Joe: Out of this area?
Dan: Yeah, outside of Jack Sharkey.
Joe: I would say Joe Banovic; Joe Matisi. Between those two…
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: I would say. I, ah, go ahe - the reason that I picked them was because, because they were heavyweights, more or less.
Dan: Yeah.
Joe: Or in that heavyweight class, which is one of the most popular classes. Tommy Curry, myself - we were of the lightweights - the lightweights were not too popular at the time…
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: Because a heavyweight is always…a heavyweight match is always…
Dan: Now, from the time up until you retired in 1929, most of the boxing matches locally were down at the Kalurah Temple, right?
Joe: No, Johnson Field.
Dan: Johnson Field?
Joe: Johnson Field is where most of mine were and, eh, and Kalurah Temple.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: But, ah, during the summer, there was always 5 or 6 fights during the, uh, summer at the Johnson Field.
Dan: Mm-hm. I recall one fight in particular, ah, involving a local boxer - I believe it was in Johnson Field. Did Jake LaMotta fight here at one time?
Joe: Yes he did, yes he did. But I really can't think of who he boxed.
Dan: I was under the impression that it was Joe Taylor.
Joe: No, Jake LaMotta never boxed in Binghamton - he boxed in Syracuse.
Dan: Oh, in Syracuse.
Joe: And he boxed Joey Taylor.
Dan: Oh, I see.
Joe: Joey Taylor put up a wonderful-
Dan: Yeah.
Joe: -fight against Jake LaMotta.
Dan: Uh-huh.
Joe: I was at the fight - I worked there as an Inspector at the time.
Dan: I see.
Joe: For the New York State Athletic Commission.
Dan: Uh-huh. So, uh, outside of Jack Sharley and, ah, who else did you, uh, who, who of the other heavyweights did you know? 
Joe: Well, Jim Braddock was one of my great friends and everybody knows his history of how he became Champion. And, ah, Mickey Walker was, was another great, ah, friend of mine, and Mickey Walker came here the night I boxed Billy Kinney. And thats how I happened to go back to Newark, New Jersey with Mickey Walker. And I trained in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and, ah I boxed in Newark twice at the old Newark Airdrome, I believe they call it, or an Airdrome…and, ah, Mickey Walker's manager at that time was Jim Bulger (B-U-L-G-E-R), and he’s the man that took me to Newark and trained me there. But at that time, I broke my hand and I had to come back to Binghamton.
Dan: Mm.
Joe: A year later, I went, went out to Cleveland, Ohio, and I boxed in Cleveland, Akron and Mansfield. And at that time I was under the na - management of a, of a Cleveland man. And, eh…
Dan: The [inaudible].
Joe:That’s where I met…can’t think of, uh…another great fighter. A heavyweight out there in Cleveland and I can't just think of his name. And I stayed out in Cleveland for a year. For a whole year.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And I boxed in those different… and I, I boxed in a place called Highland Park. Highland Park was a, was a racehor - racetrack, and they had a big gymnasium there, and they held bouts there at that time.
Dan: Mm-hm. Now, you started to, to box when you were in the coal mines, um-
Joe: That’s right.
Dan: - in Pennsylvania. Now, when did you turn professional, Joe?
Joe: Oh, I had about…56 amateur fights…
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: Before I turned professional. And then, I believe I had about 55 professional fights after that. So-
Dan: You don't know what that year was that you turned professional.
Joe: Around -20. Around 1920.
Dan: Around 1920.
Joe: Because I, I boxed amateur. But I had more, more 56 amateur fights and only 55 professional fights, so-
Dan: Yeah-huh.
Joe: I had more experience as an amateur that I did as a professional.
Dan: Uh-huh.
Joe: But that’s what helped me out because I was a good puncher.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: Had a good right hand and I scored a lot of knockouts.
Dan : Mm-hm. And out of the 55 professional fights, how many did you win?
Joe: Well, I only lost two.
Dan: Only lost two.
Joe: Yeah. Only lost two.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: But, the others, uh, at that time there was a lot of no-decision fights. So. if you were on your feet at the end of 10 rounds, there was no decision. You either won or you…either knocked your man out or you beat him very bad, at, or you win…but, uh, most, uh, in those days, there were no Boxing Commissions.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: in the early 20s. Ah, no boxing, ah, commissions to, uh, say that you had to make a decision, so there was no-decisions on many occasions.
Dan: Mm-hm. Now, have you pursued the, ah, your barbering trade at all, Joe?
Joe: Pardon?
Dan: Have you pursued your barbering trade at all?
Joe: Not much after, after, I just…sporadically.
Dan: Just sporadically.
Joe: Yeah.
Dan: Most of your life has been spent, been spent in the boxing profession?
Joe: With the Boxing Commission.
Dan: Right. Mm-hm. Now, you, when you bought your house on Carlton Street in Johnson City, I mean, what disposition was made of that, I mean how, how did you happen to move from there to here?
Joe: There to here?
Dan: Yeah. You say you bought the house from George F. Johnson through your sister, right?
Joe: Ye-yes.
Dan: And, ah, I was just wondering, you sold that, did you, eventually?
Joe: Well, after my Mother died.
Dan: After your Mother died.
Joe: After my Mother died, then we, we sold the house…
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And the children each went their own way…
Dan: Yeah.
Joe: And that’s how I happened to, I got in business with ah John Cupina, who was First Ward Councilman…
Dan: Oh, yes.
Joe: Here in the City of Binghamton.
Dan: Oh, yes.
Joe: I was his partner in the liquor store at 54 Glenwood Avenue for 18 years, where I, we are right now…
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: With the liquor store downstairs. And after he died, we got, we…the liquor store was sold to someone else.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And, ah, I was still with the Boxing Commission at the time, so I was kept busy doing my work there.
Dan: Mm-hm. So, are you more or less retired as far as the Boxing-
Joe: Yeah.
Dan: -Commission is concerned?
Joe: Well, I still go there on a…I'm still, uh, associated with the Commission - but the trouble is, when you go there, everybody's new, nobody knows ya.
Dan: Yeah.
Joe: All the ones that I, all the people that I know, I'm 76 years old.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And all the people that I knew are either dead or gone.
Dan: [light laughter]
Joe: Or not working.
Dan: Uh-huh.
Joe: And that’s quite a thing when you go to New York now and, ah, find one of the people that you know and that's about it.
Dan: Uh-huh; uh-huh.
Joe: That’s why it's always a pleasure to meet Jack Sharkey down there.
Dan: Yeah.
Joe: That’s why we always go out together.
Dan: Uh-huh. Now, of course you have a banquet every year, don't you, for the old-timers?
Joe: Yeah, we have a banquet every year for the old timers, and our next banquet is, is, uh…May 13, 1978 at Johnson City, American Legion. And, ah, at that time, we honor so many fighters who have paid, ah, their dues and, ah, have-did their boxing from the old-timers. They've got to be over 50 years old before we, before we, ah, honor anybody.
Dan: I see.
Joe: In other words, they, tha…that’s the age limit.
Dan: Uh-huh.
Joe: And, ah, so we honor so many people every year, and it’s interesting. The next one is May 13th in Johnson Field or Johnson American Legion.
Dan: Mm-hm. Well, is there anything else you would like to add, Joe?
Joe: Well, I, the only thing is, I say I belong to the Holy Spirit Church here in Binghamton, New York. And, ah…as far as club membership is concerned, I belong to the different, ah, memberships in the church, and that’s about all. I, uh, I used to belong to a number of clubs, but I just, uh, got away from it all.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And, ah, I want to say one thing that, one of the main things of my, ah, career was as Scout commissioner - Boy Scout Commissioner here in the First Ward during my boxing days because I was popular at the time and I was able to be a Commissioner, and at that time we had 7 Boy Scout Troops in the First Ward. It took a lot of work it took a lot of time of mine to be the Commissioner and meet each and every one of those seven Troops during the weeks that I was on the Board. And I'm very proud of that because today there is only one Boy Scout Troop in the First Ward. Which means that the work isn't being done.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And that’s why the interest isn't being taken care of as it should be. There should be more Boy Scout Troops because a lot of the boys are being, getting in trouble…
Dan: Right.
Joe:...they have nothing to do…
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe:...and that’s why the interest should be in scouting.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And that’s why I am very proud of what I had done at that time, having, boy, ah…Boy Scout Commissionership.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And, uh, leading and raising a lot of the boys that I meet today are, ah, successful business men that were in my Boy Scout Troop.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: That time.
Dan: Mm-hm. Ah, Joe, what, ah…just as an afterthought, going back to when you first started fighting, what did you usually get for a fight?
Joe: Oh, $150.00…
Dan: A hundreh…
Joe: …two-hundreh…
Dan: $250.00?
Joe:...300. The best, the most money I ever made was $1,650.00.
Dan: Is that right?
Joe: For a 12-round bout.
Dan: And that was at the height of your career?
Joe: That’s right.
Dan: As a professional?
Joe: That was in 1923 - 24. Although $1,600.00 at that time was a lot of money.
Dan: That’s right.
Joe: If I had only invested it properly…
Dan: [light laughter] E.J. or IBM stock…
Dan: Right, right…
Joe:...I'd a been alright today.
Dan: Uh-huh.
Joe: But, I, as a young fella, you don't think of those things.
Joe: And that’s about the size of it.
Dan: Uh-huh.
Joe: Or if something come up like some stock that, ah, went world wild, why...I sure remember the 1929 crash here in the First Ward when Horvatt's Bank went up. And all the poor people of the First Ward lost their money. I, ah, I saw people crying down there at the bank. And those, those are things that a lot of the young people today don't, don’t remember because they, they naturally weren't born at the time.
Dan: Right.
Dan: Even born at the time. But, ah, when you see the way some of them are spending money today, it’s, ah, interesting to me because I've seen the hardships that people went through at that time.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: Especially during the, the, crash…
Dan: Mm-hm. 1929 and 1930.
Dan: Yeah…when you were working in the coal mines, what were you getting a day?
Joe: Well, it was, I think it was a dollar, an…close to two dollars a day. That’s about it.
Dan: Mm-hm. Yeah.
Joe: Yeah.
Dan: You went to work at 16?
Joe: That was in 19, uh…1918 or 19…1918.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: Yeah.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: Right during the war.
Dan: Yeah.
Joe: Yeah, because I was only 16 years old at the time.
Dan: Mm-hm.
Joe: And it was quite…when you think of the wages today…
Dan: [light chuckle] Well, inflation’s, er, inflation is eating that up.
Joe: It’s hard to believe.
Dan: It is, it is. Well Joe, I certainly thank you very much for your cooperation and, ah, ah…if there's anything that you couldn’t remember or anything that should come to mind after I leave, why, don't hesitate to call me - I will be glad to return.
Joe: I’ll be glad to do it.
Dan: Okay, I’ll…
Joe: Thank you.
Dan: I'll turn this off here. 

Streaming Audio

Date of Interview



O'Neil, Dan


Polansky, Joe


33:14 Minutes ; 5:31 Minutes

Date of Digitization



Broome County Oral History Project

Subject LCSH

New York State Athletic Commission; Jack O'Brien; Jack Sharkey; Johnson Field; Kalurah Temple.

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“Interview with Joe Polansky,” Digital Collections, accessed July 13, 2024,