My maternal grandfather Peter (Petar) Babarovich was born April 12, 1861 in the village of Splitska on the island of Brac in the Adriatic Sea. He died in Anacortes, Washington March 5, 1935. I was born 12 days after he died. It must have have been a very difficult time for my mother, to lose her father and then give birth to me.
He and my grandmother had seven children all of whom, except my mother, Mary, who was born in Anacortes, immigrated from a small island named Brac off the coast of Split, Croatia. I've written about their journey from the old country to America which happened as a result of contact with one of my grandfather's brothers who had previously left for America and then lost contact with the family back home. (https://www.paulluverajournalonline.com/weblog/2008/07/mary-thelma-babarovich-my-mother.html) The picture is of my maternal grandparents.
The brothers, including my grandfather left first and moved to an island off of Anacortes. My grandfather in 1902 sent for my grandmother Marija, who, along with her five children, traveled in 1902 with his brother Spiro's wife and children to their homestead. They were met by one of the brothers at the Burlington railroad station with a wagon pulled by horses. They went from there to Anacortes and then by mail boat to Sinclair Island where the brothers had a homestead.
After tiring of farming my grandfather rigged a wooden scow with a homemade sail and navigated them all to Anacortes. They found a rental house and finally settled at 1108 6th Street in Anacortes. In addition to their large garden and catching seafood of all kinds they survived by grandmother boarding people and grandfather working as a commercial fisherman. Their youngest child Mary, my mother, was born in Anacortes in 1905
Peter and Marija considered themselves Austrians. Peter had served ten years in the Austro-Hungarian navy before he married. He kept a framed portrait of Emperor Francis Joseph Ist and his wife hanging in the parlor of the Babarovich home. He was proud of his service in the navy where he had learned to read and write. The kitchen in the old house on 6th street was huge. The house was rectangular in shape and two stories high. The front parlor of the house was kept very clean and neat where you entertained visitors, but everything else happened down the long narrow hall in the huge kitchen. I have clear memories of that house, the large vegetable garden next to the house and the back area with chickens and rabbits. This was a wonderful and inviting kitchen where there were always unusual smells and food cooking with people sitting while eating and talking.
Peter supported the family from the garden and ocean. He caught crab which were sold and fished for both income as well as food for the family. They had chickens and a garden to feed the family. He rowed a boat to place his crab pots and to get around. They hunted duck and lived off the land in many respects.
Peter rowed standing up with a forward roll of his wrists. He had powerful arms and shoulders. The photograph shows my grandfather rowing his skiff in the waters around Anacortes.
I'm sorry I didn't know this man of great honest character. I'm sorry I never learned to speak the language so I could have talked to my grandmother directly instead of through translations from my mother. My father, an immigrant from Italy, believed, "this is America and everyone should speak English. We are Americans" so I never learned more then a few conversational words to my regret.
This is my salute to my grandfather Peter Babarovich. May he rest in peace.