The Island Now

From the battlefields to the home front in Port

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Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2016 9:56 am

During World War II, Stan Palasek and his four brothers and three brother-in-laws were stationed around world.

Every day, they wrote letters to each other, describing their situations and telling the others what was happening where they were.

Stan’s son, Mark, compiled those letters and turned them into a book, “Letters From My Uncle,” which chronicles the war and his father’s  and uncles’ lives during it.

“At first, I wasn’t sure what to do with the letters,” said Palasek, who grew up in Port Washington. “I wasn’t even sure how to format them, but I realized once I read through them all that I wanted to tell the story of the war through my father and uncles.”

After a few months in the army, Palasek said, his father was sent home due to health issues, and he corresponded with his brothers from the home front: Port Washington.

On Friday, Palasek, who now lives in Charleston, South Carolina, will return to Port Washington to participate in a book signing and a question-and-answer session at the Polish American Museum at 1 p.m. 

“It’s strange to me that I’m going back for this reason, to talk about a book that has to do with Port,” Palasek said. “Port is a very important place to me, and I’ve never considered anywhere else home. I’m a New Yorker.”

Palasek said after he retired, he began working on the book, rereading the letters and adding factual background to guide the reader.

When Palasek’s uncles returned from the war, he said, they didn’t talk to their families about what happened.

“Because they refused to talk to their families about the war, I learned so much about my uncles through the letters,” Palasek said. “And they were all so different, especially in the way they wrote.”

Palasek said he left the letters as they were, hoping to portray his uncles’ different personalties.

“It was important to leave them as they are, with the bad wording and mistakes,” Palasek said. “It showed their character. To change them would not be true to their character.”

On Saturday, Palasek is doing another book signing at the Dolphin Bookshop and Café at 2 p.m.

In a letter from his uncle Alex to his father, Palasek said, his uncle asked his father to pick up film from Bayles Drugs. Today, the Dolphin Bookshop is where Bayles Drugs once was located.

“It’s just those kind of things that make this more exciting,” Palasek said. “Going back for this reason with book in hand is exciting.”

Palasek said he had always enjoyed writing, especially creative writing, which he excelled in throughout school. Working as a national import specialist, Palasek said, he stayed sharp by doing legal writing.

“My creative writing was set aside for a while, but once I retired, I was able to pick it back up,” Palasek said.

Palasek self-published his book and is distributing it through Amazon’s CreateSpace because, he said, he wanted to keep control of the book, especially because it’s about his family.

The book is classified as a historical novel, because his father and uncles are no longer around to verify the information in the letters, he said, but he believes everything is true.

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