Zinski Zinski

Zinski is a siamese cat that we adopted from the RSPCA in Burwood, Melbourne.  She was quite crazy for a long time - but gradually she has become saner.  Zinski was named to match our other cat Moushka.  I'm hoping that by giving crazy names to our cats, Fiona will be able to resist the urge to give her children "creative" names.

Zinski is a very active and playful cat.  She likes to hunt birds and rats, but tends to leave them behind the couch, half dead.

Moucheka Moucheka

Our first cat, a Burman, also from RSPCA in Burwood.  Moucheka is a bit of an invalid, has heart and leg problems.  She tends to stay inside and wait to be fed.  When Fiona was recovering from having her wisdom teeth out, Moucheka was a loyal and constant companion.

Bendy Zinkski Zinski

Zinkski comes in a posable model, with bendable legs and body!

Our model here is Cameron, currently wearing the Zinski warmer. Good therapy for neck ailments.

Zinkski Attitude Zinski

"Don't call me pussy!"

The Zinski Story

We received email from a Roger Zinski in the USA who revealed that Zinski is a fairly unusual name, with an interesting history, as follows...

The Zinski family name is of course Slavic in origin. My father's father was the one who left Europe at the beginning of the 1900s, (I think 1902 to be precise), and he came from a very, very small town, in what was called Austria-Hungary, but their part was called Austria-Galicia. I had been so interested in my family heritage at the age of 16 that I started writing letters all over the place, and visiting my American relatives, who are spread all over the country, and I put together a "map" of people dating to the early 1800s. As I was able to gather more information, which took probably 20 years, I found the actual town my grandfather was born. This small town is in present day Poland, down in the lower South Eastern corner, but it was not Poland when they were born there.

Their language is strongly similar to Ukrainian, including the cyrillic letters, but is somehow different. It also resembles Polish and Russian, with some words being different, or pronounced differently, but most of the Slavic people can understand each other at a basic level (Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Bulgarian, Czech, Slovak, Macedonian, Slovenian, Croatian, etc). These people called themsleves Lemko (singular) or Lemki (plural) and that area where they lived was part of old Ukraine, but the Franz-Joseph control divided up everything and became part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. I think the area was called Lemkovina, which I am phonetically spelling for you in English. The Polish called them Rushini, which points to Russians, and the Russians didn't like them, and called them something else.

My dad's oldest sister, who was born there and came to America as a child, said her parents said when she was a child, that they never heard of the word Ukraine or Ukrainian until they came to America, so a lot is a mystery, and lost with time. I asked her what her father called himself and his relatives, and she said Carpato-Rus, from Carpathian Mountain range and Rus, which is another long story, that the Russians are decended from. I heard a good story on public television saying the Vikings from Scandinavia actually went to part of Russia, and they are the ones who named them "Rus", but all these stories are difficult to follow, a thousand years after the fact!

I never knew my fathers parents, they were already deceased when I was born. But, I have had a lot of fire in me, to get to the "roots" so when i found the location off World War II Army maps, I started to write letters to the town, but didnt get any replies. In the early 1980s I came to meet some cousins of my father, who was born in 1922, to give you a time reference, and the one was going to visit relatives, also named Zinski, who lived in Western Poland. When he came back, I got many details, and told him, if he goes again, let me know, which he did, and three of us went in 1984, just after all the marshall law in Poland stopped, and the Soviet control there lessened its grip, so much to let more "visitors" come in. I don't know how much you know about previously Communist (Soviet) controlled eastern Europe, but I tried for 5 years prior to 1984 to get "permission" in the form of a "visa" to go there, but was refused.

We went in 1984 and to western Poland, and I found out these people were my father's second and third cousins, and they were all from the Southeastern part, and they brought me there, and it was out in the "country" maybe like the "outback" in Australia. Just a single dirt road through the place, and only one commercial building, which was a food store, open Tuesday and Thursday, and a few dozen houses, made from field stones. They showed me the place where my grandfather's father and grandfather were born, the buildings, next to each other, were still standing, and one was used as a barn for animals, and the other a house. They said that the roof used to be straw back then, but they had put a corrugated metal roof on, since straw was high maintenance.

I spoke with a woman in 1984, who only spoke the old Lemko language, which i did not know, at that time, and had it translated to English by a cousin, who somehow had lived in Canada for a while, and learned English! She said she remembered my father's parents when they left. She was born in 1888 I think, she was very old, almost 100, and was in April, turning over the ground with a shovel in preparation to plant her vegetables to grow, as he had done all her life and her parents, etc. had for generations. She was very excited that I came to see her, and told me about 100 years worth of all the people that she could remember, and her memory was like the birth registration central! She helped me a lot, to understand who came from who and how all of us American Zinski's were related. They also took me to a government building in a nearby larger, little town, and they let me look through three books, that covered births from 1830 through 1946. The woman who worked in that office was old, and said she worked there for 30 years or so, and I was the first person to ever look at the books! They had just been sitting there all that time, with no inquiry! It is probably the trip of my life, and I may not ever be able to go back, but it sure was something.

People in that small town came to me, and said: you look familiar, but I can't tell who you are. Who are you? Apparently my face resembles the ancestors, and the old folks in the town all wanted to look at me, when they found out I was visiting. They said they never saw an "American" before!

World War II turned the area around their village into a mess, the Germans pushing eastward conquering, and the Russians fighting and pushing them back, westward, really tore up the area. It is right near the tops of small mountain ranges and the highest parts, still show the trenches where both sides dug in! And as I understand, my relatives had some partisans who would hide in the woods, and shoot at whichever side presented themselves, as they were both unwanted "invaders"!! I found the facts to several unknown deaths or disappearances of the older relatives from the WWII time, as those who lived in America lost contact with the European family due to WWII.

They told me that I was the "only" Zinski to ever come back to the native Carpathian (mountain range) soil of the place of birth of Zinski! Isn't that something! In 1946, the Polish government, relocated the people of the town, with rifles pointed, and gave them a choice: Go to Western Poland, which had been Germany, and the Germans were pushed out, and that part was made Poland, or go to eastern Ukraine. Take what you can carry, but come now or we will shoot you!

So, the people literally walked away from the place were about 400 years of recorded history shows they lived there, and went to government trains, and went either west or east. The ones who went east, were stuck there, and were rarely let out to come back to visit. The ones who went west, had some freedom, and slowly came back to their place, and got their houses back from the Polish who moved into the supposed great new place to live, but they found the mountainous terrain very unforgiving and they went back to their flat land they came from.

When I visited, in 1984 the town was mostly reclaimed by original inhabitants or their families, and the Polish had mostly moved out. The Polish government now offers some kind of "compensation" for having been forcibly thrown out, but I don't know much about it. My father's mother owned land there, which was before World War I, and she left her brother live there, but the land was taken by the Polish government in 1946, after WWII. If I had more time and energy, I might go there and make a case, but it will probably never happen.

I hope I have given you some insight into my family's past, and I actually met a young couple in Paris, France about 14 years ago, while I was vacationing, who were from about 5 miles away from that small town, which by the was was called Bodnarka, in their old language, and is now called Bednarka in Polish. The next town of size is Jaslo, pronounced YAHS-woe, in Polish, which is where they were from. They had somehow emmigrated from Poland, and moved to Australia to get work, and lived in Wollongong, NSW.

I have adopted several cats over the past decade, all were strays and had of course done their natural thing and made more, so some got adopted to families wanting a cat, and the rest I have kept and have had neutered to keep the population from increasing, and still have gotten some new additions anyway, from new strays. They obviously can communicate and share with their kind, my address, so their relatives can come to eat! One has just become missing, this morning, and I have walked all over the area looking, and I am upset that it might have been run-over by a car, or possibly killed by a wild dog, as there are some in the area. I havent found any body, so I am hopeful. It is 14 weeks old, and very friendly.

By the way, our name Zinski, is not a shortened name, as so many Polish names are, since coming to America. I have found birth records dating back to 1776, of Bodnarka, which were stored in Warsaw, and the family name was the same, except spelled in cyrillic alphabet.

By the way, Moouchka also has a very strong Slavic sound to it.

Roger Zinski
Michigan, USA

(Note: We have edited slightly for clarity.)