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     My grandfather, Alexander Biega arrived in America in 1904. We know that he was only 14 years old, but we have not yet been able to find out where he was born, only that it was in southern Poland, in Galicia, which was then a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He had told family that he was born in Kraków, but we have no documentation. It is very likely that at least his father came from the Sanok area. He married Antonina Anna Sipior in 1914 in Pittsburgh (I am not sure of this date and am attempting to verify), she had come to America in 1911, also from Galicia. Alex was born on December 12, 1889 and died on September 15, 1967. Anna was born on May 16, 1889 and died on October 24, 1961.
     Alex and Anna had three boys and a girl. Nothing is known about the baby girl Biega except that she died as a youngster, possibly in the great influenza epidemic of 1918.

     My father, Bill Sr,. was born in Ohio on November 11, 1915, but shortly after that his parents moved back to Pennsylvania, to Woodlawn, now called Aliquippa, north-west of Pittsburgh. My two uncles Henry and Louis were both born there, May 19, 1918 and December 31 1920. They and their father all worked in the J&L steel mills in Aliquippa. All three brothers served in the army during World War II and were in Europe. Henry never married and died March 18, 1980. My Dad, Bill, died on September 13, 1962, two years after I joined the US Army.

     I have pleasant memories of my grandparents, Anna and Alex. I usually visited them on Sunday afternoon. Buba always wanted me to eat. Time has obliterated the names of the Polish dishes she fed me, but I recall that I enjoyed eating there. I especially remember her cheese filled bread. Buba would always slip me a dollar when I was ready to leave. I have cherished her generosity. Alex worked hard at J&L in the Tin Mill. Not long before he was to retire he was involved in an industrial accident and lost all of his fingers on his left hand. Working in steel mills could be dangerous and deadly. When I would visit, Alex was usually home. I recall him sitting at the rectangular kitchen table reading a Polish language newspaper that he received from Chicago, smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee laced with canned milk. Canned milk gives coffee a distinctive taste that I still enjoy occasionally today. Alex did not speak much about his early years. Although there were other Biega families in Beaver county, Alex steadfastly maintained that they were not related to him. His claim was I have no brothers, no sisters, no relatives, and he did not like to have his picture taken. I know that I'm his grandson, because I have tendencies in that direction also. Alex had a dry sense of humor. For example when he learned that Lou's fiancée , Lucy Montini, would be his second Italian daughter-in-law, Alex proclaimed in his broken English "Aren't there any nice Polish girls in Aliquippa?" Aunt Lucy shared this story with my wife Diane and me during a recent visit.

     My father married my mother Gertrude (Bella) Caratini in 1941. They were divorced in 1946, and I was their only child. Bill Biega Sr. never remarried and he died at a young 47 years. Bella remarried after several years, had a second family and she passed away on April 13, 2003.
     Uncle Lou and Aunt Lucy had three sons - Louis Jr., Kenneth, and Mark. Kenneth died in 1962, only 11 years old. Lou Jr. and Mark are still alive today (2006) and have their own families. Uncle Lou died July 4, 1984, Aunt Lucy is still alive and well.

     Here are some pictures. Then there will be more about my family.

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On the left is a wedding picture of Alexander Biega and Anna taken in Pittsburgh, probably 1914.
The next was taken of them on their son Lou's porch in 1957, when they were 68 years old.
The third picture shows Anna, or "Buba" as we called her, in 1957, five years before she died.
 Alexander wedding Alex & Anna 1957  Buba
Here is a picture of my mom (Bella) and dad (Bill) taken in 1941 shortly before I was born.
The next picture shows my Dad (on left) with his two brothers, Henry and Lou, in Europe in 1945
Bill Sr & Bellal 3 GI's
Iwas just under a year old when the first picture was taken.
I graduated from high school in 1960. The second picture shows me with my grandma and uncle Lou.
baby Bill Bill 1960
Our family gathered together for Thanksgiving 2005
A month earlier I had retired, the second picture is taken at the party
Thanksgiving 2005 Retirement 2005

      Here is some more of my family history.
      When I was a teenager my dad, both of my grandfathers and my uncles all advised me NOT to seek employment in the steel mills. I heeded their advice and after graduating from high school in June of 1960 I enlisted in the US Army for three years. After my discharge in August 1963, I attended Penn Technical Institute, located in Pittsburgh, and received training in Electronics. In the spring of 1965, I accepted a job with Bell Telephone Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio. A mutual friend introduced me to a beautiful young lady, Diane Lee Lotz, from Pennsylvania, who was attending Capital University in Columbus. Diane and I were married in October 1966.

     The first of two daughters, Robin Anne Biega, was born in Columbus on April 22, 1968. In June of 1969 I took a position with Peoples United Telephone Company and we relocated to Evans City PA. Evans City was Diane's childhood home. Renee Diane Biega, our second daughter, was born in Butler PA on August 12, 1971.
     In the fall of 1972 we were transferred to the United Telephone Company headquarters located in Carlisle PA. United Telephone evolved into the SPRINT Corporation and I enjoyed a 35 1/2 year career with the communications giant. I retired February 1, 2005. Diane taught dance for 28 years. She taught young ladies, and even some males, ballet, Jazz and Tap. Her specialty was in tap. Diane was loved by her students and she retired in 2003.

     When I reflect on the past, I am thankful that I listened to the advice of my elders and did not seek employment in the steel industry. I have never regretted it. Especially since the steel industry died in the USA in the late 60s and early seventies, jobs were not to be had in the Pittsburgh/Aliquippa area.
     We are happy to be living in the Central PA area. We are especially grateful that our two daughters, Robin and Renee, who are both married with children of their own, live within a half hour drive. Thus enabling us to enjoy our grandchildren and our children too.

     Robin Anne Biega Scaer, our oldest daughter, is married to Robert Mark Scaer and they have three children together, plus a daughter of Bob's in California. Their kids are Mark Scaer, 12 years old, Megan Scaer 10 , Madison Scaer 8, and the step daughter, Emily Scaer 18 in CA.
     Renee Diane Biega Geiling, our youngest daughter, is married to John William Geiling, and they have three children together. Their children are Jake Geiling 7 years old, Sam Geiling, who is 5 , and a still born daughter, Baby Emma Geiling who died in January of 2005.

     Although our experiences of relocating were not the same as Alex and Anna's, they gave me an appreciation of what my ancestors went through to seek a better life. Leaving friends and relatives knowing that they may never see them again and facing the unknown in a foreign land required a lot of courage in my opinion.

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Last update November 2006