Polish Ingenuity

Poland is now in the European Union and there is no shortage of shops and shopping  centers where you can buy the same electrical appliances that can be found in every other EU country. It wasn’t always that straightforward to purchase ubiquitous tools for the home and garden.

From the second world war until 1989 Poland was within the Soviet sphere of influence and had a Communist Governemnt. The People’s Republic of Poland during this time suffered from a lack of investment and a lack of many of the goods that were available in western Europe. In the eighties whenever I travelled to Poland with my wife to visit family we always took a useful electrical appliance for the home or garden: a grass strimmer, food-mixer, good radio receiver, etc.

I knew that my father-in-law along with a good many of his countrymen always used his initiative and was quite inventive. He built his own house and installed the electricity and managed to adapt and breathe life into hair-dryers and electrical heaters that would have been thrown out a long time before in England. However, I was amazed at what I discovered recently when having a clear out in the basement. Initially I thought I’d found a home made trolley to transport heavier items but once I took it out into the sun-light I discovered that my father-in-law had built himself his own rotary grass cutter.

Three wheels salvaged from somewhere, an electrical motor from another piece of equipment and the rest made in the basement workshop with wood and a couple of metal bars!

In polish there is a saying: “Polak potrafi” which means A polish person will find a way. This is testament to the spirit of people living in the times of communism.

Compare the present day equivalent:

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