That's The Connection
In the early 1900’s, Damien Malyk travelled from Voloscha, a village in the Ukraine, to Chester, Pennsylvania in the United States. He worked building ships in the city’s massive Sun Ship shipyard. In 1918, Damien’s daughter, Hafia, was born in Chester as a United States citizen. Soon afterwards, the family returned to the Ukraine, where Damien used the money he’d saved building ships to buy farmland and raise horses and dairy cows. Hafia and her sisters were raised in rural Ukraine and remained there until the mid-1930’s, when Damien sensed that the political climate in Europe was changing for the worse. He wanted Hafia—then eighteen years old—to return to the USA. But he did not want his daughter to travel alone and unmarried. Damien knew that the Melko family, who lived in the nearby village of Mynich, had a twenty-eight-year-old son named Mykola. The other Melko son, Ben, had already immigrated to the USA, and worked in the same city as Damien had—Chester, Pennsylvania. Mykola wanted to follow his brother to the United States. In 1935, Hafia and Mykola married. Not long afterwards, Hafia travelled alone to the United States, first living with her husband’s brother, Ben, in Chester, and then striking out on her own, finding a job as a housekeeper in Philadelphia. In 1936, Mykola joined her in the USA, and began using the American version of his name: Nicholas. In 1938, on the same day that the racehorse Sea Biscuit won the “Match of the Century” against the celebrated stallion, War Admiral, Nicholas and Hafia welcomed their first child into the world. Although Hafia wanted him named Damien, after her own father, the nurses in Jefferson Hospital misunderstood and gave the baby boy the name “Daniel.” Their family settled in a Ukrainian neighborhood in Philadelphia before moving to Feltonville, where they lived on a row house on C Street. During the Second World War, Hafia worked as a seamstress in a plant making American flags. Later, she worked at a cigar factory. Nicholas was a “box man” at an ice cream manufacturer, keeping inventory in the factory’s cold storage unit, where it was so cold he could only work for fifteen-minute intervals inside the cooler. In 1948, their daughter Frances was born. In the 1970’s, Daniel Melko moved to Chicago, where he met his wife and had a family of his own. This is the story of Dan’s family and his heirlooms, in his own words.
**This is a special PH post because it's about our founder and photographer's family! Dan is Elaine's dad. Elaine and I decided that we will also include our family stories here, so we are a part of the project, too. Enjoy!