First published: Spring 2009
Ted Ludwiczak was just about to turn thirty when he arrived in the United States after World War II. A well-educated young man – speaking Polish, German and some English – he had studied economics in his native Poland and had worked with the American military during the Allies’ postwar occupation of Germany.
He headed to New York, where relatives who had already immigrated to the US helped him become settled; in time, he would co-found and for several decades co-manage a laboratory that developed contact lenses. Ludwiczak married, became a father and, ultimately, realised a classic version of the American Dream, eventually finding and moving into the modest house he now occupies, alone, in his retirement.
The house is located in Rockland County, in the state of New York, about 58 kilometres north-west of New York City, on the west bank of the Hudson River.
That majestic waterway, which 17th-century European newcomers to the region compared to the Rhine, and which has played such an indelible role in American history, is literally Ludwiczak’s backyard – or maybe it is actually his front yard, depending on how a visitor views his riverbank home, which hugs the edge of a quiet, residential street and is surrounded on two sides by narrow patches of garden and, in the back (or the front), by all that water.