Albert J. Krupski Sr. was a very lucky man.
He grew up on a handsome Peconic farm as the son of Nettie and Julius Krupski. That farm was where the Lenz Winery is today. His grandparents lived on another Peconic farm walking distance away, on land that is now Pindar Vineyards.
In 1950, he married Helen Sidor, who was born in a farmhouse on Oregon Road in Mattituck. The couple bought a farm across the Main Road from where he grew up and established Krupski Farms, which was later managed by their son Al Jr. and is now run by their grandson Nick.
Nick is the third generation on the tract of land where the Krupski farm stand is now, and the fifth generation to farm in Peconic. Standing by the big barn behind the farm stand, Nick can see his family’s rich history all around him, and see the beauty of the land that drew the Krupski family to Peconic after the turn of the 20th century.
“It is definitely very humbling,” Nick said.
Albert Krupski Sr. died in his home Dec. 5. He was 89. Helen Krupski died last March at age 84. After his funeral at Our Lady of Ostrabrama R.C. Church Saturday, the family went back to the farmhouse and later showed old home movies shot years ago by Mr. Krupski.
“My parents had one of those old projectors,” Al Krupski Jr. said as he stood with his son, Nick, by the big barn on a cold, wet morning. “We played it and it was so good to see. All the family holidays. Kids jumping in the snowbank by the barn. Swimming lessons in the bay in the spring, when the water was so cold. Birthday parties.”
Mr. Krupski Sr. was born in Greenport hospital three days after Christmas in 1927. Growing up on his parents’ Peconic farm, he was a short walk from the farm of his Polish-born grandparents, Joseph and Elizabeth Krupski. His grandparents spoke Polish in the house and, in the afternoons when farm work was done, families would visit their neighbors and talk on the porch while the kids played outside.
Helen Sidor was born in her grandmother’s farmhouse on Oregon Road and grew up in a farmhouse around the corner, on Mill Lane. She heard Polish spoken as a child and was proud to be able to speak it in later life. The language anchored her to her past, but also to her family when she was a young girl and the lives they lived.
Our Lady of Ostrabrama, built by Polish farm workers in the mid-1920s, was the center of the world for these families. The Masses were in Polish, and most of the older congregants spoke Polish. It is where Mr. Krupski Sr. married Helen Sidor on Aug. 22, 1950.
Theirs was a culture and a history — of immigrants from eastern Europe who came to America, to the North Fork, and built new lives on some of the best farmland in the country — that Mr. Krupski Sr. and his wife cared about deeply, as they cared deeply about their church, their faith and their family. And, of course, their farm, the land they first came to, and working hard to keep it going for another generation.
For Al Krupski Jr., the North Fork’s current county legislator, and Nick Krupski, who is a town Trustee, being a steward of this land means more than just keeping family history going. It is about preserving something remarkable: first-class farmland, salt creeks and the Peconic Bay watershed.
Despite the passing of Helen and now Albert Krupski Sr., the family tradition will continue, on land that is deep in the couple’s history. Their children and grandchildren would not have it any other way.
“This land is all very precious,” said Al Krupski Jr. “My parents both understood that. And we understand it. If we don’t preserve it, it could all be lost in 10 years.”
Photo caption: Albert J. Krupski Sr. pictured on his Peconic farm in an undated photo. (Credit: Courtesy photo)