(by Gregory Witul, Babcia’s Closet ) If Polonia had only one uniting symbol it would be the white eagle. The white eagle is so popular in the New World that for over a century it has been used by Poles to brand themselves and their products.
In Chicago there was the White Eagle Brewing Company, Milwaukee had the White Eagle Hotel, Elmira is home to the White Eagle Club, and Buffalo has the White Eagle Bakery in the Broadway Market. For over two decades Buffalonians also had another White Eagle product to quench their thirst, Ryki’s Beverages by the White Eagle Bottling Works.
The White Eagle Bottling Works was brainchild of Polish native Frank Rykaczewski. Rykaczewski was born in Gross Lensk, Poland, a tiny hamlet about 30 km south of Grunewald in the Warmia-Masurian Voivodeship, on Sept. 16, 1888. Growing up in Prussian Poland, Frank received a basic education, took a job and in his early twenties married his wife, Constance. While still in Poland the couple welcomed their first two children, Anthony and Gertrude, to the world.
By 1913 the family had had enough of eking out a meager living in Poland and immigrated to America. Settling on Woltz Ave. in Buffalo’s East Side, Frank took a job as a driver while Constance took care of the children. In 1916, Frank teamed up with Anthony Kurzawski and on 95 Woltz Ave. opened up the White Eagle Bottling Works.