I came from a small little town which is hardly on a map. The name is Kantzuga. It was a small, little town, with mostly Chasidic people. The Jewish people lived in the center and the Gentiles lived on the outside.
Harry Schoenbach As quoted in Followers of the Trail, 1989
Before returning to Boston, F. O. Matthiessen stopped in Denmark to visit his grandfather's birthplace. In From the Heart of Europe, Matthiessen remarks that he "had no family connections with Denmark for nearly a century, but was eager for a first view in that direction." Before leaving Europe, I traveled to Poland to visit the town in which my grandfather was born and raised.
Kantzuga is situated along the Mleczka River in the southeastern corner of Poland. It is 200 kilometers east of Krakow and sixty kilometers west of Ukraine. Driving through Czechoslovakia toward the border in my battered 1983 Škoda, I created images of what I expected to see in Kantzuga. I imagined a small dusty village, a main street with ruts and pigs. Abruptly, I stopped the imaginary footage and thought of the years of sober training in graduate school that were supposed to have cured me of this "roots" nostalgia. What was I doing daydreaming, entertaining