This is a true story of our trip to Sochocin.

It was dreary that early morning in Warszawa (Warsawa). With the few plans we made, we couldn't control the weather. The driver-guide, also acting as an interpreter, was to arrive about eight-thirty AM. We dressed and hurried down to the restaurant to have a fast breakfast. When I locked the door to the room, I made sure my camera was hanging from my shoulder.
Our guide came for us just as we finished eating. He lead us to a beat up old car (two door)
with the paint peeling off the roof. 'Hope the car lasts the trip', I thought.
"Where to first," he asked. Being well planned, like the weather, we were not sure. "Ok, I
think if we start by going past Plonsk, for a short stop, then on to Sochocin, for a while, we
might have time for Kuchary. (Actually, much too much for one day). It was early and a long summer day.
The motor turned over slowly at first, then growled loudly as the driver gunned the engine.
"It acts up when the weather is damp," he explained. Putting the car in gear, we were off.
Heading north and west out of Warszawa.
Soon we were leaving the city proper heading out into the country. The road looked like any road in
suburbia except for the signs along the road. (All in Polish).
Just outside of Warszawa we passed a sign pointing to the right, 'Zakrocym', another town
listed in the family tree. Chaya Engel lived there in 1943. Several Strach family members
were married there. Now the weather turned to a slow drizzle. On went the windshield
wipers with a scratching sound.
We rode on for about an hour more, and then we were greeted by a large sign (an arrow to the
left) and the word 'PLONSK'.
By now the weather had worsen. The drizzle became a downpour as we approached the center of
town. As we become surrounded by buildings, I asked the driver to find out where the records were kept.
(An archives building). He stopped where some people were huddled in a doorway and  he shouted something  in Polish, then a short resply and we were on our way again.
We stopped alongside a park with a memorial stone near the entrance. The guide told us the
the park was on the site of the Plonsk ghetto. The park served as a memorial.  It was raining too hard to
take photos, so we hurried to the Archives building  across the street.
Inside the building, the hallway was dark, there was a dim ceiling light which made it diffcult to see didn't do much good. The guide led the way to a room off to the side. A room with a desk and a large window.
There was a woman sitting behind the desk, and the guide introduced us to the receptionist.
" Do you have any vital Jewish  records ?" I'm sorry," she replyed in Polish, "the person
responsible for the records is at home sick and I don't know anything about the records."
I couldn't believe it. But that was that. Surely we would have better luck in the next town.
When we left the building, it was still raining, but not nearly as hard.
Back into the car and on to Sochocin. We returned to the highway and after about fifteen minutes turned
off onto a country road. After a short time, there ahead of us was a sign 'SOCHOCIN'. Both Flory and I
began to feel anxious, what might we find. Will we  see the shtetl that I have been researching for several years? In my in-law's ancestor's home town? There was a bend in the road and then there it was.
Small one and two story buildings surrounding a large tall Roman Catholic Church. We rode
past the church to the records building on the next street. By now the rain had stopped, just street were
wet.
We went into the records building and found the same dingy atmosphere as in Plonsk.
 "Hello," said our guide to a heavy set woman sitting behind a large desk. I noticed that the walls were
lined with empty shelves. "Hello," he repeated in Polish. "These people are here to look at some
of your Jewish records". "I'm sorry," pointing to the empty shelves, "all the records are in the
Malawa Archives".  I couldn't understand, what was she doing in an empty building.
Another disappointment. But on to see what the town looked like (no more a shtetl).
The street behind the records building was the street where my in-laws lived.  There was the river
and there was the exact spot were my mother-in-law grew up as a child.
There was a newer house on the property, and the owner invited us in for a drink (what kind of drink?).
She told us that when the Russians left they took over the land and built a house. A nice two
story building.
I tried to imagine Jewish people on the street, with lots of children. Older men with long
flowing beards, women with their shawls, children in knickers. There was not one Jewish
soul to be found. The shtetl was now just a Polish village.
We returned to the main street. The street where the Posner family owned a bakery, where they
baked their Challah bread and strudel. Next door, the Zryb family lived, and practices their trades
shoemakers and tailors. Nowhere was there a hint of Jewish life. Time did a good job. I took several
photos and couldn't wait to leave. I found it to depressing.
By now, the rain has stopped. We decided to return to Warszawa by way of Kuchary. We left the way we came, turning down the country road. Suddenly the two lane road became one lane.
Lucky for us, there were no oncoming cars.  Up ahead the road opened up and we saw several buildings.
This was the village of Kuchary.
The guide stopped near a woman riding a bicycle."Hello ," he said in polish, "could you tell
me where the Jewish people lived".
"There," she answered,(also in polish), pointing to an empty field. "There, near the river".
The guide turned the car onto an unpaved road and headed for a building not far from the river.
"If this is where the shtetl was, where are the buildings?" The car stopped near the house, the
driver got out. "Let's see who lives here." By the time I reached the house, he was talking
to a young woman. She told him, her grandmother lived around the back and in the basement.
Around to the back we went, the young woman, the guide and myself. Flory, my wife, stayed in the
car.
We were welcomed into the house. I wouldn't call it an apartment. It was more like rooms without finished walls, floor or ceiling. There was some foul smelling food cooking on the stove, which reminded me, that we had nothing to eat since breakfast.
'What happened to the Jewish community?' I asked the guide to translate. 'All the Jews were
rounded up, many years ago, by the Germans, and taken away,' was the reply.
'If this was the Jewish area, why wasn't this house also destroyed?.' Old women reply 'There was a Jewish man living here. He told us that we could keep the house if we let him hide in the basement. After the war, he left, where - no one knows.' I found it hard to believe their story.'
We were offered food, but declined, saying we had to get back to Warszawa.
As we left the building the wind was picking up, and rain was in the air. By the time we reached
the road, it was drizzling again. Another hour and we were back in the capital city. Shortly
after, Flory and I were at our hotel. The car had made it and so did we.
We paid the guide and thanked him for his fine job. Next it was dinnertime. Then back to our room to
relax.
Was it worth it? The visit to Sochocin and the surrounding area (Plonsk and Kushary),
 I mean. I'd say it was. Although we acquired no documents, saw no sign of
 Jewish heritage in the ancestral shtetls, we knew we stood were they stood and saw sights that
they saw. We felt sad but a good sad.

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