Martin Blaszczyk Inducted 2012 - Class of 1971
In the Fall of 1958 Martin Blaszczyk's world was about to expand from his home on Homer, past Stanley's Market on Stickney, to Clay and St. Vincent de Paul Elementary School. Located within the shadow of Woodward High School, the traditional parish school provided the educational foundation for his family's Woodward tradition.
Following his father Frank, Class of 43, his mother Mercedes, Class of 1945, and laying the foundation for his sister, Janice, Class of 1975, Martin began his career at Woodward High School in the Fall of 1967. "Stunned and Speechless," Martin was amazed that his Woodward teachers, unlike his previous instructors, could correctly pronounce his last name. "I always took great delight in teaching my teachers how to say my last name." It wasn't till two years ago that it finally dawned on him that his teachers: Sam Rogolsky Civics, Jeanette Zemanski English, and Michelle Jaworski [Jacobs] Mathematics were all Polish. Martin also credits his dramatic improvement in reading comprehension to his American History teacher Jim Henahan and James Fenimore Cooper's
"Leather Stocking Tales."
One of his fondest memories of Woodward occurred during the Boys’ Basketball Regional Finals at Canton, Ohio, in 1971. Six busloads of Woodward students arrived at the Canton Auditorium to find the doors locked. Someone in the crowd started chanting: "We're from Woodward and no one could be prouder, and if you can't hear us, we'll yell a little louder." According to Martin the chant turned into a roar and after what seemed like an hour someone opened the doors to the gym.
Graduating from Bowling Green State University, Marty was never far from his Polish heritage. The 4th Ward Old Timers Baseball Association was the recipient of much of Marty's spare time in the late 70s and early 80s organizing ten baseball teams in Toledo's North End. Marty also revived and nurtured the growing interest in the 4th Ward's Dartball League with "Darts that Go Thump in the Night" in the BLADE's Toledo Magazine.
The Lagrange Street Polish Festival is perhaps one of Marty's most treasured accomplishments. In 1984 with 20 some volunteers a committee was organized to promote the Lagrange Street business district and its distinct neighborhood. Gambling on the weather and a group of volunteers that was woefully inadequate, Marty's whole advertising budget was split between one neighborhood billboard and radio spots on the "Sharon and Chet Polka Party." The "Chet" was of course Chet Zablocki one of the outstanding leaders of the Toledo’s Polish community. Marty soon realized that what they had bought was Zablocki's reputation and creditability for the festival. From that one day in 1984 the foundation was laid for each succeeding year's Lagrange Street Polish Festival, and has been the facilitator for every triumph experienced by United North or the Lagrange Development Corporation.
Almost at the same time Marty was working for the "Shopper Herald," a neighborhood newspaper that had the "World's largest circulation from Pole to Pole" on Lagrange Street. Some twenty years later a temporary assignment as editor for the Lagrange Street News would become permanent. Marty credits the paper's increase in popularity and circulation to the great articles about Toledo Polonia and Lagrinka.
When asked for his reaction when he was informed of this honor, Marty said "I was surprised and gratified . . . I have 37 years of mostly volunteer work within the shadow of old Woodward High. I'm still shy at first and tend to stay in the background. However, it's good to be recognized by my peers." In the old neighborhood Marty is known by many names, but the one he is most proud of is "Mr. LaGrange Street News."