Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the last interview I had the opportunity to do face-to-face was 100 Women of Phoenixville with Dodi Shrunk. In the upcoming weeks, one of the 126 weekly interviews that were previously published will be shared with readers.
Paul and I had planned on meeting at Reeves Park for our chat. Due to the heat and humidity, we decided to seek refuge across the street at the Phoenixville Public Library.
Paul Gurcules was born and grew up in the outskirts of Phoenixville in nearby Cromby — an area north-northwest of town. He has left the area and has returned several times. His most recent return and seemingly permanent one was around 1999.
He recalls — he and his boyhood best friend Patrick (Pat) Klimcho did everything together. This included weekly trips to the Colonial Theatre and a lifelong interest in the movies, especially Sci-Fi. Along with a major interest in comics books, especially drawing and coloring their original works. It so happens that Pat is one of my Klimcho cousins I often mention.
Paul joined the Army and served as a medical specialist. After his discharge, his interest in computers began. He started to work with developing hospital systems. One of his systems was once a part of the Phoenixville Hospital.
He is a “man of the arts.” At the age of 14, he started his lifelong photography quest with his mom’s Brownie camera. Today, he uses a hi-tech Cannon with all the “bells and whistles.” Though he was very fond of doing portraits over the years, his interest in street photography reflects his personality the best. Foremost in his work is capturing the people he finds on the street. Another interest is sculpting small boxes to hold trinkets, along with jewelry design and making.
Paul was the founder and administrator to the Facebook Group “Phoenixville — Our Kind of Town.” He was on the board of directors with the Phoenix Village Art Center where he headed discussions on several different artistic venues. The art center has closed but “Coffee Talks” meets the third Sunday of each month in the “Upstairs Studio” located at 207 Bridge St. If you are interested in joining in, you can just show up or message Paul on Facebook.
Among Paul’s accomplishments are that he is the father of four children (2 girls & 2 boys, along with 6 grandchildren). He has two sisters and his mother whom he helps to care for daily.
Paul feels we do not need or should we live in the past but should remember it because it is the values we learned that make each of us of that we are.
Because we both share Hungarian heritage, our conversation drifted off to recalling stories and foods from our past.
His mother Vera Moran Gurcules (Irish) make Hungarian Palacainta — wonderful thin crepes that were filled with either sweet or savory ingredients. Paul always hopes that there would be leftover Palacainta so the next day his favorite filling was with peanut butter & jelly.
Paul’s grandfather, Michael Gurcules, held a position in the court of Hungarian Royalty. When he began to know too many of the palace secrets, he and his brother found they needed to leave. They made their escape and hooked up with a group of traveling gypsies and stayed with them until they found safety.
His other grandfather, Matthew Moran, was a baker. Paul remembers waking up on Sunday morning visits to his grandparents to the smell of wonderful baking dough.
PALACAINTA (Hungarian Crepes)
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk*
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
*For a lighter crepe use 1 cup milk & 1 cup of seltzer water.
Whisk the flour, salt & sugar. Combine eggs & milk together – mixing well. Add milk mixture to flour mixture – beating into a thin batter. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter into a very hot greased skillet or crepe pan. Rotate batter to cover entire bottom of pan. Crepe will be very thin & it may take a little practice at first. Brown lightly on both sides – continuing making crepe until batter is used up. Spread with your favorite topping, roll up & serve.
This article was originally published on Sept. 17, 2017. Update – Since the interview, Paul has gone west to live, visit & enjoy his daughter & grandchildren in Nevada. He is not sure when he will be returning to Phoenixville. He stated “that things are pretty much up in the air."