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Thursday, June 28, 2012


TSG Warehouse would like to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who showed up to help Bremond celebrate Polish Day 2012.  There are so many individuals who contribute to this festival to make sure it continues to be the single biggest revenue generating event for our community year after year.  This 25th Anniversary of Polski Dzien was bigger and better than ever!  And I think 2013 will blow the socks off of this year.  Change is in the air!  Many people are beginning to sense this, especially out of town folks.  I overheard so many conversations about how excited they were that Polish Day really felt “POLISH” this year.  People are longing for that connection to roots.  And I think the more diluted people’s bloodlines get, the more they reach for a deeper sense of self.  With the success of the likes of, which now has its own show, this trend of wanting to know more about our own personal history is here to stay. 

2012 Polish Day was such a terrific success!  This year’s festival had dozens more vendors than last year, KCEN paid us a visit and asked our locals for interviews, and TSG Warehouse was packed liked sardines most of the afternoon.  Why was this year so much bigger and better than last?  Because of all the promoting, advertising and PR being done over the last year in an effort to “brand” Bremond once again as the “little Polish capital of Texas”; because Bremond businesses have been painting their buildings and working hard to clean up; because the festival itself became more “Polish” with more Polish food, more Polish music, more Polish goods; and because more people including younger folks showed up to help with the festival. 

I had several conversations with various people who felt that energy in such a strong way, that now they are considering moving back and even starting businesses here (at least a half dozen).  One gentleman with absolutely no history in Bremond came up to me with so much excitement he couldn’t contain himself.  He said that all this Polish music and dancing was the most fun he had since he can remember.  He said he is ready to pick up his family and move here!  And he was not joking around…he was dead serious.   Something magical happened this Polish Day 2012 in Bremond.  Many people told me this verbatim…mostly out of towners with roots here and deep pride.  It’s this kind of energy that causes positive shifts in a community.  You cannot see it.  You cannot touch it.  But you can feel it.  Polish or not, this renewed excitement will benefit every single individual in Bremond.  It will inevitably increase revenue into our community and thus begin to improve quality of life for our town.  We should all continue to be vested in this endeavor to make Bremond a better and better place, and make next year’s Polish Day 2013 even better than this year.


Denise & Jason Gouge
Owners of Texas Slav & German Warehouse, Founders of Vision 2020 Bremond TX

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What did you say SLAV or SLAVIC means?

People continue to ask us why we use the term SLAV in our business name, TEXAS SLAV & GERMAN WAREHOUSE.  Well, the reason is that our main market focuses on the Czech, Polish and German immigrants in Texas.  It was a mouthful to say all 3 nationalities in our name so we used the term SLAV to encompass the Czechs and Poles collectively.  Your official definition of SLAV is below.

Slavs (slävz, slăvz), the largest ethnic and linguistic group of peoples in Europe belonging to the Indo-European linguistic family. It is estimated that the Slavs number over 300 million in the world. They are usually classified in three main divisions. The West Slavs include the Poles, the Czechs, the Slovaks, and the Wends Wends or Sorbs, Slavic people (numbering about 60,000) of Brandenburg and Saxony, E Germany, in Lusatia. They speak Lusatian (also known as Sorbic or Wendish), a West Slavic language with two main dialects: Upper Lusatian, nearer to Czech, andthe Wends (also known as Lusatians) and other small groups in E Germany. The South Slavs include the Serbs, the Croats, the Slovenes, the Macedonians, the Montenegrins, the Bosniaks, and the Bulgars. The East Slavs, the largest group, include the Great Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians (or White Russians).

Religiously and culturally, the Slavs fall into two main groups—those traditionally associated with the Orthodox Eastern Church (the Great Russians, most of the Ukrainians, some of the Belorussians, the Bulgarians, the Serbs, and the Macedonians) and those historically affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church (the West Slavs, most of the Belorussians, some of the Ukrainians, and the Croats and Slovenes). The cleavage into Eastern Church and Western Church is symbolized by the use of the Cyrillic alphabet by the first group and of the Roman alphabet by the latter.

I hope you found this helpful!

Denise Barker Gouge, Texas girl of Polish and German descent.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sustainable communities in unlikely Texas towns

Pictures can teach us about sustainable, walkable communities: Fredericksburg TX ranks with Paris and New Orleans! This comment came from a blog by Kaid Benfield, the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America.

For me, it was "the perfect storm"...the right article, the right photos and the right frame of mind. It totally threw a wrench in my agenda for the day. I simply couldn't concentrate and had to vent my whirlwind of thoughts. Call me crazy but I think my little central Texas town as well as other small unsuspecting Texas towns can do this…that is, be revitalized, reborn and/or repurposed.  Two of my favorite Texas towns have proven this and continue to make positive strides: Galveston and Fredericksburg.  One just needs vision, a clear goal and something marketable.  Oh yeah, and to avoid the 5% who are the eternal doomsayers. Avoid them like frying bacon naked.  It’s just a bad idea. Steer clear.

“We’re not one of those rich gas well or touristy towns” they say.  Yes I know, I does take money. But money is often the great cop out.  I'll give you an analogy. I grew up believing that global travel was only for the rich and famous. No one ever told me this. It was simply a message that I picked up in the environment in which I grew up in small farming town USA.  But then came the game changer...the opportunity. In my early 20's, my husband and I were offered a free place to sleep in London, England if we chose to visit. It was the off-season so airfare ended up being very affordable to our great surprise. We scoured books that taught one how to travel on the tiniest of budgets. Almost with a great sense of uneasiness for my hubbie and incredible freedom for me, we booked our flight. It was a huge turning point in both our lives because it seemed so impossible and "foreign" just 2 weeks prior. We have been travel enthusiasts ever since and we focus on doing it cheaply. My favorite travel guru is Rick Steve's. He is a former school teacher who travelled Europe so often with his family while being a teacher that he is now a renowned travel resource. And let's face it, teachers are one of the most underpaid professions in our great nation. What seemed impossible due to lack of money, suddenly became possible. Lesson learned.

I digressed a bit to make a point. Money is a very necessary part of the plan, but it is just that...a "part" of the plan. What is needed first is a long-term vision. You don't need to burden yourself with all the moving parts as to how it will become reality at first. If you do that, those beautiful visions never come to fruition.  It's so easy to get caught up in what's comfortable, what is natural. But a majority of the magic happens when you leave that giant circle and venture out into the unknown. Visions should stretch you outside of your comfort zone. Part of it should feel slightly unattainable. If not, you never left your circle.  When driving from Houston to Lubbock at night, you do not need the roads to be lit up the entire way all at once. All you need is about 30 feet of headlights and a destination...then you go find your map to get you there. And you cannot search Google maps if you don't know where the heck you are going.

My question is this: Does your small Texas town know where it is going? Change happens whether we like it or not. If one honestly thinks that their life, their town can simply go on as is forever, they are in for a rude awakening. One can either accept the inevitable that change happens, have forward thinking and planning to steer the ship to a fun travel destination or one can become the SS Minnow. I, for one, am not going down on a sinking ship. I'm steering this bad boy to a super cool place. I don't have my map yet. But I sure as heck know what the endpoint looks like and my gut tells me that the journey itself is going to be fun. I love my tiny Texas town. And I will go to my grave striving to make it better and better.  My great grandparents emigrated from Poland with no money but they did have big dreams.  I’ll be darned if I let them down by watching what they started fade away into the dust.  I’m no millionaire…just a 40 year old Texas girl, proud of her roots, proud of her town, doesn’t mind going against the grain and loves the idea of a tight community.  What would totally make this journey complete and make that destination even that much more amazing would be if there were a team of co-captains. Are there any takers?  

 You can read Benfield's article “What pictures can teach us about walkability” and peruse the beautiful photos of various "walkable" communities here:

By Denise Barker Gouge

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Waltz to Westphalia" Premiere and Polka Bash in downtown Bremond, TX

"Waltz to Westphalia" Premiere & Polka Bash!!  SATURDAY, NOV 5 at Texas Slav & German Warehouse in downtown Bremond, TX!!!

The documentary, "Waltz to Westphalia" tells the fascinating story of a Polish folk song’s transformation into an American country fiddle classic. The film captures a wide array of people, places and artifacts significant in the tune’s regional and national development. Because the tune evolved in the twentieth century, some of the primary sources are still living. They shared their memories with Joe Weed. In 2006, he began traveling around the United States to speak with them, their children, and their grandchildren. Many of those interviewed are from Waco, Westphalia, Houston and Bremond.

The melody of the Westphalia Waltz derives from a Polish song known by several titles — “Pytala Sie Pani,” “Wszystkie Rybki,” and others. Citing references from Poland’s National Library in Warsaw and the Polish Museum of America in Chicago, the film describes the song in Poland and the United States. It includes interviews with descendants of the Polish immigrants who worked the mills in Massachusetts and the coal mines in the Alleghenies.

The grandson of the lead trumpet player in RCA Victor’s 1930 recording recalls his grandfather’s musical and professional life. The son of a Pennsylvania coal miner relates his father’s insistence that he learn to play music. As a musician, he had the opportunity to escape the hard life of a miner. Through old photos, music, and recordings, the film provides a glimpse of the early Polish–American culture that embraced this delightful folk song.

With first-hand accounts from Polish-Texans, the film explains how the piece made its way to Bremond, the largest Polish settlement in Texas during the Great Depression. Dance musicians playing in nearby Waco and Westphalia also picked up the tune. Fiddler Cotton Collins, who played with Waco’s “Lone Star Playboys,” re-interpreted the piece as a Texas fiddle waltz. He recorded it for a small Dallas record company, and called it the “Westphalia Waltz.” Collins’ friend Hank Thompson brought the tune to a national audience with his release on Capitol Records in 1955.

- produced by Joe Weed
-courtesy of and

Premiere and Polka Bash in downtown Bremond, TX at Texas Slav & German Warehouse.   See events link, find us on facebook and twitter.

LIVE POLKA MUSIC by Brian Marshall and other great Polish musicians prior to movie screening!!!
• INCREDIBLE FOOD WITH POLISH FLARE available for purchase!! Catered by THE GREEN MOLLY out of Austin!!!
• GREAT DISCOUNTS on Polish, Czech & German gifts & collectibles including Polish pottery, Cuckoo Clocks and T-shirts!!! GET YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING DONE EARLY THIS YEAR!!


DOMINOES AND PLAYING CARDS will be available, or bring your own game of choice. Hang out, play some bones, kick back and listen to some great music as we gear up for the finale...the "Waltz to Westphalia" premiere!!

Much fun to be had all day long!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good family fun beginning at 12:00 noon
Movie time starts at 7:30pm. Run time 1 hour.
Admission to movie is free!!
Live music times prior to screening TBA.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brave Combo live at WestFest 2011 TX- Polka for future Generations

I had first heard of Brave Combo 10 years ago thanks to a great friend of mine who was a huge fan. She hounded me time and time again that I had to go check them out.  I was a wannabe full-time musician chasing my own rockstar dream so I never bothered to make the time.  As a result, sad to say, I have never seen Brave Combo and only recently heard their music. They are truly a party polka band for the next generation.  I didn't understand this until I finally sampled their music on itunes.  Now my only regret is that I hadn't listened to my trusted friend years ago.  They came through Houston fairly frequently so I had no excuse.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  The upside is that they are one of those rare bands who can stick it out together over the long haul, and after at least 10 years they are still together.  So many bands are simply a flash in the pan.  Brave Combo is not that kind of band.  They have obviously weathered the storms that every band goes through.  Being a musician myself, I know these types of trials and tribulations firsthand. 

Polka band you say?  Yes, polka band.  But not exactly like those polka weddings you went to as a kid.  No sir.  Brave Combo stamps their polkas with their own style to appeal to a younger generation.  They also cross several ethnic groups offering an interesting blend of Czech, Latin and Cajun flare.  Listening to their CD simply makes me smile.  All I could think of when I finally heard their music was that they must be a trip to see and hear live.  "Party band" is so cliche'.   But Brave Combo nails it.  They are a polka party band for the next generation.  It will take more bands like Brave Combo to carry on the traditions and heritage that is dwindling as generations come and go.  And now, finally, for the first time in 10 years, I will get the opportunity to see them live at the famous WestFest 2011 in the town of West, TX.   Hope to see you there.  I'll be the one drinking pivo and having a blast of a good time...oh wait, that will describe everyone there.  :)

Denise Gouge (still a wannabe rockstar), supporter of Texas heritage and owner of
Texas Slav & German Warehouse