Home sweet home, 'piano man's' new lodgings, first smile in months

Zyggy Szymczak will leave North Port for his native Poland.

NORTH PORT — The lights worked. The water ran. And one neighbor danced.

Suddenly Zyggy Szymczak had his life back.

The former nightclub and concert piano player escaped on Friday from his lifeless trailer home at the Myakka River Park, work crews pushing him and his supporters through the gate and locking it behind them.

His former home was to be demolished in a land clearing off River Road near Tamiami Trail. A retail complex is planned where about 70 or so mobile homes had once sat. Szymczak’s was the last one standing.

The pleasant news Friday was supporters, a doctor advocate and others welcoming Szymczak to a clean and functioning mobile home around the corner.

The cottage-like place was paid for with donations, gifts and large checks from the landowner and a local attorney, Boohof Law Firm, which matched other donations. Szymczak had earlier been released from Sarasota Memorial Hospital with an undisclosed condition.

Arriving back at the Myakka River Park to gather his possessions, Szymczak on Friday had anguished over his Buick.

He fretted over that for hours, inserting house keys in the car’s door lock.


It took urging from Dr. Elizabeth Pulawski, a Polish-American and his translator, and others to get Szymczak away. That Buick meant the world to him. Others that morning had moved his piano to the new home, anticipating his joy. A Bradenton company, Martin’s Moving, had reduced its fees to move the piano. Friends and workers got it out of the old trailer by cutting open an exterior wall.

And ultimately the car was moved to a safe place.

“It’s not OK,” Szymczak repeated over and over in the minutes before leaving, his torn pockets filled with medical bandages, a rubberbanded wallet, cards and papers of unknown origin.

And then about 3 p.m., among a caravan of supporters, Szymczak entered his new home at an RV park not far away from his old one. Turquoise with white trim, the place was furnished in a seascape décor.

Szymczak inside spotted his white piano, stood at the keys and began playing.

He was transformed from a sad little man in torn pants to a nightclub performer.

And smiled, possibly for the first time in months.

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