Friday, April 19, 2019
‘Big Sonia’ Teaches Through Laughter and Tears
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Sonia Warshawski behind the leopard-spot covered steering wheel of her big Oldsmobile.
 
Saturday, January 26, 2019
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

She stands just 4-foot-8 and has big hair, a big car and a big personality.

She says things like “bog-mindling” instead of “mind-boggling” and she can hardly see over her steering wheel. But she’s endeared herself to all who come in search of alterations—and even help with term papers, marriage advice and prom dresses--at her tailor shop in suburban Kansas City.

But, now, as the once-ritzy Metcalf South shopping mall she’s in is about to be shuttered, a little discussed part of Sonia Warshawski’s past comes to the forefront.

This quirky Polish immigrant was a teenager when she was sent to concentration camps in Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Majdanek. She watched her mother sent to the gas chamber. And she herself was shot in the chest on Liberation Day, the bullet missing her heart by a centimeter.

She has to go to work even in her late 80s and early 90s to keep her mind off her past. And the prospects of her business being closed has triggered her PTSD.

The Wood River YMCA will show “Big Sonia” on Tuesday, Jan. 29, in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The free showing will take place at 6 p.m. in the Community Room. And the filmmakers Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday will be in attendance, prepared to field questions following the film.

The couple, who were married at River Run Lodge, now make their home in Sun Valley. Warshawski, who has worked on such films and TV shows as “Baywatch” and “Lost,” wanted to make a funny film focusing on her grandmother’s quirky perky personality.

But when she and Soliday realized the post traumatic stress that smoldered underneath everything Sonia Warshawski said and did, they turned it into a film  with teachable moments as they followed Big Sonia into schools as she told her story.

The film is presented by the Roy A. Hunt Foundation and the Y.

 

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