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Kania smiles, patriots raise funds -- and Poles long for strawberries

Stanislaw Kania seems positively cheerful these days. The Polish leader keeps turning up on television as he trots around the country from one regional party conference to another. He busily explains the party line to each conference as it elects delegates to next month's crucial Communist Party congress.

The cherubic party boss has been getting an exceedingly friendly reception. And it looks genuine -- as though these representatives from the grass-roots organizations are relieved to feel an already perceptibly stronger hand.

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Ordinary, noncommunist Poles seem to accept Kania's current middle course between the more ardent reformers and the conservative antireformers as the only way. They seem to recognize that Kania's acknowledged commitment to reform must now be trimmed to realities.

Buoyed by his warm reception around the nation, Kania recently told an official visitor who was not a communist: "This congress is going to be the best our party has never had."

His confidence may be encouraged by visible support from Solidarity chairman Lech Walesa. The independent union leader has not only several times dissociated the union from anti-Soviet acts (such as the daubing of Soviet war memorials) but has also dispatched union activists to help clean them up.

Mr. Walesa has been talking forthrightly about industrial relations. He has praised the way Japanese workers apply themselves to their jobs and the merits of their relations with employers and government.

On returning from the International Labor Organization conference in Geneva, he told a Polish newspaper: "Solidarity must take greater responsibility for its words and actions. Strikes that were typical of us have lost their glamour. Society knows other ways of securing enforcement of agreements . . . ways that do not hurt working people.

"Before we plunge into confrontation, we must weigh the balance of gains and losses. We must not expose people to danger. . . . Some voices say I have gone soft and follow the government. But, if we happen to lose, what shall I say them? The government could not govern in the situation we have had. It mus have peace and certainty. . . ."

Mr. Walesa has also made news by donating his $60,000 Greek trade union prize to completion of the plan to restore the famous Reclawice Panorama to its place in the western city of Wroclaw. It commemorates Tadeusz Kosciuszko's epic victory in the insurrection of 1794 against an attempt by the "hard-liners" of those days to get rid of the democratic constitution of May 3, 1972.

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Walesa's gesture prompted some comment. "The money would have bought quite a lot of food," a young Polish woman remarked, "or even built a few small flats."

Other Poles disagreed. To them the panorama is cherished as a hopeful symbol for their troubled present. Years ago a start was made to restore it to the heart of Wroclaw. That was abandoned. Now -- tanks partly to Mr. Walesa -- it is at last to be finished.

A few weeks ago Wroclaw's biggest theater sold out a benefit performance of Jerzy Sito's verse play, "Polonez." The play deals with one of those sensitive bits of history that have been taboo here for years -- the period in which the Russians and other powers busily partitioned Poland from time to time.

Sito wrote it in 1979, but it could not be staged here until last January. It's been playing to packed houses ever since. It is not surprising: Much of it has an echo in Poland's more recent experience. And that benefit brought another 90,000 zlotys (about $3,000) to the panorama restoration fund.

Poles like strawberries as much as anyone (even when, like now, there is no cream to go with them). But they have had a hard time finding any, although the crop is plentiful and the prices reasonably by Polish standards.

Why?Because the bulk of the first luscious fruit went to processing instead of to consumers. "Appalling ineptitude," declared the newspaper Trybuna Ludu.

This is only one of many irritants consumers must endure. All too often the organization or the will do not exist to get things -- especially peri shables like strawberries -- to consumers quickly.

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