April 30, 2012

Frog Girl!

House on the Rock, Dodgeville, Wisconsin, April 2012. She's *live.*

The Second One

By the time I finished knitting my first sweater, I was ready to tackle a more complicated project. My Mom bought a nice worsted-weight wool for me in a soft, pink color. I recall that we selected the yarn at Marshall Field's on Lake Street, in Oak Park. Back then, Field's featured a modest yarn department in an annex on the store's fourth floor. The yarn department at Field's stood near the Girl Scout section of the store. I so wanted to be a Girl Scout so that I could wear the spiffy uniforms on display at Field's. But I'll save that story for another post.

The pink color we selected for my second sweater was not an abrasive tone; it was a shade that I still would wear today. Color wasn't the difficult issue for me; selection of a pattern was the tough decision. I wanted to knit something more challenging, but Mom didn't want me to be discouraged by a pattern that was too advanced.

We narrowed down my choices by reviewing the pattern books Mom had accumulated. Mom subscribed to two knitting magazines: Stitchcraft, a British publication to which my friend Kris and I fondly referred as "Witchcraft," and Vogue Knitting. Mom and I found a "beginner Aran" in one of the Stitchcraft issues. I worked on the sweater for about six months.

After I completed it, I wore that pink Aran for many years.

Suburban Chicago, June 1969. The issue of Stitchcraft is on my lap as I work on the pink Aran.

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Suburban Chicago, December 1969. I model the Aran. Do you like my necklace? It's a peace sign.

Wedding Table

Toronto, Ontario, November 1949. Guests celebrate the wedding of my Dad's twin sister, Jonė. Jonė sits on the far right; she has flowers in her hair. To Jonė's right sits her new husband, Kadis, who has intertwined his arm into that of his new mother-in-law, my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana.

Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for making this photo available to us.

Related by Marriage: The Music Lesson (Part 3)

Suburban Chicago, 1964. Mr. Irene and a friend test out their guitar skills. Mr. Irene stands next to the birdcage of one of the Skippys.


Kaunas, Lithuania, 1940. My Dad's twin sister, Jonė, stands on the right with two medical-school classmates. The Nazis closed the school shortly after they launched the occupation of Lithuania.

Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for making this photo available to us.

April 29, 2012


Lake Nipissing, Ontario, Canada, July 1965. This is the "Čipūlis," or little chipmunk, that entertained us for much of our summer vacation.


Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1970. Dad and I have reached the top of Sperry Glacier.

A Different Location

This group of Displaced Persons lived in Lübeck, a camp that housed none of my relatives. Like people in other camps, the folks pictured here seem relaxed and engaged in normal activities, despite the post-war atmosphere.

The photo even features two fellows—one less earnest than the other—pulling up the timeless bunny ears gesture.

Lübeck, Germany, about 1946. Toronto Al's Dad Vladas—the handsome guy lying down—joins his fellow friends, also Displaced Persons, for a snapshot. The group in this photo also looks like it is ready for an American-style fashion shoot.

Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for making this photo available to us.

It's good to take a walk after dinner.

Door County, Wisconsin, August 1976. I walk with my Mom, my Godmother, and my Godmother's husband along the beach at Europe Bay Town Park.

Student ID

Erlangen, Germany, 1946. This is part of the Identification Card issued to my Mom when she enrolled in medical school. This area of post-war Germany was within the American zone.

April 28, 2012


My Dad was usually the one taking photographs. He wasn't as comfortable in front of a camera as behind it. Often, he looked preoccupied in snapshots. Perhaps he wasn't really preoccupied; he instead may have been mentally "supervising" the picture taker's actions.

Here is an image of Dad when he truly appeared relaxed:

Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, July 1962. Dad may look content because he is on vacation. He's let his beard grow for a few days. He's wearing his familiar, gray London Fog windbreaker. I sometimes still put it on when I head out for a walk.

Painted Nails

Rockford, Illinois, June 1961. My Mom and her friend pose with one of the woman's Poodles. 

If it gets windy, then hang on to your hat.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan, July 1961. Mom lends me a hand in the windy conditions.

Seal of Approval

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Brookfield Zoo, 1967. A sea lion entertains little Irene.

Related by Marriage: New Ties

Marquette Park, Chicago, Winter 1950-1951. Mr. Irene's Dad—in the coat and hat—joins his brother, Ignas—newly drafted into the U.S. Army—for a snapshot with the wife of the man who sponsored the brothers' immigration to the United States.

Thanks to Mr. Irene's Los Angeles Cousin for making this photo available to us.

The War Effort ...

… in Kodachrome.

Proud Moment

My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, looks very pleased in this photo. I suspect she is satisfied because she likely sewed the coat she is wearing, and she is modeling the garment's debut.

Suburban Chicago, October 1960. I recall the texture of the fake, lilac corsage on the coat.

April 27, 2012

Physical Labor

Shortly before my stay in Venice ended, I met a gondoliero. The gondoliero had been navigating the Venetian lagoons for roughly fifty years. When I was readying to depart for the States, he treated me to a gratis ride up and down the city's canals. Because he was not "on duty," the gondoliero did not wear the classic uniform of a striped shirt and straw hat during that ride.

Venice, Italy, June 1984. This seventy-year old knew what he was doing.

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Venice, Italy, June 1984. The afternoon spent with the gondoliero was lovely.


Palanga, Lithuania, August 5, 1939. My Mom enjoys the famous beach resort, Palanga.

Heading Home

At the end of our July vacations, we loaded up the Buick and made the drive back to Chicago.

Often, I was happy to be heading home. I missed my friends, Gigi, my bike, and television. At other times, especially when we visisted Glacier National Park, I was not eager to leave.

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1966. Mom, Dad, and I are standing near the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking lot, from which we will launch our trip home. My facial expression here looks genuinely sad; it does not look contrived.

That's Salamander Glacier visible behind us.

Unknown Rank

A reader recently asked what rank my Dad had held in the Lithuanian scouts. I don't know. Although Dad spoke a lot about his fondness for scouting, and he occasionally mentioned some scouting outings, he did not talk about details.

Perhaps this photo of him in the scouting uniform will provide more information:

Schweinfurt, Germany, 1948. I love how my Dad, the fellow in the center, is the one scout who is wearing knee-high socks.

Happy Friday

Are you applauding the end of the week?

Suburban Chicago, January 1966. The Lithuanian friends from our suburban enclave have gathered for another celebration in someone's basement. I don't know what has sparked the applause.

My Mom is the first woman in the foreground, on the left, and Mom's friend Donna sits across the table from her. Donna's husband, Vytenis, sits in the second row, on the far left.

April 26, 2012

City Life

Milan, Italy, October 1983. This is how I remember Milan.

Three on a Tree

Kaunas, Lithuania, 1933. My Mom—on the left, with the braids—joins two friends on the banks of the Nemunas River.


Lake Nipissing, Ontario, Canada, July 1965. I favored waterlilies for several years.

Kiss, Kiss

Kaunas, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, about 1972 or 1973. Kaunas Nina, the daughter of my Dad's cousin, Henry, sends a kiss in the direction of her doggie, Ači. Ači has a pillow.

This photo again depicts the "antelė" folk art about which I wrote earlier.

Student Terrace

Erlangen, Germany, Spring 1947. My Mom and a medical-school classmate step onto the terrace. My Mom and I have similar taste in shoes.

April 25, 2012

Pre-Season Reunion

Taliesen Estate, Spring Green, Wisconsin, April 2012. We tour the Taliesen Estate prior to the opening of its regular season.

On the Water

Lake Nipissing, Ontario, Canada, July 1965. During our summer vacation on the Lake Nipissing shore, Kadis, the husband of my Dad's twin sister, Jonė, and his daughter, my Toronto Cousin, visited us. Here are Kadis and Toronto Cousin as we head out for a ride in our rental boat.

New Arrival

Seligenstadt, Germany, 1945. My Mom settles into life at the Displaced Persons camp.

Musical Mountains

During the summer months, the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park, Montana, staffs its facility with college students. The students serve as maids, waiters, and groundskeepers throughout the property. Many of the students also bring their musical and acting talents to the hotel.

When we visited the Many Glacier area in the 1960s and 1970s, the student staff often staged musical productions and concerts in the hotel. We saw "The Sound of Music" and "Funny Girl" in the makeshift theatre on the hotel's lower floor. On Sunday afternoons, groups of students also performed classical music in the lobby of the hotel.

It was such a tranquil place.

Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1966. This is the view of the hotel's entrance from the parking lot. The parking lot is adjacent to the area from which one could launch a horseback ride.

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Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1966. The red Glacier National Park tour buses have pulled up to the lobby entrance. We used to say that this is how the rich people arrived at the hotel.

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Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1966. Student musicians entertain guests in the hotel lobby. A glass wall separates the musicians from the gift shop.

A Familiar Face

I've seen this image of my maternal Grandfather, Jake, so many times that it no longer seems like an "old photo" to me. As a result, I had not posted it here yet.

Kaunas, Lithuania, 1930. Jake sat for this photo (and for this one) while he and his family still lived on the "officers' campus" in the city of Kaunas. A few years later, Jake and Jadzė built the house that my Mom remembers as her childhood home.

April 24, 2012

"If we get separated, then let's meet at the fountain."

That's what my Dad used to say when we visited Brookfield Zoo.

Brookfield Zoo, September 1965. The fountain is one of the zoo's landmark spots.

Sometimes, the trip is easier if you sleep through part of it.

Suburban Chicago, January 1965. I have fallen asleep in the back seat of my Dad's beige VW Beetle.

Russian Blossoms

Penza, Russian Soviet Socialist Republic, July 1964. Natasha, a younger sister of my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, writes, "In our front garden by the little terrace."

Thanks (again) to my dear friend D for translating the text from Russian to English.

Collect your thoughts.

Isarhorn, Germany, August 2 to 14, 1948. My Dad looks out onto the Bavarian Alps during his trip to the Scouting Jamboree.

Go ahead and fish; I'll knit.

I did not accompany my Parents on their vacation during the first summer after I was born. I was too small to travel, and I suspect my Parents wanted to get away from their daily routine.

I did join them the following two years on month-long vacations to Canada and to Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. But I have little memory of those trips. The latter vacation sets off some glimmers of familiarity because my Dad bought a pink, satin tiara for me there as a souvenir. I also remember the Sleeping Bear Dunes rental cottage. It was small, and its exterior had been painted in a peculiar, mint-green shade.

The first vacation about which I have clear memories is the trip we made to Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. I was disappointed that there wasn't a "real" beach on the lake. Our cottage stood on a small bluff. To reach the water, we had to climb down steep stairs and then walk along a narrow dock. The lake bottom was muddy and unpleasant. Every time I stepped out of the water, leeches covered my toes. The blood sent me into a panic. But our cottage sat near a lodge owned by a lovely, older couple. They had a Springer Spaniel, and they permitted me to play with the dog. The lake had beautiful waterlilies. When we took a ride in our rental dinghy, my Mom allowed me to clip the flowers from the water and put them in my hair. I also took my first airplane ride during that vacation; my Parents treated us to a sightseeing flight over the lake and surrounding forests.

Lac du Flambeau also is the place where I first learned to fish.

Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, July 1962. I have caught a "pan fish." Do you like my striped trousers?

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Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, July 1962. Mom knits on the dock.

April 23, 2012

Images ...

... from the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic.

(Via VilNews)

General Manners: Share your accomplishments.

Suburban Chicago, January 1962. My Dad stops by my play table to see the progress of my coloring project. He looks tired and preoccupied. He must have just returned home from work; he hasn't yet changed into his "stay-at-home" clothes.

On the wall hangs that paint-by-number image that my maternal Grandfather, Jake, completed in the 1950s.

The lilac Poodle vase must hold some crayons. Here's the vase today:

Verona, Wisconsin, April 2012. The lilac Poodle vase remains a treasured item.

Related by Marriage: Change of Plans

When Mr. Irene's Dad was growing up, the family planned for him to take over the duties of running the family farm. After Mr. Irene's Dad fled the 1944 Soviet occupation of Lithuania, his mother, Veronica, instead relied on an unrelated Farm Manager to oversee the property—and the collectivization of the farming operation.

Near Panevėžys, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, Winter 1964. The Farm Manager of the homestead of Mr. Irene's Dad prepares to go hunting. He's standing near the farm's well.

Oracle of Delphi

I visited the Oracle of Delphi in 1976. Had the Oracle's prophecy about my future been accurate, would I have done anything differently?

Probably not.

Delphi, Greece, April 1976. I am on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear the predictions.

Alpacas and Llamas

I met a friend today for a wonderful lunch. She told me that The Great Midwest Alpaca Festival will be in town this weekend. Alpacas and llamas were among my favorite animals when I was little. Now, I also love them because they produce beautiful fibers for soft knitting yarns.

Time spent with alpacas and llamas also generates great material for the memory bank.

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Children's Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, September 1965. I cannot distinguish whether these photos depict me feeding a baby llama or a baby alpaca.

Garden Favorite

This was one of my Dad's favorite photos of him and his twin sister, Jonė. It probably was taken in the family garden. Spring makes me look back on this snapshot because I imagine that the twins are standing next to a lush lilac.

The twins were high-school students when they posed for this photo. War was just around the corner, but their future plans, in 1939, still only took into account a university education.

Kaunas, Lithuania, 1939. Both Dad and Jonė kept old prints of this photo in their favorite albums.

April 22, 2012


When I lived in Venice, I rented a room from a padrona who lived on the Lido, the narrow barrier island that separates Venice from the Adriatic Sea. The spot at which I worked, the Archivio di Stato di Venezia, stands in the city proper, at the Campo dei Frari. As a result, I had a considerable commute every morning. I rode a motonave from the Lido to San Marco, and then I made a thirty-minute walk from the boat, through the San Marco district, over the Rialto Bridge to Campo San Polo, and then on to the Archivio.

Because seating was at a premium at the Archivio, I tried to arrive there each day when the "sala di studio" first opened, namely at about 7:30. This meant that most mornings, I stepped off the motonave at San Marco just as the sun was rising.

Piazzetta San Marco, Venice, Italy, January 1984. To the left stands the Doge's Palace. Could there be a better way to start the day?