November 29, 2012

Turkey?! Did someone say, "Turkey?"

Verona, Wisconsin, November 2012. Rex, Poppy, and Baci anticipate the last of the leftovers.

Mom knits while I collect shells.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan, July 1961. I have my red pail in which I'll collect my treasures.

Moving quickly on Napoleon's Hill.

Napoleon's Hill, Kaunas, Lithuania, 1934. My Mom enjoys her playtime on Napoleon's Hill.

Garage Sale

Suburban Chicago, September 1972. My Best Friend and I organized a little garage sale one summer. I don't remember what we sold or how much money we made, but we had a great time.

"It's always something."

Local kerfuffle over the proposed name change of Gilda's Club.

Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer.

"As the backlash against the Madison chapter spread across the Internet, many wondered if everyone today knows who Betty Ford or Susan G. Komen were."

Another free speech issue arises in Lithuania.

Television station yanks documentary about president, stating that the piece "was not ethical enough because it was biased and did not present the opinion of the other side."

The station later fired the journalist responsible for the documentary.

November 28, 2012

Christmas Cards: First Edition

By the mid-1960s, my Dad's interest in photography was flowering. He began an almost-annual custom of sending holiday photo cards. Back then, photo cards were unusual, and they were not as quick to order as they are in our digital era.

Dad usually selected an image from our summer vacation for the photo card. He never chose family pictures or pet photos. The object of the photo usually was a landscape, a tree, or a flower.

I'll post scans of some of those cards in the next few weeks.

December, 1966. Dad chose an image from our trip to Glacier National Park for his first holiday photo card.

When do you put up the tree?

Suburban Chicago, January 1964. We must be expecting guests. My paternal Grandmother Tatjana's favorite reading chair and its corner area have been straightened; that spot is not in its usual arrangement.

A Cougar in Highland Park?

Who knew.

Brookfield Zoo, Illinois, 1985. This is not the North Shore Cougar. This is a Brookfield Cougar. This photo dates from the time when my Dad started processing and printing color film at home.

Decorative Doorway

Near Seligenstadt, Germany, about 1948. My Mom, in the center, and her walking companions stop for a photo.

Nineteenth-Century Sex Workers in Vilnius

"In order to avoid going bankrupt, brothel mistresses organized into a proto-union and made demands to the Governor that brothels be allowed to [settle] in a permanent location and they would not have to move every one to three years."

Vilnius generally was a cosmopolitan and progressive city.

November 27, 2012

Indoor Shopping

Stuttgart, Germany, August 1985. This place reminded me of the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele.

Speaking of that Galleria post: are you buying a lottery ticket tomorrow?

Christmas Manners: It's never too early to get excited about Santa Claus.

Melrose Park, Illinois, December 1962. Dad has taken me to Amling's, where I will meet Santa.

Is it too early to start baking Christmas cookies?

Probably: it's not even December yet. But it's not too early to start planning the baking list.

Suburban Chicago, December 1962. My Mom bakes Christmas cookies. Notice that she's using two teaspoons—not a teaspoon and her finger—to "drop" the cookies.

Related by Marriage: Almost on the Boat

Post-War Germany, March 26, 1949. Mr. Irene's Dad, standing on the left, joins the relatives with whom he will emigrate to the United States. Standing next to Dad is his brother, Ignas. Seated are Uncle Dthe brother of Mr. Irene's maternal Grandmother Veronicaand Uncle D's wife, Danutė.

The group sat for this portrait on the same day Mr. Irene's Dad and Ignas had this photo taken.

Danutė was the family's source for pickled mushrooms.

A folder of photos marked, "NOT FOR PUBLICATION."

Author Ruta Sepetys writes about a discovery of her family's photos.

Read here and here about the exhibits to which Sepetys refers.

November 26, 2012

Winter is around the corner.

Suburban Chicago, February 1965. An ice storm arrives in our neighborhood.

A Visitor from Canada

Suburban Chicago, December 1961. My Toronto Cousin and her family have driven down from Ontario to spend the Christmas holiday with us. Toronto Cousin here is watching television in the Rec Room. This was our Grandmother Tatjana's favorite photo of Toronto Cousin.

Take some time to enjoy your favorite pastimes.

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1972. Although we're in beautiful Glacier, Mom and I spend an afternoon in front of our motel roomat the Swiftcurrent Inn—reading and knitting.

Someone likes piano playing more than I ever did.

My Best Friend just sent me this clip. It's made the rounds, but I had not seen it before:

Gigi enjoyed the piano, but she never took it this far.

"Social Racism" ...

... in Sweden.

November 25, 2012

Don't-Miss-the-Train Reunion


Stuttgart, West Germany, August 1985. I traveled to Stuttgart to participate in a conference about medieval maritime commerce. I was happy to visit the city because my Dad studied there after the war. I stayed in a suburban hotel and rode the train into the center each morning. I've never seen cleaner train stations.

Sunday Paper: Learn-to-Read Edition

Suburban Chicago, Spring 1963. Mom sets aside the newspaper for another reading lesson. I'm still having none of it.

Another gun-deer season ends today.

Verona, Wisconsin, November 2007. A family of deer moves through the backyard. This is a different group than the one whose photo I posted last year.

Today would have been Tatjana's 115th birthday.

Suburban Chicago, November 1972. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, sits in her favorite, living-room chair and studies the photo album that my Dad put together as a gift for her seventy-fifth birthday. On the left page is this 1916 portrait of Tatjana, and a 1917 head shot of her husband, Vytautas, is on the right page.

November 24, 2012


Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1972. We approach the Many Glacier Hotel. Although we never stayed there, we knew we were approaching our destination once the hotel was in sight.

64 Different Brilliant Colors

Suburban Chicago, April 1964. I'm in the bedroom that I shared with my paternal Grandmother Tatjana, drawing. Behind me is Tatjana's bed, draped with a pink, chenille bedspread. Tatjana has tucked her shoes—as she usually did—under her bed.

This would never happen today.

Chicago, Illinois, November 1961. My Dad enjoys a cigarette at his work desk, which stood adjacent to the lab bench.

Did you go shopping this weekend?

The Christmas season is in full throttle at the malls.

Oakbrook, Illinois, December 1964. Mom and I stand outside of the Marshall Field's at Oakbrook Center. We wait until a few weeks before Christmas to start our shopping.


Recently, I mentioned that mushrooms are such a ubiquitous part of Lithuanian culture that Lithuanians even bake "Grybūkai," or mushroom cookies.

Here's a clip illustrating the process—which does not require long fingernails:

November 23, 2012

In his element.

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1968. My Dad enjoyed nothing more than hiking in the mountains and taking photographs of the landscapes. Here, he pauses near Iceberg Lake.

Related by Marriage: Well, these turkeys made it.

Dearborn, Michigan, Spring 1958. Mr. Irene's Mom checks out the turkeys—and a peacock—near the Henry Ford Museum during a trip to Michigan.

All Together

Schweinfurt, Germany, 1948. I believe this photo captures the Lithuanian boy scouts from the Schweinfurt Displaced Persons camp shortly before they departed for the National Scouting Jamboree in Isarhorn. My Dad is sitting in the front row, just to the right of the center, wearing a light-colored shirt.

Living History

Lithuania's medieval history goes interactive.

Soon it will be time to decorate the tree.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, December 1955. My Toronto Cousin adjusts the ornament arrangements.

November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Mild

Everyone here in Wisconsin is talking about how mild the weather was on this Thanksgiving Day. "It's never been this warm!"

The deer are happy. During gun-deer season, it's easier to blend in with the landscape when there is no snow on the ground.

Verona, Wisconsin, November 2010. This fellow is on the move. Once he's in the cornfield, he'll be even harder to detect.

Happy Birthday to the twins, again.

It's time again to acknowledge that today is the birthday of my Dad and his twin sister, Jonė.

Suburban Chicago, November 1967. Jonė flew down from Toronto to celebrate the birthday of her and my Dad's mother, Tatjana, who shared a late November birthday with her twins.

Our Thanksgiving Dinner Topic

"Lithuania ranks amongst the top emotionless societies on the planet."

(Living in Italy must have rubbed off on me.)

Thanking Back

Last year on Thanksgiving Day—when this blog was still quite new, and I had not yet posted many of the "way-back-when" photos—I scanned a little photo and asked my Mom why everyone in the image looked so sad. The photo, I learned that day, was taken when Mom and her Dad, Jake, were about to flee Lithuania.

I remain thankful that Mom and Jake became refugees. I'm most thankful that my Mom is vibrantly healthy—and still razor sharp—as she recounts memories from her life.

I'm thankful for my Dad—who today would have celebrated his ninetieth birthday—for treating every photo in his collection as an archival treasure.

And I'm thankful, of course, that Mom and Dad met at a party in a Displaced Persons camp, and that they married less than three months later.

So here again is a snapshot from a set I posted last spring that captures their new, young love.

Seligenstadt, Germany, February 1948. My Parents had just met.

Happy Thanksgiving

Are you feeding an army?

Camp Irwin, Barstow, California, December 25, 1951. The mess-hall buddy of Mr. Irene's Dad is ready to serve the troops.

November 21, 2012

Turkey is a great lure ...

... when you're trying to pose the pack for the annual-holiday-photo card.

Verona, Wisconsin, November 2011. We'll have plenty of turkey on hand over the next few days.

Time Capsule

Kaunas, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, about 1962. My Kaunas Cousin, sitting on her Mother's lap, is the center of attention.

Share a laugh.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, July 1970. My Dad's twin sister, Jonė, giggles with her husband, Kadis, and her Mother—my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana.

November 20, 2012

Giving back.

Scientist Vilius Lėnertas donates his prize to the Lithuanian High School in Germany.

Lėnertas studied there after he and his family fled Lithuania as Displaced Persons.

Happy Reunion

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1987. After a fourteen-year gap, I return to my favorite place.

General Manners: Try to look like you're having fun.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan, July 1961. Mom's taking a nap, and I seem disinterested in playing on the beach. I'm wearing the pink, satin tiara that was my most memorable keepsake of the vacation.

Related by Marriage: Missing the comforts of home.

Camp Irwin, Barstow, California, 1952. Mr. Irene's Dad relaxes on his bunk in the U.S. Army barracks. The stack of Lithuanian newspapers still rests on the shelf.


Suburban Chicago, February 1963. Dad focuses on a chess game. He wears a Western string tie!

November 19, 2012

Cortina Calma

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, September 1985. After you finish shopping, climb up the hill to get a better view of the town.

When basketball and tradition intersect.

Yesterday, the Toronto Raptors celebrated "Lithuanian Heritage Days." During the halftime show, the folk dance group, "Gintaras," performed.

Remember, only the sport of mushroom hunting comes as close to Lithuanian hearts as basketball.

A Photogenic Breed

Rockford, Illinois, Summer 1957. Dad tries to get another shot of the Rockford German Shepherd; he's focusing the Rolleiflex.

Another Mystery Location

Location unknown; between about 1943 to 1945. My Dad tucked this photo into an envelope in which he had stored sentimental photos from the time before he married. Most of those photos capture Dad's friends and places he visited. This photo has no notes written on the back. I don't know whether this church is in Lithuania or in Germany. Can any of my readers identify it?

Related by Marriage: Close Quarters

Kaiserslautern, Germany, September 1948. Mr. Irene's Dad—standing on the right—poses with fellow Displaced Persons outside of their tent at the canine security unit.

Monkey Business

Many of you have seen this clip. I'm posting it here because I laugh every time I watch it:

November 18, 2012


Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1987. There's not a ripple in Lake MacDonald.

An Imperfect Fit

Suburban Chicago, Winter 1962. I'm stepping into Mom's pumps again.

Forest Resort

Kulautuva, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, January 1, 1971. My Mom's maternal Aunt, Dora, goes for a winter walk with her husband. Dora described Kulautuva as a "forest resort."

"Vilnius has a pretty sparky nightlife, and doesn’t seem as overrun with stag parties as other Eastern European cities."

An Irish travel writer reviews a trip to the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

(You already knew some of this.)

Related by Marriage: Relax after dinner.

Bridgeport, Chicago, Illinois, Winter 1958. Mr. Irene's Parents pay a visit to his Mom's relatives on Lowe Avenue. Mr. Irene's Mom's Cousin, Isa—seated on the right in the black dress—lived her adult life directly next door to "Hizzoner," Mayor Richard J. Daley. Mr. Irene's Mom's Aunt Agnes, sitting on Cousin Isa's right, enjoys the visit. In about six months, Agnes will help Mr. Irene's Parents finance their home in Suburban Chicago. Mr. Irene's Aunt Martha is taking the picture, and Mr. Irene's maternal Grandmother, Anna, sits at the front, still wearing her apron.

Attention Toronto Readers

(I know there are at least four of you.)

The Lithuanian film, Fireheart: The Legend of Tadas Blinda opens in Toronto on Friday, November 23, 2012, as part of the European Union Filmfest.

"Braveheart," move over.

"Tadas Blinda" also was a television series that ran in the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. The show highlighted the struggle of the peasants against the aristocracy. You can get a taste of it—you don’t need to understand Lithuanian to digest its flavor—here:

Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for forwarding the information about the movie to us.

"Bred This Way"

"I tried to imagine what Lady Gaga might fashion herself if she were reincarnated as an aging, lethargic poodle with not much of a wardrobe budget."

November 17, 2012

Bedtime in the Big Sky

Missoula, Montana, July 1987. Catch the view before you turn in.

Take a study break.

Urbana, Illinois, June 1981. I'm settled in my first "solo" apartment. It's the end of the semester, and I am working on a paper. The electric typewriter is in use, and a box of notecards rests next to it.