May 31, 2013

Spring Storm

Verona, Wisconsin, June 2008. The weather can get dicey in June.


Kaunas, Lithuania, 1930. Here again is a young Suzanne. Suzanne wears a Persian Lamb coat—what we call a "Karakulis."
Thanks to Suzanne's Granddaughter—my Kaunas Cousin—for making this photo available to us.

Remember me this way.

Suburban Chicago, 1969. This is another snapshot from the "new batch" of photos that traveled to Lithuania and back again to the States. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, sent this photo of herself to the family of my Kaunas Cousin.

Tatjana wrote on the back of this photo: "I watch television in the evening, wearing my housecoat. Our doggie came to visit me like a little guest."

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

Tucked in a Letter

Haunstetten, Germany, 1951. This is Zigmas—the younger brother of my maternal Grandfather, Jake—with his wife, Heddy, and their five children. Zigmas sent this photo to Jake after Jake had emigrated to Brooklyn. Zigmas and his family still were Displaced Persons at the time they posed for this snapshot. The family arrived in the States a short time later.

May 30, 2013

End-of-Blooming Reunion

Verona, Wisconsin, May 2013. The prettiest time of year lasts only a short while.

Gunsight Pass, in Three Takes

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Glacier National Park, Montana, 1970. We make our way up through the Gunsight Pass trail.

Related by Marriage: Two Brothers, Later

Los Angeles, California, May 1992. Mr. Irene's Dad—on the right—visits his older brother, Ignas.


Release your Lipizzaner urges.

A damaged image preserves sweet memories.

Kaunas, Lithuania, Winter 1940. I'm often reluctant to post photos that aren't in good shape. I decided to scan this one, however, because it's an image of my Mom—on the far right—and some of her high-school classmates. We don't have many snapshots from that era.

May 29, 2013

Listen carefully.

Oberammergau, Germany, 1971. Most buildings depict the town's draw: its Passionplay. During our European vacation, our visit here was memorable because a restaurant server tried to shortchange us. She claimed our bill was "Zweiundsiebzig" (72) Deutschmarks; when we sat down to eat, she had said the meal would cost "Siebenundzwanzig" (27) Deutschmarks. Fortunately, my Parents were fluent in German.

Spring, in the Backyard

Suburban Chicago, May 1961. It's a cool spring day, and I model the sweater and hat Mom knitted.

Table Service

Kaunas, Lithuania, 1936. Kaunas Nina feeds her cat.
Thanks to Kaunas Nina's daughter—my Kaunas Cousin—for making this photo available to us.

"If your finances haven’t allowed you to sample chicken for a long time," … then eat crow.

"Lithuanian women unanimously claim that fried crow-meat wakes a man up and greatly increases his potency!"

My Mom ate crow only once. A Lithuanian restaurant served it during the war when the chef could obtain no other protein. There was a stigma to eating crow, and it tasted foul.

May 28, 2013

A Deer in the Dandelions

Verona, Wisconsin, May 2013. The doe knows the path leading out of our yard.

The Rec Room, in Three Takes

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Suburban Chicago, 1985. Dad's monkey photographs and the mountain goat head used to creep out my childhood friends.

The Life Box (Part 3)

Chicago, Illinois, October 16, 1971. Here's the program cover for a concert I attended at the Arie Crown Theater, a venue housed in the rebuilt McCormick Place.

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Did I go to the theater to see one of these performers?

No! My Dad took a friend and me to see David Cassidy! Hey: I was in eighth grade.

Related by Marriage: Party Band

Chicago's Lithuanian DP community maintained busy, annual social calendars from the 1950s through the 1970s. In the fall, political, cultural, and relief organizations held fundraising dinner dances. Christmas and New Year's Eve galas followed. Easter Balls heralded the start of spring and a new season of wedding parties. Occasional picnics and neighborhood festivals punctuated the summers.

Many banquets and dances took place within the main assembly hall of the Lithuanian Youth Center (what we called "JC's"). The Center—located in Gage Parkwas part of a complex built in 1957; it housed the residence of Lithuanian Jesuit priests, an art gallery, a chapel, research archives, and facilities for conducting Lithuanian language school on Saturdays. The Center also is the place at which I (sometimes) attended weekly choir practice.
Each gala featured live dance music, from the simplest, single accordion player to combos covering American big-band dance standards and rock music.

Mr. Irene played electric guitar for a Lithuanian dance-music trio throughout his college years. The other musicians were our contemporaries; their families were part of the Chicago Lithuanian network. One, an accordionist, was lead singer, and the other, a drummer, sang harmony and managed the bookings. The trio played waltzes, tangos, and polkas. They also substituted Lithuanian lyrics in pop tunes. Mr. Irene remembers many quaint translations and arrangements; "King of the Road," "Besame Mucho," and "Spanish Eyes" were popular numbers. A lively rendition of "Mack the Knife" or "Proud Mary," sung in English, usually closed out a night's performance.
For New Year's Eve 1978, the accordionist's parents contracted the group to perform for an annual gathering of Chicago snowbirds near Juno Beach, Florida. Mr. Irene packed up the drummer's van and departed for the 22-hour drive on a snowy December morning, just before Christmas Eve.

Juno Beach, Florida, December 31, 1978. Mr. Irene accompanies his band mates on guitar as the revelers prepare to take the dance floor.

"Knitting Wars"

PBS affiliate runs ads mocking reality TV and knitting is one of the "punchlines."

Talent, Lithuanian Style

Previous winner of "Lithuania's Got Talent" is an accordion player.

May 27, 2013

Let's stop here and eat.

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1970. Mom, Dad, and I hiked the Gunsight Pass trail to our destination, Sperry Park Chalet. We stayed overnight at the chalet before heading up to Sperry Glacier. The chalet's kitchen staff packed sack lunches for our glacier hike. The sandwiches were memorable: roast turkey with mayonnaise on soft, white bread.

Wisconsin Vacation

Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, July 1962. We sometimes vacationed in Wisconsin. Now, we live in Wisconsin, and every day feels like a vacation.

A Jumping German Shepherd of Juneau County

This weekend, Mr. Irene and I spent a day at the Wisconsin Dells with friends. Although we've lived in Wisconsin for about twenty-four years, I hadn't visited the Dells since 1979. Our group enjoyed a two-hour tour along the "Upper Dells" of the Wisconsin River. The highlight of the boat ride was a visit to Stand Rock, where we saw a German Shepherd dog jump across the chasm:

Late Spring

Near Vilnius, Lithuania, about 1928. Suzanne—the wife of my Dad's older cousin, Henry—stands with her family while on holiday.

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

May 26, 2013

Monastic Reunion

Osios Lukas, Greece, April 16, 1976. The monastery even makes tourists feel contemplative.

Lakeshore Posing, in Three Takes

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Lake Nipissing, Ontario, Canada, July 1965. Sometimes the picture-taking sessions are tiresome.

Related by Marriage: Another Sunday

Marquette Park, Chicago, Illinois, May 1960. Mr. Irene buckles in for another ritual Sunday dinner. Seated, from left to right, are Mr. Irene's Great Aunt Petra, his maternal Aunt Martha, his maternal Grandmother Anna, Mr. Irene, his Father (partially visible), and Martha's husband Wally.

Picnic Season

Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1934. My Dad's older cousin, Henry (on the right) picnics with his wife, Suzanne, and a friend.

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

May 25, 2013

Color Pop

Delos, Greece, April 25, 1976. Poppies frame most everything on the island.



Verona, Wisconsin, May 2013. I believe my Dad's twin sister, Jonė, made this portfolio cover for Dad while she was in the Displaced Persons camp. I have a runner Jonė embroidered at about that time, and she used the same linen and similar silk threads to stitch that piece.

Here, Jonė added Dad's monogram. She used his nickname for the initial, which is very touching, and she incorporated the "J" from her name into the motif. Jonė worked the remaining design—which mimics a traditional sash—in the colors of the Lithuanian flag.

Related by Marriage: Holiday on the Farm

Near Carter, Wisconsin, Summer 1938. The family of Mr. Irene's Mom visit Mom's Godparents. Standing with Mr. Irene's Mom are her father, Stanley, and her Godfather. Mr. Irene's maternal Grandmother, Anna, her sister, Petra, and Mr. Irene's Aunt Martha lurk in the background.

Holiday Weekend

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan, July 1961. It's not exactly a sand castle.

May 24, 2013


Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1970. Dad captures me and Mom as we head out on our unguided tour of Sperry Glacier.

Tourist Pleasure

Mackinaw City, Michigan, July 1961. I nibble on an ice-cream cone while Mom enjoys one, too. I'm also watching over that plaid, knitting bag.

Chopping Wood, in Three Takes

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Door County, Wisconsin, July 1980. Chopping wood was one of the activities Dad enjoyed when he and Mom were in Door County. Dad seemed to have some wood-chopping project under way most of the time. He chopped so much wood that it took up a good part of the garage space.

(You may have seen that Schwinn bicycle earlier here.)

Summer approaches.

Near Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1930. Boating along the Nemunas River was a popular family activity in the 1930s. Here, relatives of Suzanne—the wife of my Dad's older cousin, Henry—set off for an afternoon ride.
Thanks to my Kaunas Cousin for making this photo available to us.

May 23, 2013

Italy's Little Tyrol

Near Cortina d'Ampezzo, September 1985. If you didn't hear the Italian language spoken here, you'd think you were in Austria.


Copper Falls State Park, Mellen, Wisconsin, July 1962. Dad keeps me safe.

Related by Marriage: Army Buddies (Part 13)

Near Camp Irwin, Barstow, California, 1951. In this "Army Buddies" snapshot, Mr. Irene's Dad—on the right—enjoys a leave from the base.

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

A Blurred Memory

Seligenstadt, Germany, about 1946. My maternal Grandfather, Jake—second from right—entertains fellow Displaced Persons at the Žirgynas.

May 22, 2013

Little Bighorns

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1970. A pair of Rocky Mountain Bighorn rams inspects us as we hike near Sperry Glacier.


Atlantic Ocean, April 30, 1949. Dad's friend rides aboard the USAT General Omar Bundy. The friend looks to the shore of what he called "old England;" this makes me think the ship was transporting Displaced Persons to Australia.

Judo Lady?

"Get ready to hear more about the Judo-loving president of Lithuania dubbed the 'Iron Lady' for her harsh austerity measures used to yank the Baltic state out of economic disaster without any outside help."


Suburban Chicago, December 1964. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, has unraveled her familiar hair bun, and she and I relax in the Rec Room.

Before the War

Kaunas, Lithuania, late 1930s. This is my Dad's older cousin, Vytas. The Soviets deported Vytas to Siberia, where he lived in exile for about seventeen years.

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

May 21, 2013

What's on your mind?

Madison, Wisconsin, September 1994. Pupa settles into her new life in our home.

Related by Marraige: Velvet and Taffeta

Chicago, Illinois, December 1958. Mr. Irene's Parents enjoy one of their last "evenings out" as an unmarried couple.

Wild Strawberries, in Three Takes

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Door County, Wisconsin, June 1978. Take off the jacket if you feel too warm.