June 30, 2013


Commenter Di—who lives in Seligenstadt—has sent some photos of how the area around the Displaced Persons camp looks today. Here is a photo of a plaque erected at the camp in memory of the Displaced Persons who lived there. Both my Mom and Mr. Irene's Dad stayed at the Seligenstadt Camp between 1945 and 1949.
Commenter Di translates: "1945-1949. 1200 Lithuanians lived in the Seligenstadt Camp. Almighty God, we beseech you to bless and protect us throughout all the vicissitudes of our exiled existence, far from our home country. In this location Lithuanians were gathered together who loved God and their native land above everything. In Remembrance 7. January 1993." Di does not know who erected the plaque. The plaque features the Lithuanian coat of arms, the Vytis.
Thanks to Commenter Di for making this photo available to us. (I'll post more of Commenter Di's photos soon.) 

Camera Man

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1968. The London Fog windbreaker and the camera bag traveled with Dad.

Related by Marriage: We're going to the church.

Marquette Park, Chicago, Illinois, January 1958. Mr. Irene's Mom steps into the car for the drive to her wedding. From left to right: Mr. Irene's maternal Aunt Martha, another bridesmaid, Mr. Irene's maternal Grandmother Anna, Mr. Irene's Mom—the bride, and Grandfather Stanley. 

Grandmother Anna wear a beaver coat.

It's a baby goat!

Brookfield Zoo, August 1960. Mom rarely was free to join Dad and me on our weekly visits to Brookfield. Here, Mom has released me from the stroller to meet the goats at the Children's Zoo.

Creepy, Yet Fascinating

Lithuania's "Kryžių Kalnas"—the "Hill of Crosses"—makes the "Creepiest Yet Fascinating Places on Earth" list.

June 29, 2013

The countdown begins.

January 4, 2014: The Sound of Music Sing-a-Long is coming to Madison.

I will be ready.

The Baroness: "And somewhere out there, I think, is a young woman who will never be a nun."

(Later) The Captain: "Maria, there isn't going to be any Baroness. ... You see, you can't marry someone when you're in love with someone else."

Come on, you know the words!

Courtyard Reunion

Vilnius, Lithuania, August 2011. You have to look closely to find the quaint places.

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


Cape Cod, Massachusetts, July 1963. This photo is unusual because neither Mom nor I like being in the water. There are some images that suggest the opposite, but I don't remember ever enjoying a swim.

The Front of the House

Kaunas, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, about 1968. Kaunas Nina—the daughter of my Dad's older cousin, Henry—sent this photo show how the front of her house looked.

Saturday Scene, in a Park

Toronto, Ontario, July 1963. Park visitor await the beginning of a concert.

June 28, 2013

An Afternoon Storm, in Three Takes

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Verona, Wisconsin, June 28, 2013. Things blew through quickly.

The Red-Winged Blackbird

Mr. Irene and I have had a house visitor for the last few weeks. A red-winged blackbird decided that a rival lives on the other side of our porch windows. The blackbird struts and puffs along the deck railings, posturing and squawking at his imagined threat. Occasionally, he pecks at the glass; sometimes he rams into it.

A friend of ours—not someone in the vicinity—concurrently is experiencing the same problem. It's a misery that her blackbird has imagined its combatant in a bedroom window.  

We searched for solutions to the problem. Nothing has worked perfectly to dissuade the blackbird. He started returning to the battle site less often, however, after Mr. Irene hung strips of aluminum foil on the windows.

Here's a group of blackbirds in our yard chasing off real threats—hawks:

(Rex provided the sound effects.)

Grab a Book: Backyard Edition

Suburban Chicago, Spring 1962. It's nice to sit outside, even if you need a jacket to stay warm.

Let's look at another party shot.

It's been a while since I posted a photo from a party. We shouldn't have to wait until New Year's Eve to see some fun images from 1960s get-togethers.

Suburban Chicago, January 1966. "Cook's" was the economical sparkling wine choice back then, too. There's an Encyclopedia Britannica on the bookcase behind my Mom. Here's another photo from that evening.

A Rattled Cat

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

June 27, 2013

Dinner Hour

Lake Nipissing, Ontario, Canada, July 1965. The Samoset Lodge chipmunk likes to get close when I have a treat.

Active Listeners

Brooklyn, New York, 1954. My maternal Grandfather, Jake, and—to his left—my Dad’s maternal Aunt, Victoria, listen at a family gathering.

Related by Marriage: Bacon Buns

Suburban Chicago, 1961. Cousin I” celebrates her birthday at Mr. Irene’s home. Mr. Irene’s maternal Grandmother, Anna, sits on the right. Anna’s sister, Petra, is on the left. Do you see what’s on the table—besides birthday cakes? Why, there are bacon buns and an assortment of dešeros (“kielbasas”).
Here’s a recipe for bacon buns.

(That 1950s-style formica kitchen table is in our house.)

June 26, 2013

White-Tailed Ptarmigan

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1970. This bird blends in with the landscape.

Look at the camera.

Near Kaunas, Lithuania, late 1920s. Friends of my Dad's older cousin, Henry, are at the shed.

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

The Life Box (Part 7)

Our little Lithuanian school issued notebooks to the students. The notebooks illustrated the Displaced Persons' love of homeland and their determination to teach Lithuanian culture to their children.
I still have two of the notebooks. This is how they look:
The notebooks both highlight the Lithuanians' love of poetry. The fellow pictured, Vincas Kudirka, wrote the Lithuanian national anthem.
The photo caption states that Kudirka was a "Didysis Lietuvos laisvės kovotojas," or "an important Lithuania freedom fighter." No one told us authorities once arrested Kudirka for carrying around a copy of Das Kapital.
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The back cover features a photo of a monument erected in Kudirka's honor and a poem, "We are born Lithuanians."
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The second notebook has an image of the poet-priest, Maironis, on its cover. J.A.V. or " Jungtinės Amerikos Valstijos," means "United States of America." Translated simply, bendruomenė
means "community." The word implies a "common viewpoint" ("bendras" is the word for "common"); it also speaks to "cultural feelings" that a group shares. The "Lithuanian community of the United States" thus distributed the notebooks to a "Lituanistinė Mokykla," or "Lithuanian School."
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This notebook's back cover shows an image from Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, and a short poem by Maironis. The graphic at the bottom left represents Gedimino Stulpai resting on a rue branch.
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 What's inside this notebook? Nothing. It looks like I tore a page out of it, though.

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In the second notebook I drew a picture (crayon on paper) of the Lithuanian flag and a sunset.

Roo Row

The Australian Prime Minister sparks controversy because a story features her knitting a toy kangaroo for the royal baby. Here's more about the "charm offensive."
A columnist chided the Prime Minister for "giving encouragement to young female politicians by plying a hobby now synonymous with mad old aunts." Hey! We were just talking about knitting aunts
Australians should embrace knitting—even staged, political knitting. Australia once was a leading producers of knitting wool. In the 1960s and 1970s, Mom and I often ordered yarn from Australia.
Incidentally, Germaine Greer thinks the Prime Minister has "got a big ass." It's nice to see that Greer still is wearing those scarves.
Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, June 26, 2013. Ignore the gawkers and do your own thing.
UPDATE: The Prime Minister is out.

June 25, 2013

The Knitting Aunt

She's a beer: "Tante Tricotante."

Kiddie Train

Addison, Illinois, June 1961. Most amusement parks featured children's trains. The train at Adventureland followed an especially long route.

Related by Marriage: Behind the Iron Curtain

In 1978, Mr. Irene's maternal Aunt, Martha, and her husband, Wally, treated Mr. Irene to a trip to Soviet-occupied Lithuania. The state forbad families from hosting foreigners in their homes, so Mr. Irene's relatives connected with the visitors in hotels and restaurants. The spaces were wired, of course, so Mr. Irene learned quickly to watch his words.

Vilnius, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, 1978. Mr. Irene's relatives join their visitors at a restaurant. There's a Šakotis (or a "Baumkuchenas," as we called it) on the table. Mr. Irene is the fellow wearing glasses, and that's Wally holding him.

A Familiar Spot

Palanga, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, Summer 1959. This photo looks familiar, but it's new to the blog. Palanga was the place where most Lithuanians vacationed—even way back in the day.

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

June 24, 2013


Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1970. We're resting now, but we'll be moving along soon.


Seligenstadt, Germany, about 1946. My Mom and a medical-school classmate return to the Displaced Persons camp for a visit.


Rockford, Illinois, June 1961. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, embraces the mother of our Rockford friend.

Camp Grub

June 23, 2013

The "Poodle Cat"

It's the only cat breed named after a person. "Poodle Cats" likely still shed. And they're still cats.

Thanks to my friend Nancy for pointing this link out to me.

Family Matters

Brookfield Zoo, February 1970. Don't be bothered by what other people say.

Related by Marriage: Share your space.

Suburban Chicago, April 1966. Mr. Irene and an older cousin visit "Cousin I" in her room. Every first-generation Lithuanian girl had a doll outfitted in folkdress.

Childhood Haircut

Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1940. Kaunas Nina—the daughter of my Dad's older cousin, Henry—sports a hairstyle often worn by little girls. I had a variation of this style for many years; Kaunas Nina's asymmetrical cut looks more stylish than mine.

Thanks to Kaunas Nina's daughter—my Kaunas Cousin—for making this photo available to us.

Sunday Paper: Foreign Edition

Seligenstadt, Germany, January 1, 1947. My Mom's friend wrote on the back of this photo, "A remembrance for you from the DP camp."

June 22, 2013

Slanted Reunion

Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1970. Water finds a way around things.

What did I see?

Suburban Chicago, May 1961. I've riden a short distance from the driveway, and this time, I am not wagging my finger. Here, I might be pointing at our neighbors' dog, Mikey—or maybe at their cat.


Suburban Chicago, May 1961. My Godmother engages with my Dad during her visit. That was the day she gave me the stuffed dog. The dog rests against the wall, under the Rec Room window.

Bring the dogs to the beach.

Palanga, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, about 1972 or 1973. My Kaunas Cousin and her mother, Kaunas Nina, pay little attention to their digging dogs, Mustyė and Ači.

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Palanga, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, about 1972 or 1973. Behind Kaunas Nina stand Soviet-era apartment buildings.

June 21, 2013


Keukenhof, the Netherlands, April 2010. It's a good time to rest.

Thanks to my friend Donna for making this photo available to us.

A Shared Vacation

Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada, July 1959. My Mom and a friend meet up during their vacations. That was the summer Mom and Dad left me with a babysitter before they drove to Canada.


Palanga, Lithuania, about 1928. Relatives of Suzanne—the wife of my Dad's older cousin, Henry—relax at the Palanga resort.

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

Welcome Summer

Palanga, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, about 1967. I posted this photo over a year ago. I revive it today because among all of the snapshots,  this one speaks "summer" to me.

June 20, 2013

She was watching me before she turned her head.

Verona, Wisconsin, June 2013. I was setting up a blog post recently when I sensed movement in the yard. This beauty (or vermin, however you see her) was a few feet away from our study's window.

Picnic Culture: Spring transitions to summer.

Tinley Park, Illinois, June 1960. The sun makes it hard for Mom and my Godfather' mother-in-law to look at the camera.

Related by Marriage: Army Buddies (Part 14)

Near Camp Irwin, Barstow, California, 1951. In this "Army Buddies" snapshot, Mr. Irene's Dad—on the right—poses with his closest friend on the base, the mess-hall cook.

Group Shot

Seligenstadt, Germany, 1946. Lithuanian DPs from the Seligenstadt Displaced Persons Camp gather for a cultural occasion.