November 30, 2015

November 29, 2015

War Room

When my Dad was a Displaced Person, he collected several folders of reproduced art prints. The subject matter of the prints is primarily related to World War II. Some prints also are representative of the German inter-war Expressionist movement.

Schweinfurt, Germany, about 1946. This piece is by Willi Geiger.

Related by Marriage: Three Gents

Evanston, Illinois, about 1984. Mr. Irene and two of his housemates return to their old living quarters as they ready to attend a wedding.

November 28, 2015

November 25, 2015

November Retreat

Door County, Wisconsin, November 1976. Gigi sits at the base of one of the trees on the "hill."

Related by Marriage: After the Meal

Marquette Park, Chicago, Illinois, November 1965. The family poses in the kitchen of Mr. Irene's maternal Grandparents' home. The group just finished the Thanksgiving meal, and all celebrate a visit from Uncle Ignas.

Standing: Mr. Irene's Dad, Uncle Ignas, Mr. Irene's Mom, and Mr. Irene. Mr. Irene's maternal Grandfather, Stanley, sits at the table.

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

November 22, 2015

November 20, 2015


Verona, Wisconsin, November 2014. There's snow in the forecast.


Brooklyn, New York, October 1950. Although Dad hadn't started his photography hobby in the early 1950s, he already had an eye for candid shots.

November 19, 2015


Brookfield Zoo, November 1966. Here's a photo that makes me laugh. This fellow looks like a human in a lion suit.


Brooklyn, New York, about 1954. This is the photo my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, used for her first American passport.

November 17, 2015


Summit, Illinois, November 14, 2015. Lithuanians love basketball.


Buxtehude, Germany, March 28, 1948. This document certified my Dad's role as a Boy-Scout leader at the Schweinfurt Displaced Persons camp. I suspect Dad secured the certification for his travel to the Isarhorn Jamboree.

November 15, 2015


Madison, Wisconsin, November 8, 2015. The colorful pair overshadows the grey fellow.

Exchanging Portraits (Part 55)

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Leipzig, Germany, December 13, 1944. My Mom's friend wrote:
Oh how we could use some luck,
if only a little
if only as much as
the blooming flower on the window ...
The friend's imagery derives from a winter incident Mom recalls. The barracks in which Mom stayed had no central heating.* Mom kept a vase on the window sill. Once, although the water in the vase froze overnight, the flower kept blooming.

*Mom would heat an iron before going to sleep, and she placed it on the mattress so the bedding warmed.

November 14, 2015

November Scamper, in Three Takes

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Verona, Wisconsin, 2014. It's easy to blend in here.


Seligenstadt, Germany, about 1946. Mom had some cute sunglasses.

November 11, 2015

A Remembrance from Mr. Irene

My Dad passed away very peacefully Friday evening, November 6, 2015, in the consoling company of his family.

He suffered a number of complications after breaking his leg last December. After some strong and stable months in the Spring, he succumbed to a severe bone infection and ultimately, sepsis.

Dad lived a life filled with the joys of hard work and devotion to his family; enlivened by Lithuanian wit and humor; and strengthened by an optimistic, American heart.
Like so many of his countrymen, Dad escaped the fierce advance of Soviet troops through Lithuania by escaping into Germany and then Austria in the final year of World War II. In the years immediately after the end of the war, Dad and some of his immediate family lived as Displaced Persons (DPs) in camps established by the Allies in Germany. It was an atmosphere of chaos, danger, and uncertainty.
Lithuanian and Polish nationals living in DP camps in the American zone near Frankfurt were invited by the U.S. Army to apply for support security roles guarding both German and American assets. Dad enlisted in the Lithuanian canine patrol corps and was assigned to the U.S. base camp at Kaiserlautern. (That camp would grow over the years into NATO headquarters. The last photo below shows my Dad in 1948 sharing a laugh with visiting U.S. Army brass. It's my favorite image of Dad from that time.)
From that post, Dad observed the start of the Berlin Airlift after the Soviets blockaded that city. He did nightly patrols around the forest surrounding the camp. His devoted partner was Arno, a loyal and beautiful German Shepard. Dad checks up on Arno (at Arno's barracks) in this first photo (from 1947) below. Dad is 19 years old in that photo.
Dad celebrated his 21st birthday by sailing past the Statue of Liberty into New York Harbor aboard the USS General Hann. In the second photo below, taken just after the immigrants had disembarked from the ship, you'll see Dad (second from left) with white hair—encrusted in sea salt as he paced the outer decks. Within hours, Dad was on a train to Chicago to begin his new life in America under the kind sponsorship of an uncle who had emigrated from Lithuania in the 1920s.
Shortly after their arrival, my Dad and his older brother, my late Uncle Ignas, were drafted for service in the Korean War. The third photo below shows a farewell outing for Ignas (center) in October, 1950 in Chicago's Grant Park. My Dad stands on the far left. One year later, Dad was drafted for U.S. Army service at Camp Irwin in the Mojave desert east of Los Angeles. He served as a tank instructor, running daredevil maneuvers in the endless sand dunes.
Before President Truman left office, he determined that foreign nationals who had served in the Korean conflict were to be granted U.S. citizenship upon their honorable discharge.
Dad returned to Chicago in 1953 and worked in manufacturing jobs until his retirement. By 1959, our family had moved to Melrose Park, where Dad worked for Benjamin Moore and Co producing paints and stains for the next 35 years. In the penultimate photo, Dad stands front of our Melrose Park home, circa 1965.

Thank you, Dad, for you servicenot only to your adopted country but to your family until the day you breathed your last. We love and miss you more than you could imagine.

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November 10, 2015