Friday, 14 November 2014

Where did the Lithuanian's live?

Pimpe residence, Fifth Ave, Woodville Gardens. New house in the background.
I have often wondered where all the Lithuanian lived when they first arrived in Adelaide. I wondered if they tended to live in close proximity to each other, if they socialised together?  In an attempt to better understand the community I plotted 472 Lithuanian residences in 1963 using Google maps.  Why 1963?  I had access to a Sands and McDougall directory.  It confirmed what I presumed but raised more questions.  

I had presumed that there would be clusters of Lithuanian's, and assumed that they would know of each others presence if they lived close by.  I knew that there was a cluster in the Woodville Gardens area and Edwardstown.  I assumed that many built their own house and lived in the same house pretty much until they died.  

Woodville’s population almost doubled between 1947 and 1961, from 38 to 71 000.  There had been a change from a predominately Australian born makeup to a quarter being of European decent.  For those who arrived first, the Housing Trust gave preference to Australian ex-servicemen and meant that private accommodation or your own dwelling would need to be sought.  While housing could not meet the current increase in population neither could the demand for building material. However at Woodville North, most of the area south of Grange road and at Seaton and Royal Park had plenty of cheap land. Royal Park was especially popular with migrants because land was cheap.(A history of Woodville, Susan Marsden p 25).





If anyone has information regarding where the early Lithuanian's lived, I would love to get some information from you.

I will post more on housing shortly.

You can now access Sands &; Mac Directories (1864 - 1973) online for free from the State Library of SA. 
SA Directories


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

International Festival 1965

On 28th August 1965 the Adelaide Lithuanian choir sang several songs at the Octagon theatre as part of the International Festival.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Adelaide Lithuanian Amateur Photo Club

Adelaidės Lietuvių foto mėgėjų klubo
Adelaide Lithuanian Amateur Photo Club

Several Adelaide Lithuanians with an interest in photography got together and established an amateur photo club.  The aim was to help each other perfect their work.  At the first meeting on 18 October 1959, which was held at Vytautas Vosylius flat in Mile End the group produced its guidelines.
A Krausas viewing the exhibition in 1968

The first president was Vytautas Vosylius and the secretary Petras Snarskis.   The document was also signed by Kazys Požera,  Alfonsas Budrys,  Pranas Šatkus and Juozas Vebrys.

The Photo club organised several exhibitions in Adelaide and also during the Australian Lithuanian Festival Days as part of the Art exhibition.  They usually received over 50 works and in the 1968 exhibition had 95 on display.  The categories included Black and white, colour, portraits and landscapes.

Not surprisingly members Alfonsas Budrys and Vytautas Vosylius did exceedingly well in the competitions.  Both were active in Australian amateur photographic clubs as well.


The group was active until 1970.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Weekend school and me

Attending Lithuanian schools on weekends included many things I did not like, mainly dictation and grammar.  I enjoyed the history, the dancing and singing and of course playing with your friends.  On occasion we were asked to write in Lithuanian about a particular topic.  Mine always came back covered in red ink and would use a much simpler language than I could speak. It included alot of repetitive words as that filled up lots of space.   If we were allowed to do this at home, it really was my parents work. 

Homework was usually left to the Saturday morning when there was a rush to get it done and ready for school.  

Below are some examples of essays, unfortunately I don't know who wrote them or what year, but it was before 1980.  They are very loosely translated.


Weekend school and me
I rise at 8:00am and prepare for school.  10:00am the bell rings and we go to class. We say prayers and start work. We sing and dance. At 12:00pm we go to lunch.  The teachers go to eat in another room.  We play a little and then return to class.  Sometimes with Mrs Mazelis and other girls we do some weaving. The other children who do not weave go to watch films about Lithuania. 






 Every Saturday we leave home at 9:00am to go to Lithuanian House.  We gather in the Library where our class is. One week we have history, the other Lithuanian grammar and language.  Every second week we have dancing and weekly signing. The last week of the month, we weave.

This school has 8 year levels, five classes and kindergarten. It is now easier for me to write letters and talk about history. English school it is easy to do projects about Lithuania as I have learnt alot.  I like Lithuanian school very much.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Adelaide and Lithuania, closer than you think

While in Lithuania I was very excited to find several links with Adelaide. The first time was in Siauliai visiting the Rūta chocolate Museum.  In 1913, Antanas Gricevičius established Rūta, a tiny sweet workshop. As foreigners owned most of the companies in Lithuania at that time, Mr Gricevičius called the shop, Rūta, after a plant found in Lithuania (Rue), in a bid to highlight its national character.

Rūta gradually established a reputation for itself and, by the 1930s, the factory had more than 100 employees and produced around 300 different types of chocolate. In 1929, Mr Gricevičius built a new factory with shop premises to the design of the famous architect, Kārlis Reisons. Since 2012, the building has been a museum.  

The above mentioned architect is actually Karolis Reisonas, who ended up living in Adelaide and was instrumental in refurbishing the current Adelaide Lithuanian House. 

Further into the Museum, there was a display on the Rūta chocolate boxes over the years. I was rather bewildered to see a familiar one.  The tin with Darius and Girenas on it is used in the Adelaide Lithuanian Museum to keep the keys to the display cabinets in.  The tin was produced in the 1930's.  I now look at it with different eyes, and wonder if it was donated by Reisonas?

In Kaunas, I met a friend who works in the Vytautas Magnus University.  She took me to see her work place. As it was holidays there were few people around, but I did get to meet a staff member working on the Adamkus archives.  Former president of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus has donated many personal items which will be kept at the University and hopefully one day become a museum.  Amongst the items was this plate presented to Adamkus when he came to Adelaide with the American Lithuanian basketball team in 1964.  It's hand made and painted with the places and dates visited.





On my last day in Vilnius, I went to visit the Museum of Genocide Victims (KGB Museum).  Under Soviet occupation mail from outside the Union was closely scrutinised.  One display showed publications issued abroad which had been confiscated by the sensors.  To my surprise it was a program from the Australian Lithuanian Days held in Adelaide in 1962.

I was never far away from home. 


Museum of Genocide Victims http://genocid.lt/muziejus/en/  
Ruta Chocolate Museum   http://www.sokoladomuziejus.lt/en/exposition/chocolate-in-ruta/ 
Adamkus Archives Library http://adamkuslibrary.lt/biblioteka/?lang=en 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

A new breed


I loved Lithuania long before I ever set foot on her shores.  It is the land of my grandparents, the place where they were born, grew as a child and left as young adults.  The country that was always their home, their mother tongue, their history.  A land that they never returned to, to live, but was always dear to them.  

I have just returned from a visit to Lithuania where I spend a month travelling around the country, catching up with old friends and meeting new relatives.  I grew up in Australia and was always a little sad that our family was so small.  I was still better off than most as my paternal grandfather has his siblings here, but it still added up to a small group that could all sit around one large dinner table.  This year I met my parents cousins for the first time, and am amazed at how my family has suddenly expanded.  I wish my parents had this extended family growing up, they missed out on so many family gatherings, gossip and squabbles. For me, finding family overseas has given me deeper roots to the country that has played such a big part in my life.   I returned home clutching a precious photograph of my maternal great grandparents, which I never had seen, and a photograph of my grandparents wedding, we have one photo but had never seen this one.  I now have images of my grandfather as a young man and images of him mourning the loss of his father at his funeral.   My new found family took us to visit the graves of my maternal great grandparents and extended family, I had no one to visit in cemeteries in Adelaide. 

My roots grow deep and strong in Lithuania, but new sprouts are growing and expanding in Australia.  While Lithuanian blood may flow through my veins, I realise that growing up in a different country makes me not Lithuanian.  I speak an accented, grammatically poor, old fashioned version of the language, I am unaware of the slang, local jokes, have no idea of music, films and tv from years ago.  Nor do I have the experience of growing up in an occupied country under a regime that was enforced upon you. I am a new breed, a 'litho', an Australian born of Lithuanian decent. I will always belong in two places. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Balt artist at Woodside - Rukstele


The painting which hangs in the foyer of the Adelaide
Lithuanian House
TOP - A SYMBOLIC Oil painting by Antanas Rukstele foremost Lithuanian artist, now at Woodside Migration Centre, depicting the effort by thousands of Lithuanians to escape when the Russians invaded their country. A woman is shown clutching a handful ofher native soil before embarking. LEFT Rukstele with his wife, Helene, and their three children Beatrice (10), Saulius(8), and Raminta (12).
Antanas Rukstele, one of Lithuania's best known artists, is now a displaced person at Woodside migration centre.After years of wandering almost penniless with his wife and three children, tall, thin faced, 42-year-old Rukstele hopes Australia is "journey'send."In Lithuania before the Russian invasion he was a popular portrait painter and landscape artist. His minimum price fora portrait was £27/10/, and special portraits brought £50. When the Russians came Rukstele, who was a strong anti-Communist, gathered his family and fled. To have remained would have been certain death.

They walked out of their home without even a suitcase.Their only possessions were the clothes they were wearing. Ultimately they got to Germany, where Rukstele was drafted to labouring work. After the war he was discovered by UNRRA and set up in a studio, where he painted portraits of scores of American servicemen. "My waiting room was crowded like a dentist's parlour", he said.  Rukstele said he would be happy to work for two years as a labourer in Australia. Then he would like to take up painting again. He intends to study our art and believes both our artists and he can benefit from an interchange of ideas. Tomorrow, he will hold an exhibition of about 30 of his pictures in the camp to mark the official opening of Woodside as a migration centre. Arrangements are being made for Hans Heysen to see his work.