Sunday, 23 October 2016

Vaclovas RAGINIS

This portrait of Raginis painted by Neliubsys
hangs in Adelaide Lithuanian House
A testimonial life to Lithuania

Vaclovas was born to be a public figure. He was born in the middle of winter on 5th February 1910 in Vilnius. After the first world war he attended Švenčionių school where he was active in literature and sport clubs. At only 14 years he was producing a fortnightly school newsletter “Vienybe’ (Unity). He spoke several languages, as well as Lithuanian he spoke Polish, Russian and German. His activeness in Lithuanian activities, instigated the Polish government calling for his removal from high school. At this time Vilnius region was occupied by Poland.

In 1926 he was able to enrol in Vilniaus Lithuanian seminary and later to Vytautas Didysis school. In 1929 he organised the famous Ažusilės Lithuanian song festival where 2000 people participated.

Sensing that his Lithuanian activities were coming to an end he fled to independent Lithuania. Here he enrolled in the War School where he attained a junior lieutenant position in the Army Reserves. After the course completion he returned to civilian life.

He enrolled in Vytautis Didysis University in Kaunas, where he studied economics in the evening and worked at the Finance Ministry during the day. Kaunas at that time served as the provisional capital and the country’s political, economic and cultural centre. In 1939 he returned to Vilnius to continue his studies at Vilniaus University. Two years later he was employed as a tax inspector for Švenčionėliuose and later Švenčionyse. He married Monika Šluckaitė on 7 October 1933.

As WWII progressed it became apparent to Vaclovas that he would have to leave Lithuania as the Russian army returned. He and his wife withdrew to Germany.

Now displaced, living in temporary accommodation hoping Lithuania would become independent once again he joined the US Army Labour Service Company. He was a Lieutenant in the DLK Algirdas company (4129 Labor Service Company). He served from 2 January 1947 from its formation to the time it was disbanded on the 12 September. From here he was transferred to the 4027 Labor Service Company in Bamberge (Baltic corps). He was discharged only when he received confirmation that he was emigrating to Australia. 

Travelling on the ship Mohammedi, it arrived in Melbourne on the 14th May 1949. After completing his compulsory work agreement with the Australian government, he settled in Geelong. Before long he was actively involved in Lithuanian affairs and was instrumental in establishing a Lithuanian branch of Australian Lithuanian association.

He later moved to Adelaide (1954) where he became involved with the community. Raginis understood that a community house was very important and formed the Adelaide Lithuanian Association of which he was President for ten years. During that time money was collected for purchasing a community house. He was awarded a life member of the Adelaide Lithuanian Association.

In 1963 he and his wife Ona were invited by the Government of South Australia to attend the Royal Music Festival at which Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were present.

Unfortunately, his health failed him and he withdrew from some community commitments. In 1970 he formed an Adelaide branch of the Lietuvos Atgimimo Sąjūdžio skyriaus (Lithuanian Nationalist Movement).

Raginis life work was for the country he left behind, he felt strongly for the youth and encouraged them to keep their heritage. 

On June 14, 1971, the whole Lithuanian community attended his funeral and commitment at Centennial Park. He passed away three days earlier in hospital after a hefty illness. He was survived by his wife.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Circle of Amber

A novel by former Adelaide resident, Jura Reilly, Circle of Amber.
Set in Lithuania and Australia, " Circle Of Amber" explores the themes of murder, vengeance, loss and betrayal against the back drop of two World Wars. The main characters are forced to make decisions that wrench them from their families and friends. A recipe section has been included at the back of the novel.
Kristina's life in the tiny village of Ventuva, northwest Lithuania, seems idyllic until her husband Romas is brutally murdered. Forced to raise three young children on her own, she relies on the ancient gods and her mother Elena for guidance. Trying to retain her country's traditions during two world wars, Kristina battles to overcome poverty and the villagers' suspicions. On the other side of the world, in Australia, Gaila fights her own demons. Then she finds a small leather bound book amongst her mother's possessions. Does it hold the key to a family mystery?

Bonus recipes in the back of the book.

You can purchase the book through Amazon.

There is also a Facebook page.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Have you seen her?

This appeared in the Advertiser on Saturday 6 September 1952.  Her surname is spelled incorrectly, it should be Kulisauskas.  This article appears twice but there is no follow up as to is she was found.  Tragically her father had been killed 18 months previously when the motorcycle he was travelling on collided with a bus at Largs North. 
I wonder what happened to her?

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Farewell picnic for Father Jatulis

Picnic at Christies Beach

On a Sunday afternoon on the 25 August 1957,over 400 Lithuanians gathered at the Caritas property at Christies Beach for its first picnic and blessing of the house. Mass was said by Father Jatulis whose sermon emphasised a common house, common work. The choir, Lituania even came and sung. 
Not sure if this photo is of the actual event described but it was taken at Christies Beach

After mass, tables were set up, placed in rows and the Women’s committee brought out the home made, lovingly prepared food.  The occasion also served as a farewell to priest Paulius Jatulis who had been summoned by the church to go to Italy. 

Speeches were spoken every head present, from by ALB President, Stasys Čibiras, Theatre group head, Juozas Gusčius, Youth group leader Juozas Lapšys, Lithuanian Society President, J. Raginis, Scout Leader Vytas Neverauskas, Sports President J. Jaunutis and Ateininkai head, A. Kubilius. Instead of a farewell gift, the community gathered over £100 for Jatulis for his new path in life.  All present sand Ilgiausiu metų (Longest Years, sung on any special occasion) followed by more singing and joking before those present made the long journey back to Adelaide.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Australian Lithuanian Student Assembly 1958

The third Australian Lithuanian Student Assembly was held in Adelaide in December 1958.  It opened on December 27th by T. Žurauskas.  Present was Pulgis Andriušis, Kristina Česnaitė (Melbourne), V. Martišius (Canberra) and I. Venclovas (Sydney), Secretary Daina Maželytė (Adelaide).

Žurauskas in his address stated that in 1958 in all of Australia and New Zealand over 100 Lithuanians were studying at University level.  In 1957 13 students finished, Sydney 5, Melbourne 5 and Adelaide 3.
Pulgis Andriušis took the stage and gave an interesting reading about ideas and values in life and its place in the English world.   The first day finished with singing of the Lithuanian National Anthem, followed by dinner and fellowship.

The 28th featured an outing to the beach where several hours of swimming and games was allowed.  In the evening participants gathered at the Giruckus home at Richmond.
The following day, there was an outing to the Art Gallery, Museum and other cultural institutions.  At 3:00pm the delegates regathered at Lithuanian House to continue discussions. That evening the Reisonas home was open.

In all, 19 students from around Australia assembled and 25 from Adelaide. J. Mikužis, dr E.  Petrikaitė, Dr N. Šurnaitė, Dr V. Aleksandravičienė, and Aldona Navakienė spoke.  
December 30 and 31 was left open to visit friends while others organised a trip to the Barossa Valley.

New Year’s Eve was celebrated with a ball organised by the Adelaide Community.

The following year the Student gathering would be held in Canberra.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Adelaide Lithuanian News 10 years: 1970

Adelaidės Lietuvių Žinios 10 metų
Adelaide Lithuanian News 10 years: 1970

Now in its 46 year, the Adelaide Lithuanian News has always been the voice of the local community.  The newspaper was published as a combined effort by the Adelaide Lithuanian Union Committee and Adelaide Lithuanian Community Committee.  The first edition specified the need for broad, correct and on time information.  The newspaper was open to all groups of Lithuanian interest.
After ten years 240 newsletters had been written, printed, folder and posted. The newspaper united all Lithuanians with articles on Lithuanian history and interest, local gossip, birth, death and marriages and upcoming events. 
It was a time to thank the writers, editors, publishers who all volunteered their time to make it to this milestone.

The first ALŽ editor was Vladas Radzevičius who held this position from July 1960 to January 1963. Vladas was a journalist and wrote for numerous Lithuanian newspapers in Australia and America.  During that time, he published 61 editions. The second editor, Jurgis Arminas held this position from January 1963 to June 1967.  Antanas Serelis followed until December 1967. He was followed by Odete Stimburienė, until March 1970.

An Editor would spend many hours preparing each fortnight edition.  Usually there was eight pages but sometimes 12-16. That equates to 2400 pages in ten years.
Newspaper administration was undertaken by Juozas Lapšys (1 July 1960) then Juozas Gylys and Stasys Dunda (1 Jan 1963 – 1 June 1968). This position also required a large investment of time.  One needed to address each envelope and print 500 newspapers.
The newspaper was assisted by Paulina Gavelienė, Nadezda Varnauskienė, Kataryna Garbaliauskienė, Elena Reisonienė Povilas Kanas, Marija Navakienė. Amalija Pyragienė, Kutkienė.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Šaruno Marciulionio Basketball Academy

Basketball to a Lithuanian is known as the second religion.  Australian Lithuanians also embraced the love of this sport, so much so that when a youth basketball team from Šaruno Marciulionio Basketball Academy came to Australia in 1990 it was a big deal. 

A boy’s youth team arrived in Adelaide on 11 March with their sponsors and Zita Mačiulionyte, Šarunas’ sister.  They arrived to Adelaide heat, maybe not hot for those who grew up here but coming from Lithuania the 35 degrees would have been felt.  Aged between 16-18 years the team played several games in Adelaide against the SA Sports Institute.  The first game was won by the Lithuanians by 4 points, 71-67. The second game held on the 13th at Seymour College which they won, 90-79.  The third and final game began poorly for the Lithuanians, being 14 points behind before they scored.  They pulled together and again managed to win 78-69.  The Lithuanians played a friendly match against Adelaide Vytis again winning.  Following the game, the players returned to Lithuanian house for a meal and camaraderie with the Adelaide community members.
On the 15th, Adelaide bid goodbye to the team as they caught a bus to Sydney. 
I can remember the tshirts and pendants given out by the players, orange and black featuring an eagle. Like the one below for the Academy’s opening in Vilnius.  The Academy is still running.

Š. Marčiulionis is one of the best Lithuanian basketball players of all time. He was a first player to go to the NBA from the Soviet Union, and one of the first European players to enter the NBA. Šarūnas is a cavalier of the 1st, 3rd and 4th Order of Vytautas the Great, and Order of the Badge of Honour.