Elena Pimpienė nee Šutaitė
Mano močiute, my grandmother, or čiute as we sometimes called her was a great part of my life. Growing up my family would spend each Sunday with them and parts of the school holidays. We grew up with them speaking Lithuanian, with some English thrown in. Looking back, I can see how much of their culture they passed on, but at the time they were just my grandparents.
Elena was born in a small village in the Dusetos region to a farming family. Her early life was the farm and looking after her grandmother. When she married my grandfather, they moved to Kaunas before making their way to freedom in Germany. Their young daughter died on the way, but two more children were born in the camps. After arriving in Australia, they settled in Adelaide, raising their two children. The family over time exploded to in-laws and five grandchildren.
Močiute was a great cook, and food was always plentiful at her house. You did not leave without being feed and taking some extra home with you. There was always soup to start each meal, my favourite of course was barokų sriūba (beetroot soup). Then an assortment of Lithuanian dishes, meatloaf, sometimes cepelinai, cabbage rolls or kugelis. Desserts were the best, napoleonas cake on special occasions, and hedhog cake she made us when we were small, even spirgai at times. We once made krustai together, but I had a hard time flipping the pastry through the slits. Once I asked her to teach me how to make cepelinai, but by the time I arrived she had put it all together.
My grandparents back yard was really a huge vegetable garden with fruit trees scattered around. They grew many of their vegetables; cucumbers, tomatoes, capsicums, carrots, which my family would receive bags full of when in season. Also the fruit; apples, pears, mandarins, apricots, almonds when they came to fruit. I love growing food as they did.
Being always industrious, močiute was a keen and very good seamstress. She worked in clothing factories in Adelaide and was always at her sewing machine making clothes for someone. On weekends there was often Lithuanian ladies sitting in her sewing room who came to get her measurements done or fitted for outfits. She sewed the dresses for the Lituania choir, made scout dresses and even made our Lithuanian costumes. She was inventive and given the time (1980’s), Lithuanian material wasn’t always available but its amazing what you could do with some ‘Lithuanian style’ curtains. She embroidered my sisters and mine blouses and aprons with stylised tulips and geometric patterns.
My grandparents house was never cluttered, but the few things they had reminded them of their home. Carved wooden tulips that surrounded the clock in the sitting room, a wooden carved hunter and tree, and the one picture that did hang in the dining room was taken on their wedding day so many years ago in Kaunas. That picture hangs in my house now.
Weaving linen was a common practice in Lithuania and močiute grew up to be very good at it. She told me as a young girl, she would get extra money weaving items for the local community. She didn’t have a large loom in Australia, but my grandfather made her some small ones where she wove sashes and bookmarks. She taught my mother to do the same and I asked her to teach me. She instructed me on how to cast on, how to read the patterns how to make bookmarks, sashes and ties.
|Linas & Elena's wedding day|
My grandparents were involved in the Adelaide Lithuanian community, they went to church, attended some social events and came to all our school and dancing concerts. It wasn’t until my grandfather passed that she stood on a committee, becoming at one time the President of the Pensioners Club. She loved the outings, the bingo afternoons even when her eyes failed her she would still attend. She volunteered for Meals on Wheels but never quite liked it, not because of the work or the people, but because of the dry scones they made for morning tea.
|50th Wedding anniversary|
Elena passed away in Adelaide in 2011, at the age of 97.Mano močiutė, instilled in me a love of her country, she taught me its language and showed me its beauty through her life. For this I would like to say, ačiū močiutė.
|The Pocius kids, dressed in Mociute made clothes and tauntinai rubai|