Monday, 11 March 2013

Early life for Mt Gambier Lithuanians

Some Lithuanians undertaking their two year contract worked in the Mt Gambier area.  They worked for SA Forestry, in the local saw mill and wool processing factory

An extract from Mūsų Pastogė on the work they did in the forest.

We had a water tap by the barracks but no where to shower.  There was no river and the weather was cold.  The kitchen had a wooden stove and one pot.  Once a week we would organise to wash.  Washing was chaotic.  The last two people  had to be washed by 8am so that we could catch the bus to Mt Gambier.  A list of items to purchase was already done as we had to buy a week of food as there was no shop in the forest . A farmer nearby sold us milk and eggs.  Bread was delivered daily to the barracks.

Everyone had to cook their own food, there was only one stove on which one pot would fit.  It was decided that they needed a cook who was paid  a shilling per week. Modestas Čiplys got the job.   Our cook had to boil water every day for tea and cook dinner for us.  We all had to collect wood from the forest for the stove.  

Forester Stolz required an office worker, and as Čiplys had attended Trade school in Lithuania so he went to work there.   Other Lithuanians worked as labourers.  

The nights were cold and we put on all we had brought with us, between the blankets we placed our shirts and tops, anything to keep warm. In the evening we stoked the heater, one stood in each room.  If it was extinguished it got very cold.  
Lithuanian Dance troup

By 1953 there were 12 Lithuanian families and eleven single men living in the town.  Several Lithuanian's owned their own businesses, including a furniture shop, a restaurant and a sawmill.  A Lithuanian folk dancing troupe led by A. Janušaitiene and her three adult children.  Mt Gambier did not officially form any Elderate. And after 1960 had no formal interaction with the Federal Executive of the Australian Lithuanian community.

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