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