Thursday, February 22, 2018

Those Places Thursday: Amber at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, Chicago

On our visit to the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago back on August 8, 2017, we spent a lot of time in the Women's Guild Room, which featured Lithuanian folk arts, including items made with amber.

Amber (gintaras in Lithuanian), found on the shores of the Baltic Sea, is the national gem of Lithuania.  The legend of Jūratė and Kastytis tells of the sea goddess Jūratė falling in love with the human fisherman Kastytis, angering the thunder god Perkūnas.  In some versions of the story, he destroys her underwater Baltic Sea amber palace (so pieces of it wash ashore whenever there is a storm); in other versions,  Perkūnas kills Kastytis, and it is Jūratė's amber tear drops that wash ashore.

Besides a whole shelf of loose pieces, there were a numerous amber jewelry items.


Above:  pieces of amber on display in the Women's Guild Room at the Balzekas Museum, Chicago

Below:  Amber collar necklace donated by Pranas Povilaitis, at the Balzekas Museum in Chicago


I really liked some of the mixed-media works made with pieces of amber on wood backgrounds.


The woven title at the bottom of this next picture "Kur bakūžė samanota" roughly translates to "Where is the Mossy Hut," the first line of a Lithuanian folk song.  I particularly like the old well in the picture.  


This last one is an image of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn (Lithuanian: Aušros Vartų Dievo Motina) in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius:



© Amanda Pape - 2018 - click here to e-mail me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Travel Tuesday: Lithuanian Chicago - The Balzekas Museum

I finally have time to write more about my week in Chicago, Illinois, in early August, 2017.  My husband and I took the train there and visited my son, but as he had to work most of the time we were there, we also did a genealogy grand tour.  For four days, we visited areas in and around Chicago related to my family - the northern suburbs of Wilmette and Evanston, the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park / West Ridge, and the southern neighborhoods where Lithuanian immigrants settled in the early 1900s.  As we were staying in the southern Lincoln Park area near my son's home, I also walked to a couple churches and drove by some other site in Old Town and other areas.  So, for the next few weeks, I'll be posting a lot about what I saw.

I'm going to start with what was actually our second full day in Chicago, Tuesday, August 8, when we drove down to the early Lithuanian neighborhoods.  To get oriented, our first stop was at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture.


This museum is located in a former hospital at 6500 South Pulaski Road, a main thoroughfare in south Chicago.  It was founded in 1966 by Stanley Balzekas, Jr., in a different location, next to the former site of the family's automobile dealership in the Brighton Park neighborhood, where many Lithuanian immigrants lived.   In 1986, it moved to its present location.  The year 2016 was the 50th anniversary of the museum, as announced on attractive banners both inside and outside the building.


The museum has a number of permanent exhibits, my favorite being the Women’s Guild Room, which features Lithuanian folk arts: items made with amber, Christmas decorations and Easter eggs, dolls, and traditional Lithuanian costumes and textiles. I will have a number of pictures of these in future posts.  I would have liked to see the Children's Room, but it was not open the day we were there.



A semi-permanent exhibit on “No Home To Go To: The Story of Baltic Displaced Persons, 1944-1952” was on an upper floor of the museum.  The museum also offers genealogy research, special events and folk art classes, and an annual tour in Lithurania, as well as a gift shop.

© Amanda Pape - 2018 - click here to e-mail me.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Church Record Sunday: Sister Jean Marie's Sacramental Records

Recently I stumbled across some unindexed records at FamilySearch.org for Catholic churches my mother and her ancestors were parishoners of in Houston, Texas. Using some indexes built into the documents, as well as some paging to appropriate dates, I found records for a number of relatives. 

Here are the sacramental records for my maternal aunt, Jo Ann (Sister Jean Marie) Guokas:


Above:  When checking the handwritten index in the records at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, for Baptisms, 1924-1939 (where I would have expected my aunt's baptism to be), I found the note above:  "Guokas, Jo Ann, record will be found among baptisms conferred during May 1941." 

Below:  Baptism record, on December 9, 1928, the last record below.  It's difficult to read, but it notes that she was baptized on the date of her birth, September 12, 1930, at St. Joseph's Hospital by Rev. Thomas J. O'Sullivan.  In the far right column, it further notes "Private baptism administered in St. Joseph's Hospital.  Ceremonies supplied in St. Joseph's Church, May 16, 1941."  Her godmother was her aunt Pauline Guokas (Felicijona Černaitė) Guokas (1878-1953), wife of her paternal grandfather’s brother Joseph (Juozopas) P. Guokas (1869-1933).



Above:  First Communion at St. Joseph Catholic Church, May 8, 1938.  Jo Ann's record is at the bottom.  

Below:  Confirmation at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, May 18, 1941.  Jo Ann's record is at the bottom, and her confirmation name is Eleanor.  A Mrs. S. D. Tinney was apparently the sponsor for all the girls.



© Amanda Pape - 2018 - click here to e-mail me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tombstone Tuesday: Bud and Betty Streff

My Streff first cousins had a memorial service to bury the ashes of their parents, Frank James "Bud" Streff Sr. and Elizabeth "Betty" Mary Pape Streff, in the family plot at All Saints Cemetery in Chicago on Saturday, September 9, 2017. The weekend turned into a great family reunion!  A while back, my cousin Marianne was able to stop by the grave and take this photograph of her parents' newly-installed grave marker, which I have added to Bud's and Betty's memorials at FindAGrave:


photo by Marianne Streff Gustafson


© Amanda Pape - 2018 - click here to e-mail me.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Church Record Sunday: Mom's Sacramental Records

Recently I stumbled across some unindexed records at FamilySearch.org for Catholic churches my mother and her ancestors were parishoners of in Houston, Texas.  Using some indexes built into the documents, as well as some paging to appropriate dates, I found records for a number of relatives.

Here are the sacramental records for my mother, Geraldine Margaret Guokas Pape:


Above:  Baptism at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, on December 9, 1928, the second record above.  Godparents were Frank O’Rourke and what looks like “Mrs. Agnes Wolfe.”  This could be either her aunt Agnes Guokas Payne, or her aunt Annie Volce Wolfe, wife of her grandfather’s brother Shannon Wolfe.

Below:  First Communion at St. Joseph Catholic Church, May 9, 1937.  Mom's record is at the bottom right.  Her older brother Charles Guokas III also received his First Communion this date; he is #9 in the left-hand column.


Left: Geraldine Guokas on her First Communion Day, May 9, 1937.


Below:  First Communion class at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, May 9, 1976.  Gerrie is on the second row of girls from the front, about the sixth girl from the right, and two rows above and just to the right of the right-most candle-bearer in the front.  Her older brother Charles Thomas Guokas III (1927-1999) is the left-most boy on the second row from the top, in front of the light-colored stone framing the doorway.  Geraldine's younger sister Jo Ann (Sister Jean Marie) Guokas did not have her First Communion that day, but was selected to be one of the angels - she is the one on the left, same row as her brother, with a crown on her head.  (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)


Above:  Confirmation at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, May 15, 1938.  Mom's record is at the bottom left, and her confirmation name is Mary.  Her high school friend Vera Barbosa Stowell is just above her on the list.  A Mrs. T. A. Breed was apparently the sponsor for all the girls.

Below:  Marriage at Annunciation Catholic Church, Houston, Texas, September 11, 1954.  Witnesses were Norine Moreland Valicek and George J. Kaiser Jr., and Rev. Felix J. Penna performed the ceremony. Gerrie’s mother’s name is wrong (it should be Melzina Wolfe Guokas),  as is the date of baptism (it should be December 9, 1928).


Below:  Geraldine Margaret Guokas and Frederick Henry Pape (1929-2017) leaving Annunciation Catholic Church in Houston, Texas, after their marriage ceremony on September 11, 1954.



© Amanda Pape - 2018 - click here to e-mail me.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Treasure Chest Thursday: Dad's Foot Locker

Something I wish I'd asked Dad more about, while he was still with us:



I think this is the Air Force foot locker of my father, Frederick Henry Pape (1929-2017).  I think it was in the garage of every home he lived in afterwards, and I think filled with tools.  The original handles broke off, so he improvised with rope, and also added a drawer pull to make it easier to open.



© Amanda Pape - 2018 - click here to e-mail me.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sentimental Sunday: Today Would Have Been Dad's 89th Birthday



Frederick Henry Pape, about age 5 (1934).  Not sure of the location, but I left the buildings and the car visible in the background of the photo.


© Amanda Pape - 2018 - click here to e-mail me.