Today we took a longish drive – about 3.5 hours, and thanks to Marek’s careful maneuvering of the Euro-Style van, all went well. The border between Lithuania and Poland didn’t change in the week since we left – no formal border crossing. Our plan was to stop in Augustow as we did last week on our way to Mariampole. This time we wanted to get some pictures of this beautiful resort town, and it was a great place to stop for a late lunch.
We parked the van and started to wander around, being very mindful of the growing storm clouds above us. We really didn’t want to get soaked again, if we could help it. The rain did hold off (lucky us)! The wing on the right side of the building below, the local tax office, is built over one of the synagogues. Although there is no sign of the thriving Jewish community that was once here, it is easy to imagine that any of us with ancestors who lived in nearby Suwalki or Bialystok may have come here for a day of picnicking by the banks of the river, or brought goods to the weekly market, to buy or sell. All the towns had markets but each had a specialization.
We saw what looked like a festive gathering in the park where long ago, the weekly market must have been held. Now it was a flea market. Not that we were particularly in the mood for fleas, but markets like this often provide wonderful insight into culture.As we passed by chuckling at some of the “valuables” on display, something caught my eye and I stopped. I had to blink several times to get my brain to understand what I was looking at.
I looked closer at the display and gasped at the treasures that must have come from a Jewish home some where in Poland during the war. The seller who couldn’t have been any older than I am and is probably much younger, said that a while ago he had gotten an item like these and it sold right away so now he looks for them whenever he goes to buy things. I believed him, and wish that I could have bought everything there – redeemed the captives, so to speak, brought them “home” where their value (not financial) would be understood. The seller did understand the value of the silver, and acquiring the collection was beyond my means. I did purchase one item.
It is a beautiful silver grogger crafted in 1873. We will use it on Purim during the megillah reading, and imagine it being used by a family long ago.
After I purchased it, the seller took out some other items which nauseated me, and I left.
These were armbands from the Warsaw ghetto, and the stack was covering the stars required to be sewn on clothes.
We stayed and took some photos of the area, later on had a late lunch, but my energy and mood are depressed and my heart is sick.