The last three days have gotten all jumbled together in a rush of things to do, things to finish and little time when I was awake and not on the move. All these weeks of travel have finally gotten so tangled up I barely know where I am much less what day it is, where I go next, and who we’re supposed to be meeting with. Thank goodness that Lina has her notebook always present, with copious notes about what we are doing and how to get there and best of all, when to go! My computer always has the office time on it, my watch and phone always have local time. I know when looking at the phone or watch to subtract however much the difference is between wherever I am and Salt Lake City (in this case, 9 hours) but confusion abounds – I often find myself looking at the computer time and subtracting the difference from there as well! Ugh.
Anyway, back to our travels. On Sunday we returned to Vilnius in time to return the rental car, check back into the Amberton and have lunch before our intrepid driver, Gabriel, Lina’s husband, took off for a few days on his own. Lina and I enjoyed a few hours of just wandering the streets of the old city, looking at shops, not rushing anywhere. I do wonder though how come her fitbit always registers about 2,000 steps more than mine! We’ve joked about shorter steps, her wrist fitbit registering steps when she does things to her hair, etc. It’s still not settled, but 2,000!!!!
On Monday, we rushed off to breakfast and then to the archives. The Vilnius archives are great – the air conditioning makes a huge difference to start with. The crowning touch of course is all the information that you can find on the computer. of course there is advance work to be done before getting to the computer – you have to know what record you’re looking for – the fond, inventory and file numbers. Then, once you have gotten into the correct file, finding the actual record. Because our time is limited and there is a lot to do, as always, we photograph the images from the computer screen, to be able to look at leisurely on our return to the office, when Lina and perhaps Ola will work on translating and analyzing the records. Records can be in Lithuanian, Polish, Russian or Latin, depending on the time period and the type of record – church records are often (but not always) in Latin. Monday’s research was a little easier than on the previous visit to the archive mostly due to the photo viewer that was installed on the computer we were using. Last week, the photo viewer stuck if there were two images open, this time, we were easily able to move around from image to image, often having multiple pages open at the same time, all due to the program. The way the program worked made it easier to see full screen and zoom in. Most of the time, the original image on the screen was difficult to read – it had to be enlarged.
The church records we were reviewing were not indexed – although we knew that we were looking for a particular record, all we had was a 6 year range of when the event took place. Thankfully, the parish was small, and each year’s book had a listing of which towns in the diocese appeared on which pages. The church records follow a formula – the first line had the year and date with the priest’s name, the second line usually had the groom’s name and then the bride’s name might start at the end of that line or be on the third line. One year had the “signatures” of the bride and groom at the end of the record separate from the text and a line or so later, the “signatures” of the witnesses – each of these was followed by several “x”s which made them stand out even clearer. I wish all the books were like that. We started with the earliest year and made our way through 5 years of records before we found the record we were looking for! Easy is really a relative term.
Tuesday, Lina left around noon – she’s going on what seems like a delightful vacation with her family, and then hanging out with friends. I’m sure she’ll have a fantastic time. She is planning a short work diversion to visit a town where the ancestors of one of our clients resided.
I spent the rest of Tuesday alternating between wandering through the streets and dodging rain. I went to what became a favorite pizza place on the street I’ve renamed “ice cream street” because of all the carts selling ice cream. To my surprise, when I got to Trattoria, they said they had run out of pizza dough an hour earlier! There was very little else on the menu I could eat (when I’m traveling and there are no kosher restaurants I eat vegetarian) so I went to my second favorite pizza place (the crust isn’t as firm in the center, and the cheese which is fresh is less melted than I like) – Jurgis ir Drakonis – and had a margarita pizza with sun dried tomatoes and green olives. Perfect. It was almost 3 PM and, just like at my office, I had gotten so involved with some research, I had completely lost track of time.
I’m looking forward to getting back to the office next week, and being surrounded by my colleagues all completely focused on the research projects at hand.