“Bukutis” by Dalia Stakė-Anysas

The Stakė Sisters: Audronė and Dalia

Bukutis was never a toy. He was a friend. My mother told us that when we were leaving our home in 1944, I told Bukutis to kiss my grandmother goodbye. And I know that Bukutis was a faithful companion in air raid shelters during bombings.

Unfortunately I can no longer ask my parents when exactly he was given to me. I do know that it was a Christmas gift during the German occupation (June 1941-July 1944) when toys and just about everything else were hard to come by. My mother found it in a store and bought it for me. I guess someone must have been making toys from scraps to supplement their income. I was told that the name came from a book. Unfortunately I know nothing about the book, and the word “bukutis” according to Vikipedia is a bird (Eurasian nuthatch or wood nuthatch, Sitta europaea). No matter. I don’t need his genealogy to know that he is my oldest friend.

Dalia Stakytė Anysienė/ Dalia Stakė Anysas

I was born on December 30th 1939 in Zarasai, Lithuania. My parents were Maryja Šimonytė Stakienė and Petras Stakė. My father was a lawyer. My mother no longer worked when I was born, but she had worked in the Panevežys court where she met my father. I have one sister Audronė Užgiris.

In 1944 we were living in Panevežys. As the the Soviet army was advancing we left Panevežys. We left because my parents had lived through the harrowing year of the first Soviet occupation (June 1940-June 1941). As the Soviet army withdrew very rapidly in 1941 they left various documents behind. Among them were lists of people to be deported to Siberia. My father was on one of those lists. The stated reason for the deportation was that he was “an enemy of the people” (liaudės priešas), which was nonsense, and that he owned a gun, which he certainly did not. I know it was summer when we left because I remember my mother picked daisies as we were getting ready to board a freight car. History books say Panevežys was occupied before the end of July.

The train took us to Tauragė. But, we were not able to go on because it was impossible to get on a train. Clearly it was important for my father get away; and my mother thought that if we were left behind without him we would be safer than if he remained. Consequently, my father and a friend left on bicycles and we three moved to a farm in the vicinity where we spent the summer.

The Soviet army was stalled at Šiauliai and did not advance until fall while my father spent all that time going through various German government offices in order to get documents which would allow us to leave Lithuania by train. And so my father returned, (both my sister and I remember that it was fall when he came) and took us west. By October 9th Tauragė and most the country had been invaded again by the Soviet Army.

We first went to Küstrin in Germany (now Kostrzyn, Poland). Soon after the New Year there were indications that the fighting would soon reach us. So again we moved west eventually getting to Lübeck which fortunately ended up on the correct side of the border between the British and Soviet zones when the war ended in May of 1945.

We lived in Lübeck, I believe until 1948 when we moved to Olendenburg. In September of 1949 we emigrated to the US. Our sponsors lived in Binghamton, NY. So that was where we first went. I remember we arrived by train from New York late Saturday the 17th. Sunday morning our sponsors took us to church and the following morning our Father took my sister to school. That same week my parents started working. My father’s first job was helping deliver coal. My mother cleaned in a private nursing home. Eventually, both of my parents got jobs at the Endicott Johnson shoe company which was the major employer in the area. Three years later we moved to Chicago because they felt there would be better employment opportunities and there would be a larger Lithuanian community with which we could associate.

Dalia Stakys Anysas