GRANDMA & GRANDAD SELINA
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The two people who were destined to become my father's parents both came from Lithuania - but by slightly different routes...

Alex Zelenkus - (later to become Zelina) - was born at 10 Pilling Street, Manchester, of Lithuanian parents, on February the 14th 1898...

His father - Joseph Zelenkus - was recorded as a Journeyman Slipper Maker, on the birth certificate, and his mother - Catherine Veltiroota - was assigned an X as her mark... - It is not known when or why they emigrated to England, or how they came to be in Manchester...

Annie Zitkus was born near Sasnava, Lithuania, on August the 16th 1897, and she came to England in 1913 at the age of sixteen, in the footsteps of her elder sister Petronie, who had settled in Leeds - in what was reputed to be an unhappy marriage to a Mr. Shamber...

It is not known where she stayed when she first arrived in Leeds, but it may have been with the Norkas family of Pape Street... (see below)...



Briggate, Leeds, around 1900.
Annie (Grandma), left the rest of her family behind in Lithuania when she travelled to Britain, including two sisters (Adele and Mary), and two brothers, and it transpired that she was never to see any of them again...

From around 1950 she wrote once a year to the post-office in the village of Sasnava, to see if she could make contact with her lost sisters... and for thirty-nine years she heard nothing... - Until - in 1989 - she received a letter from her sister Adele, and after half a lifetime she finally discovered something of what had happened to the family she had left behind...

Grandma's two sisters and one brother, died in Lithuania. The other brother died in America. We don't know what happened to the elder sister Petronie, but assume she died in England...

We also don't know why Grandad's family moved from Manchester to Leeds in 1913... but Grandma and Grandad met in 1914, and they were married the following year...

Grandma's father with her two sisters in Lithuania around 1914. (Click for larger image).

The brother who died in Lithuania.

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Grandma aged about 17.

When Grandma arrived from Lithuania in 1913 there was already a fairly well established Baltic and Eastern European community in Leeds, and that may be why Grandad's family moved over from Manchester...

Petronie - Grandma's elder sister - had married a Mr. John Shamber, and they had two sons;one also called John, and another called Edward... but that's about all we know...


Grandad had three brothers - Uncle Anthony; Uncle Charlie; and Uncle Willie, and one sister, who married a Mr. Udakis - and although we don't know what happened to her, we do know (from an old photograph), that she had at least one child...

T
he only address we have for Grandad's parents in Leeds, is 16 Fallowfield Close, Claypit Lane - and this would have been around 1918. His three brothers all stayed in Leeds, and at least two of them married and had families of their own, many of whom still live around Leeds although we have lost touch with them...

Remembered names for Grandad's brother's children are: Michael Selina - who I think taught in Ilkley; and Dennis Selina - who may run an electrical business in Leeds... - and I seem to recall mention of an organist at a Cathedral... and scuba diving in Cornwall...!

Perhaps this Website will unearth and resolve some of these mysteries in time... or perhaps not...!

Left: Street scene Leeds, 1914.


Right
: A photograph taken outside number 21 Pape Street, Leeds, at the time of the wedding of Mr.Norkas, whose family were friends of Grandma Selina. (Around 1915).

Grandma Selina is seated second in from the left. (Click on photograph for larger version).


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A photograph of Alexander Zelina & Annie Zitkus taken at their wedding in 1915
Alexander Zelina and Annie Zitkus were married in 1915 and the first home we know of, was a house rented by them at 14 Scott Street...

They had two children - Alexander Arthur (my father), in 1919; and Anthony, who was born about 1921... Both were born in Scott Street, in the Woodhouse area, just north-west of Leeds city centre...

Sometime around 1926 they moved to a house in Legal Row, where the two boys spent most of their childhood... And then they moved to Oak Tree Crescent around 1940 - which is the house I remember from my own childhood in the early 1950's...

Alex at 3 and a half years & Tony at 1 year nine months. Whitsuntide 1923.

Nos. 18 - 12 Scott Street, Woodhouse, Leeds
As far as we know, Grandad always worked as a tailor and Grandma worked with him, sewing all the buttonholes by hand, though she may have also earned money through embroidery and other needlework...



Right:
Tony and Alex with Grandma Selina at the Rembrandt Cinema Studios, in the Queens Arcade, Leeds, about 1931.

Left: Tony and Alex with Grandma & Grandad Selina at the Cow & Calf Rocks, Ilkley, c.1932.

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The main things I remember about visits to Grandma's house in Oak Tree Crescent were - in no particular order: The chickens (and the eggs); the rhubarb; the black bread and the bleenis; and the old valve radio with glowing yellow dial and foreign voices...

The house was one of a very ordinary estate of pebble-dash council terraces built around the 1930's I would guess, with a gate that opened onto a small green, shared by about 18 other houses - rather than the road...
The front door was never really used that I can remember, and the rear was accessed through a covered passageway that lead to the back gardens of the two neighbouring houses...

The chickens were down in a shed at the bottom of the garden, beyond the rhubarb and the outside toilet (where neatly torn squares of The News of the World on a rusty nail made tantalizing reading...)...

Apparently Grandma had kept ducks in the garden for some time, before I came to know the house, but she eventually decided to give them up as they insisted on following her to the shops if they managed to find a way past the garden gate...

To the right of Grandma in the picture, was the old fire-back kitchen range which was used - amongst other things - for baking bread...

The only other room on the ground floor was the front room or parlour, where we played dominoes or cards in the evening, and listened to the radio... - Sunday lunchtimes being a ritual of Round The Horne and Beyond Our Ken... - alongside The Navy Lark and Two-Way Family Favourites...


Grandma Selina in the kitchen of the house at 50 Oak Tree Crescent, sometime about 1940.

Grandad Selina at 50 Oak Tree Crescent about 1962. Dad had a somewhat 'on and off love affair' with photography, and this was one of the 'Family Portraits' he made.
Grandad was a good tailor, but the story I always heard from my mother was that he could have ''made a lot more of himself'', if he hadn't insisted on being able to smoke at work...!

The only place I remember him working was in a large, first-floor workroom on Meadow Lane a little way south of Leeds Bridge...

He worked for a somewhat mysterious (to me as a child), man I never saw called 'Mr. Goodyear', and I remember very clearly the words Goodyear's Tailors in ''back-to-front'' writing on the windows overlooking the street...

The workshop always intrigued me because of the enormous pinking shears... and the hard triangles of Tailors Chalk... and the huge irons, hissing on gas rings, with damp cloths draped over their handles...

In the school holidays I would spend time at the workshop in Meadow Lane, and make miniature suits from off-cuts of Leed's finest worsteds... - whilst Grandma sewed buttonholes by hand, for everything that Grandad made...

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Meadow Lane in 1955
Grandad's ''workshop'', was somewhere below the pole sticking up on the left...!


Grandma and Grandad Selina around 1976 in a pub - probably in Leeds... - but it might be in Bridlington...!

They went away for a week to Bridligton most years... and Grandad usually got into fairly serious trouble for losing money at ''The Bookies''... - as often as not encouraged by one or other of his brothers...

Grandma not only sewed the buttonholes by hand... she also tried to do the same thing with their lives and their money...!

In looking back, probably one of the most amazing thing about my grandparents is what they share with all the other people who were born just prior to 1900...

My grandparents started life in Leeds in a gas-lit house, without a bathroom, in a land where horses were still the main means of transport, and where writing a letter was the only form of distant communication...

And by the time they died, there was: - electricity; radio; TV; fridges; washing-machines; telephones; microwave ovens; motor cars; motorways; computers; heart-transplants; mobiles; video recorders... - and 300 people at a time, flying at 500 mph... at 30,000 feet... without even thinking about it...!


If that kind of change continues to happen... I do sometimes wonder how I might deal with the world in twenty years time...!!!

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