Nemunas str. 14, 14 b
Eglė: Hens running across the yard, pigs being farmed behind the house and the old horse of Kaunas silently sitting in the garage... It is a description of a casual rural household after World War II, of one of the buildings located in Nemunas Street.
Described as the Red-light district during the interwar period, the street was many times called the Venice of Kaunas as well, as the overflowing river used to flood the street. Despite the street being unknown to many tourists, and a few of who live in Kaunas since birth having been there, locals are full of memories.
It is known that since the 1870’s, the property of land belonged to the town dweller Chaim Gidoni and after his death in 1876; to his family’s generations. In 1900, two-storey buildings (now Nemunas St. 14 and 14B) of red brick masonry were built. Later, in 1927 the property was sold to Benjamin Gruzdas, who was the owner of a jewellery store in Laisvės Avenue and the official provider of Omega watches.
The oldest residents remember themselves being children, sitting in the house and watching playfully the overflowing river. Together with floating giant floes (heet of floating ice) the river used to flood almost up to the windows of the ground floor of the Nemunas St. 14B building.
Ms. Elena was one of these children, who grew up listening to the clamour of children’s voices and saw adults organising birthday celebrations with food, music and dances until sunrise.
However, not all of the memories cause nostalgia. According to Mr. Levas, several tragic accidents have happened: during one of the floods, a woman drowned when she accidentally fell into the basement, a German military officer jumping out from the balcony of building 14B, and one woman burned alive in the fire of a storehouse where she lived.
Another local resident, Romas, remembers the times when several families had to live in one small apartment. Once, his mother hosted two students, who protested against the Soviet Union government by sewing so called “granny” pants out of the union’s flag and hanging it on the fence next to the parterre. These past stories allow people to feel the spirit of the street and re-live every moment experienced by former residents of Nemunas street.