House of Magdelena and Benjamin Gudaičiai

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This house could have been built around 1932-1937, when the young, newly married family of Benjamin Gudaitis and Magdelena Štrimaitytė-Gudaitienė moved here from Agurkiškė. Benjamin worked as a forester in Kazlų Rūda. Magdelena was disabled from childhood, thus, was a housewife. The family never had children of their own. Therefore, throughout their lives, they were very attentive to and took care of the children of their brothers and sisters, constantly helping them.

Magdelena, or Magdelė as she was called not only by the residents of Kazlu Rūda but also by town’s visitors, was a herbalist. She specialized in and sold only one medical plant – wild silverwort and she herself called this plant “crabs”. Magdelena had heard from her mother that before the World War I and later, when typhus and dysentery were raging, the only hope for survival not only for the family members, but also for the people of the village, the surrounding villages and those who lived much further away, was Magdelena’s great-grandmother’s knowledge of how to cure these contagious, then very life-threatening diseases with “crabs”. Even in winter, knowing where this plant grows, the wisewoman would go to the forest, dig snow and ground, look for the root of this plant, dig it up and make medicine. Magdalena’s grandmother took over her mother’s knowledge, and later did her mother and Magdelė herself. It was meant to be because since childhood, Magdelė was surrounded by stories about the healing properties of this plant, methods of treating diseases with the roots of this herb. She had always been a helper in picking plants and preparing them, without realizing it, she naturally took over the knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Magdelena shared this knowledge with people visiting her. Maybe because of the positive effect of the medicinal herb, or maybe because of the exceptional charisma of the herbalist herself, people would gather here from all over Lithuania, and sometimes from neighboring countries.

People say that Magdelė’s appearance was really “witchy” in the best sense of this word. At an older age, Magdelė no longer walked on her own, she moved in a wheelchair. Small in stature, huddled in a hump, with cramped legs that have been unhealthy since childhood (probably the result of poliomyelitis), with dislocated joints of her hands, Magdelė never complained, she always radiated light and kindness. She had a very calm, knew how to listen, talked for hours to everyone who came to her, enquiring about all their problems and sincerely tried to help. As a result, long-term relationships were established with most of the clients, they regularly came, not only for medicines, but simply to visit and bring gifts.

Magdelė’s face also was “witchy”: a large, slightly crooked nose with a prominent mole or wart on one side, gray, sparse hair twisted into a small bun on the top of her head. The whole appearance represented the wisdom of centuries, but in reality Magdelė was as naive as a child, very gullible, so there were those who took advantage of her kindness. But she always found an excuse for everyone sayging “There must be something wrong with that person if he/she does that”.

Magdelė’s husband died around 1996 at a very respectable age. Left alone, Magdelė handled herself well, her “Crabs Pharmacy” continued to work because Magdelė’s generosity always attracted a lot of helpers. Some would find and carefully dig up the roots of silverwort. Others cleaned and prepared them. Then either Magdelė herself or her helpers used to finely chop the roots. It was painstaking manual work as the roots were extremely hard. After that, the cut chips were dried and packed in bags. It is said that there was always a specific sweet smell in Magdelė’s house.

Magdelena’s house always looked special. The front door was located in the centre of the house, accessible from the backyard. After entering through them, one would reach a corridor that divided the house into two parts. At the end of the corridor were the stairs to the upper floor. There were doors to the left and right at the front of the corridor that led to the living spaces. Magdelė’s living rooms were on the right. As soon as you entered, you could find a small kitchen with an old stove. A door from the kitchen led to two more rooms. One of them was very large, Magdelė used to receive people in it, the other smaller one was a bedroom. There was a similar arrangement on the other side of the house, which was not so often visited and this side of the house served as a storage area. The house had large rooms, fairly high ceilings and windows, unusual for that era. On the upper floor, there were two small rooms with low ceilings and a small kitchen. For some time, Magdelė rented this space to young families.

The house is currently owned by other owners.