Marijana - Childhood
Marijana was born on Strawberry Hill in 1936 in the same house in which her mother had been born. Being raised on Strawberry Hill in the pre-World War II years is a different experience from the lives of most young people today. On Strawberry Hill, Marijana had not only her loving family to guide her through childhood, but also all of the neighbors within the community. Marijana has said, "I was very fortunate in that my mother shared me with the people on the Hill."
Strawberry Hill lies on the bluffs overlooking the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. The immigrants who first settled this area were from Croatia, in the South Slavic region of Europe. Both sets of Marijana's grandparents immigrated to Kansas City from Croatia. Her mother's family was from the village of Ribnik in the Gorski Kotar region of Croatia. Her father's parents came from Ravna Gora, Croatia. The immigrants from Croatia settled in this area because they found work in Kansas City's meat packing plants.
On the right side of the painting is the house my grandmother purchased in 1903. My mother and I were born in this house. My family is around the house. I am sitting drawing. (Mother is standing near the street with some young boys. Father is standing at the front door of the house. Barbara, Marijana's sister is on the porch and Joann, the youngest sister, is standing behind Marijana on the sidewalk.)
Marijana's First Exhibit
The back fence was a good place to hang drawings.
Stray Cats with Marijana
I never had a cat of my own. I played with and fed the alley cats on the Hill.
The people fed the many stray cats on the Hill.
Marijana and Friends
I love cats and snowmen.
Bruson's Grocery Store was on the corner of fifth and Barnett. Marijana recalls, "On the Hill my mom had more work, but also had more time to herself because the grocery store was right next to us." Often Mother would send Marijana down the alley to buy some groceries.
Residents of Strawberry Hill could buy meat, produce, soda pop, and icecream bars. The lady in the blue dress is Marijana's cousin, Elizabeth. She is expecting her second child. Elizabeth is visiting with a neighbor. Apartments occupied the second floor of the building.
Going Shopping Downtown
Mother and sister Joann and I are going shopping downtown Missouri. We must catch the streetcar at the bottom of this steep hill.
Like many of the residents of Strawberry Hill, Marijana's family did not have a car. They didn't need one because most of the businesses that they frequented were scattered throughout the Hill, beside the houses.
At the bottom of the hill people could catch the streetcar. It would take them to downtown Kansas City where they could do some shopping. You can see St. John the Baptist Croatian Church in the background of the picture.
Grandpa Pintar and Marijana stand next to a shed he built. He lived on Thompson Street on the Hill. We would rock in a big orange rocking chair while he sang Croatian songs to me.
Marijana's grandmother taught her how to make povi bread. The poem, "My Croatian Grandma", by an unknown author describes this scene.
Marijana's mother, Fina, is holding a loaf of povitica bread. Povitica bread is a sweet bread made for special holidays. The women in the family would get together to prepare the bread. The dough must be pulled by hand. They stretch it as far as possible on the table top, then cover it with a nut mixture. The dough is then rolled up and formed into its unique shape.
Mother's Favorite Flower
Moss (Moss Rose) was a flower mother planted every year. The flower is very small, in my mind I saw them as giant size so I painted the moss with my family standing in the moss.
Look through the flowers and you can find the rest of Marijana's family and her house. Hint: Marijana is standing by her favorite thing.
Marijana's mother is watering her flowers that are growing along the fence by the alley. She was not the only woman on Strawberry Hill, that loved flowers. All along the streets you could see beautiful flower gardens being tended by the women.
Every man and boy on the Hill had a nickname. The boys would play marbles in the alley next to our house.
Playing paperdolls on the front porch.
Marijana and her sister, Joann, are the ones playing with the paperdolls. Mother and Barbara, the younger sister, look on.
Marijana's favorite season was winter. She loved to make snowmen. This painting shows children sledding down the hill with Saint John the Baptist Church in the background. The little girl in the house is watching the fun taking place outside.
(Select each painting to see a larger view. The words in italics are quotes from Marijana. She encourages teachers to copy the images into a media presentation to share with their class, especially if they are studying immigration settlements in Kansas.)