Balzekas Motor Sales
The Balzekas Lithuanian Museum at 6500 South Pulaski is Chicago’s home for Lithuanian culture and history. Filled with maps, photographs, medieval swords, Lithuanian flags, Baltic amber, stained glass and ethnic costumes, it is a site that should be explored by all Chicagoans. Yet if you want to learn about Lithuanian culture and also have your oil changed, check out the service bay at Balzekas Motor Sales. Established in 1919 and run by museum curator Stanley Balzekas, it is Chicago’s oldest auto dealer. Sure, it has the usual array of lifts, tire racks, and oil drums. But instead of tool calendars, the walls are lined with art and photos from Chicago and Lithuania. More surprisingly, the dealership is filled with books! Shelves, bookcases and tables small and large contain as many as 5,000 editions ranging from history to novels to travelogues and old paperback bestsellers from the seventies like “Catch 22.” Many of the books are in English, but you can also find quite a few written in Lithuanian and Russian. In fact, if you are doing research on Lithuanians or the Cold War, you are probably better off here than any of Chicago’s libraries. Even more, when the service people are not working, they read! Other places to discover Lithuanian culture include the Lithuanian Museum of Art, 14911 127th Street, Lemont. If you want to taste the Lithuanian national dish, kugelis, a mixture of potatoes, bacon, and sour cream, try the Grand Duke’s, at 6312 South Harlem.
Balzekas Motor Sales, 4030 South Archer, (773)847-1515, balzekas.com
Best of Chicago 2012