Category: Noreika Family

My Grandmother’s Pasti Recipe

My grandmother, Barbara Noreika, hailed from Lithuania and she and my grandfather established a farm in North Central Michigan in the early to mid 1900’s. Our family changed the name to Norris in the 1940’s to sound more American but my grandmother maintained the true family name. She was a superb cook in her little farmhouse kitchen that was mostly wood with an old fashioned stove. She had a circular table in that kitchen that we ate from. Her specialty was pasti which is a meat pie with a thick salted crust. It is an unsweetened pastry but full of great things to feast upon. For all you chef’s out there I have an unofficial recipe for this gourmet dish.

4 Cups of Flour
One-eighth Teaspoon of Salt
1.5 Cups of Lard in one-fourth inch cut cubes
8-10 Teaspoons of ice water
1 egg (beaten)

The Filling-
1 Cup coarsely chopped White Rutabaga
2 Cups finely diced boneless beef or steak
1 Cup coarsely chopped onions
2 Cups finely diced potatoes
1.5 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Rub together the flour and fat to make a coarse meal and then add in the 8-10 teaspoons of ice water all at once. If the dough crumbles add more ice water. Then refrigerate the dough for about one hour.

Then roll the dough into a circle about one-fourth inch thick and cut into six inch rounds. Re-roll.

As for the filling cut the ingredients into small pieces making sure to cook the meat and the potatoes together. Combine in a bowl and combine one fourth of the mixture into the center of the rolled out pasti. Moisten the pasti edges then fold in half making sure to crimp the edges to seal. Place the pasti on a buttered baking sheet and brush lightly with the egg wash. Make two slits in the pasti to allow steam to escape. Place in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce heat to 350 degrees until the pasti is golden brown.

For best results serve the pasti with Cole slaw and you are in for one tasty meal. If the pasti dough is made just right you will never forget this recipe of my grandmother’s. To be honest, I haven’t tasted pasti the way she made it since her death in the 1970’s. The Upper Penisula of Michigan has many pasti restaurants but none with her recipe. Bon apetite!

I should also let you know that when I was taking camping trips into the area with kids I would always be treated to this marvelous pasti at least once per trip. It was the best meal ever!

Here I am atop the lookout tower at the Lake Michigan Recreational Area with a beautiful view of the Manistee National Forest behind me. In front of me is Lake Michigan in all its glory so you get the best of both worlds from this vista. Directly behind me and under me is a vast sand dune that reaches down into the bowels of this forest.

I had taken a boys club trip to this are and the kids were busy taking my picture while begging to take a swim on this rather hot day. We had brought inner tubes to enjoy a rather wavy day. The kids had a blast swimming and this is the time where we had laid our towels and other materials down and gone into the water. After about an hour of frolic we went back ashore only to find nothing of our equipment! We thought someone had ripped us off but unknown to us, the current of Lake Michigan was the culprit.

It had taken us downshore about a half mile without anyone noticing a thing. As we walked back on shore we found all our stuff right where we had left it. All that seemingly movement without us feeling a thing! Remarkable.

The 1990’s saw three rather significant events take place in the Norris/Noreika family. First, in the early part of this decade my sisters, Treva and Kathy, along with myself set our parents ashes to rest (Adam and Treva) in the big swamp at the back part of the property near the phone lines. I knew that area would most likely never be develped due to the swampland and the phone lines in close proximity.

In 1992, some of the Norris family conducted a reunion bringing my two sisters and myself together, along with Aunt Beth, and my three neices, Sarah, Kristen, and Laura. We chose to quarter ourselves in Manistee at a motel and travel back and forth to the farm. We walked down to the beach and down the logging trail that led to the north side of our property. My neices also got to meet my Aunt Beth in person. Treva’s son, Bobby, also was on this reunion along with Treva and Bobby’s girl and boy friends.

The third event was the declining health of my Aunt Beth who eventually moved into Ludington and became a virtual recluse. I continued to call her weekly but her spirits declined along with her health. More on that in my next report.

Our cottage, as you see above, remains the same now except for a yellow coat of paint and massive changes in the rear with much earth moved to make way for a basement exit and several trees removed to make way for a docking area. That “new look” can be seen elsewhere at Big Bass Lake and Beyond.

In the 1950’s, I was just a young boy when my family took me to our family farm in Michigan where my grandparents lived. In those days, Big Bass Lake Road was just a sandy byway and there was NO public landing as that area belonged to Frank Benish and his pier was located in that area.

Otto Bartlett ran the Big Bass Lake store and as a young boy I enjoyed Squirt, Big Bass Lake postcards, and comic books there. The Loon Lake Roller Rink was a special treat a couple of times each time we spent a week there in the summer.

Our farm then still had two cows and chickens. I remember my grandmother scattering seed while talking to her hens. My grandfather did not speak English well but he seemed friendly enough. He died in 1956. I remember just past the two room cottage and just above the pier on our property was an old school bus and my sisters and I often played there.

As a young boy I didn’t like the area away from the main house as black flies used to pester us, especially so walking on Noreika Road down to the beach. Then we had to walk down a hill covered with ferns and jump over a small portion of the quagmire swamp to get to the beach. Once there it wasn’t so bad.

Our driveway was quite long and I remember black flies driving me crazy there too going out to get the mail. Big Bass Lake wasn’t nearly as crowded with speed boats in those days and I remember Frank Benish providing my sisters and I a ride in his speed boat all around the lake.

On each trip there my grandmother made pasti which was a meat pie with a thick salty crust. The old cottage kiitchen was wonderful to be in as all meals were home made.

There was an old building on what I call the Haunted Island on the southwest corner that is now long gone. And, the Big Island at one time was a narrow land mass all the way to the island. In 1956 a bridge was constructed allowing boats to pass under it to save time from going all the way around the Big Island to get to the Big Bass Lake store.

From time to time I will continue this series and next time it will be the 1960’s that I cover.

The Angel Wings of Jennifer Boblitt


Over the last several years I have been afflicted with edema which has made travel difficult to say the least. Through Medicare I was introduced to a young lady who was an expert in compression wrapping and Jennifer treated each of my legs over the past several months.

Her dedication to duty has resulted in my legs being reduced nearly 50% in size. Now my legs must be maintained at that level through future wrappings.

I wanted to take the time to thank Jennifer for her compassion over these months and her skill in getting my legs back to almost normality again. The term angel wings describes her arms and hands with which she wrapped me three times a week for about three months. Thank you Jennifer. You are one precious soul!

Memories of Our Land and Big Bass Lake

Well, we’ve written over 1,350 posts over the past four years but now all of us are out of ammunition. There are just no more stories to tell so at this junction point in time, this will be the last post at Big Bass Lake and Beyond as the website moves into eternity on the Internet.

My grandparents purchased our family farm and forest in 1914 and it was sold by my Aunt Beth in 2002. Most of my memories come from the years 1950-1996. In that time many Boys Clubs of America trips were held there and even a few Marion YMCA trips. I utilized our wooded beachfront and entire forest for the kids. In all our property was 256 acres. And, I made full use of the Haunted Island on each trips with midnight excursions there.

I have vague memories of my grandfather but many great ones of my grandmother, Barbara Noreika. I remember cows being there one summer and chickens for the majority of the 1950’s. Prior to that pigs and horses were also kept on the farm.

All those stories can be found here on Big Bass Lake and Beyond with much, much more. But now it’s time to say good-bye to all our company! Thanks for all your comments and suggestions and thanks also for our guest writers. Big Bass Lake forever!

The Old Bus Overlooking Our Dock

As a young boy, I never got on a school bus until 8th grade. That is, one with wheels. As a seven and eight year old boy I did get on a school bus at our family farm overlooking Big Bass Lake. Just to the left of the path that led down a hill to our docking area was an old school bus. How it got there I never knew but it was fully functional for a kid my age as the swivel doors could open and shut.

The downside was that this bus had no tires. And it stood in place for two summers and then mysteriously vanished. But for those two summers my older sister and I had a field day playing on that old bus. We would drive it all over Michigan and let on our passengers every few miles. And what a view of Big Bass Lake our passengers had.

My grandmother never told me what happened to that bus when I arrived at the farm as a nine year old boy. Yet I wasn’t all that disappointed as I found new things to stimulate me that summer like feeding the chickens and climbing the hay stacks to the top of the barn. Even so I often wondered what happened to that old school bus. Who wound up with it next and what fun might they be having with it? Maybe it found its way to your property?

The Only Time My Sister Was Taller Than Me

Now being six foot ten inches, this was the only picture that I can recall where my sister was taller than me. Yes, this little towheaded little boy has now stretched himself out to be me. The tree in the background can be seen elsewhere on our photo page and it appears as if it were not even a day older. Trees are like that, you know. They don’t show age as our human bodies do.

In height I passed the majority of my family by the seventh grade. By the time I left for college, I was at my full growth. It is widely reported that our family milk man cried when I went away because he lost half his business at our house. Yes, milk DOES do the body good.

I can’t remember myself at this height much but I do remember meeting my grandfather at this one and only time when I was that small.  Even though I couldn’t understand him much, as he spoke broken English accented by heavy Lithuanian, I know he loved me as the smile on his face was more than showing. 

Maybe I should have remembered more at this age but unfortunately that is not the case.  At least this memory is fresh.

The Norris and Baugh Children Plus Sam

From left to right in this photograph are my sister Treva (the oldest), my sister Susie, our cousin John Baugh from Enterpise, Alabama, and son of my father’s sister, Barbara, then me with our Beagle dog, Sam, on my lap, and finally, my youngest sister, Kathy. This picture was taken at our home in Wabash, Indiana, and, with the exception of John and Sam, all are still living.

Treva and I still live in Indiana while Kathy is living in Kentucky and Susie lives in Alabama. Our family changed the name from Noreika to Norris in the 1940’s to sound more American which, at that time, made it easier to seek work. My father was the first to do so followed by Barb and Beth (his sisters) and finally by my Uncle Joe. My grandmother kept the original name as should we all have in my opinion.

My father, and all of his siblings, died in the order of their birth which was unique. Of my father’s family, only my dad’s brother’s wife still is living and Aunt Mary lives in Seattle, Washington. Merry Christmas from the family Norris!

Bob (B. J.) Marks

My sister, Treva, son is B.J Marks and, Bobby, as I often call him, has been doing extensive research on both the Noreika and McCarthy family lines for this website. You can find some of his work under the categories (sidebar) Noreika Family and McCarthy Family. My father and his brother and sisters changed the name Noreika to Norris in the 1930’s and 40’s to sound more American. My mother’s side of the family were the McCarthy’s.

Bobby himself is the Percussion Arranger & Head Percussion Instructor for Northview Middle School in Columbus, Indiana.

From 1988 to 1991, BJ Marks worked as North’s percussion instructor while attending Indiana University, where he received a BA in Philosophy. From 1992 to 1994, BJ continued instructing at North while attending Ball State University, where he earned a BA in Music Education. In 1995, BJ began arranging the percussion book for North and accepted his first official teaching position as assistant band director at Perry Meridian H.S. and M.S.

After a year off from instructing at North, BJ returned to Columbus as the band director at Northside Middle School, where he currently teaches. Bobby’s research will continue at Big Bass Lake and Beyond with periodic updates of our family tree.

Uncle Joe and Craig and Mark

My Uncle Joe Norris passed away just over a year ago and he was my father’s brother. The Noreika siblings all died in order of their birth with my day passing away first in 1973, Aunt Barb in 1991, Aunt Beth in 2002, and Uncle Joe in 2008.

My cousins Craig and Mark I met only once and that was at the family farm in Michigan when we were kids. Uncle Joe and Aunt Mary (still living) lived in Seattle, Washington, making family reunions rather difficult.

I remember going swimming at our beach with both Craig and Mark but not much else. As cousins go they were almost strangers to myself and my three sisters. We better knew our cousin John, the son of Barb and Willie Baugh who lived in Enterprise, Alabama. At the time we were living in Wabash, Indiana, which was a yearly stopping over place for Aunt Barb and her family enroute to the farm in Michigan.

I think Craig still lives in the Seattle area while Mark lives in London, Great Britain.

In the early 1980’s I got to spend some quality time with Uncle Joe when he was at the farm the same time as Barb and Willie along with Aunt Beth who resided there in the summer. He and I spent a great deal of time talking and hiking in our forest that summer. I miss his smile and great sense of humor.

My Dad and Goodrich

For about a year, my dad tried his hand at owning a Goodrich Tire Store in Elmhurst, Illinois. I was in the fifth grade at that time. But that basement was pure heaven to me as stacks upon stacks of tires laid before me and I was ever ready to explore them. I climbed down them and had the time of my life.

Perhaps that is why, later in life, I created a game at boys clubs called Tire Endurance where kids would have to climb in and out of five stacked tires in the quickest time possible. They needed to do that five times while being on the clock.

My dad found out that the tire business was NOT for him and after a year sold the store. He went back to his comfort zone in the printing business and his firm was just a block from Wrigley Field home of the Chicago Cubs. However, while he was a life-long Cubs fan, I rooted for the better team, the Chicago White Sox.

My dad, Adam Norris, was a genius in his printing field but tires were NOT his forte but then he had a son who loved those tires.  Oh swell, it was fun for a year!

Francis Letukas Was My Grandmother’s Sister

My grandmother, Barbara Noreika, had a sister that I only met once. My grandmother’s maiden name was Letukas and her sister’s name was Francis. She seemed genuinely loving and kind. The two got along really good together. It was the only member of my grandmother’s family that I ever met, the remainder staying behind in Lithuania.

My Aunt Beth kept in touch with all my grandparents living relatives back in Lithuania but really didn’t share that information with anyone else in the family. In my brief conversation with Francis she didn’t really relate anything about the old country. The only thing I could comprehend was the relationship between her and my grandmother.

My Aunt Barb Baugh was also up at the farm during this time and she seemed to like Francis. The unusual thing about our family is on how tight lipped they were about the past. My father never talked about his childhood. In plain fact it is difficult to understand much about my family line because no one wanted to talk about their past.

It would seem that my grandfather, Joseph Noreika, was a very strict disciplinarian and allowed his children never to spreak English at home despite that is what they had learned in school. Lithuanian was the language of the farm.

Still it was interesting to at least meet one member of my grandmother’s own family. Perhaps painful memories of one’s childhood are better left silent. Francis Letukas passed away in 1991.

The Baugh’s and Irons Union Church

I personally can’t say much about the Irons Union Church since I’ve never been there. I’ve only “seen” it through the eyes of my Aunt Barbara who attended services there every summer they came to the farm each year. Along with my Uncle Willie I don’t think they ever missed a week.

However, now that Big Bass Lake itself has a church (Faith Fellowship Church) I often wonder if that would have been where they would have gone had it been up at that time?  Irons was not all that far away but the latter church was just around the corner from the old Big Bass Lake store just over a mile from our driveway. 

I do know that my Uncle Willie Baugh enjoyed the sermons of the Irons Union Church greatly and my Aunt Barb enjoyed the fellowship.  When I became a Christian in the 1080’s, I preferred the church that actor Lorne Greene once sang about.  “Oh the church where I worship is the wide open spaces, built by the hand of the Lord”!  My cathedral became our family forest where His greenery became decoration of his exterior church and where His voice spoke to me ever so plainly through His word.

Adam and Treva Norris

These were my parents, Adam and Treva Norris. Aside from me, I have an older sister, Treva, named after my mother, and two younger sisters, Susie and Kathy. My parents both passed away some time ago, my dad in 1974 and my mother in 1991. My father was raised by my grandparents yet he changed his family name from Noreika to Norris in the 1940’s to become more employee hireable as Norris was more of an American sounding name over that of his Lithuanian name, Noreika. The rest of the family followed suit with the lone exception of my grandmother who kept the original.

I personally prefer Noreika over that of Norris. My dad was a lifelong Chicago Cub fan who sired a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan. He worked right across the street from Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Then he worked for Osborn Midwest Paper Company.

Upon our move to Wabash, Indiana, from Forest Park, Illinois, he worked in Marion at another paper company. As for my mother she was a housewife until more of us starting going to college and then she became a secretary for a locale factory

Where’s The Back Porch?- Updated

This was our home at 570 North Wabash Street over the Hipskind garden next door. One thing is missing though and that is our back porch. In the back of the house, where you can observe those three windows, was the location of our back porch. Apparently, the new owners chose to enlarge the kitchen thus forfeiting the porch.

That porch was my quick exit out to the back yard and down the Nagel’s hill, across Charley Creek, and then across some open stretch en route to Wabash High School each day. It seems strange not to see the back porch there anymore. The house now only has two exits and that would be the front door and the french doors just to the south of the front door.

This was probably the best house our family ever lived in and its too bad we couldn’t take it with us when we moved to Illinois. It was really hard leaving Wabash in 1967 as that is still considered my home town. Growing up in Wabash was great.

Our house was built-in 1910 and is a 3,026 square feet home. It ha three floors and a full basement.  The estimated worth of the home is $154,700 dollars.  There are four bedrooms and three bathrooms.  The third floor ha a bedroom, bathroom, a walk-in closet, and a full attic.  The second floor consists of the other full bedrooms and bathrooms. 

The first floor has a large living room with sliding doors on each side of the room with one of them leading into the dining room.  There is a full pantry just outside the kitchen and a sunroom.  A half bathroom is just off the pantry. 

Morning was always my favorite time of day at Big Bass Lake when I as growing up.  I would awaken to the aroma of breakfast being prepared by my grandmother and whatever she made always seemed better than anything else that I had ever tasted.  Her breakfast circular table was always adorned with butter and preserves like strawberry or cherry jam.  Home made bread was just fresh out of the oven and my stomach was beginning to growl.

Fresh eggs right from the chicken were frying in the pan and slabs of bacon in another.  She always had an assortment of store purchased cereals but Sugar Crisp seemed to be there every day.  Yet I also remember her preparing Cream of Wheat and Ralston Wheat Cereal hat tasted ever so good. 

I made myself ready by washing up at the pump just outside the cabin with its ice-cold water bracing my face.  I usually then ran down to Big Bass Lake to work up an appetite by skipping stones on the water in the slight morning fog.  Then came my grandmother’s call beckoning me to breakfast.  What a way to start the day at Big Bass Lake!

My Grandparents: Joseph and Barbara Noreika


I don’t remember a whole lot about my grandfather as he died when I was very young, but what I do remember is that he was a gentle man even though I had a very difficult time understanding him. My grandmother, on the other hand, was very nice and a fantastic cook. My dad, Adam Norris, was their eldest child followed by Barbara, Beth, and Joe. All are no longer with us as Joe was the last member of that original Noreika family to go. His wife, my Aunt Mary, is still with us today in Seattle. It is interesting that the four children died in order of their birth which is somewhat unusual.

Just behind my grandparents cabin was our ice house which was just a few short feet away from the old house. The kitchen of that old house was my favorite room and as a boy I often slept in a bed alongside the kitchen wall. Just outside the old house was a well.

I’ve mentioned the old house because that is also no longer with us as a new cottage just to the south was built many years ago and it still stands today. In the future I will have pictures of both as well as a smaller cottage.

My Grown-Up Three Nieces

On another post I have these same three nieces as children. Today they are all young ladies. From left to right they are Laura, Kristen, and Sarah. Laura is re-entering school again for nursing in the fall. She also had experience as a radiologist. She likes sports especially football and her favorite teams are the Colts and Bears.

Kristen was most studious as a child and today is the mother of three boys and one girl. She is a Christian and raises her family in that faith. She is now a medical secretary and her family lives in a suburb south of Indianapolis.

Sarah is the restaurant business but more from a recreational vantage. She is in charge of conventions and tourism. She has boundless energy and is highly creative. Sarah is the one that, at our family reunion in Michigan (1992) said she couldn’t wait to grow-up and she has into a career lady.

I am proud of all three of my nieces whose mother is my sister, Kathy, the youngest of the four Norris children.

My friend Mike Reynolds from the Scottville area vsited our family farm in the 1990’s and came with a vehicle. That item did not unload at the Public Landing but instead on our driveway and it was a golf cart. Yes, this is the same Mike Reynolds who posts here at BBL and Beyond along with his wife Darlene.

Mike and Darlene stayed at our two-room gray guest cottage overlooking Big Bass Lake. During the day, the three of us took the golf cart and explored the full length of Noreika Road even going down our logging trail as far as we could.

But the biggest suir[rose os wjem Mike and Darlene challenged me to eighteen holes of Frisbee Golf which was held on our farm field stretching from near the Public Landing all the way to Noreika Road. Only two holes skirted Big Bass Lake but it was so fun to take that golf cart onto our field for Frisbee Golf.

One of the holes was in the indention area of our field that looked like a landing place for a flying saucer. It was a large hole, if you will, in the middle of our field some six to seven feet deep in a crater outline. The hole happened to be in the center of that area.

Yes, golf carts aren’t used for just golf courses anymore unless, of course, your golf game happens to be Frisbee Golf.


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