Thursday, July 29, 2010


This is a family picture taken 1931. I believe this might have been my first picture taken in N.J. in house we lived in for a short while until dad got established with the bank. Remember we were the only Greeks in the town of all Italians. This was a rental house.

Later Dad bought a house on Pleasant Street. I have no idea how dad was able move us a few streets over and buy the big grey house we lived in growing up.

It had three floors and three bedrooms and a bath on the second floor. There was a small dormer over the entrance hall that we always referred to as the “icebox”. We all took our turns claiming it as a bedroom just to have our own room. It was big enough for a single bed and a very small chest of drawers. The only heat upstairs was one large register in the hallway from a coal furnace in the basement. In the downstairs there were registers in every room and that kept it nice and warm. I can remember standing on the register to get warm before jumping off to get dressed.
My dad and my uncle George made two rooms up in the attic using cardboard boxes that bicycles came in for sidewalls. Then they wallpapered over it. One thing good about it the rooms stayed warm and none of us minded the additional steps to go to bed. That old house holds many stories of our family and at times I will reveal some of the more humorous ones.

My sisters’ recent trip came to an end last week, and I am having, to make the adjustment of being alone again. I now realize what an adjustment she had to make just to come visit. I feel like I must tell you something about changes in life that happen that we have no control over. Age does take its toil.

I remember when as a child I was wishing to be older before time and after I was it turned out not to be at all like I imagined it would be. When we are younger we think we are invincible and can do anything. I am going to tell you my thoughts about coming to this age.

I better understand what a feat my sister accomplished coming out for a visit. I know it won’t sound so profound to you but to me it was. Getting older has its’ stages that have many milestones we have to pass through that we don’t even think about until we actually do. Having just reached and starting to pass through the eighties I can only use me, and my sisters about what I am talking about.

We do not have any control over our physical bodies. Oh we think we do and to a point I will agree but we alone control our own actions and choices to what goes into our mouth and what we say. But just stop and look back at, your own family and you will see what I am trying to say. At this age I find myself looking back to when I was able to do more than what I can do now.

We were a family of six growing up and each one of our personalities that are so different that it makes you wonder how could this be. Each one has a mind that develops differently under the same set of rules. One child is smart and eager to learn and another not as smart and could care less, and still another wondering why do I have to learn all of this. We realize sometimes too late that it was for our own good.

When we were younger we all wished we were older at different ages. At eight I can remember wishing I were 12. Little did I know that at 12, I would have to finish growing up without my mothers’ love. When I became, as they say, sweet sixteen, I found out there is nothing sweet about growing older. It meant you had to live up to more responsibility. The one thing about being the youngest you had many bosses ahead of you and you found out that the only thing you could boss around were the pets. I know that my personality today is one you would classify as being a very bossy person. It is not intentional it is just that if I see an easier way to do the job I will speak up. In doing so I have been put down many times but that’s okay I chalk it up to a learning experience. God is always teaching me and sometimes I try to get ahead and have to be held back.

My sister and I had many conversations about my childhood. All I can tell you I must have given my sisters fits. It is no wonder I was an outdoorsy person I was always shooed out to go play. On the outside then I had my two brothers boss me and but I always like to follow them and got in trouble many times for doing what they did because I always got caught. Isn’t it fun to remember family happenings of years back? My sister and I laughed so much remembering people and incidents that we hadn’t thought of in years.

Here is a picture when I was 18 and she was 25 years old.
We talked about our working in the restaurant together and how we dressed alike and confused people because they couldn’t tell us apart. Some of the customers that didn’t know us to well use to remark boy you sure put in long hours, thinking my dad was an old ogre. After a while dad sort of joined it because we had morning, noon and night covered while the restaurant was open and he was there all the time.

We both agreed that the years we were married were the best and most memorable for us. Even with the repeating and repeating of stories it didn’t deaden our memories.

When we played pinochle my sister had so much trouble keeping her cards in order and many times in the midst of the same hand she would change trump on me depending what high cards she had in her hand. I made her laugh by kidding her. Short-term memory was a problem for her.

One of the problems of living along is not having any one to talk or discuss things with. I encouraged her to listen to the radio more because if she puts the TV on she will sit down to watch. I put Rush Limbaugh on the radio to learn what is going on in the world. He talks fast and she had problems understanding what he said. I tried to tell her not to keep herself so sheltered from what is going on around her. I believe she is doing quite well for 87. Stickhorse Cowgirl in a blog back called “Pampered to Death” did a great job to mentioning somewhat of how we get in this stage that my sister is in.

Here we are recently celebrating our birthdays!
I guess by now you can imagine getting old is a stage we must go through like it or not. But there again we have a choice to either, count our blessings and thank God or just become a grumpy old lady never to enjoy the sunshine He brings in my life. Until next time I am, Immigrant Daughter

Monday, July 19, 2010


My visit with my sister is winding down to just 3 days left. We had a lot of catching up to do. Our lives are so different but the same if that makes any sense and I will try to tell you why.

First there is seven years difference in our age. I have always been an energetic out door individual. She on the other hand is an inside person who likes to sit and do crossword puzzles out of the newspaper and definitely does not like to do the New York Times puzzle. She married late in life and did not have the opportunity to have any children. I married at 19 and had three children right away. You would say I grew up with my children so I shared my children with her and her husband who was ten years older than she was. They enjoyed doing things for and with my kids. My kids loved the attention being with them because they did and show them many places they would not have seen.

One year they took the two girls to New York shopping. The style of long skirts with loose knit sweaters and boots were in and the girls came back looking like they stepped out of a Vogue Magazine. One had a complete gaucho outfit with boots and one had a long down to the ankles wool skirt with a long sleeve blouse with a long black sweater vest and wore funky shoes. The girls loved it because they knew mom and dad could not spend that kind of money for clothes that we didn’t think practical . I’m afraid we had to be a bit more frugal on our military pay.

My two sisters that are living are 7 & 8 years older but when we were younger it didn’t make a difference. At that age the sevenyears between us didn’t make much difference and it was easy to do thing together but at this stage in later life I find she runs out of steam quickly and sleeps a lot even when sitting up. Living on EST she stays up late watching movies and goes to bed late. Come ten o’clock and I am ready for bed because I still get up early because of having to keep a rigid schedule of having to eat three meals and maybe a snack daily. Taking insulin daily two times a day keeps me living without complications. I am so blessed.

sister reminded me of some family stories growing up in the restaurant. We learned to handle knives and keep them sharp and when my sister married her husband was a stay home worker when he retired from the T-Men and opened an office as an accountant. He was always keeping people out of trouble with the IRS knowing the ins and outs of how the IRS worked and what they were looking for from cheaters. So being home he took over all the household chores. My sister only had weekends when she did the planning and cooking.

One day when we were invited over for a meal and when I saw that her husband would not let her handle any knives because she might cut herself. I laughed myself silly because here is a gal that grew up handling knives in the restaurant all her life and he worried she might cut herself. He spoiled her rotten to the point that now that she is older and being by herself it is a bit difficult for her to do anything because he is not there help her and she has difficulty remembering. I have to remind her of things to do to help around the house because I can’t do it all being a bit handicapped and kidded her that she is not company. We laugh at all our shortcomings at this age. We still can get along without hurt feelings and that’s good. I love my sister.

When she was born she had weak ankles and didn’t walk until she was four years old.
I use to have picture that shows how they had to prop her up to stand. She couldn’t run out to play like the other two sisters. With being under foot all the time after hearing some of the stories I guess dad was harder on her and when she did something wrong and had to do penance by getting on her knees and bowing (which is called “Metanyas,”) to my dad as the Arabs do to Mecca and saying under her breath, “I am not an Arab.”

One day a regular customer came in the restaurant and saw her doing this he asked her, “What she was doing down on her knees scrubbing the floor?” Before she could answer my father answered the man and told him to leave her alone, “She is doing penance.” And this customer made such an issue over this that he kidded my father and didn’t give him any rest. Dad never made her do this ever again. Like I said, my father was very strict and proud and we never questioned him, others could but not us kids.

sister got to know dad very well because she and her husband looked after him and took him many places he had never been to or knew existed. For instance they took him to see the stage play “Around The World In 80 Days” and he just couldn’t believe it. They took him to many different restaurants and the one he like the best was the Hawaiian Cottage. On the way out one evening he met one well-to-do man from town who knew him and as the man said, “Hello, Tom how did you like it.” Dad said “I can recommend it to you”. Now here is a man that probably eaten there, so many time before but was kind enough to my dad by never to implying that and that he had and just said thanks Tom.

The people knew my dad never had time for such enjoyment raising six kids without the help of his wife and to enjoy the luxury of pleasurable things in life. I can see how my sister got a glimpse of the father none of us had ever seen because by this time the rest of us were married and gone. She and her husband did many things for him. I tell you all this because I want my family to know just how much she affected my growing up which was good for me.
We are playing a lot of cards, two-hand pinochle that we both enjoy. She messes up a lot by not remembering what is trump but we are having fun and I will miss her when she leaves on Wednesday. It has been a good seven weeks and I am nearing the end so until next time, I am Immigrant Daughter

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I can remember when cameras were a luxury. Pictures were something you were proud to show your friends and anyone who would sit through your long drawn out stories about them. As a child I can remember dads’ camera that was long and flat that had the flat side drop down so the you could slide the pleated bellows out to be able to look down in the lens to see what you wanted to take a picture of.

This picture is my older brother and I taking a picture with the bellows camera while someone took a picture of us.

Cameras kept improving and taking pictures was a way of keeping memories. The Kodak Company kept improving their cameras and producing color film. We were even given a choice of pictures or slides. Slides were the rage especially for scenery. You can take a multitude of slides and producing a story to show on a
screen. They took up less room than albums but I have to tell you I like picture albums best. There is nothing better than looking at old pictures of family by taking an album off the shelf and not having to put up a projector to show pictures on the wall or screen.

Here is a picture of my family as I was growing up as the youngest in the family. My father loved taking pictures. As you can see we made a graduating line from the smallest to the oldest being able to tell years later who was who.

and I carried on the tradition of taking pictures of our kids at different ages and putting pictures in albums. One year for Carl’s birthday I gave him an Argus C3 that took 35millimeter film. He became quite adept at taking pictures. I mentioned as he traveled all Arkansas he took pictures of barns old and new. I was never very good about advancing the film and I took many double exposures and I have one that I just didn’t have the heart to throw away because it is the only picture I have of that little couch that opened up to be our bed in the little 28 foot trailer we called home in Rhode Island. I tried years later to buy one of these that were armless couches so small that openedto make a bed and was told they just don’t make them that small any more.

While living in this little trailer we had purchased a set of Guardian Service that was waterless aluminum cookware. Our trailer was so small we could only sit four to eat. So we invited one couple as guests for the people selling the pots. They did all the cooking and cleaning up stressing how easy it was to use even in close quarters. This set of pots and pans with glass lids were heavy. I barely could fit them in the cupboard. We had this set a long, long time. When I finally sold them because stainless steel pots became available that was easier to clean and were as not heavy. I had the complete set intact with all the glass lids. This cookware even cooked a pineapple upside down cake on top of the stove that looked delicious.

We had such fun taking pictures that the older child had a Brownie Box camera. When we came to Arkansas the first time we made a day of going to dig for diamonds. There is a diamond mine in Murfreesboro called the Crater of Diamonds. It’s the only Diamond Mine in the U. S. and they allowed you to dig for diamonds. You had to pay to get in and you walked anywhere in the field to dig. It is a great place for family fun. The kids got dirty and had fun digging. It was the blackest dirt I had ever seen. It wasn’t too long go that some one found a good size diamond.

Getting back to my story about cameras, my son left his camera in the car when we went to the Diamond Mine and after all day in the field we went back to the car and he went to get his camera to take a picture and started to cry. We couldn’t imagine what happened until we saw the camera. The sun was so hot it melted the camera to a grotesque shape that we all started to laugh and the harder we laughed the louder he cried. I don’t think I will ever forget that day. We bought him a new camera and all was forgotten that he even laughed when he saw his camera again. One thing for sure he never put his camera or anything plastic up on the back seat ledge again. Here is a picture of his sister with her camera.
I do not have many of our pictures anymore because of the warehouse fire where we stored our furniture to go to Germany for the birth of our second grandchild. I think one of the saddest things about that ordeal was being paid five cent on the dollar for our household goods of antiques we collected. The only clothes we had left were the clothes we traveled with. That brought home what the Lord said, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven when neither moth or rust destroy…” Mt 6:20.

What that did for me was realize what we collect are, just things the Lord gives us to use to enjoy in this life and things can always be replaced but what’s in our heart is secure in the Lord. And things can’t replace Him. Until next time I am Immigrant Daughter