Des Moines Oral History Project

Interviewee: Christy Karthan

Interviewer: Lucas Petrakis

Date: 11/16/17

Me (Lucas Petrakis): Just to kind of give you a rundown I guess before we get into it, the first one was kind of a little more about like your life back in Greece. Like your family, and childhood and then again we talked a lot about it but a little more about like the transition to the U.S. and I have some more questions about that um and then kind of one of the things I was really interested in, if you’re comfortable talking about it was World War 2 and the Greek Civil War when you were living in Greece. Um, and then just a few other things but I guess we’ll just go down the list here.

Cristie Karthan: Okay.

LP: So um first off if you could tell me a little bit more about your parents and siblings back in Greece. You told me about your father and what he did on the farm, or he had like olive trees and stuff like that.

CK: Okay, on the island of Samos, when you say that your father is a farmer, because the island is mountainous…

LP: Uh huh.

CK: There’s no farm homes on the farm. The farmland that you have is one piece there and another piece over there and more acres over here and a vineyard over there, so its all spread all over the place, so you live in a community and I was raised in a small village on the island of Samos.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: Um, about my life as a young child?

LP: Uh huh.

CK: Okay, well I was born in 1940.

LP: Right.

CK: Then the war started in, well ’41 and then I’m one of four children. Two boys, two girls. I was the oldest and the war, it was almost over around ’45, but then you had the civil war. Well my life, my life with my siblings and my family, was a very close knit group with my cousins, my uncles, my grandparents, um my grandmother lived with us because my mom was the only child and her father died so my grandmother stayed with us so she helped my mom raise us. Life as a child was pretty happy, we were out all over the place in the daytime when the weather was okay. Playing all over, boys and girls and a mixture like this it was carefree. During the war, our food was very very limited because the Italians took almost all the food we had like they took the olive oil and they took flour and dry crops you may have, but the people start hiding those things. They would open holes in the ground and put big containers in there and hide their food in there, but as a child I did not notice any hunger because we had come chickens, we had eggs, and we had, I think we had one goat so we had milk and cheese and uh my parents tried to feed us the best of food and then meat was very scarce. Unless you had chickens and stuff, hardly anything on the market. But we had a lot of legumes and whole wheat bread. I hate whole wheat bread

[both laugh]

CK: I like white bread because of it, I’m tired of it [laughter] um even during the war I didn’t really, my parents did not, my parents made sure I did not have much fear even though they were. Going back now looking at it, like sometimes at night we would have to put curtains on the windows because they had found out that the Italians would come over and bomb the place. And they didn’t want to know where the villages were or something so they put curtains on the windows so the light wouldn’t show.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: And sometimes, during the day they would take us and go out in the country and just stay by the bushes there because they would come and bomb, but they would not bother the small villages.

LP: Hmm, okay.

CK: They were bombing the bigger cities where there were some, you know, offices and industry and whatever they had those years. But even that, I wasn’t that scared, I was little.

LP: Sure.

CK: So I didn’t feel much, you know much, I wasn’t frightened with the Second World War. And they stayed, the Italians stayed, for I about, I believe four years before the Germans came, I may be wrong. The Germans came and chased them out and any Italians they found, they killed them. So sometimes the Greeks were hiding them.

LP: Hmm.

CK: [laughter] Because they had made friends with them, but…

LP: The Greeks made friends with the Italians?

CK: Well, the local people are there that you see every day, like when my mom was holding my hand one time, I remember that. And we were walking somewhere and one of those guys said “oh I have a little child like this back home.” Ya know? They were not friendly people and if they knew that some guerillas went to the mountains against them, well they were after them and they would kill them and they would kill people, but in the every day life of the village they were not per se killing women and children

LP: Okay.

CK: They didn’t do that. Not that I know. Or abuse anybody like they do now, there wasn’t such thing.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: If you were fighting against them and had a gun, they would kill you. If you didn’t, they didn’t bother you. Uh if you did something that was against them, sometimes they would go and kill all the males from a whole village. This kind of a thing, but as an ordinary civilian and children, they didn’t bother you.

LP: Okay.

CK: It was more civilized than now I think.

LP: Sure, yea.

CK: [laughter] Um, the thing that really I was scared and it was bad in that respect, was the civil war in 19… [voice trails off] After the war was over then the Russians were helping the communists and England and US was helping the other side, tried to take over the government and we had a king and a queen then. It was one established, Queen Fredericka and King Paul they were. But there was civil war between the two, the left and the right. And that part affected us a bunch on the island, um we had guerillas, we called them, on the mountains. And at day time it was peaceful, but at night they would come down to the villages and take like my mom and my grandmother would bake bread in those big ovens they had, they would come down and somehow they knew, because some people from the village, from the other side, who hated us, they would tell them so come over and take all the bread. So my grandmother and my mother, they would hide loaves of bread in plastic bags and have us little children sleep on them so they couldn’t find them. There are the things that impressed me at the time, but at night when they come down, the dogs from the village, they would start barking. And even now, at night when a dog is barking I’m scared.

LP: Hmm.

CK: Because I knew they were coming and it was very insecure situation. They were, um they would pick up somebody from the other side and just shoot them right there in front of you. And kill people from the other side, the communists killed the others. At day time it was more peaceful, the army was after them and so you would see trucks full of army people going by, and the guerillas were hiding in the mountains. And you had school these days, I mean I would be in school, life was trying to be normal. We would be in school every day and the school was on the top of a hill and we could see all the movement. The army going by, the emergency vehicles going by with wounded. I don’t know, when you’re a child you don’t feel all that.

LP: Right.

CK: I mean like I would now, even now. Um, life was try to be normal but at the same time we were on the crossfire. Our fathers, the right side people, my dad and my uncles, and they were after them to kill them okay? The guerillas were.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: They left, and they went to a bigger city where there’s police protection. Well they went there and there were a lot of them so they could protect themselves, the villages were left on their own with the women and children and the communists. Um, and these people who would come down, well my mom had a nephew who was a communist who was a guerilla, and I think because of him, we weren’t suffering and more than just the fear that we had.

LP: Uh huh, sure.

CK: And one night, he came I remember. And my mom was expecting then with my sister, the third child. And one night he came and he told my mother that they are after the older children from the three brothers. My father’s brothers.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: The oldest children, they would take them up to the mountain. Forcing the fathers to go and take them back so they can kill the fathers.

LP: Hmm.

CK: And I was one of the oldest children in my family, so he said, real quick, he said tomorrow, those children should leave from here. And he left. Real quick, gave her a message and left. And so the next day, they packed myself and my two cousins. And I was seven or eight, and they were a little older. Two years and three years older. And they send us [cough] to the village where our fathers were. The bigger village with police protection. And we were there and there was this very kind man who had a huge home. And he was wealthy and he had opened his home to our relatives because we knew each other. Friends I think, we were.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: So we all lived in this big home there for protection, while my mom, my grandmother, and my little brother were left at the village. Then eventually, they emptied the village of all the population and brought them to bigger cities, to starve them. Because that way they wouldn’t have any sources of food. Trying to catch them okay, trying to starve the guerillas.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: So eventually, they all came down to that, to this bigger city and eventually, this was towards the end of the guerilla war, and eventually they caught them and put them in jails or killed them or whatever.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: But I remember before that, one night, it was towards the end and they thought they were weakened enough. They send the people from my village, you know my family, my dad and my uncles and the others from the right side with guns to come to the village to just protect us there because they didn’t think the guerillas were any threat.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: Well that night they came, organized and they, I don’t know there was some gunfire exchanged. A lot. And my dad was wounded on the leg.

LP: Hmm.

CK: [cough] But his brother pulled him out of the way of fire and then they ran down hill and they hid away from the village so they survived, nobody else was killed. That was towards the end. Before that, one night they came. No no, it was the same night, they picked up from a wealthy family, the wealthy family had a factory that they would process the olives to produce olive oil. They came and picked up the father, eighteen year old son, took them outside and shot them in front of the mother and the sister. And the father was, uh experienced enough to pretend he was dead, but the son didn’t, so the son died immediately but the father was taken to the hospital where my dad was taken with a wounded leg, so the next day, I remember now, these are the things I remember. My mother picked me up and I got on the bus and we went to the big city, there’s certain cities okay, on the island they’re bigger than others. Well this one has a hospital and we went there to see my dad *coughs* excuse me. And I remember walking in this big huge area and there was cots, you know beds, little beds and people laying on them and everything was white and my dad was there. He said the bullet did not hit any major, um blood vessels or anything else on the leg, and didn’t break the bone so it would be a matter of not getting infected and he would be fine and he was *coughs* it was on the thigh from one end, side to the other. But those are the things I remember from the civil war.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: And those were much more, for me, much more uh fearful than the ones with the Italians and the Germans.

LP: Sure. How long did the civil war last?

CK: About two years.

LP: Two years?

CK: [cough] Eventually, um England and the U.S. with the Marshall Plan, they provided enough ammunition, and the others were defeated.

[back door opens]

CK: It’s the father or someone at the door.

LP: Somebody’s here.

CK: Hi Shelia, how are you?

[conversation with church secretary] 15:11 -16:18

LP: Okay and then I guess one more thing about that. Were there, so after the war ended, were there any, like lasting effects of the war?

CK: Well Greece was leveled because it resisted the Italians okay. And people who had lost people in the war all over the place then they had lost, which is unheard of now, uh animals like mules and horses, because they took them all for transportation up at the mountains when they were fighting the Italians. During the war that started September, I mean October 28th. And they lost, and everything was sort of destroyed, electricity was non-existent when back and it was like starting from the beginning.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: But somehow, just like I said before school kept going.

LP: Hmm.

CK: And in good shape, I don’t know why.

LP: [laughter]

CK: They had accomplished that. And then you know, they start to rebuild and little by little the whole thing was rebuilt and this was in ’48. The war was over.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: The civil war was over and then the government was formed from the people that won, which is the right side and with the help of the Marshall Plan at the time, helped us a lot, like they sent a lot of clothes and a lot of dried food until people recovered.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: And uh, that kind of a thing.

LP: Okay, uh so I Googled Samos to look, to see what it was, where it was. And it’s incredibly close to Turkey, it’s just right off the coast.

CK: Yes, yes. The closest part of Samos, they call it “Eptastadio porthmos,”  (check spelling) seven stadiums width. And the stadium I think like hundred meters, seven hundred meters from it. Very very close.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: Um, okay Turkey is this way. The island is laying like this way.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: And this is like seven hundred meters, the closest point. But the rest of it is west. Very very close yea. The sun comes up from the Turkish mountain yea. Because it’s East of Samos, yes.

LP: Are there a lot of Turkish people who live on Samos?

CK: No.

LP: No?

CK: No, uh no they’re allowing Turkish people to come over as tutors and a lot of them come over, and a lot of Greeks go to turkey and I’ve gone there a bunch of times. We go to Ephesus and uh we took a lot of friends there, just one-day trip, they allow that.

LP: You went where? You said you went where?

CK: Ephesus.

LP: What is that?

CK: Okay, its e-p-h-e-s-u-s.

LP: e-p-h

CK: p-h

LP: p-h?

CK: Uh huh. e-s-u-s

LP: s-u-s, okay.

CK: I think that’s how they uh, or it might be just without the two and just an f. Efesus. It’s where the apostle Paul I think, wrote the letter to the Ephesians or something, I dunno. But there’s a lot of other, Greeks had built and there’s a lot of ruins there, a lot of ancient things and they go there by the thousands everyday to see it.

LP: Okay.

CK: It’s not too far from the coast.

LP: Could you also, you can write it as well, the one, the “seven meter” whatever that is.

CK: Well that’s in Greek though.

LP: I mean, can you spell it in…

CK: In Greek?

LP: I mean, or can you spell it in English? Is there any way to like…

CK: Yea.

LP: The English equivalent I guess.

CK: Okay, the seven, the number seven.

LP: Right.

CK: [spelling on paper] It’s epta, epta-stadio. epta is seven, stadio is stadium.

LP: Sure. [reading paper] epta stadio

CK: epta stadio

LP: Okay, yea that’s easy enough. [laughter]

CK: Passage, yea it’s seven stadiums and I think it’s stadium like a hundred meters. You can look that up, I think it is. I’m not sure. Yea it is, I think so.

LP: Okay, great. Um, and then I guess one more thing about Samos. So again, as I was Googling, a lot of the images I saw looked like, it was a very touristy, kind of, area with a lot of beachfront. Is that just on the coast, or has the island transformed at all since you’ve been there? Has it become more touristy?

CK: Yes, as the years went by it becomes more touristy. And a lot of northern Europeans come, and a lot of Germans buy property and build homes there.

LP: Okay.

CK: And a lot of intermarriages have happened ever since the European Union and you can travel within Europe without a passport.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: They come down and some people, you know have intermarried like a lot of Dutch and Norwegians. Because the climate is so much better than up in Norway.

LP: Sure.

CK: And Sweden and stuff. Ya, it’s very very touristy.

LP: Okay, um yea like when I was Googling and it looked like…

CK: You should go there some time, you should come when we are there.

LP: Yea, that would be cool. It would be very nice. Um, okay so lets see, so the next one i would want to talk about is kind of the transition to the US and like the physical trip a little bit more. You mentioned the Queen Frederica…

CK: [laughter] Yea.

LP: And you said how there was like one bad, you were saying there was one bad storm that you had, but if there’s any more about…

CK: Yes, yes and it diverted and went north. It must have been a hurricane because we were delayed two days. And it was supposed to take a week from Greece to Gibraltar, the straights of Gibraltar in Spain, and then another week from Spain to New York, two weeks. At the time okay? We were delayed a couple days because we went north to avoid it, but we didn’t really avoid the whole thing. It was really bad, but um we survived it in October and didn’t think much of it, and I of course didn’t know we were in danger, but when I looked out the window one time, it was black, raining. And the ship would go up, down, side to side and that’s, I don’t know if it was moving at all but it looked like we were at the bottom and the waves were up there, it was bad.

LP: Is there any more about the actual journey itself that you remember?

CK: Well we stopped in Halifax, Canada.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: And myself and this other gal, we were supposedly under the protection of this older guy, or something like that. I didn’t see him through the whole trip, until when we stopped he found us and he said that the tree of us would go out and land. And [laughter] after we were laying down for a whole week and two days, and we stood up, we could hardly walk on land because it was so unstable and so uneven.

LP: Interesting, hmm.

CK: Yea, yea but that was impressive and when I came to New York, they had arranged so the travelers aid society, we had a group of women at the time…

LP: Right.

CK: They came and picked me up, they held me back. The whole ship emptied and I was there waiting. And then this lady came and picked me up and put me on a train to Chicago.

LP: Right.

CK: And there I was told to wait and another lady came and picked me up and sat with me and put me on another train to mason city, I suppose that was impressive.

LP: What did it, I guess what did it feel like to step off the boat for the first time in New York?

CK: It felt um, it felt different but when you are eighteen and your world, its not so broad like it is now like it is for an eighteen year old, and just living on the island. I have gone to Athens a couple times before, go to Athens before leave for the US. I was not thinking about, oh I was just happy. Everything was positive those years for me, okay? Come over, go to school, get an education, go back. [laughter] which I didn’t.

LP: Right.

CK: I got married and stayed. We went back for visits and stuff. But, um it felt good. But at the time I, my world knowledge was very narrow so I was not thinking that I’m stepping on Ellis Island or this kind of stuff. My goal was to come over here, go to school and this kind of a thing. It was good.

LP: Cool, so from New York was there any other kind of memorable feelings that you had coming to Iowa?

CK: No, no. I was shipped from here *taps table* to there *taps table* to here, no.

LP: [laughter]

CK: But I remember though, with the train ride, you know that day it was the fall of the year. we would go through some forests or whatever, I couldn’t fathom there was so many apple trees.

LP: Hmm.

CK: They were huge with apples, apparently I was hungry for some fruit. I though “my god look at those apples.” everywhere we went I thought I was seeing apple trees loaded with apples [laughter] in October!

LP: [laughter] Okay, lets see. So, I guess also to just clarify this for me, you went to, I guess like an elementary school in Greece and then high school in Greece?

CK: Uh huh, in the village. And then in a bigger city in high school which was six grades. Junior high and high school together.

LP: In a bigger city you said?

CK: Yes.

LP: How far was that from your village?

CK: That was far and there was only bus transportation and taxi transportation at the time. There were no private cars of any type.

LP: Uh huh

CK: Uh, and this was in, well I was born in ’40, so from ’47 to ’52 I was at the village going to elementary school then I left when I was twelve and went to the bigger city to finish six years for high school. We had elementary school and high school, that’s how it was divided.

LP: Right

CK: We went, they would, we would go to the bigger city and my parents found a place for me to stay. And the lady, they would pay her. The lady of the house would cook for me, cook for us, and I lived with another girl. And then eventually a cousin. She would cook for us and we had a place to stay and she was being paid and I went to school from there. And we would see our parents, well they would send us with the bus, they would send us some provisions if they wanted to and we would see our parents like Christmas holidays for two weeks, Easter holidays and the whole summer. Between the school year for six years, we would live in the bigger city. So I was shipped out, I mean I left home lets say when I was twelve more or less. Not that far, but yet far enough. There were no phones, so we were more or less isolated, we would communicate by letter, by sending notes. Like sometimes they would send me a box by bus with my name on it and we’d go pick it up. There would be my clean clothes there, a note or maybe some dry food or whatever, this kind of a thing.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: So, yea from the age of twelve I was minding my own business. [laughter]

LP: Yea, sure.

CK: Yes.

LP: Interesting, I didn’t know that. Um, so coming from, and again…

CK: Oh and I was an excellent student.

LP: Yea? [laughter]

CK: Yes, anyway I went to, at the time we had a boys high school, a men’s high school and a women’s high school.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: So I went to the female high school with the girls, the boys were separate. Which I think its unusual, but was at the time. And we were wearing uniforms. Very strict, everything was very strict. At night, you could not after eight o’clock, no students were circulating anywhere. If they caught you, you were punished. Stay home and study and stuff.

LP: That would make you a good student.

CK: Pretty strict, yea. Pretty strict thing. But, just like I say. Looking at the educational system now, which is good, I don’t have anything against it, its excellent, but those years. I mean right after the civil war and the destruction that the country had and everything. We had an organized school, I mean educational system. Very organized. And I don’t know if it’s the same thing happens now to these countries that are under war and stuff, I don’t know. Maybe yes, I don’t know. But it was good.

LP: Okay, so what was the, I guess the transition from school in Greece and then just coming to America and starting, did you start in college right away, or?

CK: I came in October, and I had an intensive year trying to learn the language.

LP: Right.

CK: And then when I came here, I could hardly speak and the way I spoke was by picking up the English words, putting them in the Greek sentence, and they don’t come out right. [laughter]

LP: Uh huh sure.

CK: So I went to high school, not classes in high school, but they had some classes for English.

LP: Okay.

CK: For people like me in Mason City and, to learn more about the language. Sort of intense thing. And then in January I start junior college. And the first test I had in biology, I got a C and I cried buckets. [laughter]

LP: [laughter]

CK: And they told me, “A C, it’s not bad.” Yea but I was used to As, but here this was a big handicap now and you know. But eventually I was fine, but science, math was easy for me but anything with a lot of reading was very difficult.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: Especially at the beginning.

LP: Where, you said you went to junior college in Mason City, and then?

CK: Yes, and um at the time, for medical technology okay, was two years of college, one year of training, and then you could go out and work without a degree. And so my year of training was in St. Paul, Minnesota for one year. And then after that, I went back to school, then by that time I had met my husband and we got married like, during Easter, no Spring Break. Well, the thing is that I had to continue going to school or go back to, back home as a foreign student. I don’t know if they’re very strict now, but I remember at the end when I left Mason City and I went to St. Paul and I didn’t realize I was supposed to let the immigration people know I moved. So one time while I was in the hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, it was an eight hundred bed Catholic hospital. One time they came, the people there who I was training with and said uh, “the immigration people are here, they want to talk to you.” [laughter] Two tall, very intimidating people. So what do I do? They said “You didn’t let us know you changed addresses.” I didn’t know.

LP: Yea [laughter]

CK: He says, “Okay fine, now we located you. The next day you come to the office.” So I went down there, and I don’t really remember what happened, but nothing happened I was okay. But, as long as you were going to school you were fine, as long you stop going to school you go back.

LP: Uh huh

CK: Okay, so then I met my husband and I decided to more or less stay. And once you get married to an American citizen, you are okay, they don’t chase you any more. And then I went on to school in Mankato, Minnesota where he went and I finished my bachelor’s degree in Med. Tech. And then I took the registry and went from there.

LP: Yea, so I guess off of that, we spoke a little bit about your career last time, but is there anything else about your job, like things you remember, events that were particularly interesting or memorable?

CK: Yea, I loved my job and the part that I really loved and was very rewarding was that we had to do the diagnosis for patients and sometimes save their lives. And it was very um, I like that very well. Like for example, they bring in a diabetic person in a coma and they do not know if it’s from low blood sugar or high blood sugar and we had to real quick make, do the test and stuff, and it was very very stressful because we made a mistake, if we made a mistake and we gave them insulin if the blood sugar was really low, he’ll die.

LP: Right.

CK: And the other way around. And stuff like that, which I liked and by doing tests you helped in diagnosis like with liver and heart and the difference between high enzymes because a muscle strain or really heart attack and that kind of stuff. I loved my job, yea very good.

LP: Okay, so I guess we’ll go back a little bit. If you could tell me a little bit more about life in Mason City when you first got there. What, kind of, the community was like.

CK: Community was very close knit more or less. The people that sponsored me, I should probably clarify that [laughter]. The people that sponsor me to come over as a foreign student were very very distant relatives of my mother.

LP: Okay.

CK: No, my father. Like, my husband’s grandmother was calling my grandfather uncle or something, I don’t know, some distant thing. So we were acquainted with the family before I came.

LP: Okay.

CK: And then eventually my husband was in that household, and after I left and I went to St. Paul for training then we started exchanging letters and that’s where we started [laughter] and then eventually got married. Life it was, I was there for just two years and it was just like a blur, I was going to school, trying to study under conditions you know, that English was still very very difficult. It wasn’t much of um, school and home and this kind of a thing.

LP: Okay, was there, I think now maybe more so than it was back then, but was there like a large immigrant population in Mason City or no?

CK: I was not, no not really. Not really aware of it, no.

LP: Okay.

CK: Very few if we were any. I remember they would ask me to go and speak to some groups. And one time they send me out in a farm and I had some pictures then, I don’t know where they’re at. To see how life was on the farm, and tell them what life was on the farm back home. I was like a novelty or something. [laughter]

LP: You said they were not mean though?

CK: No.

LP: No, that’s good. Yea so were they interested, I guess in your heritage from being from Greece? Was it…

CK: Yes, yes a lot. And everybody treats you like a um, well like a novelty. You know a lot of love and inclusion. Yea, very good, very good.

LP: Interesting, yea. My father was the same way because they moved to Indiana, a small town in Indiana, and he was the most ethnic looking person in that town

CK: [laughter]

LP: So, yea I’m sure it was similar.

CK: Yea.

LP: But, more so for you I’m sure back then, and being from, actually from Greece, so. Okay so, again so you were in Mason City to St. Paul and then?

CK: To Mankato.

LP: Okay.

CK: Where we both finished college. We both got bachelors degrees and then he went on for a master’s in biology. And I worked at the hospital there. And then he found a job and eventually I got pregnant with our first son. And then they moved to Thompson, Iowa, a small town where he had a teaching job for three years. Then after that, we moved to Des Moines in ’67, yea.

LP: Okay.

CK: Or ’68, ’67

LP: In Des Moines, do you like in Des Moines or Ames?

CK: I live in Ankeny now

LP: Ankeny, I’m sorry that’s what I meant.

CK: For a year we lived in Des Moines.

LP: Okay.

CK: And then we built a home outside of Ankeny and that’s where we’ve been ever since.

LP: Okay, um so I guess off of that, how is life in Ankeny? How has the community been, living in Ankeny?

CK: Well we live out in the country so at the time, we’re sort of isolated. Uh, now there’s a lot of homes around us because they have built all around us. Life here, it’s not, you don’t get acquainted with everybody. We’re pretty close to some of our neighbors but not everybody, plus a lot of people die, new people moved in. You know, it’s just normal life.

LP: Sure. Let’s see, there’s a couple more things. So, one of the things that kind of also stuck out to me in our last interview was you talking about the American-Greek or Greek-American identity that you have. And how the American part is very strong, being here for so long.

CK: [laughter] Yes.

LP: I guess, if you could speak to some things that may have formed that in you. That kind of strengthened that American part of your identity.

CK: Well, because I went to college here, okay, and you’re exposed to the history of the country. And then I read books about the old West and the frontiers and how people moved to the West and how they started. And that was fascinating for me. For years I read those books, I mean novels or whatever, about how they came and they find a piece of land and they called it homestead or whatever, homesteaders, and started a life from nothing. I was very interested in that and I sort of got integrated into that. And I don’t know much about the history, like the civil war of the country, not much at all. But I was fascinated by the people that first came and moved West and how life started. And that sort of I think helped me to feel like part of it.

LP: Okay, interesting. Okay, and then I guess one of the last things I have here, I mean obviously faith and the church is a huge part of your life.

CK: Ah, yes.

LP: I mean being here now right? In the morning making…

CK: I don’t know if it’s faith is the biggest part.

LP: Okay sure.

CK: Okay, faith has something to do with it, that brings together, but it’s the social part that involves you. And I’m very involved. It isn’t just the liturgical part, okay.

LP: Right.

CK: Here, for, um I don’t know, you just get involved in the life of the church and the functions of the church and the groups of the church and then Ahepa and Daughters and then my husband and I are really involved into all that stuff and so.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: I think that’s more or less that’s the biggest portion besides faith. Because I have gone to some Protestant churches through the years. And I can see more faith there than I see here. I’m not, I mean I shouldn’t be saying these things now. [laughter] Our church is one of the first churches and it’s a lot of ceremonial things, liturgical. Now protestant churches is where they speak about something and then all of, and you may sing some songs and things and you feel good at the end of it. Now here, it’s a different thing all together, but I was brought up into it as a child and that’s something I cannot see without, okay?

LP: Uh huh.

CK: But, I wish my faith in God, I would say was a little more than I have [laughter] and I’m old. I do believe, but I know there’s some people, I believe everything that the church teaches, and my own beliefs, but I know there’s some people much more better than I am. In that respect.

LP: Sure. So yea you said it was, that was also going to be one of my follow-ups there, so I guess how did religion, how was it a part of your life from you’re childhood to, I guess to now.

CK: When a child growing up in Greece at the time, it was one of the biggest parts, religion.

LP: Uh huh.

CK: Because in the Greek Orthodox faith, there is a saint’s holiday almost every day and some of the bigger saints, they have name holidays in Greece like Saint Nicholas, which is December 6th. So everybody goes to church that day if they go, okay. And their celebration for that Saint Demetrious, November, I mean October 26th. Very, very, church was, growing up, it was a very big part of our lives. Very big.

LP: Uh huh, sure.

CK: And we had one church at the village and then the bells outside. And they would ring, they still do, like from how many dings on the bells you knew how far the liturgy had progressed. Well they still do and its good to wake up in the morning and hear the ding ding out there and stuff. Yea it was a big part. The biggest. School and church, yea. And family.

LP: Yea, okay. Um, I mean that’s all I have for questions.

CK: [laughter] okay
LP: Is there any, again I asked you this last time, but I mean is there anything else that you feel like should be included, anything else that I haven’t asked you about that you think I should?

CK: Well one thing, I don’t know if it should be included or not but, I feel lucky that I’m here, especially these days. The way the situation is in Greece, with the economy.

LP: Uh huh, sure.

CK: And that my children are grown here instead of there. Um, nothing more than that. This is a good place to be which we take, you know we take for granted and stuff.

LP: Sure
CK: But, that’s how I feel.
LP: Okay. Yea, that’s all I have then. That’s perfect.

CK: Okay

LP: Thank you, so much once again.

CK: You’re welcome.

LP: This has been great.

CK: If you have any more questions call me and you, we can meet again or whatever.

LP: I think, in terms of interviews, I think this should be enough. But if so, I will let you know. And then, so part of the class, I guess every year there’s like kind of a gathering the teacher puts on, or my professor puts it on.

CK: What course is this one?

LP: It’s the, the class is called Oral Histories.

CK: World Histories?
LP: Oral
CK: Oral

LP: Oral Histories
CK: Oh, okay.
LP: It’s an anthropology course.

CK: Okay.

LP: And the professor, she’s done this, I think years, years past, but every year they get like a little get together, like a gathering after people have kind of, not necessarily like finished-finished, but almost done with the actual project. And so like other people in my class the people they interviewed and talked to will be there as well and we kind of show everybody out projects and there’s food and talking and stuff like that. So, I’m not sure exactly when that will be, but I’ll let you know when that is and you are, of course, more than welcome to come. We would love to have you.

CK: Well, let me know when. Make sure we are here.

LP: Yea, it should be… (Continues conversation about gathering 46:00 – end 47:40 )

Christy Karthan (Home Page)