Konstantinos (“Dino, Gus”) Victor Polizos

He was the sixth of seven children, the second son to Varsamas Nikolaos Polizos and Ourania Konstantinos Fivya. He was named after his maternal grandfather, Konstantinos Fivyas. Before moving to America, he went by the name of “Dino.” After moving to America, everyone called him “Gus.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timeline:

 

May 4

Tuesday

1920

 

Dino was born in his mother’s home in the village of Ano (Upper) Klima on the island of Skopelos, Greece. The two-story home was in his grandmother Kerasia (“Tsitso”) Koutrouli’s family and was part of the dowry provided for his mother’s wedding which took place in July of 1907. The house was later given to Dino’s sister Alexandra as a part of her wedding dowry in 1948. The house was later swapped and owned by his older sister Anthoula. The house suffered extensive damage in the earthquake of April, 1965 and has not been lived in since.

Dino’s mother Ourania (born on Sept. 15, 1883) and her two brothers, Yeoryios and Ioannis, were all born in this house. Dino’s mother Ourania delivered all seven of her children in this house: Kerasia, the first set of twins - Alexandra and a baby boy who died soon afterwards, the second set of twins - Nikolaos and Anthoula, Konstantinos, and Alexandra. His sister Anthoula would later give birth to all three of her children in this house: Ourania, Maria, and Ioanna (“Anna”). In total, thirteen babies were delivered within this house’s walls.

Dino was baptized by Papa Xanthoulis, a priest from the island of Evia who was living in Klima at the time. Papa Xanthoulis would later be bitten by a donkey and die due to complications resulting from his diabetes. His grandson, Rori, would later become the village’s priest.

Dino’s godfather was a police officer from the island of Crete named Foutolakis who had been assigned to work in Skopelos. Foutolakis married a woman from Glossa after living on the island. They moved to Texarkana, AR and later divorced. Dino’s godfather was the first to call him “Dino.” In Skopelos, he is known as only as “Dino”. After his godfather moved to Arkansas, Dino received ten dollars from him through his brother-in-law Konstantinos (“Gus”) Berdanis. Dino and his brother-in-law Gus travelled to Volos and used the money to buy Dino his first suit at the age of nine.

In Greece, the custom was (and still is) that one’s name-day (their patron saint’s feast-day) was the day that friends and family celebrated that individual, similar to the way birthdays are celebrated in America. On this day, family and friends would visit the celebrant’s house to offer good wishes and to be treated to coffee and dessert in the family’s home. This custom was not usually practiced for the younger children of the family. Dino’s patron saint was St. Constantine, whose feast day is celebrated on May 21st. For this reason, Dino did not know his date of birth until he received a passport in 1935 for his trip to America.

Jun. 13

1922

2 yrs old

Dino’s sister Alexandra was born. She was the last of the seven children.

Sept.

  1922

 

Smyrna, Asia Minor falls to the Turks, Hellenic population is ousted from the region forever.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Fire_of_Smyrna

 

1925

5 yrs old

Dino’s father, Varsamas, left for America and stayed for 11 years.

Ourania never left Greece in her lifetime. She worked in the fields and looked after the home in her husband’s absence to help support their family. She also taught Dino about tending to crops and vineyards. Dino would have a lifelong love of plants and gardening as a result of his mother’s influence. (photo)

School

 years

 

6 – 12

yrs old

Dino attended school for six years in a one room schoolhouse. His teacher was Yeoryios Rousseas. After completing all six years offered by his village school, he would not attend middle school (7th and 8th grade) which was located in the town of Glossa. Students who attended middle school would walk the local road to Glossa daily. Dino’s brother Nick did attend middle school. Occasionally, when the weather was bad, he would spend the night with relatives who lived in Glossa. The nearest high schools were located in Skopelos town and on the island of Skiathos. School hours were from 8:30 – 12:00 in the mornings and from 3:00 – 5:00 in the afternoons.

The one-room schoolhouse was located on the second floor of Andonis Christou’s home in Ano Klima. The room had no bathroom and contained a fireplace, a map of Greece, and a Greek flag. In the winter, each student brought one log everyday for the room’s fireplace in order to keep the schoolroom warm. If a student forgot their log, they were sent home to get it. Extra logs were taken home by the schoolteacher. During this time, the school’s enrollment was about 120 students from grades one through six.

Dino was predominately left-handed, but was forced to learn to write with his right hand. The teacher would strike his hand with a ruler every time he saw Dino trying to write left-handed. Since then, Dino remained predominately left-handed in all other activities except for writing.

The children ran home from school every day for lunch. Since Dino’s mother was out of the house working on the fields, the children would feed themselves. Occasionally, lunch was a slice of bread with sugar on it. Sometimes, during the lunch break, Dino would go home in order to take the goats and sheep to graze. From time to time, his mother Ourania would cook tiyanites (fried mini pancakes served with honey) or pitimezi (clumped flour cooked in water with honey on top) for a special breakfast or dinner for all the children. During difficult times, horta (greens which grew wild on the island) were boiled and eaten. The next day’s meal would then consist of the dry, leftover bread dipped into the juices from the cooked horta.

Dino’s mother baked bread in their family’s outdoor oven. This oven was later incorporated into an enclosed kitchen attached to the house. During Easter time, Ourania would bake the special Easter bread and decorate it with walnuts or almonds on top instead of the traditional red egg.

Dino’s family owned two to three chickens from which they collected their eggs. Dino and his sister took these eggs to their grandmother Alexandra’s house for her to cook for them. When preparing broiled fish, Alexandra prepared a special sauce. This sauce was called savoo and consisted of finely cut onions, lemon juice, olive oil, and oregano. Dino later incorporates this sauce into his recipes when he was working in the restaurant business in America. Dino’s family also owned one goat and one sheep. They sold the goat milk during Lent to the village schoolteacher, Yeoryios Rousseas. The milk money was used to buy the Easter lamb for the family.

When Dino was twelve, his family bought a donkey from his great-uncle Kiriakos Fivyas for 700 drachmas. They used the donkey to transport wood and crops from their mountain properties back to their home. The donkey also became like a family pet. When Dino’s future brother-in-law Konstantinos Manolios came back from Pireaus (Athens) with a dog they called Dick, Dick and the donkey became best friends; they went everywhere together. Dick would even ride in the donkey’s saddle when it was empty. When the donkey died and they buried him, Dick did not eat or leave the grave site. After three days, Dick was then found dead, lying on top of the donkey’s grave

Occasionally, Dino served as an altar boy at the church of Ayïi Anaryeri under the village priest Papa Stamouli, whose grandson would later become a priest in Skopelos. There were no altar boy robes. Most of the altar boys were from the lower village (Kato Klima).

The children played games as simple as hide-and-seek or coin flipping (heads or tails). Other games included stacking almonds and knocking them down by flicking another almond at the stack. They made kites out of newspapers and sticks. The glue for the kites was made from flour and water. They also played a game similar to softball and called it triaron, which consisted of hitting a ball with their hands and then running bases. Most of the balls they played with were made from yarn and string.

At Christmas and New Year’s, a few of the boys walked from house to house caroling. The boys first asked permission to sing - “Na ta poume?” (Shall we say them [the carols]?) - at the house doors. These carols, called the Kalanta have been re-taught and passed down since Byzantine times. The children sang verses first about the birth of Christ, then continued with praises for the household, and finally ended their song with verses asking for a generous tip. For their efforts, they were usually given candy or oranges and, occasionally, coins. The oranges were grown locally and maintained in the winter by being wrapped in dried seaweed and stored in the coolest part of the house. Dino remembered singing with his cousin, Kostandinos Fivyas, and future brother-in-law, Angeletos Kostandakis.

On March 25, Greek Independence Day, the village children were required to learn patriotic poems (A tradition still in practice amongst Greeks all over the world to this day…and dreaded by “Greek school” children everywhere). In addition, they learned patriotic songs and performed traditional dances for the village. Dino’s younger sister Alexandra remembered the children parading with candles, from the church in the lower village to the upper village main square. Alexandra also remembered one year when Dino did not want to recite his poem. He left with the donkey and went to the fields. Thinking the program had finished, Dino returned too early and was spotted by his classmates who wasted no time in calling him out to all who were present. Dino was stopped and forced to recite his poem anyway.

Holy Week, the week before Easter, has always been a special time on the Orthodox Christian calendar. It is preceded by the 40 days of Great Lent, which are characterized by strict fasting from meat and (occasionally) dairy and olive oil. Twice daily services occur throughout Holy Week, culminating with the midnight Resurrection Liturgy on Saturday. In Greece, the usual work schedule changed to accommodate the increased focus on church services and activities. Fisherman used this week to paint their boats and women prepared their homes for the Great Feast.  Between services on Holy Thursday, women would dye hardboiled eggs red for Pascha (the Greek word for Easter). Red eggs symbolized Christ’s passion and rebirth in the Orthodox church. These eggs were gathered for forty days and saved for Easter. Friday night’s solemn service was highlighted by a procession in which the entire village, carrying candles and singing hymns, followed the Epitafion (symbolizing Christ’s body and tomb) from the church in the lower village to the upper town square and back. The somber procession symbolized Christ’s funeral. This tradition, which began over 1,000 years ago, is still practiced in every Orthodox Church around the world today. Saturday morning was reserved for baking the tsoureki (sweet Easter bread) and koulourakia (Easter cookies). All baking took place at the village bakery. The men would prepare the lambs for roasting on Easter morning. Roasting an entire lamb (while taking turns hand-turning the spit) could take up to five hours.

The first of May, May Day, was a national holiday. Families went on picnics and flowers were gathered and made into wreaths to be hung over doorways and on boats for good luck. Children raised money to purchase a goat for the school picnic, usually held on Amenopetra Beach. At the picnic, students sang and danced.

Dino learned to swim the way all the boys in the village learned, by holding onto the oars of small fishing boats. In the mid-afternoon heat of the summer, while the adults rested, the boys of the village ran down to the ocean and to jump off the rocks and swim. Since bathing suits did not exist, they all swam in the nude. The girls and young women swam at different beaches in long undergarments that came down to their ankles. Most women, at that time, did not know how to swim.

Occasionally the younger village boys gathered around the fishing boats as the fishermen brought in their catch of the day. The boys scooped up any small fish that fell off of the nets and out of the boats and took them home to eat. The boys would also make a small paragathi (a set of about 15 baited fishing hooks attached to a main line). The paragathi was anchored to a rock close to shore and placed into shallow water. When the boys became older, they worked as hired hands on some of the village fishing boats. Before boat motors existed, the boys rowed for the fishermen too. The boys are compensated by getting a fish or two from the fisherman to take back home and use for making fish soup.

Dino’s brother Nick played with an old-fashioned, powder loaded gun that belonged to his grandfather Nikolaos. He found the gun in his grandmother Alexandra’s home. Nick bought gunpowder from the local store and used this gun to shoot at various targets and birds. Once, Dino discovered that Nick took some money out of Dino’s piggy band in order to purchase the powder. This money had been saved diligently from singing carols and performing small jobs, thus Nick upset Dino quite a bit.

The school teacher also taught the children folk songs. On field trips and school holidays, the children sang these songs to accompany their dancing. This was how they learned traditional Greek songs and dances. Dino later learned “American dancing” when he was 19 years old in Jackson, MS. Dino and his cousin Theo Angelato, who lived in Jackson, went out one night with two girls, who were friends with Theo. One of the girls asked Dino to dance and he tells her that he does not know how, so she offered to teach him. He later learned the jitterbug while serving in the Army in Macon, GA.

 

 

 

Dino learned about farming and gardening from his mother, Ourania (photo).

May 20

  1927

 

Charles Lindbergh completes first trans-Atlantic flight  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Lindbergh

Jul. 29

1927

7 yrs old

Dino’s uncle (his father’s brother) Konstantinos (“Gus”) Nikolaos Pelezo died in car accident in Sunflower County, MS (between Greenwood and Cleveland, MS) at the age of 39.

 

1928

 

Dino’s maternal grandfather, Konstantinos Yeoryios Fivyas, died in Ano Klima.

 

1928

 

Dino’s family built a house as part of his sister Kerasia’s (“Keratso”) wedding dowry.

Sept. 29

1929

9 yrs old

Dino’s oldest sister Kerasia (“Keratso”) married Konstantinos Diamandis Berdanis in her new house (which was part of her dowry) in the village of Ano Klima. In those times, it was permitted to have a wedding in the family’s home. Their koumbaros (or best man) was Ioannis (“John”) Sideris. Dino and his brother Nick, following the local custom, were asked to kiss the stefania (wedding crowns) during the wedding ceremony so that the newlyweds would have male offspring.

Jun. 19

1930

10 yrs old

Dino’s first niece, Ourania (“Nina”) Konstantinos Berdanis, was born in Ano Klima.

 

1930

10 yrs old

Dino had his first taste of wine. His brother-in-law Gus Berdanis returned to Greece from America and offered Dino a glass of wine over dinner. He then asked Dino to walk in a straight line. Dino was very confused about why Gus thought this was so funny. Dino felt a little dizzy but walked the line fine.

Jul. 5

1932

12 yrs old

Dino’s future wife, Kokitsa (“Kiki”) Dimitri Hirra was born in the village of Kato Klima, Skopelos.

Aug.

1933

13 yrs old

While working in the fields one day, Dino began having extreme abdominal pain. The pain was so intense that he almost fell off of his donkey on the way home. The local doctor advised using a heating pad to relieve the pain. A few days later, Dino took the eight hour boat ride to Volos with his mother, Ourania, his sister, Keratso, his aunt, Mariyo Fivyas, and her daughter, Anaryeri. The only mode of transportation in Volos at this time was horse and buggy. He was then taken to Dr. Trihopolos’ clinic on Ermou St. The doctor diagnosed him with appendicitis and the next day, he underwent a four hour operation. Dino stayed in a double room at the clinic for one month. After the surgery, he remembered being very thirsty. His mother Ourania stayed with him for the entire month. George Berdanis and Dino’s future father-in-law Dimitrios Hirras came to visit him in the clinic 18 days after the operation. They help lift him from his bed into a chair for the first time.

Dino’s sister Alexandra remembered that in 1938, she, along with her aunt Eleni Kiriazi Polizos, uncle Haralambos Salpadimos, and Yianoula Karveli all went to Volos because they were complaining about abdominal pains. They still remembered how Dino had “almost died” and they would be taking no chances on their appendixes. Dr. Trihopoulos was happy to remove all four. Alexandra’s mother Ourania stayed with them through their eight day recoveries and the patients returned to the island with no appendixes but with peace of mind. To this day, Alexandra has no idea whether she had appendicitis or not.

 

1934

14 yrs old

Dino helped build his sister Anthoula’s future home next to their sister Keratso’s home (which later became their sister Alexandra’s home). His job consisted of transporting water in 4 gallon buckets to the work site via their donkey, Maítsa, from the village fountain. His mother Ourania, sister Keratso, and other workmen also helped on the house.

Houses were built mostly using local stone and mud. The occasional use of wood for house construction came from local Cyprus trees (which was used for the long beams in the walls and the rafters). Sometime, chestnut wood from Ayio Oros (Mount Athos) was imported for construction purposes. This wood was carried up to the village from the boats on the backs of construction workers. The wooden doors and windows were usually made locally or shipped from Volos.

Nov.

1934

 

Dino’s older brother Nick left for America 11 months before Dino. Nick travelled alone and met a man named Bill Sostis from the island of Patmos on his trip. Bill Sostis was one of the owners of the Splendid Café in Cleveland, MS.

 

 

 

Every fall, beginning in the middle of September and lasting three to four weeks, the family made their own wine from their own grapes in the kadi (grape press) which was located across the street from their house. Dino helped with this and when he arrived in America in 1935, his feet were still stained purple. When stomping grapes that belonged to other villagers, Dino was paid 20 drachmas per day. The stefla, or left-over grape skins, were boiled and distilled in order to make ouzo.

Part of Dino’s day-to-day responsibility was to make sure that there was firewood available for cooking and heat. Before leaving for America, Dino chopped three years’ worth of wood for his mother, thinking that he would return within that time.

 

1935

15 yrs old

Travelled to Athens with his uncle, Apostolos Polizos, to receive his papers and passport for his trip to America. It was then that Dino learned his birth date for the first time while receiving his passport. While there, he stayed with family friends in Pireas. The Polizos family always stayed with these friends on their trips to Athens. Dino and his uncle returned to Skopelos first by train to Halkida, then by boat from Halkida to Volos. From Volos, they took another boat to the port village of Loutraki in Skopelos.

Oct. 14

 Monday

1935

 

Dino left Skopelos for America with his Uncle Ioannis (“John”) Konstantinos Fivgas (photo). Ioannis had gone to America around 1900 and owned a fruit stand in Pensacola, FL. He later moved to Vicksburg, MS and opened a “hamburger place”. Later, he opened a restaurant called Jimmy’s Café in Greenwood, MS, and shortly before his death, he opened the Post Office Café of Hollandale, MS. In between all of his jobs, he served in the US military in France during WWI and he made two trips back to Greece. On his first trip back, he married Maria (“Mariyo”) Konstantaki and started his family. He returned to Greece for the second time in about 1934 to visit his family. On his return to America, Dino travelled with him.

Dino’s mother kept his pigskin slippers next to the fireplace and told him she would see him in three years. He would not return for thirteen years. As his family and a few friends left the upper village, heading towards Loutraki to see Dino onto the boat, they stopped at the village church of Ayïi Anaryeri in Kato Klima to light candles for his safe journey. Leaving the church, Dino saw two little girls, a blond three-year old and her five-year old cousin, Alexandra Berdanis (Kallianou), playing with dolls in front of the Hirras home which was located on the church square. The three-year old, Kokitsa (“Kiki”), became his wife thirteen years later. Dino remembered her blond hair.

After a tearful goodbye, Dino, his uncle John, and Jim Liolios from Glossa all left for Volos at 8 am. The boat travelled at about 7-8 mph and arrived in Volos later that afternoon. Then they took a train from Volos to Athens.

They stayed in a hotel in Pireaus for two days. While there, Dino saw an automobile for the first time and tried to get into the driver’s side of a taxi.

They left Pireaus on October 16 by train which went through Thessaloniki, Greece. They changed trains in Belgrade, part of then-Yugoslavia (present-day capital of Serbia). Their train continued through Venice and Milan, Italy, and into France, arriving in Paris two days later. Their reasoning for travelling by was because of Uncle Ioannis’ fear of Mussolini’s control over Italian waters. Uncle Ioannis had made enough sandwiches for the entire trip. This is the first time Dino ever tasted mustard. Dino “froze to death” in Paris, so his uncle bought him a bluish-grey coat for $15. This coat was later sent to Greece and then returned to America, worn by his younger cousin Pete Fivyas.

They stayed for two days in Paris before leaving by train for the port city of Le Havre, France. They then crossed the English Channel by boat to Southampton, England.

Oct. 23

   Wed.

1935

15 yrs old

They left Southampton, England at 5:00 PM on the R.M.S. Berengaria. The trip would take six days with rough seas (http://www.ocean-liners.com/ships/imperator.asp).

Oct. 29

 Tuesday

1935

 

Dino was always referred to as Gus in America. For the rest of his life in America, by his family and friends, Dino would continue to be called Gus. For this reason, in the remainder of this timeline, he will also be referred to as “Gus,” signifying his defining life transition and move to America.

Gus arrived in New York with an American passport that registered him as Constantine Victor Polyzos. The trip’s total cost, from Athens to New York was $105. While the boat glided into the New York harbor, Gus’s uncle showed him the Statue of Liberty and told him that it was a gift from the French. Gus was an American citizen because his father became an American citizen in about 1906, before Gus’s birth.

Gus’s first meal in America was a hot dog and a root beer. Gus and his uncle John left from Penn Station by train for Memphis, TN, where they arrived at midnight. Gus drank his first cold Coca-Cola on this train ride, which did not excite him due to it being too cold. When they arrived in Memphis, they took a taxi to another train station. They ate at Jim’s Café, a Greek owned café, across the street from the station before leaving on a New Orleans-bound train at 1:00 AM.

Nov. 1

  Friday

1935

 

They finally arrived by train in Cleveland, MS, a 125 mile trip, at 5 AM. Gus ate to the Post Office Café, owned at the time by George and Vasilis Kostantakis and Gus Berdanis. After lunch, he and his brother-in-law Konstantinos (“Gus”) Berdanis and a friend of theirs, George Ballas, drove 42 miles to Hollandale, MS in a Model-T Ford to see his father Varsama for the first time in ten years. (George Ballas, the brother of Mike Ballas, died at the battle of Normandy in 1944). Gus’s father spelled his last name “Polizo,” which remained the family spelling until about 1952 when Gus’s brother Nick was told that “Polizo” was an Italian spelling. The spelling of their name was then changed to Polizos.

Gus worked for three months at the Post Office Café (of Hollandale) (photo) with his father and Paul Collins (who were the two owners) for $15/month. The Post Office Café of Hollandale was established in about 1930 by Paul Collins, Varsamas Polizos, and George Fivyas next to the Post Office of Hollandale, MS. It relocated around the corner to the middle of the main street for a few years and later, in 1937, finally moved down the street to a corner location on the same main street. At its corner location, the restaurant at one time offered curbside services (“car-hops”). In 1932, co-founder George Fivyas, sold his share of the restaurant to Paul and Varsamas and left for Greece. Varsamas sold his share to return to Greece in February of 1936. Paul Collins remained the sole owner until late 1936 when John Fivyas, George’s brother, bought half from him and became his co-owner. Later, John bought Paul’s share for $5,000 and becomes the sole owner. In April 1938, John sold half of the restaurant to Gus and Nick Polizos for $3,500.

Gus was sick with a fever for his entire first week in Hollandale, MS. He and his father were living two blocks from the Post Office Café. His father, Varsamas, owned a cat named Tom that followed him work every morning. His last month there, Gus gave his dad ten dollars to pay for his part of the room’s rent.

In Hollandale, Gus had a private tutor, Ella Mae Keith, who was helping him to learn English. He remembered not being able to tell the difference between a pickle and a cucumber. He would say “pickle”; she would say “cucumber”. Lessons were paid for by the government and were held in her home. He continued to send her Christmas cards with money for many years afterwards.

Several times during Gus’ first months in America, his father Varsamas paid a taxi $2 round-trip to drive Gus the 20 miles to Leland, MS. In Leland, Gus received some overdue dental care previously unavailable to Gus in Skopelos. Gus had to go to Leland because there were no dentists in Hollandale.

Dec. 25

1935

 

Gus’s first Christmas in America was spent in Greenwood, MS. Gus and his father Varsamas went there to visit old friends and distant relatives whom they knew from Skopelos. Gus remembered visiting a local hotel owned by a woman from Skopelos. In one of the hotel’s smoke-filled parlor rooms, a group of men sat and played cards.

Feb. –

  Apr.

1936

 

Gus’s father, Varsamas, sold his share of the Post Office Café of Hollandale to return to Greece. Gus and his father left for Corinth, MS. In Corinth, they met Gus’s brother Nick, who was working at the Splendid Café (which closed in February of 1937) which was owned by John Sideris and their uncle, Ioannis (“John”) Fivyas. Gus remembered that at this restaurant, people came in to “see what a Greek looked like.” Gus’s uncle John told Varsamas to take Gus to Cleveland, MS to stay with Gus’s brother-in-law Gus Berdanis, attend school, and learn English.

Gus and his father went to Cleveland, MS with his father where his brother-in-law, Gus Berdanis, told Varsamas, “He will learn English the same way we all learned - in the kitchen.” Gus’s father left him in Cleveland and returned to Greece. A few days later, Gus received his first shave and haircut for 25 cents. Gus Berdanis and Bill and George Kostantakis owned the Post Office Café (of Cleveland). Gus worked as a bus boy for two months with no pay until the Café closed for remodeling (photo).

Prior to 1930, the Post Office Café was owned by John Fivyas and his brother-in-laws. Gus Berdanis, along with Vasilios Konstantakis and George Ballas bought the Café in 1930. After George Ballas was drafted in 1941, he sold his share. In early 1942 Gus Berdanis sold his share and moved to Montgomery, AL.

May

1936

16 yrs old

Gus moved to Corinth, MS. He worked as a dishwasher at the Splendid Café with his brother Nick until it closed six months later (total pay $90: keeps $30, deposits $60). After the Splendid Café closed, John Syribeys bought and moved all of the restaurant’s equipment to Montgomery, AL to expand his restaurant, the Sheridan Café. Gus remembers the sign outside the Splendid Café with its slogan, “We serve to serve again.” This would also be written on the Sheridan Café’s sign for many years (photo).

While in Corinth, Gus Sideris helped Gus open his first bank account. A total of 60 dollars was deposited into that account. He then forgot the account existed and years later, while living in Montgomery, the bank found him and notified him of the account. Gus withdrew the $60 and bought himself a ring. His son Jimmy now owns this ring.

Nov.

1936

 

Gus moved back to Hollandale, MS. to work at the Post Office Café owned by his uncle John Fivyas who had bought out previous partner, Paul Collins. The hamburgers and pies cost 10 cents each and the Coca-Colas cost 5 cents. A partition and a large coffee machine located in the middle of the food counter divided the restaurant into its black and white seating sections. The black section only had stools along the counter where people could eat. There was no extra space in this section of the restaurant. The white section also had counter seating and included tables and a bathroom as well. The coffee machine had a tap on each side where people from both sides of the restaurant could get coffee. Gus stayed there for three months and worked for 50 cents per day, or $15 per month. When John Sideris asked him if he would like to go to Montgomery, AL to work, Gus moved to Montgomery one week later.

Feb.

1937

 

Gus moved to Montgomery, AL to work at the Sheridan Café, owned by John Sideris (who hired him) and Petro “Pete” Syribeys, for 14 months.

 

1937

 

Gus’s first cousin Vick Fivyas arrived in America. Gus and Vick had been very close cousins in Skopelos and remained close for many years until Vick was bought out of the Riviera Restaurant and moved to Pensacola, FL in 1972 (Vick was bought out for $89,000 and it took three years to finalize the deal while Vick continued to draw from his share of the restaurant’s profits).

 

1937

 

Gus’s brother-in-law Gus Berdanis returned to Greece to bring back his wife Kerasia and their daughter, Ourania.

Oct. 28

1937

17 yrs old

Gus’s oldest sister, Kerasia and seven-year old niece, Ourania (“Nina”), arrived in Clarksdale, MS by train and drove the remaining 40 miles to Cleveland. Kerasia’s koumbara, Kaliope Sideris and her eleven-year old son Gus also travelled with them from Skopelos.

Gus took a week off, with pay, to visit them with Kaliope’s husband, John Sideris.

Apr.

1938

 

Gus returned to Hollandale, MS and later bought half of the Post Office Café with his brother Nick. The other half was still owned by Gus’s uncle, John Fivyas. Gus stayed in Hollandale for 1½ more years. Gus’s cousin Vick Fivyas replaced him at the Sheridan Café in Montgomery. At about this time, Paul Collins was interested in becoming a partner in the Café again but the deal never went through. Because of this, Paul Collins and George Evangelinos, a man from Skopelos, opened another restaurant across the street. Gus would later comment that Paul Collins “was always a snake in the grass.”

 

1938

 

Gus’s sister Keratso had appendicitis and underwent surgery in Memphis, TN.

Jul. 28

1938

18 yrs old

Gus’s older sister Anthoula married Konstantinos Ioannis Manolios in Ano Klima. Their koumbara was their first cousin Ourania (“Nina”) Fivya Christou.

Sept.

1939

19 yrs old

Gus left Hollandale over a disagreement which resulted in his being slapped by his uncle, John Fivyas. He went to Jackson, MS for a month to work with his cousin Theo Angelato. In Jackson, he sold hotdogs for ten cents each.

Oct.

1939

 

Gus returned to Cleveland, MS to work with brother-in-law Gus Berdanis at the Post Office Café (of Cleveland) for six months. He lived with his sister Keratso and her husband Gus while he was there (rent-free). While in Cleveland, Gus saw Gone With the Wind, which became his favorite movie for the rest of his life. The theatre cost 40 or 60 cents, and he went with his uncle Gus. Gus said that the movie started at 3:00 PM and lasted until 6:00 PM and that the all-white theater was full.

May 1

1940

20 yrs old

Gus’s uncle Ioannis (“John”) Fivyas was admitted to the hospital in Greenville, MS. He would never leave the hospital. During this time, Gus’s brother Nick was running the Post Office Café of Hollandale.

May 17

1940

 

Gus’s uncle Ioannis (“John”) Konstantinos Fivyas died of a heart attack in the hospital in Greenville, MS at the age of fifty-two. He was buried in the Greenwood cemetery with military honors, having served in the American Army in WWI. The funeral was conducted by a Greek Orthodox priest. (article)

Gus returns to Hollandale, MS to work in his uncle’s place at the Post Office Café (of Hollandale). At this time, his cousin Vick Fivgas arrived and became the Café’s third partner. Prior to Vick’s arrival, Gus and Nick each owned a half of the restaurant, a total value of about $6,000. After Vick’s arrival, the restaurant was split into thirds, two parts belonging to Gus and Nick respectively and the third sold to their cousin Vick Fivyas.

Oct. 28

1940

 

Greece enters  World War II, the church bells of the island tolled solemnly to inform the people. All contact with America ceases during the war. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Italian_War

Every morning, Gus listened to the radio and heard news of the Italian invasion of Greece from the radio station in New Orleans that broadcasted out of the Roosevelt Hotel.

 

1940

 

Gus’s brother-in-law Konstantinos Manolios was sent to the Albanian border to fight the Italian invaders. He was there from August 1941 until May 1942.

May

1941

21 yrs old

Gus registered for the US military draft.

 

1941

 

A few months later, Gus received draft letter for the US Army.

 

1941

 

Gus reported for his army physical in Hollandale, MS. He was so nervous about the physical that he took five aspirin and said, “it didn’t do any good.”

Oct. 14

1941

 

Gus was drafted. He left Hollandale by bus for Jackson, MS. While in Jackson, Gus stopped to visit Theo Angelato at his hot dog business before changing buses and continuing on to Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, MS.

Gus’s brother Nick volunteered for the US Army / Air Force. He servesd the majority of his time in the Panama Canal and the remainder in Miami, FL.

Gus’s cousin Vick Fivgas joined US Navy in 1943. He was sent to the Pacific front and spent most of his time in Hawaii.

Gus and his brother Nick each sold their shares of the Post Office Café (of Hollandale) to Paul Collins and George Evangelinos for $1500 each. Their cousin and partner Vick Fivyas only received $400 for his share of the restaurant upon his return from the military.

Oct. 15

1941

 

Gus reported to Camp Shelby in Hattiesburgh, MS. He spent one week in basic training, where he received his health check, his immunizations, and was issued his dog tags, before leaving by train for Camp Wheeler in Macon, GA. Gus had never heard of Macon, Georgia before.

Gus’s Army serial number was 34 134 524.

Oct. 23

1941

 

Gus was stationed at Camp Wheeler, eight miles east of Macon, GA for 12-16 weeks of basic training (photo). Gus belonged to the Infantry, 10th Battalion, Company A, Second Platoon (documents). Ten weeks into his basic training, Gus was assigned to kitchen duty and therefore was not required to complete the standard basic training. After basic training, Gus was assigned to kitchen duty as a cook. His schedule was 24 hours on, 48 hours off.

One day, his superior officer called him into the office to inquire as to how a Greek immigrant could be an American citizen? Gus did not have citizenship papers, only an American passport which he did not have with him in Macon. His superior officer questioned Gus’s citizenship, not understanding how Gus obtained his citizenship even though he was born in Greece. As a form of an explanation, Gus offered this anecdote: “If a mother cat has babies in an oven, are they called kittens or biscuits?” The officer’s response was, “I hadn’t thought of that.”

From the base, it cost 10 cents to take the bus into town. The bus ran all night. The USO hosted events for the troops which lasted until 11:30 PM.

Dec. 7

  1941

 

Pearl Harbor: US enters World War II http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

Gus first heard about the attacks while walking down the street in Macon, GA on that Sunday evening. He had never heard of Pearl Harbor and did not know what or where it was.

Dec. 26

1941

21 yrs old

Gus’s uncle Yeoryios (“George”) Fivyas died of pneumonia / TB in Ano Klima at the age of 59 (photo).

Early

1942

22 yrs old

Gus’s brother-in-law, Gus Berdanis, sold his home and business in Cleveland, MS and moved to Montgomery, AL. He then bought the Sheridan Café for $10,000. The Polizos brothers each gave $1,800 towards this purchase. Gus Berdanis also bought his home on Venora Ave. at this time. His wife and daughter had not yet moved to Montgomery.

Gus received a three day pass from his military job and visited Gus Berdanis in Montgomery.

May

1943

 

Gus fractured his neck vertebrae in an Army gymnasium on a trampoline in Camp Wheeler, Macon, Georgia. The injury almost resulted in paralysis. The fracture occurred between the 4th and 5th vertebrae.  Gus spent seven months in a cast in the base hospital. He learned to walk again through physical therapy. The Red Cross sent his sister Kerasia (“Keratso”) a telegram in Montgomery, AL to inform her of his injury.

Dec.

1943

 

Gus took the train to Atlanta where he was picked up by an ambulance from the train station and admitted to Lawson General Army Hospital in Chamblee, GA for further treatment and an operation. Follow-up x-rays showed that the neck was not healing properly. Gus was placed immediately in traction for one week and then operated on by five doctors from 9 AM to 3 PM. Gus spent seven months in Lawson General Army Hospital before he returned to Macon for two to three months (article). He was no longer assigned a work duty. He continued to have some difficulties with eating and sleeping but was screened by the base psychiatrist, who cleared him. Most of Gus’s original battalion was sent to England and later participated in the war in Northern Africa, the invasion of Sicily, and the invasion of Italy. Only 27 of the original 300 returned. Many died of friendly fire due to the fact that they went ashore while the coast was still being bombed by Ally planes and ships.

May

1943

23 yrs old

Gus’s grandmother, Alexandra (“Alexandro”) Angeli Polizou, died in Ano Klima at the age of 94 *.

Nov. 5

1943

 

Gus’s mother, Ourania Konstantinos Fivya Polizou, died of a stroke in Ano Klima at the age of 60 *.

Mar.

1944

 

Gus’s grandmother, Kerasia (“Keratso, Tsitso”) Fivya, died in Ano Klima at the age of 85 yrs*. In her lifetime, she had seen her husband, a daughter-in-law, all three of her children, and two of her grandchildren die.

Jul.

1944

24 yrs old

Gus returned to Camp Wheeler.

Oct. 24

1944

 

Gus was honorably discharged from the Army. His rank was that of Technical Sergeant. He spent a total of 3 years and 10 days in the Army.

Gus saved up $500 while he was in Army and left with a duffle bag full of clothes including 30 pairs of underwear, four pairs of shoes, and two overcoats. He travelled to Atlanta, GA for 2-3 days and spent $55 for a new suit that he bought from a store on Peachtree Street.

Oct. 27

1944

 

Gus returned to Montgomery, AL by train and lived with his sister Keratso’s family for a year. That year, he moved into the Sheridan Café Rooms and lived there for free while he worked in the Café. He worked for six weeks and made $225. The Sheridan was open 24 hours a day.

Jan. 1

1945

 

Gus became a partner of the Sheridan Café after the war by paying each of the existing partners, Gus Berdanis and John Sideris, a lump sum of $2,500. The partners rented the building which included the rooms upstairs, restaurant downstairs, and barber shop next door. They worked there for the next 11 years. The Sheridan was located on the corner of Madison Avenue and Perry Street (photo). It first opened as a hotel with 20 rooms and a soda fountain downstairs. It was named after camp Sheridan, a WWI army base located just North of Montgomery. The hotel was later split, and Pete Syribeys rented ten of the twenty room and converted the soda fountain into a restaurant. The furniture was bought from the Splendid Café in Corinth, MS. When Gus became a partner, the rental fee for the ten rooms and the restaurant was $275 per month. The barber shop next door brought in $35 dollars per month in rent.

For the next three years, Gus worked seven days a week with no days off.

May 7

  1945

 

V-E Day, War ends on European Front

Aug. 14

  1945

 

V-J Day, War ends on Pacific Front

 

1945

25 yrs old

A letter from Greece arrived via England from Hristos Paleologos, who was travelling through England at the time. From the onset of the War, there had not been any news or communication between the Greeks in America and their families and friends. Gus Berdanis received the letter, which included the news of the deaths of Gus’s mother and grandmothers. It was during Gus’s working hours that his brother-in-law walked into the kitchen to tell him the sad news.

 

1946

26 yrs old

Gus bought a piece of property on Flint St. in Montgomery for $800. Only one empty lot separated this property from Gus’s sister Keratso’s house on Venora Ave.

 

1946

 

An Orthodox church was needed in Montgomery to accommodate the growing Greek community. Prior to 1947, they sporadically held services in a rented Episcopal church across from the Sheridan Café. The priest from Birmingham, AL would make the trip to Montgomery for services.

The community was officially founded in 1944 and incorporated under State laws on Feb. 12, 1945. Five days later, their church was officially recognized by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, headed at that time by His Eminence Archbishop Athenagoras. Due to a critical shortage of materials following the end of WWII, the building of the church was delayed until 1947.

Poker games were held every Wednesday and Gus was a regular player. Chris Katechis, a leader in the Montgomery Greek community, would keep half of the pot over the course of two years for the community, allowing them to raise $5,000. On Sunday nights, poker games were held in individual homes. A community barbeque, started by Pete Xides, was first held in 1946 to further raise money for their community. Later, non-Greek members of the community would be invited to attend and over 1,000 plates would be served annually. The annual barbeque was moved to the church facility in 1955/56. Half of the permanent barbeque facilities were built then. The community’s building committee also went to other southeastern Greek Orthodox communities for donations. Further philanthropic work by the young community included a dance which they sponsored in 1946 at the Jeff Davis Hotel. This dance raised $200 for a hospital extension in Athens, Greece.

 

1946

26 yrs old

Gus joined the Montgomery, AL chapter of the AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) Liberty Chapter No. 23. That year, construction began on the Montgomery Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation.

 

1946

 

Gus’s father Varsamas came back to America with his daughter Alexandra on the ship, Marine Carp (http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/m4/marine_carp.htm). They would return to Greece on the same ship. They stayed for 11 months. This was 10 years after Varsamas had left Mississippi for Greece. They arrived in New York City and after visiting other relatives in Washington D.C. and Atlanta, GA, they arrived by train in Montgomery, AL. They stayed with their daughter Kerasia for the majority of their visit. While in Montgomery, Varsamas worked at the Elite Café as well as the Normandy Café.

 

1947

 

The groundbreaking ceremony for Montgomery’s Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation is held with Fr. Phaidon Constantinides of Atlanta, GA presiding.

Sept. 1

 

1947

27 yrs old

Gus’s older brother Nick married Caliope (“Callie”) Nikolaos Moraitakis of Atlanta, GA. Their koumbaros was Nikolaos Mitchell (original name: Amygdalitsis). Gus and Nick’s father, Varsamas and their younger sister, Alexandra were present at the wedding.

Dec. 25

1947

 

The first Divine Liturgy was held in Montgomery’s new Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation with Fr. Emmanuel Vergis presiding.

Gus took a taxi from his restaurant, The Sheridan Café, the 1.5 miles to and from the church for 50 cents. He gave a dollar for his candle and an additional dollar as his offering in the tray passed every Sunday as his way of helping support the church.

Mar.

 

1948

 

Gus travelled back to Skopelos, Greece for the first time since he had left before thirteen years. He purchased the ticket from the Pharos travel agency in New York City, the main travel agency for trips to Greece, and shared a cabin with George Karberis on the ship Nea Hellas. The trip included three stops before reaching Pireaus, Greece - Lisbon, Portugal; Genoa, Italy; and Tripoli, Lybia (http://members.aol.com/neahellas/MemoriesNH.htm) (photo). Gus travelled with a trunk and a footlocker. After the sixteen-day trip, he was met in Pireaus by his future brother-in-law Vasilios Kotsovelos, who was currently a law student in Athens and engaged to Gus’s sister Alexandra. In customs, Gus had a hard time when, after declaring nothing unusual, officials discovered ten pairs of nylon hose packed within his shirts by his sister Keratso. Gus had forgotten about those items which were intended to be given as gifts along with three leather jackets. Both the nylons and the jackets received a steep tax. Nylons were still a rare and expensive commodity in Greece. Gus stayed in Athens at a hotel in Omonia square for at least two days. Upon his arrival in Loutraki, Gus was met by his sister Anthoula and his cousin Nina Christou.

Other family members who also travelled back to Skopelos that year included Gus’s cousin Theo Angelato, George Mitzelliótou (“Mitchell”), Mike Ballas, and Gus Christou. Theo and George both arrived one month before Gus whereas Mike and Gus Christou arrived one month later. All of the men who had returned to Greece were interested primarily in finding wives. All got married on this trip except for Theo Angelato. The two brothers Nick and Alex Dennery also travelled back to Skopelos that year from Mississippi for a visit.

After Gus’ engagement, it was Alex Dennery who told Gus, “It’s smart that you’re marrying someone from here [the village of Klima]. She’ll be able to better understand you [your family, culture, and customs].” Later, Alex was also influential in helping Gus better understand the restaurant business. He was the first to explain food cost to price ratio to Gus. 

Gus arrived in Greece with a ring in his pocket which he had purchased from the Montgomery jeweler, Klein and Sons. During this time period, marriages were traditionally arranged by village matchmakers. Gus received at least three offers. One offer came from the neighboring village of Glossa and included money. Gus turned this offer down, saying that he was not interested in marrying in Glossa. Later, his first cousin, Nina Fivyas Christou and his future sister-in-law, Anna Hirras Berdanis proposed the match between him and his future wife, Kokitsa (‘Kiki”) Dimitrios Hirras. He was told that Kiki was seventeen years old, only to find out later that she was actually sixteen. Gus’s future mother-in-law Magdalene was very nervous about making the decision alone. Her husband, Dimitrios Hirras, was living in the Bahamas at the time. Additionally her brother Konstantinos Ravanos, who lived in Volos, had other aspirations for his niece. Gus’s future father-in-law Dimitrios would later write to Magdalene telling her that she has made the right decision. Dimitrios had heard that Gus had a reputation as being a hard worker from a good family.

Jul. 1

 

1948

28 yrs old

Gus’s younger sister Alexandra married Vasilios Athanasios Kotsovelos on the day of Ayïi Anargeri in the upstairs of her home in the village of Ano Klima. Gus was the koumbaros in their wedding.

Aug. 15

 Sunday

1948

 

A “secret” engagement agreement was made between the Varsamas Polizos and Dimitrios Hirras families. Very few people were told of this agreement. The wedding would be in seven weeks.

The next Monday, Gus travelled to Volos to buy Kiki a cross. He was given a letter by his future mother-in-law to give to her brother, Konstantinos Ravanos, telling him the happy news. Gus handed him the sealed letter and they arranged to meet later that evening. Upon returning to Konstantinos’s home that evening, Gus found the door locked and the lights off as if no one were home.

On Tuesday morning, he returned to Konstantinos’s home to meet with his wife, Nina Ravanos. She was pregnant at the time with her second child Maria. Nina took Gus to a local jeweler and helped him buy a cross that he would give to Kiki as an engagement present.

In the weeks before the wedding, Gus and Kiki would go, together with friends and family, to events, parties, and picnics. The couple was rarely alone before their wedding. A few days after their actual engagement they attended Gus Christou and Vasiliki Papadimitriou’s engagement party. Later, they would go for a picnic at St. John’s “of the Rock” beach.

Aug. 18

   Wed.

1948

 

Gus left Volos the same morning that he bought the cross and arrived on the island that afternoon. That evening was the official engagement announcement between himself and Kiki. Gus walked with her godfather, Ioannis Triakosa and his father, Varsamas Polizos to his fiancé’s home to give her the cross. Ioannis Triakosa’s wife was Magdalene Malamos who was Gus’s mother Ourania’s first cousin. They lived next door to Varsamas. Gus’s sister Anthoula, his first cousin and koumbara-to-be Nina Christou, and his uncle George Salpadimos also walked to the engagement with Gus. The ring would be given at the wedding ceremony. Kiki called Gus “Kosti” and later switched to “Gus” after they moved to America.

Gus’s father Varsamas gave Kiki a British “Lira”, a gold coin, as an engagement gift. About three weeks later, while on a shopping trip to Volos, Kiki has the coin made into Gus’s wedding ring. While in Volos, Kiki had clothes (suits, dresses, and a coat) made for her. Kiki and her mother stayed at her uncle Konstantinos Ravanos’s house and Gus stayed in a local hotel.

Sept.

1948

 

One week later Gus and Kiki attended Gus Christou’s wedding to Vasiliki Papadimitriou in Glossa.

A week after the Christou wedding they attended Kiki’s second cousin Mike Ballas’s engagement to Diomi Liolios in Glossa. The koumbaros for that wedding would be Theo Angelato.

Oct. 10

 Sunday

  2 PM

1948

 

Gus and Kiki are married in the upstairs of his sister Alexandra’s home.

That morning, Gus remembered bathing in the apothiki (storage shed) next door to the house in a large skafida (metal tub) usually reserved for washing clothes. Both sides of the family were preparing for the wedding and the reception, to be held around the neighborhood. Kiki’s mother and sisters decorated the home; they set the tables with special new tablecloths which would be given to the bride and groom and they also made the “wedding bed” with new linens. The bride and groom see each other before the wedding that morning; this was not considered bad luck. In accordance with the local tradition, family and friends bringing cut flowers and platters of local sweets, such as kourambiedes and hamalia (an almond paste), to the home before the wedding. Another tradition was for guests to throw money onto the “marriage bed” both as a gift, and for good luck. Kiki’s wedding dress was a “western” style wedding dress: long and white with a veil. The women who continued to wear the everyday traditional dress of the island were the ones who also wore the traditional Skopelos-style wedding costume, called a stofa. Making a stofa was very labor intensive, which made the costume very expensive to buy. The custom of wearing the traditional island wedding dress had begun to fade about ten years prior to Gus and Kiki’s wedding. Kiki’s dress was sewn in Volos and her veil was borrowed from her koumbara, Nina Fivyas and later returned. Post-WWII Greece was a poor country and expensive additions like wedding veils were borrowed rather than bought. Kiki dressed in Alexandra’s home before the wedding. She remembered the women fixing and setting her hair with water. Gus went to their koumbara Nina Fivyas’s house to escort her to the wedding. She brought the veil with her.

Kiki’s wish was not to have a big wedding; she would have preferred going to a small church. The wedding was held in the small upstairs room of Alexandra’s home. It was crowded, which limited most of those present to immediate family: parents, siblings, and their spouses and children. Other guests overflowed onto the balcony and outdoor patio. Gus’s father Varsamas stood next to him while Kiki’s mother Magdalene stood next to her, since her father Dimitrios was still in America. During the wedding, there were tears of happiness for the couple and tears of sadness for those who were not present.

The officiating village priest was Father Evangelos (“Papa’vagelis”) who lived in Glossa. His son, Dimitrios, would be the next village priest (“Papa Mitso,” who years later would retire and live as a monk in a monastery on Ayio Oros / Mt. Athos). Papa’vagelis was the same priest who baptized Kiki 16 years earlier. During the wedding ceremony, another custom was for the bride and groom to eat honey and walnuts, symbolizing the bitter and the sweet aspects of a marriage. This was done shortly before the “common cup” portion of the ceremony, during which the bride and groom share a drink of wine. The “common cup” remains an integral part of Orthodox weddings today. The honey and walnut tradition was one that is not typically practiced anymore.

The dancing began outside a nearby coffee shop before dinner was served. The bride and groom were escorted there by the musicians. Four local musicians (playing the clarinet, the violin, the bouzouki, and the laouto) play and sing for those dancing. Traditionally, the musicians were not paid by the families. They performed in the middle of the dance floor and anyone who took a turn leading the bride in the traditional kalamatiano line dance would drop money into the musicians’ hat. A kalamatiano is traditionally the first dance played at all Greek weddings and could continue for anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes at a time, with new leaders taking turns every few minutes. When the dancing first began, koumbara Nina Fivya led the bride. The next one to lead the bride was Gus. After Gus, Kiki’s mother Magdalene led her. After dinner, rain sent the party indoors to Alexandra’s home where festivities continued until four or five o’clock in the morning.

Gus hired Konstantinos Dimos to cook for the reception. An outdoor meal of lamb, oven-baked potatoes, salad, feta cheese, olives, and wine was served in their neighborhood with neighbors providing the tables necessary to make the banquet table long enough. The koumbara Nina also brought food. Watermelon and local sweets were served for dessert.

Although Gus did not ask for anything in the wedding agreement, he received everything that had been intended for Kiki’s dowry: a house in Volos, property in the village of Elios, and a few other plots of land near the village of Klima. Kiki’s mother Magdalene paid her sister Maria and some other village women to embroider and knit some decorative home items typical of a wedding dowry (pillow cases, sheets, and tablecloths). Kiki would take these items with her to America.

In order to leave the island during the difficult political climate of the times (post-WWII, civil war Communist guerilla fighting in Greece), a permit was required from the local police precinct (in this case, Glossa). The permit process involved screening those involved for membership in the communist party. This permit was required every time someone travelled to mainland Greece.

One week later, Gus and Kiki left for Athens to arrange the paperwork for their move to America. On the way, they stopped in Halkida, the seat of the region’s Greek Orthodox Metropolis, where they were delayed for a week because their wedding papers were not filed properly by their village priest. In Athens, they stayed for a week in a hotel in Omonia square. They were able to watch the “Oxi Day” parade pass through the square from their hotel balcony. While in Athens, they also went to the Greek State Department to apply for Kiki’s Greek passport. During this screening process, Kiki was questioned about any possible connections with the Communist party, since most Communists were young people. They also visited Gus’s sister Alexandra and her husband Vasilios who were living in Athens and therefore unable to attend the wedding.

On their way back to Skopelos from Halkida, on the boat Kiknos, they met newlyweds Mike Ballas and Diomi Liolios. Mike was Kiki’s second cousin who got married two weeks after Gus and Kiki. Local superstition discouraged newlyweds from attending other weddings during their first year of marriage.

Nov.

1948

28 yrs old

While still in Klima, time was spent each evening in different family homes having dinner and telling stories. Mother-in-law Magdalene and Gus also spent many hours talking together.

Dec.

 

 

About ten inches of snow fell on the island of Skopelos in early December.

Dec. 13

  Monday

1948

 

Gus went to Athens to purchase tickets for him and Kiki to fly to America from the Pharos travel agency. The tickets cost $600 each and 45% of the total price was taxes. While in Athens, he stayed with his sister Alexandra.

Dec. 14

 Tuesday

1948

 

Gus was told by the travel agency to leave Greece before the end of the year so that the “War Bride” rules would still be in effect. These rules allowed Kiki to leave for America with less paperwork; otherwise, it would take at least three months for a Visa to be approved. Brother-in-law Vasilios helped Gus send a telegram to Skopelos to tell Kiki in four words, “Erhome, perilavo, fevyoume Ameriki” (in translation, “I’m coming, getting you, we’re leaving for America.” Meanwhile, in Klima, the process of preparing their clothes for the long trip began (washing, ironing, folding, etc.).

Dec. 15

   Wed.

1948

 

Gus left Athens for Volos.

Dec. 16

Thursday

1948

 

Gus travelled on Stamatios Skiathitis’s boat en route from Volos to Thessaloniki. Stamatios dropped Gus off in Skiathos and did not charge him for the ride. In Skiathos, Stamatios introduced Gus to two brothers from Skopelos town who would be returning to Skopelos. The brothers agreed to take Gus with them.

Dec. 17

   Friday

1948

 

Gus arrived by boat in Loutraki later that afternoon during a terrible storm. The seas were so bad that Gus thought he would drown. He later recalled that the storm had him contemplating how far he had come and along with visions of his not making it home.

Kiki had already packed all of her things in a trunk for the trip. Half of the trunk had Gus’s sister, Keratso’s things that she had asked Gus to bring back with him to America. The other half had Kiki’s things.

Dec. 18

 Saturday

1948

 

On this rainy and cold Saturday morning, Gus and Kiki said their goodbyes to their Skopelos families, parents, sisters, and friends. Kiki’s mother Magdalene cried that day as she had been ever since learning the news of their quick departure. Kiki told her mother that she would send her father Dimitrios back to Greece soon and also promised to return soon to visit.

They left the island for Volos on Gus’s brother-in-law, Konstantinos Manolios’s boat, the Skilitsa. No other boats were traveling to the mainland that day. On the boat with them were Gus’s sister Anthoula and a hired boat employee, Yeoryios Morrís. In addition to the trunk, Gus’s father Varsamas put rocks in the bottom of the boat to secure it. The trip took 7-8 hours. On the boat, Gus told his sister Anthoula that he and Kiki were expecting their first child. No one else on the island knew this. Gus had learned the news shortly before they left and Kiki had asked him not to tell anyone.

The boat made its stop on the island of Skiathos after lunch and Anthoula remained there for “work” purposes. The boat arrived in Volos that evening and Gus and Kiki had dinner. They invited Konstantinos Manolios to join them, but he brusquely refused.

Later that evening, Gus put their trunk on a train bound for Pireaus. The trunk would be sent by boat to America with George Mitzelliótou (“Mitchell”) who was also returning to America. The trunk would eventually be opened by customs officials in Birmingham, AL.

Dec. 19

  Sunday

1948

28 yrs old

After midnight, Gus and Kiki took the boat, Kiknos, from Volos to Halkida where they arrived the next morning. From Halkida, they took a train to Athens. While in Athens, they stayed in a hotel in Omonia Square. During this time, they visited Gus’s sister Alexandra for dinner.

Dec. 24

   Friday

1948

 

They left Athens’ Ellinikon Airport on a TWA flight for New York City. At the time, Kiki was two months pregnant. Their flight left at 6:00 pm and made five different stops in Rome, Zurich, Paris, Shannon, and Newfoundland before finally arriving in New York City on December 25th at   8:00 pm.

They stay two nights in New York City and visit Rockefeller Center while they there. The weather was rainy and cold.

Dec. 27

1948

 

They left New York by train and arrived in Atlanta at 10:00 am the next day. They were met at the train station by Gus’s brother Nick and were taken to his home for a short visit. This was the first time that Kiki met Nick and his wife Cali. Gus and Kiki left Atlanta by train that same afternoon.

Dec. 28

1948

 

They arrivedby train in Montgomery, AL around 4:00 or 5:00 pm. Lots of relatives came to the train station to meet them including Kiki’s father Dimitrios, Gus’s sister Keratso, her husband Gus Berdanis, and their daughter Nina. Kiki met these members of Gus’s family for the first time. Kiki’s second cousin and future in-law, Pete Mitchell and his wife Lucile were also present and give Kiki a silver dollar and a bouquet of flowers.

Gus and Kiki lived with Keratso in her home at 100 Vonora Ave. in Montgomery, AL for six months.

 

1948

 

Gus and Kiki were members of the Greek Orthodox Chuch of the Annunciation of Montgomery, 7 AL since their arrival in 1948.

Dec. 31

1948

 

Gus and Kiki attended their first party together, a New Year’s Eve party at the church’s new hall. After the dance, they went to the Sheridan Café for breakfast. Happy 1949!

Gus resumed working as a partner at the Sheridan Café on Jan. 1. He walked to work daily, which was 1.3 miles from the house.

Feb.

1949

 

Gus began building his house on Flint St. in Montgomery. The construction would take 4-5 months.

Jul. 9

1949

29 yrs old

Gus and Kiki moved into their first home, two houses down from sister Kerasia’s house, on 1425 Flint St. in Montgomery, 7 AL. Gus bought the house’s furniture with his sister Keratso while his wife Kiki, who was 8 months pregnant, stayed home. Gus’s brother-in-law Gus Berdanis loaned him $4,000 to help him build the house. Gus Berdanis made Kiki co-sign the loan. They lived there for 18 years.

A house-warming party was held before the birth of their first child on July 23.

Jul. 23

1949

 

Gus and Kiki’s first child, Victor Gus Polizo, was born at The Professional Center in Montgomery. He was delivered by Dr. Nace Cohen and was said to have come so fast that “he was almost born in the elevator”.

Dr. Cohen’s parents were both Jewish and were born on the island of Rhodes, a fact that he was very proud of. His family members who had remained in Greece were killed during the Holocaust of WWII.

Feb. 5

1950

 

Gus’s son Victor was baptized at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Montgomery. His godmother was his first cousin Nina Berdanis. Fr. Emmanuel Vergis performed the sacrament. The reception was held at the brand new community center next to the church.

Aug. 14

1950

30 yrs old

Gus’s second child, Dimitri (“Jimmy”) Gus Polizo was born at The Professional Center in Montgomery. He was also delivered by Dr. Nace Cohen. Dimitri was baptized in 1951 at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Montgomery. His godparents were Chris and Ann Katiches. Fr. Emmanuel Vergis performed the sacrament. The reception was held at their home.

 

1951

 

Gus bought his first car, a Buick at the cost of $2,300 (photo). He paid half on the spot and the other half in payments. At the time, Gus did not know how to drive very well. He learned by taking lessons at a local driving school.

 

1952

32 yrs old

Gus’s brother Nick came to Montgomery from Atlanta to live with Gus for three to four months while working with Vick Fivyas at the Azalea Manor restaurant and until he bought his own house and brought his family to Montgomery. Nick Mitchell owned one third of the Azalea Manor but spent most of his time away from the restaurant working as a wine distributor.

Nick attended classes at Georgia State University while in Atlanta and was told by a Greek-American professor there that his last name, spelled “Polizo”, could be easily confused for an Italian last name. Greek last names were spelled with an “s” on the end. Therefore, in the early 1950’s, Nick, Gus, and their immediate family members all changed the official spellings of their last names from “Polizo” to “Polizos”.

Gus bought property for a future restaurant on 3085 Mobile Hwy. The total cost of the property was $24,000. Vick Fivyas paid $8,000 and Gus paid the remaining $16,000. Gus’s brother Nick would later pay Gus $8,000 for a 1/3 share of the property. This would be the future site of the Rivera Restaurant.

Aug. 22

1955

35 yrs old

Gus amended the birth certificates of his two children Victor and Dimitri to include an “s,” officially making their last names “Polizos”.

Sept.

1955

 

Gus’s son Victor began 1st grade at Capital Heights Elementary School. Kiki walked him the five blocks to and from school for the first six weeks. After that, he walked alone.

Fall

1955

 

Gus’s father Varsamas arrived from Greece for a 1½ year visit.

Dec.

  1955

 

Roza Parks refuses to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, sparking the Montgomery bus strike. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montgomery_Bus_Boycott

Dec. 5

1955

 

After years of planning and months of building, Gus, his brother Nick, and their cousin Vick Fivyas opened The Riviera Restaurant and Monte Carlo Lounge (photo). The restaurant was located on 3085 Mobile Hwy, a major highway to Florida, and was between two motels, the Continental and the St. Francis (its phone number was 205-262-2713). The night before the grand opening, Gus, Nick, and their father Varsamas ate the restaurant’s first meal: Spanish Mackerel. Varsamas helped part-time in the restaurant by chopping lettuce and doing other small jobs in the kitchen. (photo)

The Monte Carlo Lounge was a piano bar that provided nightly entertainment. Behind the lounge was a small private dining room. The lounge was later expanded to take up more of the private dining room’s space and included a dance floor. The entertainers were usually local with occasional regional entertainers who were booked for 1-2 weeks and advertised around the city in the newspaper. After the lounge’s expansion, a private dining room was built on the other side of the restaurant. The private room could accommodate up to 120 people.

For years, the restaurant served local businessmen, local and state political leaders, state governors, and US and foreign officers from the Maxwell Air Force base NATO officer training center. The list of dignitaries includes General Doolittle, Gov. “Big Jim” Folsom, Gov. John Patterson, and Gov. George Wallace. The diverse menu was compiled from ideas and experiences had at other restaurants and included options as Chicken Chow Mein, spaghetti and meat-sauce, steaks, and fresh seafood. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served daily. Some of the restaurant’s dessert items included coconut, chocolate, and butterscotch pies all made fresh at the restaurant, shortcakes, cherry tarts, and multiple flavors of ice-cream.

After the I-85 and I-65 were built, the restaurant and both motels experienced a noticeable drop in their businesses and eventually had to close their doors.

Gus was a 1/3 owner of The Riviera for 24 years.

 

1956

36 yrs old

Construction began to enlarge the family’s home on Flint St., doubling its size. The construction added a third bedroom, a bathroom, a family room, and a basement beneath these new rooms.

Aug. 3

1956

 

Daughter Magdalene Gus Polizos was born at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Montgomery. She was also delivered by Dr. Nace Cohen. Magdalene was baptized in 1957 at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Montgomery. Her godparents were her second cousins Theo and Mary Angelato. Fr. Giannakakis (Gaines) performed the sacrament.

Jan. 14

1958

37 yrs old

Gus was koumbaros in the wedding of Pete and Maria Caras in Montgomery.

Apr. 30

1960

39 yrs old

Gus baptized Lia Caras, the daughter of Pete and Maria Caras, in Montgomery.

May

1960

 

Gus’s wife Kiki and children Victor, Jimmy, and Magdalene visit Greece for four months. This was Kiki’s first trip back to Greece following her wedding in 1948. Her father Dimitrios met Kiki and the children at the boat dock in Pireas and they spent a few days together in Athens seeing the city and visiting the Acropolis (photo). Their round-trip boat ride was on the Greek ocean liner TSS Olympia (http://www.ssmaritime.com/olympia0.htm).

early 1960s

 

One night, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Gus was invited by his best friend Mike Miaoulis for a drink at Mike’s restaurant The Seven Seas, which was located downtown next to the Montgomery Greyhound bus station. As he walked into the restaurant, Gus noticed that there were no customers present and that every table had a “reserved” sign on it. Reserved signs were typically used by establishments so that they could serve only those they wanted. After a few minutes spent talking with Mike, Gus asked him why there were no customers. The always humorous Mike then told Gus, with a smile on his face, that his restaurant had received a “bomb threat” that night and he did not want to die alone. Gus then asked Mike to pour him a second drink. Gus and Mike would share this true story with others for years to come.

May 17

1964

44 yrs old

Gus was koumbaros in the wedding of Charles and Harriett Kambouris in Birmingham, AL.

Jun. 7

1964

 

Gus was koumbaros in the wedding of George and Georgia Scapin in Clarksdale, MS. His wife Kiki later baptized their son, “Johnnie,” in Pensacola, FL.

Mar. 24

  1965

 

Selma to Montgomery civil rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. passes in front of the Riviera Restnt. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selma_to_Montgomery_marches

Jul. 24

1965

45 yrs old

Gus travelled to Greece for his second visit (since first leaving for America) with his son Victor and Kiki’s second cousins, Nick and Anthoula Mitchell, for a six week vacation. They met up with Kiki and the other two children there. His previous trip to Greece, during which he was married, was in 1948. This trip, as well as all future trips to Greece, would be by jet airplane.

Aug.

1965

 

A few days after President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, two black men walked into the front door of the Riviera Restaurant. Although the owners had discussed this possibility with the restaurant staff, the waitress at the door “froze” and went to tell Gus about the customers at the door. Gus walked over to them and they asked to see a menu. They ordered sandwiches to-go. Later, Gus recalled that this was probably a test to see which restaurants were in compliance with the new Civil Rights law. Prior to this law all blacks, employees and those looking for work, entered the restaurant through the back door.

Apr. 17

1966

 

Gus baptized Maria Kambouris, the daughter of Charles and Harriett Kambouris, in Montgomery.

Feb. 7

1967

46 yrs old

Dale’s Penthouse restaurant fire in Montgomery killed twenty-five people, including Kiki’s second cousin Nick Mitchell and his wife Anthoula. A business-related fallout between Nick and Gus had caused the two families to drift apart. It was because of this that Gus and Kiki were not present at the restaurant that evening. Both Kiki and Nick Mitchell were koumbari along with the owner of Dale’s John English, who survived the fire. http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/specialreports/175anniversary/dalesexcerpt.htm

May

1967

47 yrs old

Gus’s son Victor graduated from Robert E. Lee High School.

Dec.

1967

 

Gus and Kiki bought property, built a housee, and moved to 615 Marlborough St., Montgomery, AL 36109 (their new phone number was 272-8837). That year, Christmas was celebrated at the new home with the entire family.

May

1968

48 yrs old

Gus’s son Dimitri graduated from Robert E. Lee High School.

Jun. 1

1969

49 yrs old

Gus’s sister-in-law Anna died in an Athens hospital at the age of 48 of rheumatic heart disease.

Jul. 20

  1969

 

Neil Armstrong walks on the Moon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11

Aug.

1969

 

Gus travelled to Greece for two weeks and surprised his wife and children, Victor and Magdalene, who were already there. He spent time visiting with his father and his in-laws, not knowing it would be the last time.

Sept.

1969

 

Gus was admitted to a Montgomery hospital upon his return from Greece and was diagnosed with stomach ulcers.

Oct.

1969

 

Gus’s son Victor left for medical school in Athens, Greece.

Sept. 13

1970

50 yrs old

Gus’s father Varsamas died of old age in a Volos nursing home at the age of 93.

Oct. 9

1973

 

Gus’s mother-in-law Magdalene Dimitrios Hirra died of stroke in a Volos hospital at the age of 75. Gus’s wife Kiki went to Greece to attend the funeral.

Oct. 10

1973

53 yrs old

Gus and Kiki celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.

May 29

1974

54 yrs old

Gus’s daughter Magdalene graduated from Robert E. Lee High School.

Apr. 14

1975

 

Gus’s father-in-law Dimitrios Stamatios Hirras died of old age in a nursing home in the city of Larissa at the age of 82.

Mar. 28

1976

55 yrs old

Gus’s brother-in-law Konstantinos Manolios died in Mobile, AL at the age of 64. He was buried in the Greenwood cemetery in Montgomery, AL. Gus and Nick paid the burial expenses.

May 29

1977

57 yrs old

Gus’s daughter Magdalene married Alex Ioannis Calambakas in Montgomery, AL. Their koumbaros was Fred Goodson, of Slidell, LA.

Aug. 28

1977

 

Gus’s son Dimitri married Barbara Pete Mitchell in Charlottesville, VA. Their koumbaros was Johnny Economy of Atlanta, GA.

Jul. 24

1979

59 yrs old

Gus’s first grandchild, Kiki Dimitri Polizos, was born in Montgomery, AL. She was delivered by Dr. Nace Cohen, the same doctor who delivered her mother, father, aunt Magdalene, and uncle Victor.

Oct. / Nov.

1979

 

Gus left the Riviera Restaurant with his brother Nick. Gus bought Mr. G’s Restaurant for $10,000 from its previous owners, Mr. Ginsburg and Ms. Fienstein. The Riviera Restaurant permanently closes its doors in December of that year. Gus owned Mr. G’s with his daughter Magdalene and son-in-law Alexfor six years.

Eight years after leaving the Riviera restaurant without asking for any buyout, Gus’s brother Nick gave him $1,800.

May 14

1981

61 yrs old

Gus’s granddaughter Constance A. Calambakis was born in Montgomery, AL. She was also delivered by Dr. Nace Cohen.

Jun.

1981

 

Gus’s son Victor finished his residency in New York and moved to Birmingham, AL for a two-year fellowship in adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital.

Jan.

1983

62 yrs old

Gus underwent back surgery at the University Hospital in Birmingham, AL.

May 16

1983

63 yrs old

Gus’s grandson Pete Dimitri Polizos was born in Montgomery, AL.

Oct. 1

1983

 

Gus’s son, Victor married Christina Kleomenis Kliossis in Atlanta, GA. Their koumbaros was Anthony (“Tony”) Alexander of Atlanta, GA. After the wedding, the couple moved to Brooklyn, New York.

Oct. 2

1984

64 yrs old

Gus’s granddaughter Georgea Victoria Polizos was born in Brooklyn, NY.

 

1985

65 yrs old

Gus sold Mr. G’s restaurant and together with his daughter and son-in-law, bought The Pub, located inside the Montgomery Mall. 49% of The Pub was owned by Gus’ daughter and 51% by his son-in-law Alex.

Summer

1985

 

Gus’s wife Kiki travelled to Greece.

Sept.

1985

 

Gus’s son Dimitri sold his restaurant, Branagon’s, at St. Margaret’s hospital to his sister Magdalene and moved to Daytona Beach, FL. Magdalene owned Branagon’s for 12½ years.

Apr. 30

1986

65 yrs old

Grandson Constantine Victor Polizos was born in Atlanta, GA.

Apr. 19

1988

67 yrs old

Grandson Constantine Dimitri Polizos was born in Daytona Beach, FL.

Oct. 10th

1988

68 yrs old

Gus’s children threw a surprise 40th wedding Anniversary dinner for them in Atlanta, GA. Their children rented them a limousine for the evening.

Mar. 4

1990

70 yrs old

Gus’s family threw him a surprise 70th birthday party at his son Victor’s home in Atlanta, GA.

~~

1991

71 yrs old

After YEARS of celebrating Gus’s birthday on March 4th, Gus asked his family to change the celebration to his “real” birthday date, May 4th. This caused confusion and resistance. No one could explain why May 4th was not used from the beginning. The new date, May 4th, was confirmed by his Army papers and passport as his real birthday. This confirmation did not help to end the family’s protest that persisted for a few more years.

Jul. 18

1996

76 yrs old

Gus’s son Victor ran the Olympic Torch in front of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Atlanta, GA, the day before the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.

 

1998

78 yrs old

George Fivyas sold ½ of his restauraunt, The Capital Grill in Montgomery, to Gus’s son Dimitri for $135,000. Gus loaned Dimitri $35,000, which he is paid back in five years.

Oct. 9th

1998

 

Gus’s family threw him and Kiki a surprise 50th wedding anniversary party at the Sahara Restaurant in Montgomery, AL.

 

2000

80 yrs old

Gus’s daughter Magdalene closed Branagon’s forever and bought George Fivyas’s half of The Capital Grill with Gus. Magdalene later bought Gus’s share and was Dimitri’s partner at “The Grill”. George continued to own the building (the restaurant and the pawn shop next door) and collect rent.

Jan.

2002

81 yrs old

Gus underwent heart bypass surgery at the Baptist Hospital in Montgomery, AL

Jul.

2002

82 yrs old

Gus’s wife Kiki turned 70. Their family got together for a special dinner at the Kyma restaurant in Atlanta, GA.

Dec.

2003

83 yrs old

Gus’s daughter Magdalene graduated from Culinary School in Montgomery. The graduation had been postponed a semester due to Gus’s bypass surgery. The school was the same building as The Riviera Restaurant.

Summer

2004

84 yrs old

Gus travelled to Greece with wife Kiki for their summer vacation.

Oct.

2004

 

Gus’s son Dimitri was elected county commissioner for Montgomery county.

Nov. 12

2005

85 yrs old

Gus attended the wedding of his first grandchild Kiki to Nikolaos (“Nick”) Stefanos Kipreos in Richmond, VA. Their koumbaros was the groom’s brother Mike Kipreos of Richmond, VA.

Oct. 27

2005

 

Gus’s brother Nick died in Montgomery, AL at the age of 87.

Jun.

2006

86 yrs old

Gus travelled to Greece with wife Kiki for their summer vacation.

Jun. 5

2006

 

Gus’s sister Kerasia (“Keratso”) died in Montgomery, AL at the age of 97. Gus and Kiki were not present at her funeral. They said a tearful goodbye to her before leaving for Greece days before her death.

Dec. 20

2006

 

Gus’s koumbara and first cousin Ourania (“Nina”) Fivgas Christou died in Montgomery, AL at the age of 86.

Jul. 7

2007

87 yrs old

Gus’s daughter Magdalene hosted a 75th birthday party for his wife, Kiki.

Jul. 14

2007

 

Gus attended the wedding of his grandson Pete to Ashli Kay Chaffin in Birmingham, AL. Their koumbaros was Pete’s brother Dean Polizos.

Oct. 10

2008

88 yrs old

Gus and Kiki celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a family dinner at their daughter Magdalene’s house. Family and friends sent over 60 cards and 12 flower arrangements to the house.

Oct. 19

2008

 

Gus’s first great-grandchild, Eleni Maria Kipreos, was born to granddaughter Kiki Kipreos in Richmond, VA.

Nov. 3

2008

 

Gus’s sister Anthoula died in Athens, Greece at the age of 90.

Aug.

2008

 

Gus’s son Dimitri sold his half of The Capitol Grill to Magdalene who then became the Grill’s sole owner.

Nov. 11

2008

 

Gus’s son Dimitri opened a new restaurant in Montgomery, AL. He named it Mr. G’s.

May 5

2009

89 yrs old

Gus’s second great-grandchild, James Pete Polizos, was born to grandson Pete Polizos in Birmingham, AL.

 

To Be Continued…

 

Gus Polizos on his 80th birthday, he just celebrated his 89th

 

Gus is always determined to stand on principal and to do the “right thing”. He loves his ancestry and his homeland as well as his adopted homeland of America and its reward of “hard work paying off.” He loves family and friends, Alabama football, the Olympic Games, working the yard and garden (his favorite fertilizer is 8-8-8), Greek music, dancing (Greek and American), jokes, good food, his seafood sauce (“Mr. Gus’ Sauce”), his morning paper, John Wayne movies, and his pet cats. Gus is also a “mean” checker player. His favorite singer is a Greek named Nikos Gounaris who sang romantic Greek songs.

 

As of August 5, 2009

 

Note: In the process of researching the genealogy of the Polizos family in America, we found Polizos also spelled as ‘Polizo or Pelezos.’ One branch of the family changed their name to Jackson. Other Polizos families in America not related to us, with the same Greek spelling, spell their last name, ‘Polyzos.’

 

Varsamas’s name is spelled ‘Valsama’ by his grandsons Vic and Victor in America.