CITY OF ALTOONA, PENNSYLVANIA
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
JOHN J. MCMURRAY
NOVEMBER 23, 1933
To Our Citizens: -
It is most proper to commemorate an event whose threads find a fitting
place in the development of our city's history.
The seventy Greek families scattered throughout our city will observe the
35th anniversary of their permanent settlement. These families are
comprised of four hundred men, women and children, two hundred of whom are
naturalized citizens of the United States. No where will you find more
loyal, more faithful or more law abiding citizens, and as good citizens,
they have always been more than ready to do their share in any movement
undertaken for the good of the city.
But always towering above this small group is the pioneer or them all - a
man of the highest spirit and one who has just cause to be proud of the
splendid record he has made for himself. I refer to Mr. A. N. Notopoulos.
In 1896 Mr. Notopoulos seeking a suitable place to permanently locate,
visited Altoona. He remained here only long enough to look the city over
and then left for Chicago, where he spent the following two years,
returning to Altoona in 1898. He rented a small store room on Eleventh
Avenue next to the old First National Bank building and opened a small hat
cleaning establishment. Mr. Notopoulos was not content to remain long in
this business but was eager for advancement.
From this small beginning he has progressed steadily until today is the
owner of eight theatres, three being located in Altoona and five in nearby
towns. In these theatres he employs over one hundred persons with an
approximate annual payroll of seventy-thousand dollars. Today Mr.
Notopoulos is one of the largest taxpayers in our city.
Mr. Notopoulos has also been active in the religious life of our city and
in 1918 was instrumental in organizing The Holy Trinity Church of the
Greek Orthodox faith.
On August 29th, 1903, Mr. Notopoulos was united in marriage with Miss
Helen Vaveris at Tripolis, Greece. To this union seven sons were born who
show promise of following in the footsteps of their father.
It is my hope that our Greek population of which we are so proud, will
continue to prosper and retain the high ideals of their race.
JOHN J. McMURRAY, Mayor.
Historical Sketch of Altoona's Greek Community
NESTLED among the picturesque hills and plains of the Allegheny Ranges
Altoona spreads herself contentedly like a queen in her own right. She is
well satisfied with her natural landscaped beauties - the blue lakes, the
dreamland caves, and rhododendron embroidered woods and forests, with
which this fascinating metropolis of Central Pennsylvania surrounds
herself. To a weary traveler she unfolds a soul-restoring sight. As the
giant moguls of the great Pennsylvania System clatter through her echoing
valleys, they never fail to acclaim her affectionately with throaty blasts
as their queen mother - the mother to whose ample bosom they will
eventually repair from a bewildering busy life for recouperation.
Roaming in and out the many caverns that dot Altoona's royal skirts you
dream of an invisible realm in a world of substance, and your breath flows
and ebbs like that of a wholly contented disembodied spirit. Boat ahoy!
Jump in over the gunwale and row through Penn's Cave with an otherwordly
exaltation. History here records in Indian relics of the time when the
aborigins must have sought to communicate with their Great Spirit in the
vaults of the Indian Cave. Such a maze of wonders! Veiled Lady and Hipple
Caves are nearby, so are Woodward and Alexander caverns - names as
romantic as the caverns themselves are, and as fanciful as one's imagining
powers can reach. White pine, hemlock and wild cherry among blooming
rhododendrons lift their mighty trunks skyward, and in raising your eyes
to measure their tops you see God revealing His glory. Offer your litany
with the words of the Psalmist, for you are standing in the holy of
holies, amid the majesty of silence and the beauty of His living
handiwork. Where else can you find the like of the famous, steel-bound
Horse Shoe Curve? Right there. It is Altoona's brimful cup and the P. R.
R. passenger's breathtaking delight.
Add upon this paean the sweetly reverberating sound of Altoona's name. It
sounds like an Open Sesame to me, and at once conjures before my
hypnotized eyes a magic scene from the book of Al Raschid. Altoona! In an
Oriental's mind the sound instantly associates itself with gold. Altoona:
-altun-gold; Altoona, the Golden City - Behold the charm!
Of course, to a Greek immigrant fresh from the ancient landmarks of
historic Greece, these details were not known as yet. But Anastasius N.
Notopoulos, like a beauty-loving Greek, could not help noticing the beauty
of Altoona's environing timbered hills and the enlivening breath of the
city's high altitude. He felt its surge and his blood quickened, for on
his way to Chicago, whither he was bound, his train had stopped in Altoona
and he was fascinated. This was in 1896.
This impression he carried with him to Chicago, and it was to be a
lasting, ever-occurring thought. Chicago. After quaffing Altoona's natural
charms, the great wind-blast city of the prairies had no allurement for
him. But for two years Anast N. Notopoulos, a practical minded man, stuck
to Chicago and started his business career in America, merchandising
fruits and vegetables.
He made good at this trade, for it is the distinguishing quality of Anast
N. Notopoulos to marshall the best there is in him to whatever occupation
he wants to apply his native ability and business acumen. From an early
age this sturdy theatre magnate had convinced himself that hard work was
the only road to success. Like Andrew Carnegie he believed success was
ninety-nine per cent of perspiration and only one per cent of - I forget
what it was. But whatever it could have been, beside this mountain of
steady work it could have been nothing else but a mouse.
Mr. Anast N. Notopoulos had fallen in love with Altoona at first sight,
and absence made the heart grow fonder. So, two years after, in 1898, he
boarded train back here. He heard the noise of the hammers in the
workshops and saw iron-horses filling the roundhouses. Business was
thriving - people were rolling in clover, so to say. There was no biting
wind here, no storm-lashed lake; no thousand-deviled elevated trains to
crash on one's head, if at all. Here reigned peace and plenty. Hither came
puffing black engines like wounded soldiers of thousand battles from all
over the System's great network. Gold tinkled with silver in pay
envelopes. He observed the broad smile and the sparkle in every business
man's eye - especially on pay days . . . Good! It was the promised land of
Canaan flowing with gold and silver - and Mr. Notopoulos there and then
decided to make Altoona his home.
With all that, however, Notopoulos, level-headed and calculating, did not
rush at it full tilt, as if he were staking a claim for a gold mine. He
studied his grounds carefully and figured his possibilities. And the
outcome of it was that he rented a small vacant store, fitted it as a
hat-cleaning parlor, and handing its management over to a friend, he
returned to Chicago - for a bird in hand was worth five in the bush. At
any rate, he established his contact; he could go and come at intervals
and thus establish a more solid foothold.
So, after two years of careful trial, A. N. Notopoulos finally decided to
move to Altoona permanently as he did in 1900, just the beginning of the
In order to succeed and grow from a small beginning one must have a great
deal of patience, tenacity of purpose, diligence, and, of course, business
ability. A sagacious man is naturally gifted with ability to carry out
whatever he undertakes; instinct and prudence guide his hand; he seldom
fails, especially when he measures before he jumps. The mark that Mr.
Notopoulos' steady climb from hat-cleaning to a man owning and
successfully operating eight splendid motion picture theatres - three in
Altoona and five in nearby cities. It is some achievement, we must grant,
for an immigrant youth who arrived in America thirty-seven years ago with
a capital of a few dollars and half-a-dozen English words; it is
Early to bed, early to rise, and in two years Anastasius surprised those
who were watching him. He was strict with himself as he was strict with
his men. He demanded a full measure of loyalty and commensurate work. He
set himself as an example and measured conduct with the Golden Rule. So,
little by little, Mr. Notopoulos became the owner of more than one such
parlors. In 1902 he went to Lancaster, Pa. and added another of the same.
And while things were going well with him he suddenly discovered he was
alone. Single blessedness must therefore be merged in conjugal felicity,
he thought. For what's the use of plodding and accumulating when you
haven't any one dear and near to share it with you, he thought. What's the
good when one shuffles the coil with no one to mourn - and plenty of
relatives to haggle over the inheritance, he thought. A man must live a
full life, and, while he's able, must do his duty towards God and men.
And in 1903 this young, tireless Grecian, while the August sun was blazing
over him, left Altoona for Greece in search of the Golden Fleece in the
shape of a becoming spouse.
In Tripolis, where he was born, Anastasius met Helen Ververis, daughter of
a high army officer. She possessed all the accomplishments of a daughter
of an archontic Grecian family - domestic as well as intellectual. Young
Anastasius was a lucky man; he found in her the girl he had been dreaming
of marrying when the time came. She, too, reciprocated all his sentiments,
and they were duly married amid the rejoicings of their old kinds and
friends in his native place.
With a superabundant zeal and courage, shortly after the wedding, Mr.
Notopoulos returned to Altoona with his charming wife and under her loving
care he resumed his business occupations. In 1904 he opened another parlor
in Johnstown, Pa. He started saving his money and investing in real estate
property. He bought, built, and rented. He helped his friends, starting
them in business of their own. Those who had been faithful he financed and
opened stores, or appointed managers to his theatres and business places.
In 1912 he opened the Palace Theatre in Altoona, his first theatre, and
began to build the Olympic. In 1919 he purchased the Capitol, then the
Mishler theatres. Thus he gradually expanded his operations, carefully and
laou-laou as the modern Greeks are wont to say.
And five years after his landing to this country he seemed secured his
full naturalization papers.
But during all this busy career, Mr. Notopoulos, a devout Orthodox
Christian, did never neglect his religion. There was at this time no
Orthodox place of worship in Altoona. The members of the small colony were
not organized. It was a glaring lack of interest. Something had to be done
for the general welfare. He took upon himself the task. Mrs. Helen
Notopoulos was also equally pious; and side by side with her husband in
this sacred cause, they eventually forged the unorganized Greek Colony of
Altoona into an organized Orthodox Community.
Somewhere in the late tens this movement taking impetus, a third floor
hall on the principal street was rented and converted into a chapel. But
it was not the place they wanted. The Greeks of Altoona got inspired with
the ambition of owning and congregating for worship in a regular Orthodox
church edifice. They inaugurated a church fund and started contributing to
it liberally. They visited the outlying colonies and brought in
satisfactory results. The church fund commenced growing, and when it was
sufficiently large - I believe in the neighborhood of $28,000 or more -
they began to look for a good site. No doubt Mr. and Mrs. Notopoulos had
done more than their share in augmenting the fund, as they always do for
sacred or laudable causes.
As soon as they were ready, in a general convention, they nominated a
committee with Mr. Notopoulos as chairman, and petition was made to the
State for a charter. It was to be known as The Hellenic Community of the
Holy Trinity - Agia Trias - of Altoona, Pa.
The Hebrew Synagogue on the corner of 13th Avenue and 15th Street was
being offered for sale. The Hebrews had built a larger and more elegant
synagogue elsewhere in the city. It was an excellent opportunity, Mr.
Notopoulos thought, to proceed immediately with negotiations for its
purchase. And in 1924 this strongly built edifice duly changed hands. It
is now a matter of great pride to the Greeks of Altoona to own such a
beautiful church. The Holy Orthodox Hellenic Church, The Holy Trinity,
although not of Byrantine architecture is the most elegant church between
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. No other Greek edifice could rival with it in
point of solidity, decoration and location, thanks to the patient
endeavors of Mr. and Mrs. Notopoulos and their friends.
Meanwhile, as this hand-working, swiftly rising Greek immigrant
steadfastly pursued his career, at one or two year intervals, his wife
presented him with a lusty, scale-tipping child; boy after boy, enough to
send the most optimistic Greek father on to ecstatic heights. It is God's
special bounty in the Balkan lands to give him a son as a reward for
goodness, though daughters are also prized especially in those families
whose larder is full and the blessings of God manifold and multifarious.
In 1906, three years after her marriage his wife presented him a son, and
he named after his grandfather. Then in 1907 James was born, like David
Copperfield, with a caul - which goes to say that James an American Greek
destined to become a professor of his Alma Mater at Amherst College,
Massachusetts, as he is now, much to the honor and joy of his parents.
George, the third son, blinked his eyes at the Altoona daylight in 1909,
and Constantine followed him two years later. Seven robust children, all
sons, bright and promising were born to the happy father, each marking one
more step forward in his career. John and Alexander are now law students
and Victor, the youngest, the enfant gatee of the family. But A. N. is
still one theatre ahead of them - if we were to count them as we do his
Besides his four mentioned theatres, Mr. Notopoulos owns the Grand in
Huntingdon, Pa., the Strand at Cumberland, Md., the Capitol at Butler, Pa.
and the Penn at Ambridge, Pa. Of course, it is obvious that out of all
these possessions Altoona is directly and indirectly benefited, to the
extent that a great portion of the proceeds from these theatres is
deposited in the city's banking institutions. They enable local banks to
loan and finance local enterprises. What I mean to say that Anast N.
Notopoulos, by virtue of this fact, is one of the biggest dividend-bearing
assets of Altoona, as an individual citizen perhaps the biggest. Today he
is one of the most outstanding Greek personalities in America in point of
material achievements; and if we were to consider his early surroundings,
when Greece was too poor to afford proper educational facilities to her
sons, we can frankly say that he is the most outstanding.
Yet, with all that, Mr. Notopoulos is modest about it. He honestly
believes his success was the result of hard work and clean living. Altoona
is surely proud of such a good citizen, who has seldom procrastinated when
an honest opportunity came and who, equipped with a sound, practical head,
with prudence and steadfast determination - plus a great love for his work
- keeps on adding to Altoona's wealth, growth, and prosperity. More power
AMERICA! When Greece was the glory of the world and ruled the empire of
the intellect by her laws, learning, and liberty; when blind Homer sang
his Iliad to the accomplishment of his lyre, or, later, Socrates
propounded his philosophy on
the market place of Athens, - and Greeks were the spiritual masters of the
vast Roman Empire upon the shores of an unknown continent there stretched
an empire vaster than all the known world, and more majestic in its virgin
grandeur. The Indians were its undisputed masters. In its limitless virgin
forests their war-whoop echoed from hill to lake. They saw their Great
Spirit in the rising sun and they worshipped it; they saw an implacable
Genius in the storms and floods and they feared it. Their imperial court
was around a blazing council-fire, and their chariot the canoe. They were
truly the unchallenged masters of a virgin continent, "where no human foot
had ever trod and no human eye ever penetrated," but their own.
AMERICA! "Her mighty lakes, like oceans of liquid silver; her mountains
with their bright aerial tints; her valleys teeming with wild fertility;
her tremendous cataracts thundering in their solitudes; her boundless
plains, waving with spontaneous verdure; her broad deep rivers, rolling in
solemn silence to the ocean; her trackless forests where vegetation puts
forth all its magnificence. . ." thus raptured Washington Irving. Truly
Into this sublime vastness, whose virgin atmosphere were pure of
injustice, tyranny, hypocrisy, of religious intolerance and persecution,
of arrogant aristocracy, and brutality of rulers, came pilgrims and
colonizers - from England, France, Germany, Holland, Spain, they came to
these virgin soil seeking liberty and freedom-.
As they cultivated their plots and plowed their fields they began to think
(how couldn't they, amid such thought-provoking sublimity of the sky,
forest and water?) and while they lifted their eyes around them they saw
their Creator. And out of this thought and revelation was born the
immortal Declaration of Independence. Man stood forth in all his pristine
majesty and power - a Human Being, with the Breath of the Mightier than
the Mightiest in his soul, and created by Him with the right to life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
As this sacred principle commenced to elaborate itself before his vision
it developed in him power for action, and he rose to realize his divine
inheritance by forging his ploughshare into an instrument of
righteousness. In other words, he laid down his principles and began to
fight for them. All men were created equal.
For seven long years he bled himself while fighting for the principles he
had thus evoked. And God sent him a man greater than Moses, a man who
offered up his life and his fortune for his country and lifted his voice
and arm for freedom." The great George Washington, who, with the power of
God in his soul, led him on to victory.
Those who fought were truly inspired men; they went through hell; they
endured cold, hunger, nakedness. "Their bare feet were seen through their
worn-out shoes; their clothes not sufficient to cover their nakedness;
their shirts hanging in strings; their hair clotted with blood and mud. .
. cold stung them like a whip, their huts were like dungeons; sick men lay
in filthy hovels, covered only by their rags, dying and dead comrades by
their sides. . ." Hunger raged among them. "One of them driven to the last
extreme of hunger, ate his own fingers up to the joints before he died.
They were unhumanly treated by the British. They ate clay, the lime, the
stone of their prison walls in British prisons; several who had died in
the yards had pieces of bark, wood, clay, and stones in their mouths,
which raving hunger had caused them to take in the last agonies of life. .
But at Yorktown victory at last was won. Bear this in mind when you hear
the strains of Yankee Doodle; thank you and pray for their souls. For by
their supreme sacrifice they have established the freedom you now enjoy
and share with their descendants. Be grateful.
Real Americanism started with them and upon the sacred altar of their
self-sacrifice, soon after, the Constitution of the United States was
framed. "This is a
government of the people," it said, "by the people, for the people; whose
just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a
republic; a sovereign nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union,
one and inseparable, established upon the principle of freedom, equality,
justice, and humanity." Indeed, a supreme masterpiece - a Holy Charter,
born of God and "voicing the harmony of the world!"
THIS God-born Constitution began to light the world like a beacon, guiding
hitherward the persecuted and the downtrodden of many lands. Under its
benign protection (and God showering His manifold blessings) the nation
began to gather strength. It grew and prospered, and as it enjoyed its
blessing, its heart expanded with sympathy and kindness. "Greater desire
filled its bosom, to help each other" and humanity in general. So, the
benevolently disposed American Nation opened its gates to all the nations
of the world with indiscriminate generosity. In came the Jew, the Slav,
the Latin, and the Oriental. In came the Greeks and the Balkans -
Some were insensible to these sacred traditions and selfishly sought
economic independence at a great cost to the nation. Some came to loot and
depart with the loot. Some stuck like leeches and sucked and grew fat
without contributing anything in return. But a great many others came to
cast their lot with the descendants of the heroes of the Revolution, share
of their blessings, and offer in return whatever was best and noblest in
their nature, the most precious of traditions they had inherited from
their forefathers, as a token of gratefulness and good faith.
Among the last comers were the Greeks. At first they came in diffidently.
Among them were many who came with an aim and departed shortly after it
was realized. At any rate, they were to old and raw to be able to
assimilate themselves with the spirit or institutions of America. But they
left the younger generation behind them. And this young generation, as it
grew in girth, education, and outlook, became Americanized to an extent
that they conceived an affection for the country.
It has been a great privilege for this writer to be able to lead them on
into demonstrating their affection in an open, visible manner, by
organizing themselves. At last, after twelve years of unremitting work,
his efforts were crowned' and an association was formed among the
progressive Grecians for the promotion and encouragement of loyalty to the
United States of America; allegiance to its flag; support to its
Constitution, obedience to its laws, and reverence for its history and
tradition. And now the American Hellenic Educational Progressive
Association, in point of patriotism and example, is the most ardent than
any kindred organization ever conceived and framed by any nationality in
America. I am proud to say that our beloved President, Franklin D.
Roosevelt - God bless him and keep him in good health - is a full member
of it, and, in all humanity, this writer his spiritual father, so to say.
Twelve years of constant missionary work among them, together with the
training they received in American camps during the war, helped to
materialize this writer's lifelong ambition. For this writer, son of an
agent of the American Board of Commissioners, at the age of six could
recite every word of the National Anthem and declaim out of his Swinton
the ride of Paul Revere and the execution of Nathan Hale. In other words,
in spirit and in truth, he was born an American.
But in the beginning of the present century there were only a few thousand
Greeks in America. Up to 1882 there were approximately 126 Greeks in the
United States. Up to 1892 about 3000; up to 1902, about 45,000. The great
onrush started during the years that followed these three periods, when
they began to immigrate in waves of twenty and thirty thousand yearly.
I would like to emphasize here that those immigrants of any nationality
whatsoever who came to this country with a moral purpose, for a sacred
cause, let us
say - for freedom of thought and action, and the enjoyment of a peaceful
life eventually distinguished themselves, much to the credit of the
American nation, in various occupations. So were the handful of Greeks of
the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries - those who sought
shelter from Turkish massacres and oppressions. For example, the first
governor of Alaska was a Greek in 1783, according to Bancroft. The
Reverend George Papadakis was a chaplain in the Confederate Army during
the Civil War, and later, rector of the Grace Church in Memphis. Dr.
Sophocles was for 41 years professor at Harvard. Dr. John Zachos, curator
of Cooper Union in New York for 28 years. Co. Lucas Miller was a member of
the Wisconsin Assembly; Captain George Calvocoresses (a refugee from the
massacres in the island of Chios) was head of a military academy in
Vermont. His son, Rear Admiral George Patridge Calvocoresses was appointed
by Admiral Dewey, at the battle of Manilla executive officer of his
flagship, and later, was commandant at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. Dr.
Michael Anagnos was director of the famous Perkins Institute for the Blind
So, the third period immigrants, which includes Mr. A. N. Notopoulos and
those I am going to mention presently were rather from the sturdy working
classes of provincial Greece, who were inspired by their preceding friends
to come to this country for work. They were from the younger generation,
in their twenties and early thirties - they came here seeking work. As I
can recall, few of them returned, the rest served as a background for the
fourth period immigrants, most of whom were youths over sixteen years of
Therefore, to the fourth period immigrants belongs most of the honor of
participating under the Old Glory in the Great War - some sixty thousand
of them from an aggregate number of 300,000.
However, the second permanent Greek to arrive in Altoona, after A. N.
Notopoulos, was HERCULES (Henry) PAPADEAS. He came to the United States in
1900 from his native village of Pegea or Mikre Anastasova, where he was
born in 1880. He went to Savannah, Ga. at first, but two years after came
to Altoona. He was an enterprising Greek, forthwith starting a
confectionery store. By dint of hard work he prospered, and when the time
was ripe for him to get married, he returned to his native home, in 1912,
to find the girl whom Providence had destined to become his wife. He is
now the father of nine healthy children, five of whom were born in
Altoona; Sophia is a fair maiden of 19; Joanna, 17; Agnes, 16; Liberty,
14; Stella, 12, Barbara, 11, Helen, 10; Christie, 9; and George, 7.
Papadeas is naturally a proud father. By his industry and thriftiness he
became a substantial property holder and law-abiding, tax-paying citizen.
About the same year, 1902, VASILIOS (William) VASILARIOTES, leaving his
native village of Kategorion of Messinia, took passage for America and
came directly to Altoona. In fact he is the first Greek in History of the
Altoona Greek Community to come directly form Greece to this city. He has
faithfully stuck to his post. He became a confectioner, saved up enough to
bring his family over. He worked and multiplied. Among his living children
there is Stavroula who was born in Greece in 1897. And when the family
came here, Elias was born in 1908. Verna (Evangelia) his younger daughter
is now 21. Mr. Vasilariotes named his present beautiful confectionery
after her. William is a full naturalized American citizen since 1912, and
in his present location thirteen years, dispensing soda, and now both soda
and beer. Born in 1876, he is still a hardworker and law-abiding citizen.
In 1905 Altoona had another Greek cast in his lot, in the person of L. C.
PAPADEAS. He was born at Mikre Anastasova of Kalamata in 1884, immigrating
to the United States in 1894, at ten years of age. He was ticketed to his
father at Savannah, Ga., who had preceded him by four years. He stayed
with him five years attending public schools and helping him in his store.
Then he came to Altoona, worked at the P. R. R. shops until 1909, then
started a confectionery right where he is now. In 1914 he married a girl
from his home town, by whom he has eight children, five boys and three
girls, all born here: William, 18; Helen, 17; George, 15; Theodore, 14;
Constantine, 13; Nicholas, 11; Jane, 7; Sophia, 5. Mr. Papadeas, by dint
and hardwork, owns his own home and several real estate properties. He is
a popular man, well-liked for his peaceful conduct.
In 1907 JAMES PANTAZES arrived in Altoona and has remained ever since. He,
too, is a confectioner; married, father of three Altoona-born children,
and a law abiding naturalized American citizen.
Also in 1907, FRANK ATHENS, part owner of the Eton Restaurant, came
directly to Altoona from his native place of Karterodi of Messinia, where
he was born 42 years ago. He left town after awhile and went to Rockford,
Ill. But most of his years he spent in Clearfield County and operated
confectioneries and restaurants, frequently visiting Altoona where his
relatives were living. From Clearfield County he enlisted in the army on
September 1917 and served one year in France, taking action in the
Argonne-Muse and St. Mihiel sectors, guarding ammunition trains as private
of 350th Ammunition Train, of 80th Division. In 1919 he was honorably
discharged as sergeant returning to his place of enlistment. He is a
member of the American Legion and V. F. W.; and one of the progressive
Greeks in both Clearfield and Blair Counties. His partner, Harry
Coumoundouros, a Spartan Greek, is also a dividend-bearing asset and an
industrious, law-abiding citizen.
Mr. MILTON PAPADEAS is a Greek of gigantic proportions, and owner of a
corner confectionery. He speaks the American fluently, is of genial
disposition, with a strong voice from an equally strong throat. He is the
youngest of the elder Papadeases, born at the same place, aged 39. When he
immigrated to this country in 1908 Altoona was his tangeant, for his
brother Henry was here waiting for him. Milton attended private schools
here while helping his brother and learning his trade. In 1918 he was
drafted to serve in the war, a private in 110th Infantry. In 1919 he was
honorably discharged as a first class private. In 1925 he married
Panayiota and since then he has been waiting for a visit from the stork.
He is a Scottish Rite Mason, an Odd Fellow, besides be a member of the
American Legion. Good for Milton, with a thundering, hearty laugh,
especially when business is a good and justifies such indulgence!
JAMES, JOHN and GEORGE NOTOPOULOS are nephews of the great A. N. And they
are indeed proud of the fact. They own the Famous Restaurant and manage
the Taverns; they are staunch Tripolitans, the province that has sent to
this country the most industrious and the most peaceful business Greeks -
progressive aggressive. James is the oldest, 35 years of age, deep
thinking, sure-footed, who came directly to his uncle in Altoona, after
his schooling, in 1910. John is an even-tempered, lovable young man of 33.
He followed his brother one year after, in 1911. George is some cook, Chef
de la Cuisine Americaine, master of the culinary art, young as he is. Go
to the Famous Restaurant and sample his alimentary productions, and taste
the savor of his masterful gravies. George is an exemplary Hellene of 30,
and is in Altoona since 1915. He is a married man, and the father of a
lusty infant child. The three of them are exceedingly industrious, and
good safe bets. What more can Altoona desire?
In 1910 WILLIAM (Vasilios) ARSENIOU, a sturdy son of Thessaly, came to
Altoona and started in the restaurant business. He was born at Kalabaka in
1888. Kalabaka is a unique city and famous for its skyland monasteries,
which are built on cliffs more than one thousand feet high. In the old
times the only means to reach their dizzy heights was by being pulled up
by the monks in a net. Now rock stairways have been built, and the thrill
one got while dangling in the air hundreds of feet above terra firma is
gone. On the top of these solitary cliffs whole establishments are posed
of stone pillars. There nestle like eagle nests, higher than the turret on
the Empire State Building, amid miles and miles of valleys and hills and
plains around them, the medieval monasteries of Hagios Stephanos, Hagia
Trias, Hagios Barlaam, and the Meteoron. In their chapels yellow beeswax
candles burn before old Ikonostasia and illuminate the walls covered with
Byzantine centuries-old iconographies. As you come out of their incense
reeking vaults you behold
the romantic Pindus mountains crowned with fleecy cloudbands beyond and
the serpentine course of the rivers rolling toward the coast. It is
certainly the sight of a lifetime. From this region Mr. Arseniou hails. He
immigrated in 1908, went to Lowell, Mass., worked in the mills for four
years. In 1921 he married Paraskevy Zosiea from Kastakion, Thessaly, by
whom he has three children, all born in Altoona: Katherine born in 1922;
George, 1924 and Eva, 1926. Mr. William Arseniou is a full American
citizen, and very progressive. JOHN, his brother, was born in 1884 and
immigrated in 1915. He is married to Viola Tsara and has five children all
born in Altoona: Charles, 1922; James, 1924; Aglaia 1926, and two others.
The brothers own their restaurant along with MR. FRANK MIHELIS, who is a
proficient cook, and the SILVER MOON, under his chefdom made good success
and many satisfied customers. Mr. Mihelis is a native son of the beautiful
island of Lemnos, and industrious, peaceful young man.
Mr. CHRIST TRIVELAS was born at Athens, Greece, in 1893, and schooled there
before coming to this country, in 1909, on a cold, windy day of the month of
March. However, in 1911, he came to Altoona from Sheboygan, Wis., where he had
directly gone from Ellis Island. In 1916, after working for five years in
restaurants, he became partner of James Pantazes in the restaurant which the
latter had opened in 1911. In 1918 Christ Trivelas married Calliope Drosaki of
Altoona, by whom he has five children: Evengelos, 14; Nicholas, 12; Stavroula,
10; Efthimia, 8; and Athanasia, 4. PETE, who is mostly found in the Sugar Bowl
in the mornings and is often mistaken for Christ, is his twin brother. Pete came
to Altoona directly from the old home in 1911 and joined his brother. Both
together they tried many ventures. But on this point they are reticent and
modest. Christ is the spokesman for Pete. He said: "It is not how many stores we
had or theatres we owned, but what we are today. Those days are past and gone.
The battle is right here in this store, where we are working almost every night
and day to make our living and bring up our children." Pete is also married; his
wife, Katina nee Papamenidou of Ashville Park, N. J., presented Pete with three
children: Nicholas aged
7; Demetrios, 5, and Georgios, 3. The brothers live in a home of their own, and
take active interest in the progress and welfare of the community. They are
Athenians, descendants of old Andres Athenaioi, who were amazingly learned men,
fond of pageantry, eager for news, and tireless in attending in a day all the
plays performed in the various theatres of their magnificent city. Imagine an
American attending nine theatres in a single day - and those with the vault of
heaven for a roof. They strained themselves not to miss a single word the masked
actors at the sallies of the great comedian Aristophanes, shed tears at the
tragedies of Euripides, Sophocles, and Aeschylus; they rapturously applauded the
orations of Demosthenes. What an audience! What powerful minds they must have
had to retain everything they heard and saw. Truly, the Men of Athens were
great. They had erected the most magnificent temples, in point of art and
architecture; the Erechtheion with its treasures of art; the Parthenon, supreme
in its glory on the Acropolis, dedicated to Athena the Virgin - Parthenos - with
her huge gold and ivory statue, the masterpiece of the greatest sculptor of all
ages, Phidias, standing in the middle of the temple, facing toward the rising
sun. Oh, those were glorious days, the Glory that was Greece. Even today though
Glory departed, their ruins remain a living symbol of their immortality. "Time,
like death," says the Milford Bard, "is an impartial conqueror. The monuments of
genius and the arts fall alike before him in the path of his irresistible might.
He hath uprooted the firm foundation of greatness and grandeur . . . the
tottering temples of Greece and the . . . ruins of Athens and Sparta . . . their
philosophers are dumb in death; the Academy, the Porch, and the Lyceum no longer
resound with the doctrines of Plato, Zeno, and their illustrious competitors.
Their fame alone has survived the general wreck. . ."
In 1913 Altoona received an industrious young man by the name of FRANK (Photios)
DAREGAS, who is now running the Alto Lunch with his partners. Frank was born at
Nissi of Kalamata in 1894. After attending high school, he immigrated in 1913 to
America, coming directly to this city, and has been operating restaurants here
ever since. Frank possessed the spirit of progressiveness; he took a leading
part in the growth and promotion of the welfare of the community. When others
balked he stepped forward and assumed responsible offices. He was elected for
several terms its secretary, and held other positions, and he never failed to
discharge his duties creditably. In 1932 he married the widow of the late Mr.
Kekalas, who brought him seven foster children: Andy, 17; Arthur, 16; Mike, 14;
Ethel, 13; Bill, 10 and Andrew, 7. Frank is a naturalized American citizen; owns
his home, and seldom loses his equanimity. His brother GEORGE followed him three
years later and became his right hand. He also is a naturalized citizen and a
member of the Ahepa, which fact shows he is equally progressive. Their partner
GEORGE KOUTALES hails from the same native town and since 1907 in this country,
all in Altoona. Therefore, Altoona should be well pleased to have such peaceful,
The same year, 1913, ushered GUS (Constantinos) MASTOS in Altoona from
Mansfield, O. whither he had gone to learn the candy trade. He had immigrated in
1907. When he came here he was employed as a candymaker by Miles Bros. In 1917
he started his first store, the Chicago Quick Lunch. In 1918 he was drafted to
serve during the war at Camp Lee, Va. He was faithful, and when he was honorably
discharged he had been promoted to a mess sergeant. In 1919, returning to his
place of enlistment, he saw an opportunity to go to Phillipsburg, Pa., and start
his Sanitary Restaurant. He sold that out in 1924 and came back again to his
beloved mountain city. In 1921 he married Marigo Stathaki from Altoona, and now
has one living daughter, Helen, 12 years old. GUS is a member of the American
Legion and Quarante Hommes et Fluit Cheveaux, or Forty and Eight. He owns his
home and serves as treasurer of his little community creditably, because they
found him a sturdy, public-spirited Hellene - always active. His brother PETER
is a young man of 28, and in America since 1923. He went to Phillipsburg when
his brother owned the Sanitary Restaurant there. In 1925 PETE married Vasilike
Athanasopoulos of Altoona, and has now three children: Theophanis, 6; George, 5;
Nicholas, 4. Both brothers were born at Vordoni of Sparta and were schooled
there. Sparta produced the great law-giver, Lycurgus, who put health and love of
home ahead of everything and abolished silver and gold currency by substituting
heavy iron coins. In order to carry a dollar's worth of change, the Spartan had
to have a good-sized wheelbarrow and cart it to the market place. So, when one
day an illustrious visitor asked a Spartan mother where she kept her jewels, she
proudly pointed at her sons, "These are my jewels," she answered. The Spartans
ate from a common table, their popular dish being the melas zomos or the black
broth. They blindly believed in eugenics. History relates that all children who
were born defective were cast in a dugout. Inhuman as this is to us, the
Spartans lived in an old age barbarous in this respect. Their supreme ideal was
to died in the defense of their homeland. When a Spartan mother sent her son to
war, she handed him his shield, saying, EI TAN EI EPI TAN - either return
victorious or dead upon it.
In 1913 APOSTOLOS ACARACANDAS, owner of the Washington Lunch, found his way to
Altoona. He, like William Arseniou, was born at Kalabaka of Thessaly where the
stylite monasteries repose upon sheer cliffs. He was born in 1896, graduated the
junior high at the age of 14, and immigrating in 1912. He went to Lowell, Mass.,
worked six months in the foundry, and came to this city after, to work at the P.
R. R. Shops. He saved up and four years later he opened his lunchroom, which he
operated for 12 years. He is a full citizen, is married to Constantina Tassi of
Kastrikion of his native home. Mr. Caracandas has now three Altoona born
children: Eleftherios aged 6; Stephanos 4 and Christos, 2. Mr. Apostolos works
hard to make both ends meet, to support his family and make friends. He is a
sociable and peaceful citizen.
When JAMES PANAGOPLOS came to Altoona from Boston in 1916, he was representing a
grocery house, and all the commissions he managed to earn went to procure his
personal needs. He had no extra money, but he had a great ambition to promote
himself in this city. Having enough faith in his ability and industry, he
forthwith applied himself to realize his purpose. He knew the grocery game well.
He went out and got acquainted with people, made friends, won their confidence.
For four hard years he worked honestly and impressed himself to his customers
and the local dealers. He had no capital but character, ability and industry,
in the long, are capital of a moral kind. And in 1920 with very little money but
a good credit, he opened is first grocery store, calling it the Italian American
Grocery. For his Italian customers he hired an Italian girl, Miss Christina Duva.
She became just as much interested in the success of the grocery as was James,
her boss, and, in return her boss got very much interested in her, with the
result they were duly married in 1923. Meanwhile the little store had grown into
a well-stock concern. Then Mrs. Panagoplos withdrew and devoted her attention to
her household duties. She gave him two bright children, James, Jr., aged 9 and
Antonia, 7. Mr. Panagoplos kept on making friends. He helped in the
establishment of the Greek Community church, was repeatedly elected as
president. Six years ago he expanded his business by adding a bakery, the
Marathon Bakery, specializing in Italian breads and bakery products. James was
born at Arfara of Messina 35 years ago; he immigrated in 1911. He is still full
of energy and zeal. He is contemplating to organize among his people a political
association and encourage those who had neglected taking out citizenship papers
to apply for them. It is a laudable cause, well worth hearty cooperation.
We come to the New Depot Lunch and find there the Chamoutalis brother and their
partner MIKE GEORGE. They are from Kara Burnu of Asia Minor. PHOTIOS CHAMOUTALIS
was born in 1897, came to America in 1916; went to Bethlehem, Pa., and worked
there in the mills. In Altoona he opened lunch business in 1918 and 1920. In
1925 he married Marie Blahaki from Crete and now has three children to inherit
him; Steliani, Vasiliki and Nicholas, all born in this city. GEORGE CHAMOUTALIS
is 32 years old and came to this country in 1915, and to Altoona, 1918, worked
for the late George Carides in 1925, and then had a business of his own, the New
York and, later, the New Depot. Mr. George is married and has three children
born here, and a foster child. Irene, Porine and Nicholas - and Bernie his
foster child. MIKE GEORGE is from the same native place, immigrating
to American together George Chamoutalis in 1915. He is their cousin, a full
citizen, but a single man. Good, industrious, peaceful, law-abiding and
progressive, these three New Depot Lunch owners are.
GEORGE CONTAKOS is the worthy owner of the Coney Island Lunch and Restaurant on
Eleventh Avenue and a staunch Spartan of 53. One of the early comers to the
United States (1899) Mr. Contakos by his conduct, industry and endurance,
prepared the way for many deserving Greeks who came later and found the table
spread; that is, a place to go and a compatriot to help in their search for
work. Mr. Contakos is a Levetsovite, a progressive man, devoted to his business
and to the proper upbringing of his children. He came to Altoona in 1919 and
opened his present place two doors above. He came with his family and added to
the numerical growth of Altoona. He is the proud father of five children:
Demetrios, aged 18, born in his father's old home; Christina, 16, born in New
York; Anna, 15, a New Yorker; Stavroula, 13, Altoonan; so is Leonidas, 10, who
perpetuates the heroic name of the greatest Spartan general of old, who amazed
the world with his immortal feat at the Thermopylae, with his three hundred
Spartans against 10,000 Persians. As Lord Byron sings: -
"The Assyarian came down like a wolf on the fold.
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
The hosts with their banners at sunset were seen;
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
The host on the morrow lay withered and strown."
Mr. Contakos owns his home, is a full American citizen and a good father.
MR. J. S. KISSON, owner of the Union Dye Works, is a well head and much traveled
Hellene. He speaks several languages fluently, and recounts episodes of his
variegated life interestingly. He is an educated man, graduate of the Marasli
College of Constantinople, and if he should start enumerating the places he has
visited and the occupations he had followed, he says, this little book would
prove inadequate to contain even a small part of it. In this respect Mr. Kisson
was very modest. Suffice it to say that he came to this country in 1915, and to
Altoona in 1923, forthwith starting his present establishment. While in New York
Mr. Kisson met and married his accomplished wife, Marie Frangeneou, in 1916; and
Stavroula, their only child was born at Altoona. He is a full-fledged United
States citizen, believing in hard work and honest living. That is why his
numerous American friends like him and respect him. Mr. Kisson is a good
dividend-bearing asset to the city.
There is no other prettier Sweet-Shop-and-Tea-Room establishment between
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh than the MARIGOLD. It is the product of the genius
of its proprietor MR. LOUIS P. CUMMINGS. He visualized all its arrangements and
appointments, drew its plan, said to the outfitter, I want this lamp here and
this counter there, and the ceiling, like a heavenly dome, to reflect peace and
security for my valued patrons. And as he said (thusly) it was done. High
booths, brilliant when sheen and cleanliness; sanitary kitchen, homelike foods,
and Mrs. Cummings, the matron, to supervise. Messieurs Doubtful Thomases can
easily verify this rhapsody by going there to look, see, taste and be sorry for
doubting me! Am epos am ergon! ERGO! Mr. Cummings is a Spartan about whom (the
Spartans) Lord Byron said: -
"Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylee!"
Of course, at the time the poet wrote these lines Mr. Cummings was not as yet
born, so that he reduced the number to two, and put Cummings at the head to
correspond old Leonidas, what? Mr. Cummings came to Altoona in 1928, so he is
the youngest pioneer, I mean Chronologically! But even at that, during this
short period of sojourn he made more friends and acquaintances than one who
happened to be born here. Mr. Cummings is a proud father of a charming daughter
attending College at Indiana, Pa. And Mrs. Cummings, his better half, is of old
Pennsylvania stock, with Southern sheen on her face, by virtue of her long
residence at Norfolk, Va. Cheerio!
The chartered Hellenic Holy Trinity Church Community of Altoona at present, all
told, numbers four hundred souls - men, women and children. There are
approximately seventy families, hundred and eighty children born in the city. A
good percentage from the adult Greeks work at the railroad shops, and the
remainder in the twenty-five business places owned by their fellow racials.
The church of Holy Trinity is the center of their religious and social
gatherings. In the vestry of the church an afternoon parochial school is
conducted for the teaching of Greek and catechism to the children. The Reverend
Demetrios Chrysaedes is the officiating priest and the school teacher. I found
the reverend father a quiet, unassuming shepherd of his flock. For the past six
years he has been officiating in this community, he has won the esteem and
affection of all the members, and under his spiritual guidance the community is
dwelling in peace and brotherly love.
The majority of the local Greeks are naturalized citizens, speaking the language
of the land remarkably well, in comparison. Having made Altoona their permanent
home, they are interested in its civic as well as their commercial development.
They have made, comparatively speaking, good progress, assuming the duties and
responsibilities that go with good citizenship seriously. They have made many
friends among the natives. During, the war many of them had cheerfully obeyed
the bugle call and proved their affection for their adopted country valiantly on
many battlefronts, distinguishing themselves in action and in the faithful
performance of their duties. This brochure is too small to enumerate the life
and activity of every member. The instances given in the above biographies are
sufficient to impress any loyal American that the Greeks have entered
wholeheartedly into the American life, and are bringing up their children in the
proper manner. Credit is due them from every hand. When the Altoona-born
children grow to manhood there is no telling in what distinguishing roles they
will take part. America has had state governors, rear admirals, professors,
clergymen and eminent educators from the race before. We hope their examples
shall ever be kept before their eyes and inspire them to higher things. They
must not forget that great sacrifices have been made by their predecessors -
sacrifices and self-denials and extreme sufferings, periods similar to those
this writer is still undergoing - to make a race known and appreciated by the
great American people. The new generation has a supremely important duty to
discharge in return. In other words, they shall have to prove that such
sacrifices have not been made in vain.
In fact they (the new generation) have begun in the right direction. Altoona is
proud to have one of its American Greek sons, Mr. James A. Notopoulos occupying
a professional chair at Amherst University. Two of his brothers are attending
law schools; three more are forging ahead in the theatrical profession, or
management. One other Altoona boy is studying medicine at the Alabama
University. Let them give to the country of their birth the best and noblest
they have inherited from the history of their race. America shall be grateful.
Among Our Friends
HAVE THE GREEKS of Altoona many friends from the ranks of their native
fellow-citizens? Most decidedly they have. And what is more, they are loudly and
generously demonstrating their friendship through the pages of this brochure.
The writer interviewed all of them, and one and all, they have been profuse in
their expression of friendship and genuine interest. Most of them are old
friends. To them a greater portion of our Grecian business progress is due: - to
their friendly advice and equally generous assistance. They were our mentors,
they were always ready with their purse and hand to cooperate in the success of
our business. When we had no credit they extended credit. They watched us grow
during the past thirty or more years, always willing to guide us. And now,
whatever their personal experiences must have been, they are, through their
advertisements (the only practical way) publicly welcoming us, and again
extending their hand of friendship.
WE HAVE Mr. Sheep of the Reid Tobacco Co., an old friend and always interested
in our progress. Mr. Haller, the baker, and his leonine son, are our true
friends. Mesars Wilson and Lane of the First National Bank, an Crane and Dillon
of the Altoona Trust, highly praised the thriftiness of our race. Mr. Keiser of
the Pennsylvania Coffee Co., approved cheerfully our progressive movement. We
have had hearty cooperation from Fry Brothers of the Altoona Ice Co.; while Mr.
Carlcherson of Curry, Canan & Co., received us with great courtesy and listened
approvingly. We have good friends in the persons of De Barber Brothers. A
sympathetic cooperator is Mr. Hoister of the French Dry Cleaners. Mr. Jones the
undertaker forgot for a moment his approaching hunting trip and gave his car
with a broad smile (of course, he didn't slash it). L. H. Hileman of the Quality
Dairy was very prompt in subscribing; while the affable manager of the Standard
Furniture Co. was as generous and affable as he could be under the
circumstances. Mr. Bell of the Penn Motors, Inc., handsome and alert, put his
seal of approval with clock-wise precision. Mr. McGinnis, the athletic,
energetic, and able manager of Montgomery Ward & Co., manifested genuine
interest in us. Mr. Rodgers of Prutzman Co., a business man, every inch of him,
tagged the name of his concern in approval. I met both Mr. Stevens and Mr. Coslin of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., and found them aggressively
progressive and extremely courteous. Mr. Pall, leaving aside for a second his
fruit merchandising, extended us his glad hand. The erudile and surprisingly
fluent manager of the Penn Cress Ice Cream Co., left nothing to be desired in
point of courtesy and ready cooperation, Charles Shimminger sells flowers but
talks like a banker (ask Mr. Hoister) had his little advertisement is as brief
of letters as he is with words. Dr. Yocum A. Kopp, our public-spirited druggist,
is indeed a lovable gentleman and a good friend. Kranich Bros. Jewelers and
Opticians - well, you can't beat them in tact and efficiency. Abe Cohen, whose
father had his business side by side with Mr. A. N. Notopoulos, departed from
his rigid rule and put his seal of friendship in large letters. Mr. A. Berman,
the man of gold and silver, proved instantly that he had also a heart of gold,
polished with business courtesy. How about Mr. Park Hite? Read what he says in
his little notice. The Hollenback boys know the intricacies of radiology as
thoroughly as they know what project to countenance. Ross Hatch, chubby and
affable, with his powerful son to help him, was prompt in showing his friendly
interest. J. B. Felty, our old friend, with his candied words remembered us
despite some very pertinent reasons. He certainly has been a helpful friend to
all confectioners. Crigger Bros. are sweet as the apples and as luscious as the
oranges they sell. Mr. and Mrs. Makdad of the Altoona Plate Glass indeed,
surprised us with their public-spirited cooperation. H. Baker Yon is Napoleonic
in stature but big of heart. Our old friend W. H. McEldowney, still alert and
tireless, profusely congratulated us. Mr. Cobb of the Builders Supply was as
brief and prompt as he is with words. Mr. Eugene Myers was as bright and cherry
and fragrant as his choice American Beauty Roses, and as golden as the
goldenrods he handles in his store. Mr. Marcus the open faced, far seeing,
affable jeweler is another friend of the Greeks. Mr. Zimmers, tall and young,
decided in a business-like manner. Mr. Geltman of the Ford cars is as powerful
and resilient as the new V-8, and he was as willing as the Ford is in pickup and
- whizzzz-bang-ness!(?) Dr. SAX is the sweet air dentist and highly skilled
odontovgaltes. Mr. Davis of the Straehman Bakery wishes more power to the
Hellenes of Altoona and Continued success of their undertakings.
These are not all however. There are more and just as sincere in their good
wishes as those I have the pleasure to enumerate. Some we had no opportunity to
visit or know, some for obvious reasons do not appear, others had valid reasons
. . . and so forth. But the Grecians of Altoona for all of them have a big THANK
YOU and GOD BLESS YOU!
Ancient Greeks and Modern Americans
The American nation, physically, is a composite of different nationalities,
chiefly of Germanic or Nordic races who were the first to colonize the land; but
in the essentials of progressiveness, intellectuality and courage, the American
people are the spiritual children of Greece and heirs to all her imperishable
traditions; that is, the same spirit that animated the old Greeks to great
achievements is animating the Americans of today into achievements that in
magnitude and daring, surely, have never been rivaled through the ages.
There are so many striking similarities between the old Greeks and the modern
Americans that make a pleasing revelation. There is that dauntless American
enterprising spirit, for instance, in a Lindbergh, that beards the roaring
Atlantic in its realm single-handed with an airplane, that has its counterpart
in that mythical feat of Leander's swimming across the Hellespont. The same
bold, adventurous spirit that impelled Jason and his Argonauts in search of the
Golden Fleece had also, after thirty-five hundred years, emboldened Captain John
Smith and his colonizers to dare the perils of the seas in search of the Land of
Golden Opportunity - the golden maize and the golden leaf.
It was this circumstance power of daring and adventure that peopled this land
and developed in them a character marvelous for its buoyancy, keenness of
vision, directness in action, energy, audacity, inventiveness and versatile many
sidedness -the American Genius that digs a Panama Canal, that carves Roosevelt
Dams in desert places, drills into the earth for oil, ploughs whole kingdoms for
wheat, invents marvels, invests millions on an inflammable celluloid, revels in
mass production, erects Empire State Buildings, makes princely fortunes out of a
five-cent package of goods, and governs the greatest Republic of all Ages.
The same old Grecian nervous energy is manifesting itself in the American of
today. Thucydides characterized the Greeks as a people who believed in hard work
and regarded leisure as a disagreeable and wearisome occupation. One of the most
outstanding traits of a Greek -old or modern -is his love to be always first in
success, "always to be best and excelling others."
The Greeks, like the Americans, believed in competition; for "competition," says
Hesiod, "stirs a man to work even though he be inactive. Neighbor vies with
neighbor, potter grudges potter, and craftsman, craftsman! Good is this
competition." . . .
The same love for freedom that rules the hearts of our present-day political
leaders ruled also the very being of Demosthenes, when, in the name of free
institutions, he climbed Mars Hills and appealed to the Athenian sense of honor,
of duty -to their sense of moral responsibility and enlightened patriotism -to
fight against the autocratic Macedonian.
Like George Washington, Pericles was first in the hearts of his fellow
countrymen: "The First Citizen of Athens." . . .
Indeed, at every angle the American sees himself in the old Greek; he feels the
kinship -and may we not, the modern Greeks who have descended from such a
people, who are now found among you here, sharing with you, in equal measure,
the blessings and benefits bestowed upon the land by the blending of these
splendid qualities in those who founded it, humbly claiming a portion of this
heritage, such as we are, seek your right hand of friendship?
Greek Religious Life
Next to his home, the Grecian loves his church. In fact, his home and church are
one and inalienable in his thoughts and daily life. He adheres loyally to his
church because he is born to it, because his church has limned its character in
his soul and ramified its dogmas in every nook and corner of his spiritual
being. At heart the Greek is a pietist, and this inborn quality keeps his
convictions together and deepens them. It is the basic element that is
stimulating his devotion to his family altars. The Greek owes his racial and
political independences to his church and to no other.
In every Orthodox home there is a nook or place for the family ikon. An
olive-oil lamp, suspended from the ceiling before it, perpetually burns. The
members offer up their prayers there night and morning, crossing themselves; and
the family Saint is often called upon to intercede with God vicariously in their
A Grecian might neglect attending church regularly, but he is a poor Orthodox
when he fails to attend church during Easter, Christmas, or on his name day,
which he celebrates instead of his birthday. He fasts during Megale Hebdomas,
drinks black coffee, eschews flesh, fowl or fish.
The Greek Orthodox Church has the most impressive ceremonial of any steed rich
in pageantry, gorgeous in dramatic settings. Its symbolism, imagery, rites,
types, and liturgy are very impressive.
The Greek Orthodox Church edifice is of Byzantine architecture and invariably
faces east. The ornamentation of the interior is gorgeous; the walls are covered
with ikons of the Lord, apostles, and latter martyred saints. Wherever a
communicant turns he faces a saint to remind him of his sacrifice and martyrdom.
Red, gold, green, blue, and purple colors predominate. The sanctuary is
partitioned off at the southern wall with beautiful panel work bearing in larger
figures images representing Gospel characters! The Holy Table is in the middle
of the sanctuary, and is resplendent with gold embroidered cloth and gold and
silver vessels used for sacramental purposes.
The priest officiates in vestments of gold and silver contexture. By the main
entrance of the church, occupying a section of the eastern wall, is an oblong
table called the Pangarion, upon which beeswax candles of various sizes are
displayed. A little farther from it is the hexagonal stand, the Ikonostasion,
supporting the ikon of the Saint of that day's calendar.
Each communicant upon entering the church, stops at the Pangarion and selects
the candle he wishes to offer, and then approaches the huge candelabrum beside
the Ikonostasion. There he lights his candle, sticking it in one of its prongs.
Then, addressing himself (or herself) to the ikon, strikes the sign of the cross
repeatedly on his breast, and bows to kiss a part of it, saying: "Agie Haralambe
Voetha Me," or whatever saint is on there.
As soon as these are gone through he seeks a convenient standing room on the
nave, for there are no pews in a Greek church. He usually stands out the whole
service erect, and at some well-known points, follows the cantors in a low
humming voice, and fervently crosses himself whenever the name of the Holy
Virgin is chanted by the priest.
The service consumes about three hours and is a long series of incantations,
candle-burning, incense-burning, change of priestly vestments and processions.
to recent time instrumental music was not tolerated. There are two cantors
stationed at either side of the sanctuary with their small choir of Isson-holders,
who do all the chanting (in Byzantine music) for the congregation.
The Beginning of Greek Immigration
INHERENTLY, the Greeks are not an emigrating people. A Greek loves his country
passionately; he is devoted to his family, and is born to his religion. In the
old days those who left home for foreign lands were mainly teachers and
artisans, who were rather induced to do so. It was in this way that in the Roman
era they became the spiritual masters of their conquerors; in this way they
carried their lights in all directions and redeemed civilization from the Dark
Ages; they taught and inspired and encouraged mankind in every laudable
Soon after the fall of the Roman Empire Vandals began to trample all over
Greece. Later the Turks subjugated the fair land, and all that was the pride and
glory stuck to his home and sought consolation in his religion -until, finally,
the Turkish yoke waxing exceedingly oppressive, his love of liberty still
ablaze, he rose to overthrow it.
Seven years of decimating struggle against overwhelming odds in 1821 reduced
Greece into a land inhabited by old men, women, and children -impoverished, her
fields fallow, her commerce ruined. And in the face of this unbearable poverty
the growing generation began to lift its eyes towards more prosperous lands;
they must go out and find work to keep the old folk from starvation and misery.
So, they first started immigrating into the adjacent countries; Egypt, Rumania,
Russia, and then along the late eighties into America.
The Grecians are not essentially an agricultural or laboring people; the are
inherently a commercial people, given largely to importing, exporting, and the
business of shop keeping. They certainly excel in all these and show remarkable
sagacity and acumen. But America in those days was a laborer's country. She was
not prepared to offer them opportunities along those lines. America had to build
her railroads; she had to erect her factories, and level down her mountains for
And he, the Greek immigrant, on the other hand, did not come at first to America
with the intention to remain permanently. He had come with the sole object to
relieve his pressing financial obligations at home; he came to work, do
anything, and send some money back home before the usurer foreclosed the
mortgage on the old family home, or a heartless creditor sent his father into a
debtor's cell for the want of a few dollars. For money was the scarcest thing in
Greece, and tilling the rockhound soil the most unproductive.
Besides, the Greek immigrant found out that he could not keep a shop from the
start, because he spoke no English. And English was tongue-defying, ear
confusing language. It consisted of monosyllabic words that made maddening short
sentences. Before the honey-flowing, polisyllabic Greek, English was a trickling
spring besides a singing cataract. At any rate, it was a very hard language for
him to learn. So, he had to follow the line of least resistance and seek work
-crude, unskilled work -in railroad camps, in the mills, and -in cities -he took
up peddling fruits on a pushcart, or worked as cook, waiter or dishwasher, at
different hotels in New York. Not for long, however.
From railroad camps, from iron or cotton mills, from street peddling, these
sturdy Greek pioneers, little by little, as soon as they had relieved their
pressing old country obligations, as soon as they succeeded in settling off
their sisters, in marriage providing them with dowry, commenced spreading out
into the interior parts of the country to follow their natural bent; to open a
store and go into business, as they say. They went into neighboring towns or
cities looking for the store they had in mind -not so big, nor so high, bur
large enough for a lunch room or candy store.
Sometimes they would take an unknown direction and stop haphazardly at a certain
point along the way. And that little store they had so fondly visualized would
suddenly oggle at them right there and then. "Doxasi ho Theos!" Glory be! and
your Greek would then hang his coat and hat, plunge into the Mercurial game of
selling perishable merchandise, with a stock of English words garnered
indiscriminately and spoken in fiery Greek accent.
so we have an element in this city who through this long, arduous perseverance,
during the past twenty-five years gradually succeeded carving for themselves an
enviable corner in its commercial life. They are contributing to its growth and
prosperity, adding to its money circulation. It may prove of interest to know
that through their business places they are, and have been circulating hundred
of thousand of dollars a year in the city. They may be justly called
dividend-bearing assets. They live happily; divorce or family rupture is unknown
among them; they live amply, buy the best, and are only thrifty when thrift
proves a productive investment.
They are law-abiding, uphold laudable civic movements, observe the ordinances,
pay their taxes, and try to assimilate themselves with the ways of doing
business in America. They try to pay their bills, promptly, seldom make unjust
claims or give post-dated checks, though at times they may prove hard buyers. I
have a number of their dealers to testify to this.
Greeks can make friends quickly, and when their friendship is reciprocated they
are usually very loyal and go a long way out to show it. But, with all that,
they are very careful and very suspicious in making friends or giving their
confidences. The one who seeks their friendship must be an out-and-out moral man
in affairs concerning his family and honor. He must be a moderate drinker, no
gambler, or a monger, but a true lover of his home, his God, his country, and of
Compliments of - Altoona Plate Glass Company "Glass for All Purposes" 725 Green
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