When my parents decided that I should leave the island, I didn’t want to. For about one month, I cried every day.
I sent my wages from the quarry to pay off the farm.
Anargiros Emmanuel Loukis
Life in the difficult years
Text: Maro Voulgari
I was born in 1941, on the feast day of Sts Anargiri at Kamari and I was registered at the Lefkes community. My mother was from Maltes and my father from Lefkes. I am the seventh child of a family with nine children. Very difficult years. As a child I was always hungry. Food was scarce. Some milk, cheese, bread, some fruit, that was all. At the house we had goats, horses, a mule and chicken. When I was twelve, we had about hundred and sixty goats and cows.
During the Occupation we had stored enough barley flour to last for three years.
But my father had said that anyone who came to our home wouldn’t leave without food. So people came and got bread for their family. We kept the food hidden in pots under the earth. We used a hand grinder to grind small quantities of flour, because if we sent it to the mill, the Italians would demand a share.
Once, Italian soldiers came to our house and demanded olive oil, cheese and meat. My mother said: “I have many children, I don’t have.” They swore at her and turned their guns at her. Very scared, we hid under her skirts.
A neighbor whose house they had requisitioned, got out and threatened to report them to the commandante. This saved us.
The village had many children, the houses were all full. The people were friendly, they smiled, they said good morning. Now, it hurts me to see them going past without greeting you…
On name days we all went to give our wishes. We had a very good time. There were no rich meals, some cheese, tomatoes and maybe some herrings, but they played the bagpipes and the toumbakia (drums) and all the people danced.
Aliki was a fishing village. Six houses in all. They had caiques. Old Konstantis had the boat “Moshoula” and sailed to all the islands, old Manolis had a trawl. There was also Captain Andreas’ “grape factory” which sent must of the Vaftra variety to France. Mules and donkeys carried the must to the caiques.
On the eve of feast days we went to the fairs, the next day, after the Mass, meals were offered and we had a very good time. Our biggest feasts were those of the Holy Cross, St George, Sts Anarghiri, the Prophet Elias, Sts Theodori and St Haralambos at Aneratzia where you could see as many as 500 mules outside the church.
We had other feasts as well. On the day of Klidonas we gathered at the house of old Giorgos Panteleos and we dropped an item in a pot of water. The one, who fished it, paired it with some verses and sent it to the one who had thrown it in the water.
On May Day we stole flowers to make wreaths. Forty days later we lighted fires and jumped over them. We made a wish when we jumped. Not aloud, no one should hear it. We also played the “silent water” game. Three first born girls went to three wells to bring water and they shouldn’t say a word, no matter what we told them.
Lefkes was a very modern village for those times. Money came from immigrants to other countries. They had better furniture, better clothes… But don’t imagine any riches. The whole village got married with the same couple of wedding rings. In death as well, all were buried with the same coffin. Parikia was poor. We sold them wood for cooking.
When my parents decided that I should leave the island, I didn’t want to. For about a month I cried every day. But I had to pay off a plot of land and there was no other way but to go to the quarries at Penteli where many Parians worked. I was then 16 years old.
I made a kiln with some logs. I brought water, put out the fire and sold the coal to Christos Monastery. I got 350 drachmas. I bought a coat, a pair of brown trousers with white stripes, a jersey shirt, a pair of shoes and a straw hat. With the rest of the money I came to Athens.
I put my clothes in a sack and on July 29th old Yiannis Hrisanthoyeros took me to Holargos. There I met my brother Nikos, who told me to take the bus and get off at the “tripio katostari”. From there, I should take a road ending at the quarry. “There you will ask for a job”, he said.
Someone called Matsagkos gave me a job. I began working and I stayed at a hut on the mountain. I had no blankets, no nothing. Every evening I went up to the top to see Paros and I cried. I stayed there for about two months but I couldn’t stand the barbarous behavior of those people. I found another, quarry nearby. He was called Panteleos, from Marpissa. I stayed there for three months, I ate legumes every day. At dawn, I loaded up the trucks and with this money I bought my food. I sent the wages from the quarry to pay off the farm.
One night there was a flood and all the roads were damaged. Every boss sent a worker to repair them. The other bosses saw me and immediately took me to the other quarries. I went to the late Arkoulis and stayed there for many years.
Every Saturday, we went to Kanigos square to get paid. One Saturday, when I returned to the hut, it was snowing heavily. The next day, the snow was 50 cm. high. It had covered the whole mountain.
The jackals were howling all night. I stayed in the hut for ten days and ten nights, alone, trapped. Just think of it, a seventeen-year-old child. When the weather got clear, my brother came. We walked to Nea Penteli. There, a grocer offered us some brandy which I’ll never forget.
For two years I stayed in the hut on the mountain. Then many of us together rented a room at Nea Penteli.
I have never loved Athens. I returned to Paros seven years ago. I try to feel like in old times but I can’t. I have lived the pure life of the village. Money has ruined many things. We have sold the beaches, all of them. We got “paper” and they got our property. Many a time I was in need, but I never sold any land.
I’m glad I kept my land and I’m glad my children respect it. I have ached for it. When you love a place, you don’t sell it. I respect and love its every rock.