Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July (But what about Page 19?)

Today on the Fourth of July there is much to think about. And much to be grateful for, even though it is sometimes difficult to ascertain who is better off or who is doing what to whom...

Recently in China, a new law was enacted compelling adult children to visit aging parents abandoned in villages -- facing up to the complexities of the industrialized world with its big city migrations and pandemic erosion of cultural values. Rewritten classic Chinese texts tell children to buy health insurance for their parents and teach them to use the Internet!

Greece, a much smaller country, is another story. More people may well be moving back to their villages to escape rents and other costs associated with city living until the dire economic situation really turns around.  The problem is a corrupt political system that the average citizen is now paying for in the extreme, making family ties even tighter.

Here in the USA, Greek-Americans have  maintained -- for the most part, so far  -- the same family ties forged by our forefathers not so long ago. Time will tell if those ties/values, including cultural/hometown loyalties and a strong work ethic, will survive in the future. It's up to us.

One way to do that is to preserve family histories -- including stories, documents, photos, other heirlooms -- and to celebrate them.  It is important that we do so with accuracy, by writing things down and even recording stories and voices.  I wish I had thought of that while my grandparents and parents were still alive, but it's not too later for others in Stockton and every Greek community to diligently do so. Indeed, the Greek Historical Society of the SF Bay Area (headed by Jim Lucas) meets every month and includes one recorded interview for those purposes.

St. Basil's Church published a 68-page book in 1980 for its 50th Anniversary. There is a lot of great information about the history of the church and the Greek Community that grew up around it. Great pictures, too, but precious few details as to who is pictured. Take Page 19 for example, where an image is identified as "Father Kouklakis following a baptism."  I see my Yiayia Sarris holding a baby, standing next to Mrs. Sperry. Has to be in 1950-52, but whose baptism is it? Who are the others in the picture?

Maybe there simply wasn't enough room to print more details then, but we can revisit the book now...Can you help write more detailed captions for photos in that book?  Do you have other family photos that trace the history of the Greek Community in Stockton to share? I will be asking you to help put together photos and information that can be a lasting, more accurate history for Stockton Greek-Americans to build on when I see you in September.  Start looking, please. 

Meanwhile, "Hronia Polla" for the United States of America and the democracy it's built on. That's a Greek word, you know. Just ask Mr. Gus Portokalos.

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