Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cemeteries, Barba Yiorghi, and now Jerry Lucas

Had been thinking about cemeteries for historical purposes when I got the news of Jerry Lucas' passing. That was a big blow to my Stockton memory bank. I cannot remember not knowing Jerry, the really nice guy who married my Uncle Jim Hlebakos' sister Harriett. He was a fixture in our lives -- especially as a shoe repair guy par excellence (following in his father Dimitri's footsteps), who had a shop at 936 N.Yosemite near the S&G Market. And he was one of the last Stockton Naousa links of his generation.  It's up to Jim,* Helen, Dean and Leah to keep that fire burning.

I miss too many Stockton funerals, but try to make up for it with extended visits to Stockton Rural Cemetery when I can -- making the rounds to my parents, many relatives, and others like my mom's best buddies Anthe Faipeas and Oly Spanos. They will not be forgotten, just as we should not forget the many Greek pioneers buried there since the 1920's. Anyone wanting to know more about the history of Greeks in the Stockton area need only take a long walk around the place to get a sense of that, bolstered by concrete names/dates (including many infants). Jerry has gone to Cherokee Memorial Park in Lodi, where he was born. I have not been to that cemetery, yet.

"Cemetery mapping"  (charts/photos) by outside groups is a growing trend for both keeping historical records and posting that info online so that family members and genealogists can find people in the future. In that vein, I recently posted the grave of George Chronopoulos on Findagrave.com.

He was known  to us simply as Yiorghi, someone I visited with my Yiayia Sarris at his dilapidated, creepy/mysterious, and now non-existent homestead on Oregon Avenue when that area was still "rural" so to speak. Yiorghi was from Koroni according to my Aunt Libby, and Yiayia drove him to the grocery store almost weekly. And if I happened to go along, I would lurk along the grocery aisles until he me called me over to give me a quarter (a pretty big deal in those days). He also had a little farm in the back of his property and would reward my grandmother with bunches of pigeons that she baked individually in tin foil with plenty of garlic. I do not, alas, have any photos of Yiorghi -- but can still conjure up a stocky figure in denim overalls, grey shirt, work boots and jaunty hat sitting in the back of Yiayia's two-toned Plymouth. 

George Chronopoulos was a nice man. And maybe some day, someone from his family will be looking for him, see my submission, and send me an email. That would really be something...but today I'm thinking about Jerry Lucas. Zoi se mas.

*As noted several times before on this blog, Jim Lucas is the amazing leader of the San Francisco Greek Historical Society.

1 comment:

  1. Paula, Let me know if you would like me to take a photo and send it to you. I completely understand, for sentimental reasons, if you'd like to take it on your own while visiting Jerry's grave.