Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pop goes to Paris to marry Mom

My Father left Asia Minor before the catastrophe and was sent to the States by his Father so he would not be conscripted into the Turkish Army.

The Greeks from Asia Minor, once in the army, were put into work battalions, almost a sure death sentence. One of my mother’s brothers had already died in one.

Pop ended up somewhere in New England, around 1917 or so, where he learned to be a candy maker - apprenticed to some relative that came before him.

My Mom remained in Turkey and left when the expulsion of the Greeks started. Fortunately an elder brother of hers, my Uncle Kariofilis, was already in France and a tailor in Marseille. She and her brothers arrived in France in 1922. They moved to Paris and another life, cosmopolitan, chic and exciting. Her brothers, my Uncles Vassilis and Elias, and various other cousins became tailors as well, rather successfully.

She ran the workshop of a respected couturier and was a great seamstress, creative and stylish herself. In time, my sisters and I were to become recipients of her wonderful talent.

Pop went to Paris to marry my mother. They had been betrothed in Mixaniona, their home village in Asia Minor and finally were to be married. The year was 1928.

Pop arrives, a successful Yank, all decked out in his American clothes, he was always a bit of a dandy. I can imagine the outfits. I guess they were a bit flashy, maybe even a little like a movie star gangster. He always smoked cigars, which helped the image. He was pretty proud of his look, my Mother told me.

He arrives, to the horror of the Frenchified Greeks, they are dressed in the latest fashion, all of them being in the business. Pops clothes definitely do not make the cut. These Americans! How can my Mother marry a guy who dresses like that? What will all the other Greeks think?

The wedding, which is eminent, is in danger of embarrassing the whole crowd. These Greeks are more French than the French.
There is a solution; after all, they are all tailors. Viola! Measure Pop and make him a new wardrobe. Mom probably thought of it.

The brothers banded together, their workshops busy throughout several nights to create a completely new French wardrobe and of course “The Wedding Suit”.

I can see Pop, after being measured, sitting in a bathrobe, smoking a cigar, having a coffee or a drink. In his cool, detached, inimitable way, watching the frantic activity caused by his outlandish American outfits, probably laughing inside. He often saw the funny side of things.

Soon, he would be able to go out into Greek Frenchified society.
He wore French made suits ever since; my uncles sent them over, designed, cut, basted, and ready to sew. Mom finished them.

Maybe, just maybe, he wore those American suits on purpose.


  1. Ha! I love it! Hee hee - I can just imagine! Hilarious imagery, Dad!

  2. Brilliant story. I am still laughing. You really are the Greek Groucho Marx.

    Where do you find those photos.