You are hereEssays on Life / Effie Remembering
Today is my mom's birthday. Since she loved telling (and listening to) stories about her family, here's one she told at a family gathering in 1985:
My mother-in-law was staying with us at the time and so we had the dinner and my father is there and he says, “Who cooked the meal?” I said, “I did.” “You can’t cook a meal, you lie.” I said, “I cooked the meal.” He said, “You can’t, you’ve gone to college, you can’t cook a meal. Your mother-in-law cooked it, you’re lying to me.” And I said, “Father, I cooked the meal.” He says, “No, it’s impossible. People who have gone to college cannot cook.”
I have to tell you one more thing about my father. George and I got married, we lived in Chicago and we got married in Brooklyn. We had a big, formal wedding in Brooklyn. We got all these presents from the relatives here and friends and millions of presents. And we lived in Chicago so we couldn’t take them with us and we left them for the basement, you know, they had a private home in Brooklyn, my mother and father. We left them there and I get a letter from Stella and Stella says, “Effie, take your wedding presents real fast because they’re disappearing. They’re going away. Whenever there was a wedding, father will go down in the basement, pick up one of the presents and we’ll give it away." So I called him up and said, "Father, what are you doing?" He said, "I paid for the wedding, so I can do what I want with the presents."
Here's a Q & A I did with her in 1997:
Q: Tell me about your mother, how you got along with her.
ES: Not so well, really. I mean, we were not friends.
Q: Why? Is that because you didn’t grow up with her, do you think?
ES: That may be one reason and the other reason was that she was not really interested in the family; she was more interested in running my father’s business, you know, having dates with lawyers and so forth. She was never home. We never saw her. And she spent her afternoons, early evenings, having beer with lawyers. And the thing to me, now that I think of it, was amazing, she hardly finished grammar school and yet she was able to do legal work—because my father had property, houses-that was the income that we grew up with, rentals and my mother was in charge because my father was gone all of the time. She was in charge of dealing with the houses; renting them, repairing them, all those things. With no education, which was amazing—she hardly finished grammar school, you know?
Q: How did she get along with your father? How did she meet your father?
ES: In Maine. He wanted to finally take a wife and they told him there was a Greek family in Maine, that’s where Xanthe was born. But I don’t think she was ever in love with him and besides, he never stayed long enough in the house in Greece. But then after they got married they came to Greece and they stayed with my grandmother, grandfather and my father decided to go back to the States. He never liked to stay in Greece. He came back and a year or so later my mother went to the States where Peter, Billy, and Stella were born. And they left me with my grandmother, grandfather. I didn’t see them for six, seven, eight years. And as a matter of fact, when I went to grammar school to enroll, my grandfather took me and they asked me my name and I gave my grandfather’s last name as my name. And my grandfather thought it was funny and interestingly, he let it go, Mandripelis instead of Hartocollis. And this went on for a year or two and then my father came and when he saw the papers (laughs)…
Happy birthday Ef. I miss you. I love you.
January 7, 2013