Thursday, December 8, 2011

Elderly Immigrant


I don’t remember much

About my youth 
In the old country— 

I was too young to bother 
About memories. 

Now, I tell myself,
I’ll soon know better. 


4 comments:

  1. Vassilis,

    To paraphrase the poet, this is no country for old memories.

    I can barely remember (or recognize) it myself.

    Where you are now, at least democracy retains a place in the cultural memory. Here there's a price tag on even that.

    Re. our conversation last week about the good/bad old days when Xinger and the Nix ruled the chicken coop, I've been doing a bit of snooping into the history of the infamous "Greek bearing gifts", Tom Pappas, who provided hush money for the Watergate burglars, and whose three huge donations to the 1968 Nix campaign -- money channeled from the Greek junta -- then proved instrumental in putting that particular cartoon-fascist regime over the top. And speaking of over the top, the one thing Pappas asked in return for all that dirty money, he got: Spiro Agnew as V.P.: what the Washington Post called "perhaps the most eccentric political appointment since the Roman Emperor Caligula named his horse a consul."

    See what I mean? If memories were to be made of THAT, who would want them?

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  2. On the other hand, here's a sweet memory a skinny kid in specs once had:

    "These reminded me of the run-down rooming house my family lived in from 1948-1955—on the floor above a tavern owned by a Greek relative on the main street of a town that was once one of Washington State’s most infamous—primarily because it had more taverns per foot than any other town and because of its numerous “bawdy” houses.

    "We were the only family—three rooms—the rest of the rooms on the first floor were rented out to bachelors of various ages but all on the skids, so to speak and of course only one communal toilet.

    "Not a healthy environment in which to grow up, so why do I have such good memories of it?"

    And why do I find that memory so very moving, when it's not even mine -- could it be it reminds me of mine?

    Yegads. Next I'll be... becoming an avatar!

    ("Hareedle!" wheezed the word verification machine.)

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  3. Hee-hah and then that "horse's ass" Agnew returned the favor by visiting Greece and the native village of his father in 1971. He went to Gargalianoi and planted--you guessed it--an olive tree but I don't think anybody remembers where it is.

    Continuing our trip back to the valley of ambivalent memory, I remember my dad telling me on my return to the fatherland in 1972 that he had actually shaken hands with Agnew while proudly wearing his WWI army hat. Soon after my arrival, I also remember collecting all of George Papadopoulos' rantings and ravings published in successive volumes titled "Our Credo" which Dad had picked up right and left(!)--they were free--and setting them on fire in our back yard, an act which I now regret, as I think they have become somewhat of a collector's item!

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  4. Vassilis, it feels like maybe the conflagration was the right thing.

    Had you kept those volumes, they'd have worked like battery acid, or little bits of the Alien... drip, drip, slowly burning a hole in your soul.

    (Small caveat: this is said with all the conviction of a convicted nattering nabob of negativity, mind you.)

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