JM was abandoning his baby innocence to explore the world around him with his boyhood friends. He was walking to Monastiraki, two miles away from Efpalion, to go swimming in the sea, which was awesome in its beauty and yet frightful in its power. It was time for sleep, when all adults and children traditionally took their noon nap; it was hot and humid, with mosquitos buzzing all over for a meal.
It was time to choose between the umbilical cord and its safety net, or the unknown temptation of nature. He remembers the dilemma of his first white lie, he had in telling his mother that he did not take a nap but went swimming instead. He said nothing although somehow he knew that his mother was aware of it. Her knowing look said everything, but she chose not to make any fuss.
Peer pressure is as powerful as an awakening, bringing new emotions.
For the first time in his short life, he saw the naked bodies of his friends, heard stories from the “wise” and “cosmopolitan” boys of the difference between boys and girls. He felt the sensuality of the sun and the smell of the sea. JM wondered if one day, he would experience the excitement the other boys were bragging about. One of the boys gave the answer, as you can see in the picture.
(He thanks Pauli for this Photo)
Early in 1936, he saw a beautiful old lady standing by the doorway in the lower level of his house. It was his paternal Yiayia. She was named Athena and was a lithesome beauty who deserved to be named after the goddess Athena. (His sister was named after her and inherited her beauty.)
He was wondering why she stood by the door with an adoring and questioning smile, begging him to come to her but never verbalizing her feeling. Her white hair and black dress covered her graceful body. She never touched him nor gave him any toys or goodies.
Later at her deathbed, he was told that his Yiayia had an unmentionable disease [TB]; it was the reason that he could not hug her or even get close to her.
She was buried in the cemetery of St. Ileas, overlooking the north side of Efpalion with its colorful mountains, fertile soil, and lush green vegetation. On the south side, you could see Monastiraki and its peaceful cerulean and deep blue water, adorned with small fishing boats. There her husband Xristos, and her son Tasos were buried, and eventually JM’s father, mother and his brother Xristos.
JM’s maternal grandfather, John P adjoins her graveside, lying head to head.
(There is no picture of his grandfather, Xristos Mihos.)
(from top to bottom: Father Vasilios, Mother Sotiria, Brother Xristos, Grandfather John P, Uncle Tasos)
Potidaneia and Efpalion were in existence in 480 BC. Thucydidis wrote in his book “ History of the Peloponnesian War” of the general “Demosthenes, on his first day, took Potidania, on the second day, Crocylium, and third, Tichium. Here he halted and sent back the booty to Eupalium in Locris.”