Annapolis Greek Heritage

Preserving the Legacy of Greek-Americans in the Annapolis Area

Samaras: Anna

Anna Samaras (christened Annette Theodore Samaras) was a lifelong member of the Annapolis Greek-American community.

Anna was born on January 11, 1926 in Eustis, Florida to parents Theodore and Katherine Samaras, after they had departed from Annapolis for the greener pastures of Florida.

After four years in Eustis, the family moved again to Jersey City for a year, then to Baltimore for six months, before returning to Annapolis in or about 1932, during the height of the Great Depression. The family moved to Cornhill Street, then Dean Street, and ultimately to Calvert Street. Her father Theodore re-entered the Annapolis restaurant trade, after previously being operator and part owner of restaurants on Main Street, then a failed restaurant at the foot of West Street (foreclosed by Farmers Bank) before establishing the Park Lunch diner on Calvert Street, which had turned from a City gateway, just one block from Church Circle to the edge of the now-derelict WB&A railroad station, to degrade into a slum area after the WB&A Railroad bankruptcy of 1935.

Anna was educated completely within the Annapolis school system at Annapolis Elementary School (a.k.a. “Green Street”) and Annapolis High School, where she graduated in 1943.

Anna intially worked for her brother Nick Samaras and brother-in-law Tom Siomporas as a waitress in the S&S Restaurant ring the latter half of the 1940s decade.

S&S Restaurant Video (Youtube)

She worked for her entire professional career as a secretary at the Naval Academy, where she quickly rose to the highest administrative level on The Naval Academy staff, as the Superintendent’s Secretary. In this capacity, Anna dealt with many high-ranking US Government, military, and foreign dignitaries.

Anna retired after 35 years of service.

Anna lived with and cared for her mother, Katherine (a.k.a. “Yiayia”), until Yiayia’s death at age 95. Anna was an early member of GOYA, Greek Orthodox Youth of America, and she was a founder of the local GOYA chapter at Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church. She was also a member of the Church Council from 1968 to 1973, where she served as secretary in 1973.

Anna was very close to her Sister Georgia and her children Maria, Diana, Karena, and Tara, frequently taking her young nieces on shopping trips and other outings.

Her interests included reading, gardening, traveling, and cooking for her family and friends. She took a long trip to Greece in the 1980s with her friend Millie Kutchner (daughter of the Russian Othodox priest who sporadically offered prayers in the Annapolis Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church). Anna made a “Greek-style” green bean casserole equal to those sold in finer Greek restaurants.

Annette Theodore Samaras, “Anna,” 86, an 80-year resident of Annapolis and previously of Eustis, FL, died at her residence on May 21, 2012.

Anna Samaras Photo Gallery

Joe Bellino visits the Samaras home for Thanksgiving Dinner

by Ted Siomporas

Anna Samaras was the executive secretary in the Office of the Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy.

Joseph Bellino, the star halfback for United States Naval Academy football, won the 1960 Heisman Trophy – the highest award for NCAA football, which at that time was as popular as the NFL is today. Joe was nationally famous, having made television appearances and many magazine articles in the Naval Academy’s marketing pitch in its endeavor for Joe to win the coveted Heisman Trophy. In a “Life” Magazine article, the focus was placed on Joe’s short and stout build by including a photo of the measuring of the circumference of Joe’s 18” calves. Life Magazine in the 1950s-60s was a one of the most read national publications – described in this Annapolis Evening Capital article as “whose calves were as thick as some men’s thighs” and in this Sports Illustrated article as “with a football in his hands and the bulging, muscular posts that serve him as legs drumming down a football field, Joe Bellino becomes something special”

Joe, whose football notoriety helped enhance the public image of the United States Naval Academy, was a frequent visitor to the Office of the Superintendent. Due to the pending Army-Navy game, coupled with Navy being one of the highest ranked NCAA teams, seeking the national title, Joe was stuck in Annapolis for Thanksgiving, 1960, unable to get home to Massachusetts. Anna Samaras, talking with Joe in the lobby of the Office of the Superintendent, learned of his plight and offered Joe a plate at the table for Thanksgiving Dinner. Anna told Joe that she had a brother (Nick) and a nephew (Ted) who were big Navy football fans, who would enjoy meeting him. Joe accepted the invitation.
After dinner, we had mild banter about the Life magazine article and the medias’a focus on his legs, particularly the tape measuring. Someone made a challenge to Joe that athletic stockily-built Ted Siomporas had calves which should also appear in Life Magazine. A “tape-off” contest was held: Ted’s calves were only ½ inch less than Joe’s calves. Following are after-dinner photos of the event, including Nick Samaras’ brother-in-law Gus Leanos (another big Navy football fan):

Old Man and Old Woman Drawings

By: Linda Siomporas

In the mid-seventies I found that I had a bit of natural art talent. Because of my husband Ted’s Greek-American background, I thought he would be pleased if I drew something related to his Greek heritage. Looking through a travel book on Greece, I came across two photos that appealed to me. One was of an old Greek man with a shepherd’s staff and another of an old Greek woman carding wool by hand. I did a pencil drawing of each that turned out well. For Ted’s birthday, I got them framed, then afterwards, hung them on our dining room wall.

Old Man and Old Woman Drawings
Old Man and Old Woman Drawings

My Father-in-Law would stop by the house to see the grandchildren and then go to our dining room. He would turn around a chair to face the wall with the drawings, to sit for a few minutes and subsequently leave. He did this quite a few times. I finally asked him: “why do you do that?”

He explained:

“When I was a very young child, my mother died in childbirth and the baby died too. As they were being carried away to be buried, I was crying. My Grandmother took my hand and said ‘I am your mother now’, and I stopped crying. My grandmother and my uncle raised me. The old woman in the picture looks like my grandmother and the old man my uncle.” Then we were both in tears.

Of all the pictures, in all the books, they are the ones that spoke to me.

I drew another set of the pictures, but bigger. I had them framed and gave them to him for Father’s Day. They hung in his house in Florida until Jesus took him home.

Thomas Siomporas and His Daughter-in-law, the Healer

By: Linda Siomporas

My husband Ted Siomporas used to be afflicted with sporadic neuro-muscular pain, often finding relief from a massage therapist who specialized in NMMT (Neuro Muscular Massage Therapy). He asked me to get the NMMT training in order to use this technique for him at home. I took the training and became certified.

I also learned another technique that is spiritually based, called “healing energy”. The practitioners would invite healing energy to flow through them, to the person needing relief or healing. For my husband, I would place my hands where he had pain, asking Jesus to have His Healing Light flow through me, through my hands. Ted would experience penetrating warmth and relief from pain.

One day, we were visiting my father-in-law, who complained of knee pain. So I explained that I had a technique that might help and asked if was it okay to put my hands on his knees. He said “Yes”. So, in a state of prayer, I asked for Jesus’s Healing Light to flow through my hands while they were on his knees. All of a sudden, my Father-in-Law became upset and grabbed my hands. He exclaimed “Your hands are cold! Where is the heat coming from? Are you a witch?” Then he said “I must pay you! In the village, if you don’t pay the witch doctor (i.e. a shaman), she’ll put a curse on you!”

I assured him that I did not want to be paid. I did my best to explain what had happened, which I’m not even sure how it works. I just ask Jesus to use me as a conduit for healing. After my father-in-law calmed down, he was satisfied with my explanation. Subsequently, he would come to our house for me to apply the techniques that I learned. Whether it was the healing energy or the NMMT, I was grateful to be able to help him be more comfortable.

My Father-in-Law: Thomas Siomporas, goat herder

By: Linda Siomporas

December 5th, 1972, Annapolis, Maryland: I had finally had started labor – two weeks late. It wasn’t time for me to go to the hospital, because my contractions weren’t yet 5 minutes apart. My parents had come to our house to pick-up my daughter Anastasia, to keep her until after we would come home from the hospital with our second born.

While my contractions continued, my Father-in-Law came to keep me company. Alleviating my fear that labor could progress too quickly, he assured me: “ I know what to do. My uncle [who had raised him] was a goat herder. When the nanny goats were in labor, they often needed help because of breach births or tangled up legs, or other complications.” Goat herders were experts at handling these kinds of problems. He told me that midwives in his village would send for his uncle to deliver breach births. He then told me that one of the Greek immigrant women in our community had been delivered by his uncle.

What a comfort and a blessing to share that time with him. He made me feel safe and cared for. That night, I realized that I didn’t just have a Dad and a Father-in-Law: I had two Dads.

Epilogue: Baby Angela (Ευαγγέλιa) was delivered “sunny side up” via natural childbirth, without complications, by Dr. Steven Abramedis on December 6, 1972. She was named after my mother-in-law Evangeline (Ευαγγέλιa). Angela missed being born on Evangeline’s birthday (December 7th) by just a few hours.

Memories of Aunt Anna Samaras

By: Maria Liakos:

her Granddaughter Maria Liakos:

Yiayia could swear in English fairly fluently, and was overheard to do so on phone calls with Thea Daphne. Of course this usually involved Yiayia holding the mouthpiece of the phone closer to her eyes than mouth, and frequently saying “SH*T or bulls**it throughout their conversations!

She loved to tell stories from her childhood which we think are true! She’d say: “come over and I ‘ll tell you a little story.” The two that have stuck with me the most were:

Once when she was little, living in Greece, her mother asked her to go down to the cellar with her cousin to get something, and apparently, they got into the wine and were found passed out and hanging over the barrels, according to Yiayia. Needless to say they got into a lot of trouble.

On another occasion, she and her sister were celebrating Uncle Nick’s baptism I think, and apparently drank a whole bottle of Ouzo. My grandfather didn’t speak to her for several days!

Yiayia was also a woman of little patience when it came time to “go home I said!” On one occasion in Ocean City, she apparently got tired of waiting for my mother and Thea Anna to finish their browsing in the shops on the boardwalk, and took off on her own. We ultimately found her after alerting the police – she was calmly waiting on a bench much further down the boardwalk.

I grew up going on family vacations in the minivan which included my mother, sisters, Thea Anna and Yiayia. My mother was always concerned that the motels we checked into would charge us extra for squeezing too many people into the room, therefore she would insist that some of us “hide down” in the van until we got to the room. On one very long trip to Gatlinburg, Yiayia was asked to once again lay down to hide, to which she replied: “If I lie down one more time I’m agonna die!” On this same trip, she was riding in the back of the van and suddenly started laughing, and when asked why, she said that she just realized that she had put on 2 pairs of underwear! To make things worse, she apparently took one pair off at some point and we found them in the picnic basket with the food! Finally during this same vacation, she inadvertently locked herself into the motel room with the chain lock and couldn’t open it. My mother, being a woman of extreme patience (sarcasm), went into our room next door, which was not adjoining, to try to examine the chain lock and better explain to Yiayia how to open it. Of course, then my mother got herself locked into the second room as well. My Thea Anna and I were in hysterics laughing by this time and ready to abandon both of them out of embarrassment, but ultimately a kind passerby, we dubbed “the cowboy,” happened by and got them out with a tool kit – he took the hinges off the door.

She also had an extremely kind heart when it came to her grandchildren: She was always trying to force money into our hands. Usually it was $2, and probably her last. She lived on Social Security and had very little, but would never fail to open her little pocket book, take out a few dollars and say: “take it I said!” She also hovered over us when we were sick or sad and would just sit with us and take a nap on the couch in the same room. I remember coming home from the hospital during my senior year of high school and she would bring me food and just sit with me to keep me company while I slept.

When I went off to college, she would act up and give Thea Anna grief. Thea would call me and say: “talk to your grandmother, she won’t take a bath or eat!” She’d put Yiayia on the phone, who would repeat “she talk to me like a dog.” After some cajoling, Yiayia would ultimately agree to do what Thea wanted and say: “OK I do for you,” to me.

Finally, I remember introducing her to my boyfriend at the time, who was not Greek Orthodox (a sin worse than anything in the eyes of a Greek Yiayia). He would try to make conversation with her, but she would only respond in Greek. He told her: “Miss Katherine, I don’t speak Greek” and she said “I know!”

by her Grandson Ted Siomporas:

Yiayia had lived with children all her widowed life. Both son Nick and daughter Evangeline (my mother) moved out of her house at 9 McKendree Avenue in the late 1940s. Georgia married and moved away in 1960. Only Aunt Anna lived with Yiayia for the remainder of her life, except for Yiayia’s final few months, well into her 90s, when her maladies became too much for Aunt Anna to deal with, so Yiayia had to go to a nursing home for physical care. She didn’t take it well, wanting to go home.

I frequently visited Yiayia when she was at the Gambrills nursing facility, near my house in Crofton.

On one of my visits, I was confronted by the nursing supervisor about Yiayia’s “behavior”. The lady told me that Yiayia would get impatient or frustrated, and when she did, Yiayia would only talk (or yell) in Greek. The staff, as a result, had to treat her as being a hostile patient. The lady told me that she heard Yiayia speaking English once before, and requested that I speak to Yiayia to try to correct the situation.

During my visit to Yiayia, in which I spoke English and she alternated between Greek and English, I relayed the lady’s concern to Yiayia and asked why she would only speak to the staff members in Greek. Yiayia responded (these were her exact words): “Μπορώ, αλλά δεν θέλω!” (translated: “I can, but I don’t want to”.

By Linda Siomporas (Ted’s wife) :

I had known Ted’s Yiayia since Ted and I were engaged in 1968. Although her English vocabulary was somewhat limited, Yiayia communicated well, having interacted with cafe customers going back to 1920. Yiayia got right to the point with frequent pearls of wisdom.

After my youngest child Alexandra became a walking toddler, Yiayia going directly to the point, offered me this profound advice: “Linda … if you’re going to have another one, do it now – don’t wait. Once Alexandra is out of diapers, you won’t want to change diapers again!”.

By her Granddaughter Joanne (Siomporas) Brew

Katherine Samaras (Economou) was my maternal Grandmother. Yiayia, or Big Yiayia, (she was not quite 4’ 11”) arrived in Ellis Island on June 18th, 1920, for an arranged marriage to Theodore Samaras. She left her family behind in Trikala, Greece, never to see them again. She was chaperoned on the journey by her future brother-in-law, George Samaras, his wife Daphne, (who would remain her life-long close friend for 70+ years) and their three children.

When I was very young Yiayia lived close to our house in Annapolis so we saw her frequently. She had a wonderful house on McKendree Ave. in Annapolis and we would spend many summer days in her back yard or playing in the street. This was the 50’s and a wonderful time to be a kid. Her husband had died in the early 1940’s, so she took in a few male boarders to help pay the bills.

She seemed serious to me but always was there to cook or welcome the family. I remember her sewing up my torn play pants when I was about 7 years old and it surprised me how quick and effortless it happened. I believe that was her MO. She didn’t fuss about anything, just got it done.

She enjoyed talking on the phone with her sister-in-law, Daphne; they had so much in common. They struggled with their new country, its language, each had five children, their husbands died in middle-age.

Neither of those strong ladies was educated or had the skills to be employed. Their grown children helped to support them for their last fifty years. They maintained a solid and loving household for the next two generations.

My Yiayia was a quiet, respectful lady who lived into her 90’s and outlived three of her children. Stoic as she aged and strong throughout.

Memories of Aunt Anna Samaras

By: Maria Liakos:

Thea Anna had a great sense of humor and often told me that we were alike since we were both Capricorns.

She would have arguments with both my mother and her own mother and frequently call me to mediate. It was a common call I received while in college to “talk to your grandmother” who was refusing to take a bath!

She took me to my first R rated movie.

She bought me my first pair of high heels.

She helped me get my first credit card.

She loved to travel and was surprisingly adventurous. She took a trip to Greece with a friend from the Naval Academy and traveled extensively throughout the country as well as to Turkey briefly.

She had a warm heart and was always making her Greek specialties and gifting to family, doctors, neighbors, nail salon people etc. Her plasto and Codre (yellow squash cornbread) were wonderful.

After a difficult and long awaited first pregnancy, I recuperated at home with a newborn who refused to be put down for even a minute, let alone to sleep or let me shower. Thea drove to my home every day for 3 months to sit with us and rock my son Seth, while I showered and caught up on household chores or just slept. She also went with us on errands and occupied him while I grocery shopped, etc. She always called him “her boy” and they had a special relationship throughout his teens until she passed.

She was our second mother, always.

By: Karena Liakos:

She loved to laugh & the time all of the family went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding together comes to mind and we all had tears coming down our faces from laughing.

Also she & I shared a few special memories of going to meet John Stamos together a couple times and getting big hugs & kisses from our “fellow Greek”.

She was also so generous to take me to R rated gory horror films when I was young since I am a huge horror fan. I know she didn’t care for them and would just shake her head on the way out but she never complained.

She taught me so much about cooking. Being in her kitchen making moussaka or pickling olives and making many great Greek dishes. I owe a lot of skills to her.

She loved her flowers and gardening when she was able to do that. I remember growing up helping her garden too.

By: Diana Liakos:

Thea Anna was a God loving, positive and encouraging lady. She was also very tough and didn’t put up with anyone’s nonsense or bad behavior. She would get fired up about some things; she needed a reason to be feisty and help other people. That really annoyed some people, but she was alw right!

She loved to cook and was a great one. She always made food to share with other people. She’d call me to tell me what she made and ask me to come get some of it to have for lunch at work. She’d also give it to the people at the nail salon who did her manicure and pedicure. They loved her so much! I still make Greek food and give it to them to honor her memory.

She’d buy my favorite things like blueberries at Sam’s Club and give them to me.

She took me out to practice driving when I was in driver’s Ed. She also gave me some beautiful jewelry of hers and told me “ wear it now while I’m still alive so I can see it on you. Don’t wait until I die”.

I always made sure to give her gifts for Mother’s Day too, because she was definitely our other mother.

I still look at her house every time I drive down West Street and think of her.

By: Tara (Liakos) Hines:

Well, as for Thea Anna I can think of so many fond memories/stories.

She loved to laugh & the time all of the family went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding together comes to mind and we all had tears coming down our faces from laughing.

Also she & I shared a few special memories of going to meet John Stamos together a couple times and getting big hugs & kisses from our “fellow Greek”.

She was also so generous to take me to R rated gory horror films when I was young since I am a huge horror fan. I know she didn’t care for them and would just shake her head on the way out but she never complained.

She taught me so much about cooking. Being in her kitchen making moussaka or pickling olives and making many great Greek dishes. I owe a lot of skills to her.

She loved her flowers and gardening when she was able to do that. I remember growing up helping her garden too.

From There to Here: An Immigrants Tale

By: Mary Ellen Hughes

Copyright 1991

presented here with her permission

Thomas Siomporas speaks with a heavy Greek accent in a voice that attest to 79 years of use, but with the firm no-nonsense way of the long time businessman. His stocky frame still energetic, he has no trouble remembering the hard work and long hours he spent struggling to survive as a non English speaking, uneducated, 19 year-old, newly arrived from Greece during the height of the Great Depression.

“My parents were married in Lowell, Massachusetts. My father was Greek, my mother Romanian, but they were American citizens. They went to visit Greece in 1911. I was born in 1912. The war was declared between Turkey and Greece and my father had to leave the country. He left my mother and me – my mother was pregnant with a second child, and she died with the baby. I was raised with grandparents until I was 19 years old.

“My father wanted me to come [to America] several times. After my father married my stepmother, she wanted me to come. My father was nice to her daughter and my stepmother wanted me to come over. They were married when I was about ten – it took him a long time to find the right person. But I had a good life with my Grandfather on the farm, and then a lot of people said ‘you’re going to go there, the stepmother is going to punish you’. A lot of people were scared of a stepmother.

“Three times I decided to come to this country, but something always happened. The third time, when I was 18, I almost came but I changed my mind. I kept thinking what do I want to go to United States for. I didn’t know. And then I was kind of in love with a girl, a farm girl, and she kind of twist my arm not to go period of course I told her I’d come back, but she knew better, I knew better. But I kept thinking, and I changed my mind.

“Then my step sister convinced me. Wrote me a letter and told me, ‘Brother, we’re not going to come to Greece to see you. We’re not going to meet you ever. But if you come to see us we’ll see you, and if you don’t like it, go back.’ I thought, well that sounds good. Nothing wrong with that. And they send me a ticket again and on March 24, 1931, I came to Ellis Island. My father didn’t come to New York to pick me up. I had an envelope safe in my pocket that said where I’m going, with directions how to get there. So I arrived at the railroad station in Pittsburgh and my father was there with one friend of his and my step sister. My step sister was driving a car my father had an automobile then, 8 Durand and they knew who I was but I didn’t know who they were. They opened the front door for me to sit in the front seat and I reached to get my suitcase. My step sister said let the suitcase go. Our father will pick it up. I looked then to see who would pick up the suitcase so I know who was my father I had pictures but I was all excited, and the other fellow looked like my father too. But as soon as my father started talking – see we had a different dialect in Macedonia, and the other fellow was from Philoponis in southern Greece – then I knew who my father was.

“I didn’t speak English but I was determined to learn. In Greece the only school I had was the priest from the church – whenever he could. At nine years old I quit – my Grandfather needed me on the farm, for the herds. We had goats, sheep. I had three years school, but not three full years. When I came, I went to American school to learn English. My sister was nice and she taught me a lot.

“My father was working in the steel mill in Pittsburgh. He was a foreman, but it was depression time. He had some money in the bank but the bank shut down and he can’t get money back. Depression was hard on steel mills and coal mines then. He only was working one day every other week and can’t support the family with that. Well, I got a job at a Baker shop, helping the bakers and delivering bread to the houses. I learn how to drive a truck. I worked six months. I can eat all the bread – leftover, not fresh bread – and I could take some home for the family. I got fifty cents a week – not a day but a week – and I saved five dollars.

“I went to New York with the idea to go back to Greece, back to the farm. But I got a job in a restaurant washing dishes, and learned how to cook a little bit. I got $7 a week – then a dollar a day, seven days a week, 12-14 hours a day. I worked a year and a half there, and I saved $250. I was paying dollar and a half for a room to stay in and I was eating at the restaurant. Of course everything was reasonable then, you could buy a pair of shoes for a dollar and a half, dollar senty-five. You could buy socks for a nickel. Everything was reasonable, but then, you had no money. I saved $250, and by 1933 Roosevelt come in and the banks reopened, most of them they paid back some money. The factory start working.

“My father wrote me, told me to come back to work with him in the steel mill. I told him I don’t want more working in this country, I want to go back to the old country. So I decided to go and tell him goodbye.

“My stepmother was very nice, very smart woman she played a trick to make me feel bad for her period when I walked in the house she had a black ribbon around the door. I said what happened someone die?

“She said, well, will have a death in the family. You’re going to leave us. And she started crying. Whether it was pretend to cry or whether is real, I don’t know. She said ‘what are the grandparents going to say if you go back? Go say your stepmother is no good. She chased you out. Stay one more year. Promise you’ll stay one more year. In one year if you don’t like it then I’ll give you my prayers if you wish to go.’

“ So she somehow hit the sore spot – I’m a sentimental man – and I promised her I’d stay one more year.

“In the meantime, my father wants me to work in the steel mill. I worked there and I didn’t like it. I already worked a year and a half in a restaurant and half a year in the Baker shop – two years in business – and I had a different attitude. I knew people do better than working in the steel mill. Steel mills and coal mines is hard work. Next to that is farmers. I saw an accident there where a wire break and it got a guy in the middle and it killed him. It scared me a little, but the only thing was with this job you’re making more money, but at the end of the season the mill slows down and your job ends. Whatever you save you have to spend then. There was no future in the steel mills so I decided to go.

“My father was kind of mad when I told him. He had to pull strings for me to get the job – everybody wanted jobs. So he told me off and I took it all like I should do.

“Another fellow had two hundred and fifty dollars too,, and we bought a lunchroom in Braddock, Pennsylvania. We started staying 24 hours open – never close. One would work night time, one day time.

“Maybe we’d have a helper. Whoever was doing the cooking was doing the waiting. Our place was lucky, close by the steel mill. We were doing business like 18, $20 a day. But half of it was profit, because we were doing the work ourselves. Then prohibition ended and we got beer and wine license right away. The business quadrupled. The law forced us to close from 12 to six then, so it gave us a chance to rest so it was great, and started making good money.

“In the meantime, my father owns a home and he owes $7000. The bank now wants the house back or wants the money. Until then the bank don’t want the house because nobody wants to buy it. So my father comes to me for help to pay for the house. The only way for me to help him was I sold my business to my partner for $7000. That was 1935. I had to do it from my father, to help my father stay at home. And I appreciated what my stepmother did – convinced me to stay, or else I would have left. I started working again as a chef for a year, and I was making 60-70 dollars. I was saving the money, and in 1936 I started a business again in Wilkensburg. That time I was by myself no partner.

“The business was a success, and in 1940 the time come to register for the draft. I was 27, so I registered and my number came up real low. I was the very first draftee in Pittsburgh. I got up in the morning and I opened the restaurant. At 9:00 o’clock I went for physical examination. At 12:00 o’clock I was on a train to Fort Meade, in Maryland. I called my father and told him to go and close the place up. Pennsylvania government says you can’t run a restaurant with a Tavern if you’re not there in person. So three months later I got three day furlough and went to a restaurant supply company and sold my fixtures. I got $3000 for all the fixtures, and back in the army again.

“I went in January, 1941, and by December 1941 I put 11 months in service. With a month of furlough I put a year in that’s how they figured it. So I got out, discharged from regular, transferred to reserves. I got out on Friday, December 5, and spent a day in Baltimore. I go to Pittsburgh on Sunday morning and go to church. By noon I got a telegram report for duty. I didn’t get off the uniform at all. That was Pearl Harbor, December the 7th. So I went back to Fort Meade. I was a mess Sergeant. I was feeding 6000 men a day breakfast lunch and dinner. I also went on troop trains to Miami and to the West Coast California, Washington state, and Oregon. It would take us six or seven days, day and night with five or 600 troops. I was feeding them on the train. When I get there I’d stay a week and train a mess Sergeant, then get a plane, train , whatever and come back.

“I got married when I was 30. Another buddy introduced me to my wife. She was his cousin. He convinced me to come to Annapolis, Maryland one time. We walked around for awhile, then we went to the lunchroom where my wife was working with her father. And that was it. I told my buddy, ‘now you don’t have to come back to Annapolis. I’ll come by myself. ‘ We go out, and about a year later we got married. Her name was Evangeline Samaras. In 1945 I had 3000 saved up and that’s what I had to invest, to start business again. I bought a restaurant. My wife helped me mostly on the register. My mother-in-law helped me in the kitchen. Her sisters helped me. Of course I paid them. But it’s different when you have your own people working with you then when you hire someone.

“I worked hard, I cook, and at midnight I closed up. I was newly married, and instead of going home with my wife I went looking for meat and produce. I went to different farmers and told them I can butcher – I can cut hog, and butcher it and use it. I bought it very reasonable and had fresh meat. I used to go to a farm and get 25 chickens in a sack, and go to the restaurant, and my wife helped me, they help help me clean them and put them up. I had to do it to survive.

“I worked hard, but it paid good. I raised a nice family. In 1960 I took my family to Europe, to Greece. I never enjoyed my children growing being in the restaurant day and night. So I said, one day, Lord help me, I’m going to spend time with my children. I said if I take them to Europe I know I’m going to be day and night with the children. We spend most of the time in Greece. I showed my children where I was raised, showed them the farm. At that time I still had relatives there that raised me. And I enjoyed the children like that.

“My wife was good, a good hard-working woman. When I had the restaurant before I got married, I used to type my own menus with one finger. But after I got married my wife was expert. She relieved me of that, and a bookkeeping department. I had good partner. That was my success. She got sick 19 years ago, real bad. She had a heart attack. And that’s when I say I don’t want business, I don’t want money, I just want my wife. So doctor said cold weather will hurt her, will kill her. So I went to Florida. I got a lot, I build a home. And we go from first of November till 1st of April to Florida. So we did pretty good but she finally, one day that was may of ‘85 she took sick – the doctor in Baltimore had told me ‘She might live long life, she might drop like that anytime. So don’t be surprised’. But of course, I’m still surprised. Because she was doing real good. I miss her terribly. But that’s life.”


Note: This article was published in 1991. Mary Ellen Hughes became a National Bestselling Mystery Author, including The Keepsake Cove, the Pickled and Preserved, The Maggie Olenski, and the Craft Corner Mystery Series. She has graciously provided us her permission to re-publish the article. See her web-site at

Anecdote: μαγειρίτσα (mageiritsa) soup

By: Linda Siomporas

On the evening of Holy Saturday, Greek Americans celebrate the miracle of the Resurrection at the midnight Anastasi (Aνάσταση) service of the Greek Orthodox Church, which traditionally commences at midnight on Easter Sunday and is extended by the epitaphios (επιτάφιος, or epitaph) procession held outdoors. Preceded by the Holy Saturday Orthros (ὄρθρος) service, which typically commences at 11 pm on Holy Saturday, the overall service can exceed 3 hours.

Traditionally, an Anastasi meal follows the service, where the tired faithful break their fast.

Mageiritsa soup (Greek: μαγειρίτσα), also called “Easter lamb soup” is associated with the Anastasi tradition of the Greek culture, brought to the United States by the original Greek Immigrants and continued by some of their Greek-American descendants. Mageiritsa is made from the entrails and internal organs of Spring lamb.

Mageiritsa soup ingredients include the “flavorful” head and neck of the lamb, along with the intestines, heart, and liver. The entrails and internal organs are removed from the lamb before roasting, then flavored with seasonings and sauces. Mageiritsa soup is prepared on Holy Saturday along with the next day’s lamb. Mageiritsa is sometimes accompanied by salad and cheese, tsoureki sweet bread, and hard-boiled eggs dyed red as a symbol of the risen Christ’s blood.

Prepared on Holy Saturday along with the next day’s lamb, Mageiritsa is consumed immediately after the conclusion midnight Divine Liturgy.

Linda Siomporas, then a “Xeni” to the Greek-American community and its unique culture, describes her first taste of mageiritsa soup , in → this video

My Mom … Evangeline Samaras Siomporas

By: Joanne Siomporas Brew

My mother, Evangeline Samaras, was born in second story apartment on Main Street, Annapolis, Maryland to Theodore and Katherine (Economou) Samaras on December, 7, 1922. She was the second of their five children.

I know very little of her early life; she did not speak of it often. Her father was a loving man and spent most of his time trying to keep up with the needs of his large family. My grandmother was mostly involved with the expected duties of a wife at the time…cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc. She was uneducated and could not read or write. Grandfather died suddenly in in 1943 and left “Big Yiayia” with a nice home on McKendree Avenue in Annapolis, but no income. Fortunately, her children were coming of age and pitched in to support her and the house. She also took in a few male boarders who were helpful in many ways.
My Mom had just met and fell in love with Dad which added another income to help the family. They were married December 12, 1943.

Dad had been released from the Army due to a medical condition and they settled in Annapolis to start their life together.
Mom’s older brother, Nick, served in the Navy during WWII. When discharged, he returned home to Annapolis. He and Dad got together and opened the S&S ( Siomporas & Samaras) restaurant on West St. As was normal in those times, the family pitched in. Mom, her sisters, and sister-in-law Sara were waitresses in what soon become a popular restaurant. Annapolis, although a small town, become a spot for good post-war economic growth. Being a town of much historical significance, the home of the U.S. Naval Academy, the growth of tourism, the enormous building project to extend the major road from Washington to the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, along with a new four-mile-long bridge, all contributed to the success of the S&S restaurant in the 1950’s.
All the while growing up in this little town with a wonderful family was any child’s dream. In retrospect it was the leadership of my mother who quietly made everything seem so easy.

While Mom helped in the restaurant during busy lunch, kept the business books, oversaw the ordering and inventory, we played in the yard or in our home, which was immediately behind the restaurant. Occasionally Mom would get some time on her own, but mostly she was 100% there for us.

As big brother and sister (who were two and four years older than me) went off to school, I was still at home with the restaurant to amuse me. I learned how to peel and mash potatoes and wash lots of dishes with the kitchen help who lovingly put up with me. Of course, they fed me lots of mashed potatoes and gravy, and French fries, which I considered “lunch”. I respected, as a young child, that my mom had to work so much and, at the same time, kept and eye on me.
Dad always worked very hard, long hours, 6-day weeks, but Mom didn’t complain. (He started each day early…sometimes at 3 AM. He often went to slaughter his own meat to ensure the restaurant would be adequately supplied). She accepted that their success in both home and business would be achieved with her amazing unsung labor.

Dad would not take Sundays off, although the restaurant was closed due to “Blue Laws”. He would make sure of a good cleaning of the kitchen and catch up on inventory. Sometimes I went with him to meet the man who emptied the slot machines and gave Dad his “cut”. Since the restaurant was closed, they would give me nickels to play the “slots” and pinball machines. To this day I still dream about playing the old-style nickel slots.

I remember, as a young child, how tired Mom was at night and how I would bring her a pan of warm water to soak and wash her aching feet as she watched TV. I loved being able to do something for her.
We had home grown fresh garden vegetables…grapes, apples, pears, figs…since Dad loved working in the earth. Mom made lots of homemade grape jelly and the house smelled amazing during grape boiling time. She also picked the soft young grape leaves and stored them for future use in “dolmathes”, Greek style stuffed grape leaves.
Mom made sure that we attended church on Sunday and all the groups that were attached. And by the time we arrived home, a wonderful Sunday lunch was ready.

Since we had no public-school bus service, Mom would take us to school every morning and pick us up in the afternoon. Until my brother, Ted, got his license in 1963, that was her task every school day.

Mom passed away in May of 1985 at the age of 62 from heart disease. Mom was always there for us, and I still miss her dearly. I have tried to be the woman she was, but honestly, cannot. She was so special and so understated.

Love you Mom…..