Annapolis Greek Heritage

Preserving the Legacy of Greek-Americans in the Annapolis Area

Siomporas: Thomas and Evangeline

by Joanne Brew and Ted Siomporas
Thomas John Siomporas was a Greek immigrant who was a restaurateur. Evangeline was American-born and raised as an Annapolitan by Greek immigrants. Both Tom and Vangie were very active in the Annapolis Greek Community.

John Siomporas, the father of Tom Siomporas and grandfather of Ted Siomporas and Joanne Brew of the Annapolis Greek-American community, was a Greek immigrant from the mountainous region of Turkish-occupied Macedonia from the village Megali Sirini, outside of Grevena. He was the son of Athansios Siomporas and Despina Tzinoyianni. Born in 1887, John immigrated into America in 1907 via the S.S. Argentina, traveling from Patras, Greece to Ellis Island.

Thomas John and Evangeline Siomporas

John was tall, strong, and solidly built; being able-bodied to perform heavy physical work, was recruited to be a railroad construction worker, laying steel tracks in Arizona Territory (before it became a state in 1912). Subsequently, John became a steelworker at the US Steel Mill at Monesson, Pennsylvania – 15 miles south of Pittsburgh, rising through the ranks to ultimately become a foreman.

Thomas’ mother Annette was a Macedonian Vlachi who was born in Romania. Her parents, John Gumas and Aphrosini Alexi, who lived in the small village of Krania in the Grevena municipality, just outside of Grevena, Macedonia, were merchants who traversed the Balkans plying their trade of selling Greek agricultural products in Romania and returning to Macedonia with finished goods to sell. They were able to do this successfully because they were bi-lingual: as Vlachi, they spoke the Romanian dialect of Aromanian (a.k.a. “Vlachiko”). Pregnant Aphrosini, undeterred, traveled their usual route from Grevena to Bucharest, Romania, where she bore Annette in 1890.

John (at 28) married Annette Gumas, in Lowell, Massachusetts on February 6, 1910. Annette was a 20 year old Macedonian Vlachi factory worker who emigrated to Lowell via Boston in 1909. Her village of Krania was close to John’s village of Megali Sirini. They returned to Greece on the eve of the start of four Balkan wars. They had son Thomas in 1912, but John left his then-pregnant wife and son in Macedonia to go back to America to earn his fortune, and to duck conscription by the hated Turks for the pending World War as a member of the Central Powers vs. Western Europe, Greece and the USA.
John remained separated from his son Thomas for two decades due to Annette’s death during childbirth, followed by two Balkan Wars, World War I, the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-1922, economic turmoil in Greece in the 1920s, followed by the worldwide Great Depression. John (at 28) married Annette Gumas, in Lowell, Massachusetts on February 6, 1910.

John subsequently returned to the US to create wealth by working on railroad construction and in steel mills, for the planned family reunification in Greece. Mother Annette remained with John’s family in the village Megali Sirini, just outside Grevena, where she died during childbirth..

John remarried, to Fotini, in Donora, Pennsylvania in the 1920s.

Fotini encouraged young Thomas to come to Pennsylvania to live with his dad and her, and her daughter Chrysanthi, writing letters to Thomas, a teenage shepherd boy, but Thomas did not want to leave the pastoral life, and was wary of joining the young family in Pennsylvania. Moreover, young Thomas had a crush on a young Macedonian maiden. Several times, John Siomporas arranged one-way travel for Thomas, but each attempt to get Thomas to the US failed.

Grandkids Ted and Joanne fondly remember Papou John as the family head who had an extraordinary sense of humor. This included allowing them to take little tastes of his whiskey, and share the anchovies and cheese set out as appetizers at his card table in Donora, where he and other Macedonian steelworkers would assemble for frequent games of poker, and some Greek card games, where slamming cards hard on the table was a necessary part of the game. Papou loved fishing in the Chesapeake Bay – so much that some thought that he was an Annapolitan, due to his frequent visits from Pennsylvania.

→ Click here to view the anecdote “Tales of The Greek-American Fishermen”, including a story of fishermen Tom, John, and young Teddy Siomporas.

Thomas was a goat-herder who was raised by his Grandmother and his Father’s brothers, having to drop out of school after 3rd grade due to family poverty. After two abortive attempts to reunite with his father, which were foiled by Thomas’ fear of meeting with his Father’s new wife and his crush on a Macedonian farm girl, Thomas ultimately returned to the US on March 24, 1931, via the SS Saturnia and processed as a US Citizen via Ellis Island, after receiving a loving invitation from his stepsister and stepmother to reunite with his Dad and to join the family in Donora, Pennsylvania.

Thomas briefly worked in the US Steel mill in Monessen, Pennsylvania, which he promptly quit after witnessing a horrific workman’s fatality. He moved to New York City, to work in a Greek-owned bakery shop. Returning to Donora in the mid-1930s, he acquired a partnership in a diner in Braddock, Pennsylvania, which he described as being like a speakeasy, where patrons could drink alcohol, illegally. Upon legalization of beer sales, his facility became a legal bar, with the exclusive right to sell Iron City beer for a one mile radius. Tom related his memory of the first day after Prohibition was rescinded, customers were lined up for several blocks to get into his tavern. Business boomed, but in 1935 he sold his interest in the bar to pay off the remaining $7,000 mortgage on his Father’s family house in Donora. Thomas went back to work as a chef, subsequently starting another restaurant in Wilkensburg, Pennsylvania in 1936. During the late 1930s Thomas prospered. Unfortunately, he was drafted in 1940 (the first Pittsburgh area draftee) and compelled to sell his prosperous business for only the value of its fixtures. Thomas was discharged on December 5, 1941, then was almost immediately recalled to duty after Pearl Harbor was bombed two days later.

During World War 2, Thomas was based primarily at Fort Meade, Maryland. He ran several transcontinental troop trains from the West Coast, advancing to Master Sergeant, and ultimately ran the mess halls at Fort Meade, serving six thousand troops daily, processing many million meals. Serving with him were at least two ethnic Greek heritage soldiers: Stelio (a.k.a. “Stanley”) Alexiou (a Vlachos from Coatesville, Pennsylvania) and Savvas Pantelides (a Cypriot from Baltimore, who subsequently also moved to Annapolis). Stanley became part of the Vlachi ethnic group’s societal group subsequently called the “Aspropotamos Society”, mainly from the Vlach mountain village of Ayia Praraskevi, with cold winter migration to Trikala or Larissa, in the Plains of Thessalia.
Tom, Stelio and future brother-in-law Nick Samaras (rear) are in the photo
In response to Thomas’ quest to meet a local Greek girl, Stelio introduced Thomas to Evangeline Samaras of Annapolis (Stelio ‘s cousin), whose parents were Theodore Samaras and wife Katherine formerly Economou (both from Ayia Praraskevi and Trikala, Thessalia). Katherine came to Annapolis in 1920, previously betrothed to Theodore, who had been an Annapolis small businessman since 1906.
Katherine traveled on the S.S. Themostacles, arriving at Ellis Island on May 29, 1920, and accompanied by members of the greater Samaras family (Theodore’s brother George, wife Daphne, children Agorista, Konstantinos & baby Nicholas). They married in Annapolis on July 11, 1920, and honeymooned in Atlantic City:

Their journey ended at Theodore’s, George’s and brother Spiro’s apartment at 168 Main Street, Annapolis, where they lived for a while in crowded conditions, especially after Daphne (already with baby Nicholas G.) bore baby Chris, while Katherine bore babies Evangeline and Nicholas T, resulting in four simultaneous babies/toddlers.

The Great Depression led to multiple family relocations for Theodore, Katherine and children to: Eustis Florida, Jersey City, Baltimore’s Pimlico area, and back to Annapolis, to endure multiple business changes and poverty. Evangeline’s family re-settled in Annapolis in the early 1930s. They owned or worked in at least five different restaurant properties in downtown Annapolis, hitting a low point during the Great Depression when a previously thriving West Street restaurant at the foot of West Street was repossessed by a local bank.

Winding up running a luncheonette (Park Lunch diner) on Calvert Street, all teen Samaras children actively worked in the business. Evangeline used to chase rats with a broom and was burned by scalding coffee while helping operate the facility.

Thomas and Evangeline dated in Maryland during 1942-43. Due to severe wartime travel restrictions, they typically rode public transportation such as the Chesapeake Bay crossing ferries, for evening cruise dates, or train rides to Baltimore for church, for a nickel each. Their wedding plans took a back seat after the premature death of Evangeline’s father Theodore Samaras in 1942, but ultimately were married at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church on Church Circle, Annapolis, on December 12, 1943, by a visiting priest from Baltimore’s Annunciation Cathedral.
In 1945, Thomas and his brother-in-law Nick Samaras began the S&S Barbeque at 1803 West Street. After a fire destroyed the old building, Tom and Nick quickly rebuilt the facility into a restaurant and hotel, the largest such facility in Annapolis (this property now houses the Annapolis Taco Bell).

S&S Restaurant anniversary parties 1946-1949

Due to the re-emergence of stomach ulcer issues (which had led to his early discharge from the Army in 1943), Thomas retired from daily restaurant management in 1956. After he sold the business but remained an active landlord, Tom frequently visited tenants Bill Pavleros, Steve Nichols, and Willie Bloom, to provide sought-after business advice. Thomas added a 2nd restaurant in 1958, the former Dinner Bell at 2029 West Street, in partnership with Steve Plakatoris, then later with his cousins Chris and John Gumas.
A major highlight of Tom and Evangeline’s lives was taking their family to Greece in the Summer/Fall of 1960, traveling on the Greek Line’s SS Olympia and including a driving tour of Western Europe and the Balkans. This 5 month journey included a long stay in the city of Grevena, Macedonia, and multiple visits to the nearby village of Megali Sirini (Tom’s birthplace) and the mountain village of Ayia Paraskevi (a.k.a. Tsourgia) – home of Evangeline’s Samaras clan. Also trips to Thessaloniki, Athens, and the Aegean Sea islands.
Tom came out of retirement again in 1966, running the S&S until 1970, After his wife Evangeline’s serious heart attack in 1971, he refocused his life around her, particularly changing his lifestyle around entertaining relatives and guests and by fishing and crabbing from his waterfront home in Hillsmere Shores, and subsequently a winter waterfront home in Port Charlotte, Florida.
Thomas and Evangeline were very active in the Greek-American community of Annapolis. As founding members of the Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, they were instrumental, along with a score of other first generation immigrants, in raising funds to build the church in 1949. Thomas served as church president for three different terms in the 1950s and 1960s.
In his owns words, on tape and in an article written by Mary Ellen Hughes, nationally acclaimed mystery writer, Tom described his life in the short story “From There To Here: An Immigrant’s Tale”
Tom was also very active in the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), including a term as President, and was also a member of various Annapolis social clubs, including the Moose, Elks, VFW, and American Legion Post 7, where he was a past President
He also played various roles, such as sponsorship, in facilitating the immigration and citizenship of many immigrants, including relatives and other Macedonians, and other Eastern Europeans. As the original Greek-American to settle in Hillsmere Shores, he frequently hosted crab feasts, lamb roasts and other social events for his fellow Macedonian guests who subsequently settled there.
Tom never forgot his Macedonian roots. In addition to hosting frequent social activities with immigrants from Grevena or the surrounding villages, Tom would frequently travel back to Greece in the Summer of many years in the 1950s-80s. He would stay with relatives in the village of Sirini, sometimes sleeping with a herd of goats. He pined for his Grandparents and Uncles who raised him up to age 19, frequently sending them money and contributing substantially to the reconstruction of the village church, damaged in wars with the Nazis and Communists. Once, Tom was taken back by the uncanny similarity of two pieces of artwork of Old Greek villagers bearing an uncanny resemblance to his relatives in Greece who raised him. These ultimately adorned his Florida living room wall, described in → the anecdote
Tom was active in State, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County politics. He entertained many politicians at his waterfront home, including every Maryland Governor from William Preston Lane to Harry Hughes. He also served as a part-time Deputy Sheriff for over two decades, under sheriffs Joe Alton and Bill Huggins.
Evangeline was Thomas’ business partner and financial manager. She managed business operations, including dealing with local government, accountants and attorneys, and the purveyors, and controlled the business and personal finances. She would even don a waitress uniform when tourist buses stopped at the S&S Restaurant. Evangeline was active in the GOYA and the Philoptochos, and particularly dedicated as the Yiayia to 11 grandchildren.
With grandson Tommy Brew
→ Click here to view the memories by Joanne Siomporas Brew:
Thomas went through his senior years struggling with various aches and pains, particularly knee pain. Despite many visits to physicians, the pain continually worsened.
describing how he followed an old Macedonian village custom in response to receiving treatment to his bad knees from his daughter-in-law.

Thomas and Evangeline had three children and eleven grandchildren. Two children remain active in the Annapolis Greek-American community. Joanne Brew has been a business woman, financial manager, and women’s lacrosse coach and team trainer-developer. Theodore Siomporas is a semi retired consultant in Government contracting.
Thomas (1992) and Evangeline (1985) died in Annapolis and are buried in the St. Demetrios Cemetery.

Siomporas Photo Gallery

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.”

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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 www.maryellenhughes.com.

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.

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…..
Joanne

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.