Greek-American Stories: Candidates

Whenever Yiannis needed a note for Barbara’s absence from school Dimos obliged him since his English was better. This time Yiannis wanted Dimos to write him a speech. “I want to run for president of the Marousanakislaki Society.” “Why do you want to become president?” asked Dimos, recalling Yiannis having made a mess of his run for city council. “Two good reasons! First, as president I can go to Marousanakislaki next summer free. Once there, I can have lunch with the mayor as guest of honor. Second, I can stay there for two weeks as president. I can use the rest, you know.” Hearing that, George almost choked on his coffee. “Rest! Your whole life is a rest!” Ignoring him, Yiannis turned his attention back to Dimos. “Will you do it?” Dimos was thoughtful. “I don’t know, Yiannis! What do you want me to say in the speech? Have you an agenda? You’ve got to sell yourself, tell the members what changes you’d make; how you’d make improvements, propose doing something for the village, for instance. Can you do anything at all?” Yiannis wrinkled his brow. “Of course! The treasury has money. I can take some of it and…” John’s hand came up. “That money is for the expenses for the Greek Independence Day parade in March; books for Greek school. Does the society have that much money in their treasury?” “Aw, don’t worry about money matters! That can be found some way.”

But, doubt clouded that issue. “Look!” Yiannis insisted. “Three others are applying, I heard. Just let me try. I may not win. Think of your honor, Dimos. You can write a great speech, I know.”

“If you win, Yiannis, what improvement will you make in the village?” asked Kipreos. For a long moment Yiannis was deep in thought. “Lots of them! There are no garbage bins along the main street in my village. I’d order two. Then, my mother’s house has no indoor plumbing. I’ll order that done.”  Dimos objected. “That’s not an improvement to the village. That’s personal improvements. You can’t use the society’s money for your own personal use.” “Why not? If I’m president of my society…” He was affronted. “Isn’t my house in the village, too?” He continued, “with indoor plumbing I can rent the two bedrooms to tourists.” Disapproval was unanimous. Quickly sensing it, he added, “with the rent money the mayor can make any improvements needed.” That put the idea into action. Dimos agreed to write the speech.

Sunday, Dimos read the speech to the others who thought it a grand piece. “Very impressive, Dimos.” said John. Kipreos agreed, saying, “Yiannis will be president for life when that speech is heard.” George shook his head with doubt. “Yiannis propose a rescue place for abandoned cats and dogs? He’s anything but a St. Francis of Assisi. He hated Barbara’s parakeets. A playground for the kids? He’d bring a ball and some marbles and call it a playground.” They laughed. “Take it easy! Let him have his fifteen minutes of fame,” Dimos told them, laughing.

Yiannis had just arrived and a committee of men approached their table soon after. Recognizing the group, Yiannis, all smiles, rose to greet them. Giving him a curt, ‘Hello’, they approached Dimos. “Mr. Dimos, we believe you wrote that speech for Yiannis. You have wonderful insights and ideas.” Dimos hesitatingly thanked them. “In light of that, we wish you’d do us the great honor of joining our society.” Irritated, Yiannis sputtered, “he can’t be a member! He’s not even from Marousanakislaki.” The present mayor turned to Yiannis and said, “we’ve voted unanimously to make him honorary citizen of Marousanakislaki. It’s in our charter to be able to do so.” Taking out a paper, he read, “Whereas, if a person has shown credible example of good citizenship and honorable intentions toward our society and wishes to become member, he may do so at the behest of more than fifteen votes.” Then, turning to Yiannis, said, “There were eighteen votes. Of course, you can still remain a member when you pay up the three years membership you owe.” Yiannis, rubbing his chin, contemplating the cost of three years, turned to Dimos and, extending his hand, said, “Welcome!”


This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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