Karpathos Native John Sakellakis, 90, Shares Book about Life in WWII Greece

PARMA, OH – John Elias Sakellakis, 90, was featured in an article on Cleveland.com about the release of his book Little Stories from Greece: Tales of a Young Boy Growing up on the island of Karpathos, Greece during World War II and His Transition to America.

“I wanted my children to have knowledge of my own experiences because I went through the war, through hunger, through a lot of problems,” Sakellakis told Cleveland.com. “I wanted that experience to not be lost.”

Sakellakis and his wife of 63 years, Effie, have four children, five grandchildren and a four-month-old great-grandchild.

“So I started book in 1996, but I didn’t finish it,” Sakellakis continued, Cleveland.com reported. “Then my daughters found a woman who specialized in the publishing of the book. I thought I finished it last year, but one of my daughters said I needed to put in a lot of my experiences in America. So I sat down and started writing again. I just finished the book in January.”

Little Stories from Greece was published on February 13 and “recounts how Sakellakis navigated a wartime childhood filled with challenges,” Cleveland.com reported.

Sakellakis was born on the mountainous island of Karpathos and his “youth was interrupted by the Greco-Italian War” followed by the German invasion a year later, Cleveland.com reported.

“When the war came we got bombed and killed,” Sakellakis told Cleveland.com. “I had all of the experiences. We had eight people in my family, five children and three adults, including my grandmother. She was a wise woman. She could do a lot of things. My father, too, he was a jack of all trades.”

“Before the war, Sakellakis remembers a rural life where even the kids were put to work,” Cleveland.com reported, noting that “one fond memory involved him using a broom to keep the eagles from stealing the family’s chickens.”

Sakellakis immigrated to the United States in 1949 and eventually settled in Parma, OH, about 45 years ago where he currently resides.

“I came first to Cleveland where in 1953 I graduated from Lincoln High School,”  Sakellakis told Cleveland.com. “Then I got drafted. I was getting trained to go to Korea with 800 other soldiers. We were ready to go. It was like 15 days before we left there was an armistice, which stopped the fighting. So the army sent us to basic training and we ended up in Germany.”

“It was in the armed services that Sakellakis learned electronics,” Cleveland.com reported, adding that “returning to Northeast Ohio, he worked as an electronic engineer.”

The book is garnering a positive response so far “with sales in Germany,” Cleveland.com reported.

“I really didn’t make the book to make money,” Sakellakis told Cleveland.com. “My family jokes about it now. They say we’ll have to make it a movie. I think that’s going to be too much.”

When asked who would portray him in the film version of his life story, Sakellakis told Cleveland.com: “I would play myself, I’d just have to have a way to get younger. My family has a lot of variety. We’d borrow from someone in the family.”

Of the book’s message, Sakellakis told Cleveland.com: “Don’t give up. I worked, got married and had children. Now I’m a great-grandfather. I always say I had a very good life.”

The book is available online.


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