My great grandfather came to Athens around 1860 from Vissani, a village in Epirus, south of Albania. As tradition had it, each village in that mountenous region was turned to a different trade or craft, and his village produced bakers. He had a bakery on Astingos street in the Monastiraki neighborhood of Athens. My grandfather’s bakery was nearby, on Hiphaistou street. Constantine, my father, played national league soccer with the Apollo team and became an electrician. He operated his motor winding workshop but later bought a printing shop. He joined the Resistance against dictator Metaxas in the 1930s. During the Nazi occupation he organized the network of clandestine printing shops producing leaflets calling the people to revolt. When the Civil War began in 1946 he was arrested by the royalists and court-martialed “for conspiring to overthrow the regime.” He was condemned to death and spent several months in the death cell, while he was offered the chance to save his life by signing a declaration against his beliefs. His brothers finally bribed the military judges, who revised his sentence to life imprisonment. He was released 10 years later under the reconciliation measures, together with two other members of his family who had also fought in the Resistance and the Civil War.
My maternal grandfather, Theodore Meziltzoglou, had a grocery store in a town called Saranta Ekklisies (Kirklareli in Turkish), in Eastern Thrace, north of Istanbul. He spoke Turkish, Bulgarian and Ladino, and traveled frequently to procure his supplies. Each time the Greeks were displaced after a lost war he opened a new shop further, in Xanthi, in Drama and in Salonica. My mother Fotini, the eldest of three sisters, was among the first Greek women to study mathematics. She became a high school teacher, an early feminist and a member of the Resistance. She raised her two children without any outside help. Forty years later she was decorated with the Medal of the Resistance.
My sister Lucia is a pharmacist employed by the Greek Social Security.
In 1971 I married in Douala, Cameroon, Chariklia Drossi, a dentist-orthodontist from Athens. We divorced in Paris in 1975. In 1984 I had a son, Alexis, with Dr. Florence Oualid, social psychologist in Paris. Alexis has studied engineering and European studies in France. Between their holidays in Greece I visit them often in Paris.