Thursday, October 27, 2016

Greek-American Blackface: Stereotypical Characters in the 1930s-1940s

Nick Parkyakarkus
George Givot

Greek-American Blackface:
Stereotypical Characters in the 1930s-1940s

Published in The National Herald, October 8-14, 2016 Issue
Authored by Steve Frangos
TNH Staff Writer

------------------------------

We are excited to announce that The National Herald has given Hellenic Genealogy Geek the right to reprint articles that may be of interest to our group. 

------------------------------


-----------------------


CHICAGO- One of the true omissions from Greek-American studies is the fact that nonGreek comedians and actors regularly portrayed comedic Greek characters in vaudeville, radio, and films. Given that America has lampooned one ethnic group after another, it really should come as no surprise that a kind of Greek-American blackface is also a part of that strand of racist-based humor. For those who doubt this claim, re-issued radio programs, old films, and even computer sites offer more enough evidence of the existence of this type of Greek stereotype.

The recognizable stereotypic trait that marked one as a Greek in North America was fractured speech. Malapropisms were at the root of all Greek-dialect comedians. But mangling the English language was not limited to Greeks in the world of American ethnic humor. Settings were equally important so Greeks in these comedy performances are presented as fruit peddlers, restaurant owners, barbers, and other such trades in which the average American would most often have seen a Greek in the early 1900s. Even in movie roles where Greeks were not the subject of humor such as Smart Money, when Greeks speak with Greeks it is always in a broken form of what can only be called “wop-English.”

There were more Greek dialect comedians than anyone in Greek America now remembers. Among their number were such comedians as George Givot, known as the Ambassador of Peace, Nick Parkyakarkus, and various others who performed as stereotypic Greek characters in vaudeville acts. While Givot went so far as to attempt, from time to time, to “pass” as a Greek, the others were careful to maintain a respectable distance between their performances and their own persons.

What is important for us today is not that our grandparents and great-grandparents were the blunt subjects of broad comedy. Rather, even in these demeaning depictions much can be learned about how the average Greek was perceived by the average American. Certainly all of these non-Greek comedians and actors were attempting to entertain their audiences and not offer a sociologically correct persona. Yet within any of their efforts to entertain as a Greek persona specific traits not simply of speech but actions had to be maintained to make the jokes and their settings work. 

As a classic case in point of this singular form of Greek American blackface, we need only review something of the career of ever affable Nick Parkyakarkus

BECOMING PARKYAKARKUS 

On May 6, 1904, Harry Einstein was born in Boston, MA to Jewish immigrant parents Charles Einstein, a pawnbroker originally from Austria, and Sarah, who had emigrated from Russia. In his nearly thirty years as a performer, Harry Einstein proved to be highly successful comedic writer, radio, and film actor. Over the course of his career, Einstein performed under a number of different names, such as Harry Einstein, Harold Einstein, Harry “Parkyarkarkus” Einstein, Harry Parke all before becoming simply Parkyakarkus. The evolution of Harry Einstein from business man to comedian was anything but a straight line.

By the time Einstein graduated high school, his father had a successful importing business. It was while spending time at his father’s new establishment that young Harry heard all the various dialects of a wide array of ethnic immigrants that would arrive to conduct business on a daily basis. As he recalled, years later, Greek was Einstein’s favorite dialect to try and imitate. While Charles wanted his son to join him in the importing business, Einstein instead first became a newspaper reporter and then went into the advertising business and with time became one of the most successful agencies in New England. There are passing references, here and there, in Einstein’s various biographies that during this same period “he entertained at club functions” but other than these vague fragments nothing else is readily available on his public performances during this early period.

The odd circumstances surrounding Einstein’s 1932 debut on radio was once described in a press release. After describing Einstein’s early life and success at running an advertising agency in Boston, the release went on to detail the following events. I should add parenthetically first that by the late 1940s the average American knew Einstein not only as Parkyakarkus but by the affectionate diminutive of Parky as well: “Parky had sold one of his clients the idea of a radio comedy show. He auditioned some 20 comedians but none of them pleased the client. As time grew short, and still no funny man, the client suggested that Parky try it. He did and the show not only pleased the client but also the listening audience. Thus Parky was launched on his professional comedy career.”

Whatever can be said Einstein’s first radio program in Boston was unquestionably an instant sensation. In 1934, famed American comedian Eddie Cantor heard Einstein’s show and immediately hired him for his own radio program. For those unfamiliar with the history of American radio entertainment it is well recognized that “The Eddie Cantor Show” was the biggest blockbuster of the early years of radio. So, Einstein’s regular appearance on this show, as the Parkyakarkus character, meant that the largest American audience of any listening to radio in the 1930s heard this comedian’s characterization of a Greek. Aside from his regular murder and mayhem of the English language, Parkyakarkus was portrayed on this show as a “food-stand owner.”

An unintended consequence of the lasting popularity of “The Eddie Cantor Show” is that for those interested in hearing Parkyakarkus they can readily find re-issued compact disk recordings of hours and hours of this program (originaloldradio.com). 

It is said in most historic accounts on Harry Einstein’s radio career that he did his best comedic work as Parkyakarkus on Cantor’s show. Einstein spent four years as a regular cast member as well as accompanying Cantor in his film Strike Me Pink in 1936. “In one of the film’s highlights Parkyakarkus shows his strength by tearing a phone book in half. “Wait a minute!” shouts Cantor, “you’re tearing one page at a time!” Parkyakarkus: “I ain’t in a hurry (comedystars.com).”

But Einstein as Parkyakarkus did not stay on the Cantor show but moved on in 1938 to “The Al Jolson Lifebuoy Show,” staying until he briefly dropped out of radio in 1941. Without going into any detail, Einstein also appeared as Parkyakarkus occasionally on “The Jimmy Durante Show” during this period as well. It does seem a bit odd that after four years of weekly broadcasts on the Eddie Cantor Show and then another four years on the “The Al Jolson Lifebuoy Show,” always appearing as Parkyakarkus, to say nothing of his own latter radio show Harry Einstein’s comedic career has escaped the attention of every single Modern Greek scholar.

This omission is even more striking given the fact that Parkyakarkus was to get his own Greek-American diner, albeit on the radio. 

MEET ME AT PARKY’S 

“Meet Me at Parky’s,” was a radio situation comedy featuring Harry Einstein as Nick Parkyakarkus, the Greek immigrant owner of a small neighborhood restaurant. Written largely by Einstein, with regular input by Hal Fimberg, the show featured Parkyakarkus as the chief cook and bottle washer of this all-too typical small shortorder Greek diner. The program first aired on June 17, 1945. Joan Barton played the cashier, Ruth Perrott, played the reoccurring customer Prudence Rockbottom, Sheldon Leonard appeared regularly in his usual con-artist type of persona as Orville Sharp. Also heard as regular cast members were Frank Nelson and Leo Carey. The singing talents of Betty Jane Rhodes, David Street, Peggy Lee and Patty Bolton were regularly heard along with the music of Opie Cates and his Orchestra. Art Gilmore was the announcer. The show was sponsored by Old Gold cigarettes. The show caught on and for four years the Greek dialectician became one of America’s favorite comedians. 

Einstein’s son, actor, director and screenwriter Albert Brooks (nee Albert Lawrence Einstein) during his interview in Playboy recalled from memory one of the comedy routine’s from “Meet Me at Parky’s.”
 “One bit I always remember from that show: My dad was slowly typing up the menu for his restaurant and misspelling everything. Roast: R-U-S-T. Beef: B-I-F. His assistant at the restaurant came in and said, “All right Parky, I’m in a hurry just give me the menu and give it to me quickly! I have a lot to do.” He said “Okay you want it quickly? We’re going to have sirloin steak and tenderloin steak, good piece lamb chop, great big pork chop, nice fried onions, fresh peeled scallions, frenchfried potatoes, lettuce and tomatoes; string beans, baked beans, hup beans, too; cookeral, hookeral, chicken stew; mackerel, pickerel, haddock, tripe; lobster, oyster, shrimp or pike; hot pies, cold pies, soft pie, mud pie, ickleberry, bermberry, stroomberry, too; stiff cream, whipped cream, plain cream, no cream; squashed-up apple, coconut, custard; mustard, ketchup, chili, salt and pepper and a pick-alilly. Twenty-five cents!”

One description of Einstein’s scripting of “Meet Me at Parky’s notes: “He often combines comedy with pleas for humanitarian causes. Last year he championed the cause of higher wages for school teachers; for greater public appreciation of the work of postal carriers and employees; emphasized the activities of America’s policemen to preserve life, law and order; and made an inspiring plea for greater church attendance. Parky feels that the occasional mixing of a serious message now and then with comedy is a very effective means of conveying important thoughts to the people (Nostalgia Digest April/May 2002).” 

One of the Parky’s programs I heard has a doctor that Parky supported through medical school come back to see his Greek mentor, not just to thank or acknowledge him but to speak about why the March of Dimes is so important and needs the support of more Americans. 

How much of all that sounds like the war bond drives and other civic programs small Greek businessmen were famous for supporting throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s? 

FILMS AND LATER YEARS 

Between 1936 and 1945 Einstein appeared in eleven feature length films and three short feature films as Parkyakarkus. The feature length films include: Strike Me Pink (1936), New Faces of 1937, The Life of the Party (1937), She’s Got Everything (1937) Night Spot (1938), Glamour Boy (1940), A Yank in Libya (1942), The Yanks Are Coming (1942), Sweethearts of the USA (1944), Earl Carroll’s Vanities (1945), and Out of This World (1945). Einstein is credited as writer on the three movie shorts: See Your Doctor (1939), Movie Pests (1944) and Badminton (1945). Before you go an order any of these films, just to see Harry Einstein perform as Parkyakarkus, go to www.Youtube.com and see one of his tangle-tongued skits from A Yank in Libya. What I found interesting in this film is that Parkyakarkus plays none other than ‘Parkyakarkus’ which is completely acceptable to all. 

Einstein married actress and singer Thelma Leeds and the couple had three sons: Clifford Jay Einstein born in 1939, who became a writer and actor, Stewart Robert Einstein born in 1942 best known for his comedic character Super Dave Osborne and Albert Lawrence Einstein born on July 22, 1947 who later made a career for himself as Albert Brooks. By his first marriage to Lillian Anshen, he was the father of Charles Einstein, a writer. 

Harry Einstein died on November 24, 1958 and is most often described in published accounts as simply “a radio dialect comedian.” On the Hollywood Walk of Fame there is a Star with only the name Parkyakarkus. Seems to me more could have been said about a comedian who used a Greek-American mask to spread not just humor but also a universal humanitarian message as well.



Who is this couple? - circa 1960s - maybe BEBETSOS or friends of - Can you help?



Who is this couple?

This picture was among some that my paternal grandmother had when she came to live with us in 1963 after my grandfather's death.  We assume this couple may be part of her side of the family, BEBETSOS

My grandmother, Georgia Bebetsos, was born in Agios Ioannis Theologou, Municipality of Sellasias, Laconia, Greece and migrated to Chicago, Illinois, United States in 1916.  She left two brothers in Greece - Andoni and George Bebetsos.




Saturday, October 22, 2016

1867 - Village of SAMPANAGA (currently AGIA MAVRA) - Municipality of Ilidos, Province of Ilias, Greece - FREE Translation of 1867 General Election List



The digital collections of the Greek State Archives offer a wealth of information to those of us interested in Greek genealogy.  As part of their online collection is the "Election Material From the Collection of Vlachoyiannis" .  This includes "General Election Lists" for each Municipality; recorded by community (city, village, settlement, etc.).

You can view a scanned copy of each list, printed in the Greek language.  This is a GREAT resource, but very difficult to navigate for those who do not read Greek.  Each row includes:  Line # -  Given Name, Surname - Father's Name -  Age - Occupation.

I have translated these pages and made them available in both Greek and English, doing my best to transcribe the information accurately.  I would always recommend viewing the original scanned copies (link below).  

- To the best of my knowledge, these lists include all Males who were eligible to vote in the elections.  

- Names are in alphabetical order by Given name (First name), many times recorded as an abbreviaton.  Example:  Panag = Panagiotis.

- Since the names are in order by Given name you will have to look at the entire community to find multiple members of the family in the same village.  Many times a father is still alive and you will be able to find him in these electoral lists.  This can help advance you family history research back to the early 1800's.  Example:  Year of Election List is 1872.  Father's age is 65.  Birth year would be calculated as 1807.

-----

If you wish to share any of the translated information, please give appropriate credit and reference Hellenic Genealogy Geek at http://www.hellenicgenealogygeek.com along with my name (Georgia Stryker Keilman).  Thanks so much.
-----


VILLAGE OF SAMPANAGA
in the
Municipality of Ilidos

For your further reference, 
below is the Greek link to the online copies of the 
1867 Greek Electoral Rolls for this community
begins on page 15




Line # - Given Name, Surname - Father's Name - Age - Occupation

624 – Ασημ Βαγενας – Παναγιωτης – 24 – ποιμην

624 – Asim Vagenas – Panagiotis – 24 - shepherd

-----

625 – Αριστ Κατζαουνης – Δημητριος – 20 – γεωργος

625 – Arist Katzaounis – Dimitrios – 20 - farmer

-----

626 – Αναγ Νεραντζακης – Ιωαννης – 30 – γεωργος

626 – Anag Nerandzakis – Ioannis – 30 - farmer

-----

627 – Αγγελ Τουρλοσκουφος – Παναγος – 65 – ποιμην

627 – Angel Tourloskoufos – Panagos – 65 - shepherd

-----

628 – Ανδρ. Κανελλοπουλος – γγηγοριος – 20 – γεωργος

628 – Andr. Kanellopoulosngigorios ? (should this be Grigorios?) – 20 - farmer

-----

629 – Αλεξ Αλεξοπουλος - _____ - 50 – ποιμην

629 – Alex Alexopoulos - _____ - 50 - shepherd

-----

630 – Αθαν Χαρμπιλης – Παναγος – 21 – γεωργος

630 – Athan Charbilis – Panagos – 21 - farmer

-----

631 – Αναστ Κυπουρος – Διονυσιος – 21 – γεωργος

631 – Anast Kypouros – Dionysios – 21 - farmer

-----

632 – Ασημ Φελεμεγκας – Γιαννης – 26 – γεωργος

632 – Asim Felemengas – Giannis – 26 - farmer

-----

633 – Ανδρ Σταθοπουλος – Γαβριηλ – 35 – γεωργος

633 – Andr Stathopoulos – Gavriil – 35 - farmer

-----

634 – Αθαν Ρεγαλης – Μητρος – 28 – γεωργος

634 – Athan Regalis – Mitros – 28 - farmer

-----

635 – Αλασν ? Γιαννοπουλος - _____ - 40 – γεωργος

635 – Alasn ? Giannopoulos - _____ - 40 - farmer

-----

636 – Αντω Παπουτζοπουλος - _____ - 23 – γεωργος

636 – Anto Papoutzopoulos - _____ - 23 - farmer

-----

637 – Βασιλ Χριστακοπουλος – Αναστασιος – 27 – γεωργος

637 – Vasil Christakopoulos – Anastasios – 27 - farmer

-----

638 – Γεωρ Παπουτζοπουλος - _____ - 38 – γεωργος

638 – Geor Papoutzopoulos - _____ - 38 - farmer

-----

639 – Γιαν. Παππουτζοπουλος - _____ - 22 – γεωργος

639 – Gian. Pappoutzopoulos - _____ - 22 - farmer

-----

640 – Γεωρ. Φελεμεγιος - _____ - 24 – γεωργος

640 – Geor. Felemegios - _____ - 24 - farmer

-----

641 – Γεωρ. Κατζαρης – Αναστασιος – 50 – γεωργος

641 – Geor. KatzarisAnastasios – 50 - farmer

-----

642 – Γεωρ. Σταυροπουλος - _____ - 48 – γεωργος

642 – Geor. Stavropoulos - _____ - 48 - farmer

-----

643 – Γιαν Σταυροπουλος - _____ - 45 – γεωργος

643 – Gian. Stavropoulos - _____ - 45 - farmer

-----

644 – Γεωρ. Κατζαουνιας – Δημητριος – 35 – γεωργος

644 – Geor. Katzaounias – Dimitrios – 35 - farmer

-----

645 – Γεωρ. Ζαχαριας – Ζαχαριας – 25 – γεωργος

645 – Geor. Zacharias – Zacharias – 25 - farmer

-----

646 – Γρηγορ. Κανελλοπουλος – Κανελος – 67 – γεωργος

646 – Grigor. Kanellopoulos – Kanelos – 67 - farmer

-----

647 – Γεωρ Κανελλοπουλος – Γρηγορης – 22 – γεωργος

647 – Geor Kanellopoulos – Grigoris – 22 - farmer

-----

648 – Δημητρ Φελομεγκας – Νικολαος – 51 – γεωργος

648 – Dimitr Felomengas – Nikolaos – 51 - farmer

-----

649 – Δημητρ. Παππαδοπουλος – Παναγος – 52 – γεωργος

649 – Dimitr. Pappadopoulos – Panagos – 52 - farmer

-----

650 – Διον Καραμπετζοπουλος – Γιαννης – 24 – γεωργος

650 – Dion Karambetzopoulos – Giannis – 24 - farmer

-----

651 – Διον Κυπουρος – Γεωργιος – 67 – γεωργος

651 – Dion KypourosGeorgios – 67 - farmer

-----

652 – Δημητρ Κυπουρος – Διονυσιος – 26 – γεωργος

652 – Dimitr Kypouros – Dionysios – 26 - farmer

-----

653 – Διον Κανελλοπουλος – Γρηγορης – 30 – γεωργος

653 – Dion Kanellopoulos – Grigoris – 30 - farmer

-----

654 – Διον Παππαδοπουλος - _____ - 25 – γεωργος

654 – Dion Pappadopoulos - _____ - 25 - farmer

-----

655 – Διον Γιαννακοπουλος - _____ - 26 – γεωργος

655 – Dion Giannakopoulos - _____ - 26 - farmer

-----

656 – Επαμιν Κασολος - _____ - 26 – γεωργος

656 – Epamin Kasolos - _____ - 26 - farmer

-----

657 – Θεοδωρ Βαγενας – Παναγιωτης – 38 – γεωργος

657 – Theodor Vagenas – Panagiotis – 38 - farmer

-----

658 – Θεοδωρ Σκολτζας - _____ - 27 – ποιμην

658 – Theodor Skoltzas - _____ - 27 - shepherd

-----

659 – Θεοδ. Μουσκας - _____ - 30 – ποιμην

659 – Theod. Mouskas - _____ - 30 - shepherd

-----

660 – Ιωαν Φελημαγκος - _____ - 67 – γεωργος

660 – Ioan Felimangos - _____ - 67 - farmer

-----

661 – Ιωαν Κυραμπετζος – Βασιλειος – 60 – γεωργος

661 – Ioan Kyrambetzos – Vasileios – 60 - farmer

-----

662 – Κων Νεραντζακης – Ευσταθιος – 65 – γεωργος

662 – Kon Nerandzakis – Efstathios – 65 - farmer

-----

663 – Κωνστ Κατζιμπουμπος – Ανδρεας – 36 – γεωργος

663 – Konst Katzimboumbos – Andreas – 36 - farmer

-----

664 – Κωνστ Πακλας – Παναγιωτης – 52 – γεωργος

664 – Konst Paklas – Panagiotis – 52 - farmer

-----

665 – Κωνστ Χριστακοπουλος - _____ - 23 – γεωργος

665 – Konst Christakopoulos - _____ - 23 - farmer

-----

666 – Κωνστ Δημοπουλος - _____ - 55 – ποιμην

666 – Konst Dimopoulos - _____ - 55 - shepherd

-----

667 – Κωνστ. Μουσκας – _____ - 48 – ποιμην

667 – Konst. Mouskas - _____ - 48 - shepherd

-----

668 – Λεωνιδ. Βαγενοπουλος - _____ - 4? – μυλωνας

668 – Leonid. Vagenopoulos - _____ - 4? - miller

-----

669 – Ηλιος Κακολιας – Παναγιωτης – 40 – γεωργος

669 – Ilios Kakolias – Panagiotis – 40 - farmer

-----

670 – Μητρος Ρακγλης - _____ - 50 – ποιμην

670 – Mitros Rakglis - _____ - 50 - shepherd

-----

671 – Νικολ Νεραντζακης – Φωτης – 30 – γεωργος

671 – Nikol Nerandzakis – Fotis – 30 - farmer

-----

672 – Νικολ Χρυσακοπουλος - _____ - 25 – γεωργος

672 – Nikol Chrysakopoulos - _____ - 25 - farmer

-----

673 – Νικολ Ζουροπουλος - _____ - 24 – γεωργος

673 – Nikol Zouropoulos - _____ - 24 - farmer

-----

674 – Παναγ. Φελομεγκας – Ιωαννης – 25 – γεωργος

674 – Panag. Felomengas – Ioannis – 25 - farmer

-----

675 – Παναγ Καπογιαννης - _____ - 32 – γεωργος

675 – Panag Kapogiannis - _____ - 32 - farmer

-----

676 – Παναγ. Αβρομοπουλος - _____ - 27 – γεωργος

676 – Panag. Avromopoulos - _____ - 27 - farmer

-----

677 – Πετρος Κυπουρος – Διονυσιος – 28 – γεωργος

677 – Petros Kypouros – Dionysios – 28 - farmer

-----

678 – Παναγ Χαρμπιλας – Αναστασιος – 70 – γεωργος

678 – Panag Charmbilas – Anastasios – 70 - farmer

-----

679 – Παναγ Αλεξοπουλος - _____ - 42 – ποιμην

679 – Panag Alexopoulos - ______ - 42 - shepherd

-----

680 – Πετρος Πετροπουλος - _____ - 22 – γεωργος

680 – Petros Petropoulos - _____ - 22 - farmer

-----

681 – Πετρος Φωτακοπουλος - _____ - 26 – γεωργος

681 – Petros Fotakopoulos - _____ - 26 - farmer

-----

682 – Σωτηρ Πετροπουλος - _____ - 50 – γεωργος

682 – Sotir Petropoulos - _____ - 50 - farmer

-----

683 – Σπυρ Αλεξοπουλος - _____ - 38 – ποιμην

683 – Spyr Alexopoulos - _____ - 38 - shepherd

-----

684 – Φωτης Κουφογιτννακοπουλος – Ιωαννης – 28 – ποιμην

684 – Fotis Koufogitnnakopoulos – Ioannis – 28 - shepherd

-----

685 – Χρηστ. Αβραμοπουλος - _____ - 45 – γεωργος

685 – Christ. Avramopoulos - _____ - 45 - farmer

-----

686 – Χαραλ Καντζαρης - _____ - 45 – γεωργος

686 – Charal Kandzaris - _____ - 45 - farmer

-----

687 – Χρηστος Ραφτοπουλος – Αναστασιος – 37 – ποιμην

687 – Christos Raftopoulos – Anastasios – 37 - shepherd

-----



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Legend of a Fiend: John "Blackjack" Jerome and Violent Strikebreaking

On the dark side of the Greek-American immigrant experience, John Jerome with Daisy Economakis in 1927, 10 years before their marriage.  Daisy's mother, Pauline, stands on the left.



THE LEGEND OF A FIEND:
JOHN "BLACKJACK" JEROME AND VIOLENT STRIKEBREAKING

Published in The National Herald, September 24-30, 2016 Issue
Authored by Steve Frangos
TNH Staff Writer

------------------------------

We are excited to announce that The National Herald has given Hellenic Genealogy Geek the right to reprint articles that may be of interest to our group. 

------------------------------


-----------------------


Sometime in 1905, Yiannis Petrolekas arrived in San Francisco. No more than sixteen years old, Petrolekas faced all the same prejudices and opportunities may other Greeks of his generation were to experience on American shores. The choices Petrolekas was to make defined him as a man and as a historical figure.

There is no question that Petrolekas led a life far, far different from the average GreekAmerican. And I would be among the very first to advocate his life be reintroduced into the general historical accounts of Greeks in the United States. Petrolekas, who changed his name to John Jerome, became a wealthy very well-known public figure. And here is where we must move with some care. For by reviewing Jerome’s life we are forced into an entirely new consideration of an old-American stereotype, the Greek immigrant as strike breaker.

By 1920, after years at various and sundry occupations, Jerome formally established the Jerome Detective Agency of Los Angeles. This agency was initiated for the expressed purpose of serving as a professional strikebreaker service. While employed briefly for an electric street car company Jerome quickly realized that a great deal of money could be made from the ongoing labor disputes between the tramway company owners and their workers. Consequently, Jerome specialized in “street railway strikes, his men, according to Tramway officials, being trained experts in the handling of electric cars (Denver Post August 2, 1920).”

Let us be clear, the Jerome Detective Agency was nothing less than an organization hired to sabotage any and all labor strikes. Jerome would hire unemployed men, most often World War I veterans, who were desperately looking for a day's wage to break through the picket lines throughout the 1920s. As a professional strikebreaker, it is always asserted, that Jerome literally made millions. It also earned him the nickname ‘Blackjack’ because of a club he carried during the strikes. Jerome’s later life, based on his earning as a strikebreaker, as a real estate investor and the owner/operator of a dog track (which was notorious for gambling) are not our concern here. To gain insight into this man and his methods we need only focus on one of the various strikes in which he was employed.

At 5AM on August 1, 1920, local division 746 of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electrical Railway Workers in Denver Colorado voted for a strike 887 to 9. The city had denied the union an increase in wages from 48 cents an hour to 75 cents an hour. A reported 1,100 individuals went out on strike. On August 2, Blackjack Jerome and his men arrive hired by Denver Tramway Company officials. To assure that street car services continue Jerome came prepared with “armored cars with heavy wire screen.” Denver’s electric street cars were being run by Jerome’s men or with those going to the Army hospital by soldiers attached to that facility. 

Without missing a step on August 2, Jerome and his men barricaded themselves in the eastside Tramway Company barn and “issued a public statement declaring that they were instructed to shoot to kill (Labor World (Duluth) August 21, 1920).” “Before the riots the Denver Trades Assembly marched to City Hall in a body and called the attention of the mayor to the danger of such a procedure and requested him to remove the armed thugs. Of course he refused (The Toiler Cleveland) September 3, 1920).” And what did the average citizen of Denver see? “Armored motor cars with machine guns mounted on them are patrolling the streets, with guns manned by former soldiers who served in the American army machine gun outfits against the Germans (Sun and New York Herald August 7).” On August 3, the killings began.

In truth it is difficult to sort out from all the subsequent news coverage how many individuals were actually killed and/or injured. Accounts vary but at the very least six men were killed and more than 80 severely injured. But all accounts agree on one point: “not one was killed by a member of organized labor, and that up to date no member of organized labor has been arrested changed with shooting anyone. The shooting was done by “Blackjack” Jerome’s gunmen (Labor World September 21).”

After the violence was over and the workers returned to their jobs with no increase in pay a report was issued by the federal councils of the Churches of Christ condemning the actions of city and company officials. This study was undertaken at the insistence of a group of Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish churchmen of Denver (Boston Herald October 24; World Herald (Omaha) October 24).” The report especially condemned “publicity methods which pictured the working man as a radical and violent in contradiction to fact (Cleveland Plain Dealer October 24, 1921).”

In 1953, after returning from a trip to Greece, Jerome suffered a heart attack and was found dead in his San Francisco office. 

His funeral was a grand affair, attended by over 1,000 mourners, among who were many local officials and important personalities. His funeral was postponed for 18 days because of reactions from the union of undertakers: They were angry because “Blackjack” had broken one of their strikes

Jerome’s documented career as the leader of hired men whose only purpose was to stop, by any means necessary, any strike by common workers is beyond contestation. As such Jerome now enters a select realm of Greek-American immigrants who consciously oppressed and even killed their fellow Greeks (or others) for the profit of the Robber Baron class. With even this short review of Jerome’s life we come to a finer grain understanding of this social system of oppression. There were in point of fact, layers of villainy

Traditionally, in Greek-American historical accounts the principal subjects of “Greek-onGreek” crime have been the Greek labor agents, known as patrons. Men such as Peter Merles of Grand Rapids, MI who sought to form a national shoe parlor trust or Leonidas Solaris, known as Czar of the Greeks, who was the Greek labor agent for the entire Western United States. By juxtaposing Jerome against the Greek patrons and educated rogues such as Telemaque T. Timiyenis and Dr. P. G. P. Attias, who sought to become leaders among the newly arrived Greeks but only so long as it was to their personal advantage we now have a more refined sense of the modes of organized labor oppression applied against Greek immigrants of the 1880 to 1920 eras

Yet, inexplicitly, two writers have recently presented the life and exploits of Blackjack Jerome as if he were some kind of 1930s noir hero figure (donherron.com/tag/blackjackjerome; ekathimerini.com/.../ resurrecting-the-legend-of-johnblackjack). Anyone who actually reads published accounts reporting on John Jerome’s daily actions can only come to one conclusion—this man was a fiend who made large amounts of money by unlawfully attacking Americans who were exercising their civil rights as outlined under the law. There is history and there is fiction. In terms of documented historical accounts John Jerome is a classic example of a new kind of GreekAmerican villain, someone who was paid to stop ‘by any means necessary” peacefully assembled citizens from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights.



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Karitsiotiks News - Decryption of old contracts unlocks the secrets of our ancestors (Karitsa Community)



This was recently brought to my attention by Dawna Stevens - thanks Dawna!

Karitsiotikanea.blogspot.com published the following article on May 28, 2014

DECRIPTION OF OLD CONTRACTS UNLOCKS THE SECRETS OF OUR ANCESTORS

"Of the thousands of old contracts are kept in the General Archives Office of the State in Sparta, the team of Family Tree South Parnon has funded the digitization of some 386 dating from the fifteen years from 1867 to 1882.

All were written in the notary's office in Falcon at that time and are residents of the village and the surrounding villages Karitsa Alepochori and Vrontamas, and some of Kosmas Velota, Agriana, Zoupena, Grammousa, Gouves, Myrtle, Vlachioti and Giotsali same. 

these contracts they have great value because they give us a glimpse of the people and the living conditions in our part of 130 years ago. All documents are handwritten, so reading them is particularly challenging. Yet in seeking to unlock the earlier times secrets this is the task set by the research team of Trees Family.  . . . . "


READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE and view the list of Contracts from 1867-1882 in the possession of the Family Tree of Southern Parnon.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Greeks in UK & Ireland Medical Directories, 1915-1942



Ancestry.com has a new database titled UK & IRELAND, MEDICAL DIRECTORIES, 1845-1942.  These directories include four doctors that have Greek names and were working in Greece.  

Note:  There are probably more doctors that do not have the word Greece in the description and I could not identify them without looking at each entry in the many directories.  If you have an ancestor that was a physician and worked in the UK, Ireland or Scotland this maybe a resource you could search by name.

Here are the four doctors that I referred to above:

Alex. Cawadias - Year 1925
Charilaos Kyriakou Joannidis - Years 1940, 1942
John Papa Nicolas - Years 1925, 1930, 1935, 1940, 1942
John Precopoulos - Year 1915

DESCRIPTION FROM ANCESTRY.COM

This collection consists of a Medical Directory of Doctors registered with the Royal College of General Practioners in the United Kingdom and Ireland for the years 1847 until 1942.

Medical Directories list most practising and retired doctors in Britain and its colonies, although it was not compulsory for a doctor to be included.  Entries provide details of addresses, qualifications, places of training, places of work and any publications.

The format changes over the years; at some stages the volumes list doctors in a straight alphabetical sequence and at others divides them between London and the Provinces with separate sections for Scotland and Ireland.