Thursday, May 25, 2017

The National Herald - Books by Helen Z. Papanikolas to Add to Your List


Published in The National Herald, May 20-26, 2017 Issue
Authored by Eleni Sakellis


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. 



For those of us who are first generation Greek-Americans, whose parents came across in airplanes for the most part, it is often fascinating to hear about the early Greek immigrants who came to America in search of a better life. Today, we take for granted the vast distances that separate us from the homeland, but in the late 19th century and early 20th century, there was a real chance the immigrant would never return home and never again see the beloved shores of Greece. This was especially true for early Greek immigrants to the western United States. The Greek-American community faced unique challenges, and the cultural experience often revolved around the church. The history and culture of the Greeks of Utah, for example, tells us a great deal about the character and extraordinary spirit of the people who traveled so far to work in mines and on railroads often in terrible conditions, but managed to preserve the rich heritage and traditions of Greece.

Author Helen Z. Papanikolas wrote several books of fiction and non-fiction about the immigrant experience in Utah and the western US. Born Helen Zeese in the mining community of Cameron in Carbon County, UT, to Greek immigrant parents George and Emily Zeese (originally Yiorgis and Emilia Zisimopoulos). In 1933, the family moved to Salt Lake City where they opened a chain of grocery stores. She attended the University of Utah and edited the campus literary magazine Pen. After graduating with a B.A. in 1939, she married Nick E. Papanikolas and the couple had two children, Zeese, also a writer, and Thalia. 

Papanikolas was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Utah in 1984. With her husband, she established scholarship programs for minority students at the University of Utah and the College of Eastern Utah. Among her nonfiction books, Toil and Rage in a New Land: The Greek Immigrants of Utah was published in 1970, The Peoples of Utah in 1976 and An Amulet of Greek Earth: Generations of Immigrant Folk Culture in 2002. Papanikolas was a founder and first president of The Peoples of Utah Institute. While she was president, she located and identified artifacts associated with ethnic life, produced a major museum exhibit, and sponsored lectures and other programs. Her efforts led to the establishment of the Hellenic Cultural Museum in Salt Lake City. Her novel The Time of the Little Black Bird, won the Utah Book Award for Fiction in 2000. Papanikolas died in November 2004.

Among her fiction, Papanikolas published the short story collections Small Bird, Tell Me: Stories of Greek Immigrants in 1994 and The Apple Falls from the Apple Tree in 2002 whose title is taken from an old Greek proverb and addresses the new generation’s struggle with the remnants of Greek customs. Although the characters live far from the old Greek towns, the rivalries, envy of the successful, and hubris are evident as they respond to experiences including intermarriage, old age, and loss. The stories delve into accommodation, to the straddling of two cultures, and assimilation, and though they are about the Greek-American experience, the themes are universal.
Helen Z. Papanikolas’ books are available online.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Public Library of Kalamata, Messinia, Greece


It is in the city centre, in the building of the Municipal Cultural Centre. It was founded in 1933 as a result of the efforts of people of the Arts from Kalamata who wanted all people of the city to have access to books of literature and, in general, to have access to education. It is considered to be one of the most important and complete libraries of southern Greece, with more than 90.000 books, some of them from Medieval times. Apart from books, there are also thousands of journals and also rare handscripts.

33, Aristomenous St., Kalamata Cultural Center, 5th floor, 24100 KALAMATA , MESSINIA , GREECE
Tel.: +30 27210 22607 , Fax: +30 27210 22907

E-mail: , URL:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Years 2007-2009 Death Notices published in Greek Orthodox Observer Newspaper

The Orthodox Observer, the national publication of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, functions as the primary news and information connection and is a direct physical link between the Archdiocese, the Metropolises, parishes and individual parishioners.

The Orthodox Observer has a section titled "In Memoriam" where they print detailed death notices about clergy, presbytera's, and various other important members of the church.

You can access the archives online at

The following are notices printed in the years 2007-2009

January/February 2007
Fr. Nicholas Michael Sitaras
Charles S. Sosangelis
Fr. George Nicholas Thanos
Fr. Peter N. Kyriakos

May 2007
Fr. Michael C. Harmand
Very Rev. James Mihalakis
Fr. Demetrios Kavadas

June 2007
Fr. Emmanuel Papageorge
Katherine Pappas
Margarite Chafos

July/August 2007
Fr. Leonidas Kotzakis
Presb. Sophronia Tomaras
Fr. John H. Paul
Fr. Dean Timothy Andrews

September/October 2007
Thomas D. Demery
Fr. Nicholas G. Katsoulis
Virginia Trakas Couchell
Fr. Peter B. Koskores

December 2007
Fr. Emmanuel J. Gratsias
Alex Kontos
Fr. Chrysostom Maniudakis

January 2008
Archbishop Chrysostomos, Former Head of Cyprus Church
Fr. William Kehayes
Fr. Antony Sirigos
Athena Hatziemmanuel
George V. Tsounis
Olga Sarantos
Fr. George N. Bartz
Metropolitan Dionysios of New Zealand

February 2008
Fr. William Kehayes

March 2008
Fr. George Kalpaxis
Frank P, Agnost
Fr. George Nicozisin

May 2008
Fr. Panagiotis Kastaris
Fr. Michael Michalopoulos
Fr. George J. Mamangakis
Deacon John T. Kontogianes

Jiune 2008
Prof. Charles Moskos
Fr. Nicholas Retselas
Very Rev. Paul Koutoukas

July/August 2008
George P. Kokalis
Presbytera Metaxia S. Papademetriou

September 2008
Ike Pappas
Fr. George Longos
Presbytera Joy Andrews

October 2008
Fr. Nicholas Trivelas
Fr. Nicholas Dotson

November 2008
Fr. George E. Philippas
Presbytera Alyce Gaines

January 2009
Fr. George Paulson

April 2009
Fr. Dennis Cavanos
Fr. Constantine Palassis
Fr. Philemon Payiatis
Fr. Antony Spirtos

May/June 2009
Constantine Papadakis
Fr. James Orfanakos
Joshua Waynick

July/August 2009
Fr. George Kalangis
Gus Kyrkostas

September 2009
Fr. Leonidas Drakopoulos

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Years 2004-2006 Death Notices published in Greek Orthodox Observer Newspaper

The Orthodox Observer, the national publication of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, functions as the primary news and information connection and is a direct physical link between the Archdiocese, the Metropolises, parishes and individual parishioners.

The Orthodox Observer has a section titled "In Memoriam" where they print detailed death notices about clergy, presbytera's, and various other important members of the church.

You can access the archives online at

The following are notices printed in the years 2004-2006

January/February 2004

Fr. James Karalexis
Fr. Anthony Mavromaras
Fr Thomas Tsevas
Fr. Constantine Lawrence
Fr. Carl Vouros
Judge Callie Tsapis

July/August 2004
Presbytera Alva Mahalares

September 2004
Fr. Joseph Antonakakis
Fr. Constantine G. Theodore
Fr. Anthony Kosturos
Angela V. Anton, Mother of Metropolitan Tarasios
Rev. Economos Philemon Sevastiades

October/November 2004
Alexandra Leondis
Rebecca Poulos
James Stremanos

December 2004
Magdalene Kourounis
Presbytera Anastasia Stephanopoulos
Spiro Pandekakes

January 2005
Johnny N. Economy
Fr. Homer Goumenis
Fr. Constantine Theodore
Fr. George A. Vlahos

March/April 2005
Fr Paul G. Economides
Fr. James Demetriades
Fr. Steven Yankopoulos
Fr. James Tsoulos
Fr. George Gousias
Helen Theodore Zambornis

July/August 2005
Fr. Philip Sakellson
Fr. John A. Poulos
Fr. Maximos Moses
Fr. Demosthenes Mekras

November 2005
Fr. Tryfon Theophilooulos
Nick John Mamalakis
Vassiliki (Bessie) Sietsema

December 2005
Fr. George E. Tsongranis
Fr. Harry P. Hatzopoulos
Fr. Nicholas J. Capilos
Fr. Charles Goumenis
Fr. Nicholas Rafael
Fr. Nicholaos G. Voucanos

January/February 2006
Presbytera Jennie M. Makredes
Angeliki Chronopoulos Demos
Helen G. Pappas

May 2006
Rev. Spyros Mourikis
Rev. Phillip G. Gialopsos
Rev. Theophanis Kolyvas
Rev. Soterios Lytras
Rev. Paul G. Apostolakos

June/July 2006
Rev. Gerasimos P. Annas
Fr. Philip Gialopsos

November 2006
Fr. Efstathios V. Mylonas
Presb. Georgia Chamberas
Fr. Achilles A. Siagris
Fr. James Chskalos
Fr. George Neofotistos
Fr. George A. Xenofanes

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Years 2001-2003 Death Notices published in Greek Orthodox Observer Newspaper

The Orthodox Observer, the national publication of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, functions as the primary news and information connection and is a direct physical link between the Archdiocese, the Metropolises, parishes and individual parishioners.

The Orthodox Observer has a section titled "In Memoriam" where they print detailed death notices about clergy, presbytera's, and various other important members of the church.

You can access the archives online at

The following are notices printed in the years 2001-2003

February 2001
Fr. John C. Poulos
John Rousakis
Angeline . Caruso

March/April 2001
Rev. George Peter Diamant
Matina S. Sarbanes

May 2001
Fr. Theodore Baglaneas
Presbytera Jean Vasilas
Christine Pavlakis
Effie Geanakoplos
Milton H. Sioles
Evangeline J. Zoukis
P. J. Gazouleas
Michael Faklis
Carolyn Korbos Lischett

July/August 2001
Fr. Basil Gregory
Presbytera Georgia Rassias
Presbytera Bessie Thanos
Mary V. Bicouvaris

February/March 2002
Fr. Nicholas J. Billiris
Fr. George Demetrios Gregory
Fr. George Hiotis
Presbytera Anastasia Hiotis
Edith Triantafilou
Peter C. Economou
Fr. Demetrios N. Mamalis
Deacon George Ward
Presbytera Antigoni Stathis
Cleo P. Tsounis
Christos Ballasiotes
Martha Pappalos

May 2002
Fr. John Stavros Kamelakis
Fr. Emmanuel N. Vergis

June 2002
Thomas A. Athens

July/August 2002
Rev. Constantine M. Monios

September 2002
William Chirgotis
Ellas Repanti
Elpis Halkedis Kyriazes
Steve M. Pahides

November 2002
Georgia Trakatellis
Elefteria Gergiannakis

January 2003
Fr. Athanasios E. Chamberas
Michael Chakeres, Archon
Augustis Philipotis
Charles A. Bililies

March 2003
The Very Rev. Michael Karloutsos
Fr. Andrew Karas

August 2003
Fr. Paraschou Paraskevas
Fr. Demetrios Karambelas

September 2003
Prof. George Pilitsis

October 2003
Fr. Carl G. Vouros
Fr. Athanasios Rizos

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Passing of a Generation: the Demographics of Greek America


Published in The National Herald, May 6-12, 2017 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. 



Without word or whisper, the passing of an entire generation is nearly complete. The children of the 1880 to 1920 generation of Greek immigrants to the United States are almost gone from our midst. Not too far behind them are their cousins/extended family from Greece who they had sponsored immediately after World War II. This was the Greek-America, I knew and in which I grew up. Now, this world is on the very brink of disappearing forever. Any real historian would already have generated a series of articles on this moment in our collective experience. But, this simply has not taken place.

All this came to me because of the sheer number of funerals I have been attending in the last year or so.  The Greek-Americans I know are those whose families are buried in the Elmwood Cemetery and Mausoleum in River Grove, IL, a suburb of Chicago. While no history has yet seen print on this particular cemetery it is, given the composition of the vast majority of graves, a cemetery with an extremely heavy presence of Eastern Orthodox graves. A small but well-appointed Greek Orthodox chapel is found within Elmwood, the Transfiguration of Our Savior. War memorials and graves beginning with the American Civil War are found throughout this cemetery. Two relatively recent war memorials dedicated to Orthodox Christians are also now found in Elmwood one for Armenians the other Greek veterans.

The children of the 1880 to 1920 waves of immigrants was/is a generation of individuals who were known, for a time within academic writings, as the marginal men. A theoretical concern of the late 1940s and early 1950s the question was asked whether these individuals, with an immigrant past (and so metaphorically) a foot in both their parent’s world and the everyday reality of America, could succeed in daily life. This was not a question unknown to the average Greek in Chicago. I heard many a lecture, growing up within the community, where the speaker inevitably brought up their own initial doubts about this same question. Given that I was listening to successful individuals the end of the talk always focused on how being Greek actually enabled one to succeed in American life. Whether this claim is/was/remains true or not is for future generations to decide.

These  marginal men (as well as the Greek-American women of that same generation who the 1950s academics ignored) not only received the religious, cultural and social institutions founded by their parent’s but expanded upon them. The mighty cathedrals we have today were largely conceived and built by this generation. The Hellenic Festivals which unquestionably raised the monies needed to build church buildings, well past one would have suspected given our demographic numbers, were only possible by the unselfish, tireless work and fundamental generosity of the men and women of this generation.

Today, these events as well as the rest of Greek America is now under the care and daily attention of the generation known as the baby boomers. According to the U.S. Census this generation is composed of the demographic group born during the post-World War II era between (approximately) the years 1946 and 1964. Consequently this includes individuals who are now, themselves, between 53 and 71 years of age.

So what happened? Why didn’t we receive a series of reports, articles, coverage of some kind about this generation’s gradual passing of responsibilities to the baby boomers? All I can assume is that the very gradual nature of this process has kept it largely unnoticed. Now this is not to say news reports, conversations within the Greek communities around the nation, and/or even local American sources have not reported on specific individuals and unique situations where one generation was succeeded by another. It’s just that connecting all these separate reports into a broader pattern has somehow escaped wider discussion.

Given that we have more Greek-Americans and native-born Greeks at literally every level of the American educational system than at any other time in history, one would think we would be in a golden age of written accounts, gathered documents and all the rest. Complimenting this situation is that according to the U.S. Census report of the 1980s Greeks, when counted among their own numbers, were among the foremost in education and economic status. If the Census is to be believed, then the generation now in daily control of our community received not only an education as a means to earn a daily living but was also provided a humanistic education by which they could see meaning in their everyday lives. So, given these two separate but obviously complimentary areas of modern American life one would think, the Greek-born academics would have forged a bond of common purpose with a very receptive generation.

With the passing of this very specific generation we lose eyewitnesses to the past. We lose not only their recollections but years of hard won skills. How many Hellenic Festivals, today, depend on only a handful of skilled individuals (females as well as males) to provide essential skills? Let’s be frank, one of the areas where Greek-Americans and converts to Orthodoxy experience considerable difficulty together is over these festivals. Converts very often do not possess the skills to prepare and serve food.

As this Greatest Generation passes another form of loss occurs. All of us have photograph albums where, now that the older loved ones are gone, many individuals and events within these pages can no longer be identified. Photographs are exchanges between specific individuals. Not just memories, but an individual’s own sense of self can be  invoked by these images. What have you managed to preserve of your life and that of your ancestors (and valued others) to pass on to the future? Even if when you think of your future you again only think of your immediate family. What have you done so they will recognize everyone in your family photographs albums, if nothing else?

But have no fear historical revisionism is near at hand for the Greeks in the United States. Nearly a dozen academic book-length studies exist on Greeks in the United States. Unfortunately in these accounts we don’t measure up to the expectations of these Greek-born or only-Greeks-born-in-Greece-are-really-Greeks point of view. And as George Orwell has already noted, he who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.

Still, cultural dopes don’t exist. Those claiming to be Greek in North America are as Greek as the next guy. Greeks from Greece are not more Greek than anyone else. Greeks in Greece think of themselves as the cultural-core of Greek society. They are not more or better at being Greek than Diaspora populations. Since Classical times, the historical experience of being Greek reports persons claiming to be Greek have been scattered across half the Mediterranean, across north Africa, the Balkans, Anatolia, and even parts of the Middle East. Present-day Greeks in what today are the boundaries of the Greek political national state do not possess some kind of cultural superiority to us.

In the end each individual, each generation is known by their accomplishments. The legacy of the Greek-American baby-boomers has yet to be determined. But whatever is to take place Greek-America is now, undeniably, within their care.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Little Known History of Greek-American Magicians: 1850 to 1906

1850 to 1906

Published in The National Herald, May 5, 2017 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. 



While entertainment forms may seem secondary (if even that) to the formation of American notions of persons and things said to Greek, they are in fact very often the only images the majority of average Americans have of persons, events and things Greek. Especially if we are examining early images. Greek magicians, as a topic, has several levels of meaning(s) for the average American. First, any American that went to school (or proved to be a regular reader) knew of Greeks during the Classical Era. As such persons identified as Greek magicians were already known to even the most isolated of audiences.

It is a sociological mistake not to pursue these kinds of studies because the American audience had been fed images and expectations of what a Greek magician was, had done, and was said to be capable of in the Classical past. It is these Classical accounts that laid the groundwork for these (then) existing cultural assumptions. Moreover, it is the body of expectations any and all Greek immigrants played upon with their arrival to America.

The individual Greeks of the 1880 to 1920 massive immigration waves very quickly learned that Greeks already had a wider historical presence in the United States – long before the arrival of the very first immigrant. In the vast majority of accounts written on Greeks in the United States, all such instances of prior understandings of persons and events recognized by Americans are missing from the public record because that is not the core thesis of “ immigration studies.”

T h e very first G r e e k stage magicians exp e ri e n c e d the same kind of American responses as did those who practiced the Greek dance Isadore Duncan American had recreated/introduced. These magicians were frequently compared to the Ancient seers and oracles of Classical times. And when these stage magicians failed to live up to the native-American journalist's understanding of such Greeks that too was noted in the public record

The first of these self-identified Greek stage magicians was an individual known only as the “Greek Rhigas.” Among the first references and advertisements announcing the presence of Rhigas date from the first days of the 1850s, 11 years before the American Civil War (1861- 1865). Typical of these early accounts is: “the attraction of the Greek Rhigas induced quite a crowd to attend at the Institute Hall. We, among the rest, were well pleased with the performances which certainly were astonishing, the tricks being all of them very cleverly performed, especially the Musket exercise and the Canary Bird Hunt. The performer himself is an experienced veteran, reminding us very much of the unfortunate Romano Samee, who killed himself by swallowing a sword—the Greek Rhigas often performs the same dangerous feat. He will appear again this evening, and we are pleased to see that a day performance is advertised for tomorrow at 3:30 PM. This will be a great treat for young Natchez (Natchez Daily Courier (Natchez MS) September 21, 1852).”

Nonetheless, not every experience Rhigas had in the United States can said to be positive. As we see in the news account: “A “trick of the trade” has just been shown off at our Armory Hall, rather funny, but being in the way of business, might be expected. Two conjurers were here last week, a Signor Carlo Something Adrian, and a Greek magician, Rhigas! Being asked for their rent, an evasive answer brought forth an indirect mention of the dinner hour of the “Sergeant Guard.” Not dreaming that this announcement could be made an “ o p e n sesame” of, the veteran returned from his feeding to find the two magicians, their infernal familiars, and all their tricky paraphernalia, had vanished with the hocus pocus peculiar to their vocation ( T i m e s - Picayune (New Orleans LA November 25, 1851).”

Alexander Canaris was another very successful Greek magician who toured the world throughout the 1880s, continuing to do so for the next 30 years. Canaris was a wellknown, “Greek born magician who toured the United States in 1885 (as Count Canaris), Australia in 1887 (as Prof. Canaris) and South America in 1908 (as Alexander Canaris). His performance was a vaudeville blend of magic tricks and spiritism expose. During his 1887 tour of Australia, he shared the bill with magician Dexter (” In “Leaves from Conjurers' Scrap Books, Or, Modern Magicians and Their Works” by Hardin J. Burlingame (Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, 1891) we can find Canaris in Chapter 2 which is entitled, “American Conjurers.” 

Over the decades, Canaris offered a varied program of entertainment, “Alexander Canaris and his company, in a combination of comedy and magic, were easily the best at that sort of entertainment that the house has had in a long time. Canaris had feats of magic that defied detection and at the same time he had a run of comedy in his act that brought forth plenty of laughs form the audience (Trenton Evening Times NJ January 24, 1913).”

Individuals such as Rhigas and Canaris may not have been “individuals” at all but rather one performer assuming the name of an earlier performer. I say this because Rhigas appears in too many places too widely separated in time and space to be one individual. Canaris' career, such as I can reckon from newspaper accounts and published accounts on magicians performing in North America, spans nearly 40 years.

Once again, Canaris seems to be everywhere at once, and given the conditions of early vaudeville entertainment he may well have traveled so extensively but more research is clearly required.

By 1906, at the very latest, Kalhass the Greek Boy Magician burst on the performance scene. His reception was nothing less than a major success. Typical of what we hear in the press of this era is: “Kalhass the wonderful Greek magician assisted by Mme Vanteur. The Globe-Democrat, St. Louis, MO, pronounced him the mist refined and versatile magician who has appeared before the public for years (Greensboro Daily News (Greensboro NC).” Known far and wide as a “clever wizard” Kalhass frequently interacted with the Greek-American community: “Last week the local Macedonian Committee, consisting of N. Lorandos, G. Gallanis, J.C. Palamaris, D. Gallans, C. Menas and A.D. Papas, called on Kalhass, the young Greek magician , to thank him for the $323.58 which had been netted for the relief fund by his performance at the Garrick Theater Sunday afternoon. They expressed themselves pleasantly surprised at the skill of the boy prodigy in magic and urged him to fix a date for a benefit which both Greeks and Americans are anxious to tender Kalhass because of his generous contributions to charity. The young magician gave an entertainment for the orphans at the Academy of the Sacred Heart during the summer and donated his services for the benefit of the Children's Hospital on the occasion of the big garden party at Carrswold May 30, when he was the only professional present, and the lady managers cleared $2000 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) October 21, 1906).”

These three individuals were most certainly not the only Greek magicians to perform upon American theater stages during this time period. Nor have we noted, in specific details, the varying manner in which the audiences of average Americans responded, from town to town, to these self-identified Greek magicians. But our survey of these individuals and their influences must begin somewhere if we are ever to come to terms with their period specific impact on the American imagination.

Steve Vasilakes, the White House’s Peanut Man – White House Historical Association


Published in The National Herald, May 5, 2017 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. 



WASHINGTON —  ╬Łicholas Stefanos “Steve” Vasilakes emigrated from Ligerea, Greece, to the United States in 1910 and soon thereafter set up his hot peanuts and fresh popped popcorn cart on what actually was White House property. He listed his business address as “1732 Pennsylvania Avenue” and reporters observed he came to represent the “little man” in America, according to
He was described as a “burly, fierce mustached Greek” and during World War I he boldly advertised on a hand-painted sign on his cart that on specified weeks he donated all of his proceeds to the Red Cross. Vasilakes became one of the most generous individual givers to that charity and gained widespread publicity for his patriotism.
Vasilakes sold peanuts to Presidents William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding, but his best customer was Calvin Coolidge who came to buy peanuts, munch, and talk to the vendor on the street almost every day. President Coolidge referred to the vendor as his “contact man” with the American people.
When District of Columbia Metropolitan police attempted to remove the peanut and popcorn cart from East Executive Avenue as a traffic menace, the president allowed the vendor to move his cart onto the sidewalk. When asked about his friendship with Coolidge after his death in 1933, Vasilakes noted in halting English: “He talk about everything. Politics, I think no. About everything good. Good business, good prices. Everything get better. Good man.”
In 1936, a national wire story reported that the Park Police wanted Vasilakes to remove his cart from the East Executive Avenue sidewalk to ease traffic congestion, but First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt interceded to allow him to stay.  The press reported that he became a United States citizen in 1938 and due to his accent and celebrity had a formal written statement available as a handout for the press.
Vasilakes had become a White House fixture and during World War II his ability to sell an astounding $50,000 in war bonds from his cart was legendary. Vasilakes capitalized on the national publicity he had received and started selling bonds by mail order. He began his war bond drive on October 28, 1942—the second anniversary of Italy’s invasion of his native Greece—with the slogan “Make a monkey out of Mussolini.” His first customer was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sam Rayburn. Each out-of town purchaser also received a bag of peanuts.
Among the flowers banked by his grave at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C. were sprays of red carnations sent by President and Mrs. Roosevelt.  After Vasilakes’s death in 1943 no other peanut concession was granted on White House grounds.