Take Baths, Become Dentists, Says 1908 Guide for Greek Immigrants

I recently found this article published by the AP on March 31, 1986, authored by Kerin Hope

Take Baths, Become Dentists, Says 1908 Guide for Greek Immigrants
ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ A 1908 guide advised Greeks arriving in the New World to bathe regularly, speak softly and become dentists so they could prosper by fixing the bad teeth Americans develop from eating too much candy.
″The Immigrant’s Guide in America,″ a pocket-sized, illustrated 403-page book of practical advice in Greek, was published in New York. Alexandros Kitroeff, a Greek historian, said it is the earliest known guide for Greeks arriving in the United States.
Seraphim G. Canoutas, the lawyer who wrote it, included information ranging from immigration formalities at Ellis Island to a list of more than 5,000 Greek-owned businesses in the United States and Canada, most of them florist shops, shoeshine parlors and restaurants.
″It aimed at helping Greek immigrants become assimilated in what must have been very alien surroundings, and it apparently sold very well,″ Kitroeff, who found Canoutas’ book in the library of the Greek parliament, said in an interview. He is an adjunct associate professor of history at City University of New York.
The guide covers pitfalls and possibilities for the more than 300,000 Greeks who emigrated to the United States between 1890 and 1914.
In a chapter called ″American Life, Ethics, Customs and Paradoxes,″ Canoutas sets out to view life in New York through the eyes of a teen-age immigrant from a Greek mountain village.
He wrote:
″Americans eat in silence and at great speed, so as to save as much time as possible. As soon as a customer sits down a waiter brings him a glass of water with a lump of ice in it, winter or summer. It is impossible to conceive the amount of ice Americans consume throughout the year.
″In no other country in the world are as many sweets consumed as in America. This excessive indulgence, especially among women, results in the ruin of their teeth. Dentists, therefore, have become plentiful and make more money than candy store owners.″
″The number of people employed in department stores can be three, four, five and sometimes more than six thousand. Imagine the whole population of a town such as Corinth inside a store.″
The book warns immigrants away from mines and factories, recommending jobs on railroads or in retailing. Life in New York City is expensive, Canoutas says, costing ″at least a dollar a day.″ ...



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