Mr. and Mrs. John Camichos Celebrate Greek Independence Day on Lake Conway

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Mr. and Mrs. John Camichos Celebrate Greek Independence Day on Lake Conway

Mr. and Mrs. John Camichos Celebrate Greek Independence Day on Lake Conway

June 7, 2016

Geneva and John Camichos at the Greek Independence Day Celebration at Lakeside on Lake Conway, March 25, 1932.

Photo courtesy of the Camichos Family Archives.

Listen as Pano John Camichos, talks about his parent's life in Orlando, family in Volos, Greece: LISTEN Part I (17:30), and the Orlando Relief Effort to save Volos: LISTEN PART II (12:48) in these excerpts from an oral history interview on February 20, 2015.

My father was from Greece.... My mother was born and raised in Edgefield, South Carolina and left there subsequent to my folks marriage in 1923. Well, actually, when they moved here to Orlando in 1924, but they lived the rest of their lives here except for that brief period in Mississippi.

Did your father mention how he happened to come to the United States?

Yes, he did. Back when he was probably in his middle nineties, I took the opportunity to interview him. My father was born in 1892 and he originally came to this country in 1910. So he would have been 18. I found out subsequent to his death that he apparently came here with the intent of remaining in the United States in 1910. However, in 1912, the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 13 broke out. And many Greeks who had emigrated to the United States actually went back to Greece and fought in those wars. I found subsequently, too, that there were two regiments of Greek soldiers that consisted of regular Greek soldiers, and, the Evzones, which are the elite forces of Greek military, and Greek Americans, Greeks who had emigrated to America and then went back specifically to fight in those wars.

Following the end of the war he and several of his friends decided they were going to leave Greece in 1916 and this was all due to a lot of political activities that were going on. They weren't happy with what was happening in Greece at the time and this, of course, my interview with him, this came out. And so, he elected to leave the country and he told me in his interview that there were maybe 40 or 50 of his friends were also coming out at the same time. The government just prior to them leaving put out an edict that no Greek of military age was to leave Greece. So a lot of them got detained and they never got out. My father and a friend apparently had a friend who was a sailor on a freighter and he smuggled them aboard ship and they hid out in an unfired boiler until the ship was out to sea. And he told me in the interview that the customs people came around and went and looked in all the boilers. You know they'd open the door, and he and his friend stood against the wall where the door was located and held their suitcases up above their heads so that the man wouldn't see them when they were in there.

And so he got out of the country by that means and landed in Boston. He came through Boston in, I believe it was October of 1916. Subsequent to that, well, maybe I might be getting a little ahead of you. At that point he went to work in a restaurant in Grand Central Station shucking oysters. So he got his feet wet, you know, at that time. And he stayed in New York City until 1919 whereupon he had another friend that lived in Edgefield, SC that had a restaurant and my dad moved down with him and opened a fresh fruit stand and opened this restaurant right here in downtown Edgefield. That building by the way still exists where he had his vegetable stand. And through his friendship with my uncle he met my mother during this period and so he and she got married in 1923 and remained in Edgefield until 1924 whereupon he came to Orlando...

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