200% GREEK FROM SPOKANE
Stan Kanellos was exceptionally well prepared with photographs, memorabilia and Seven-Star METAXA brandy to tell his story. He and his wife, Callie, have kept close contact not only with their Greek friends in Spokane and throughout Washington State but also with relatives in Greece.
Anastasios “Stan” Christos Kanellos was born on January 2, 1943, in the village of Chilomodi near the city of Corinth in the Greek Peloponnese. While not large, Chilomodi is a major transportation hub and is the birthplace of the Greek actor, Irene Papas. He “Americanized” his name shortly after he came to the United States and has been known as Stan ever since. With the help of his paternal yiayia (grandmother), Stan has been able to trace the family name (kanella, literally meaning cinnamon) as far back as the 1660s in Tripoli, Greece. His yiayia also recounted stories of the Greek independence from Turkey in 1821. His paternal papou (grandfather) died at an early age. His maternal grandparents were killed during the Greek Civil War following World War II.
His father, Christos (1912-1996), was a farmer, raising goats and, during the summer, making keramika (tiles for roofing). He was also a fisherman and hunter. Christos spent four months with Stan in 1981 and, when visiting the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, was concerned that it might collapse. Stan’s mother, Aphrodite (nee Tsongas) (1918-1981), was a distant relative of the Massachusetts congressman, Paul Tsongas. Tsongas’ grandfather and Stan’s great grandfather were brothers both of whom made a lot of money raising tobacco.
Stan is the middle child of five siblings. His oldest sister, Anastasia “Soula,” lives in Chilomodi and had a large restaurant there. His younger sister, Maria, died in 2013. His two brothers, Costa and Georgo, left the family farm and opened a restaurant but, when the railroad and highway passed through Chilomodi, the restaurant was closed. The family home was demolished following an earthquake in 1981 and the brothers built new homes on the property. Stan has made 15 trips back to his home town and keeps in regular contact with his family there.
When Stan was a child in Chilomodi the Kanellos family was very poor. He recalls obtaining the extra prosforo (the leavened bread used in the Greek Orthodox Eucharist) which would have been discarded. He usually went to school without breakfast or with only a small piece of paximadi (a twice-baked cookie like the Italian biscotti). Stan appreciates the assistance provided by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and CARE (Cooperation Assistance and Relief Everywhere) who provided milk, canned goods and vitamins for those suffering the effects of World War II and the Greek civil war that followed which was even worse. He remembers being hit in the head by the recoil of his father’s gun when Christos shot a man in the leg. Stan vowed to “never go hungry” when he came to the United States.
Stan’s parents were distantly related to the Kallimanis family who had a home near Corinth. After Stan had finished grade school and high school, he was contacted by George Kallimanis who lived in Austin, Minnesota. Stan was 18 years old in 1961 when he was invited by Kallimanis to come to America with the understanding he could continue his schooling there. In nearby Rochester, Minnesota, Stan worked at Kallimanis’ pizza restaurant from noon until one the next morning, after attending school in the morning. Then he was up again at 6 am for school. He was earning $2.00 per day and had to pay $1.00 per day for his room, so he slept in a booth in the pizza parlor to save the one dollar. He finished two years in junior college but discovered that attending college in Minneapolis, Minnesota, would cost over $5000 and that Kallimanis would not pay that fee. In addition, the immigration authorities prohibited him from working more than just on the weekends. It was then he decided to return to Greece.
While attending church in Rochester, he met Callie Menegas on Mothers’ Day in 1963. Callie’s family was planning to move to Spokane and Stan was planning his move to Greece. Rather, they decided to get married and stay in Rochester. When Stan approached her father at work in the Country Kitchen, to ask permission, her father dropped his serving tray in surprise and told Stan to see her mother. After a conversation with her mother, the marriage was decided and took place on Father’s Day, June 16, 1963.
Calliope “Callie” Georgos (nee Menegas) and her identical twin were born in the sixth month of pregnancy on January 29, 1944, at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. Her twin sister died at birth. Her father, George Alexander Menegas (1918-1980), was born in Dubuque, Iowa, of parents from the Greek island of Samos. His middle name was to have been Nicholas but his nouno (godfather) insisted (not an unusual expectation) that the child be baptized with his name. Callie describes her father as “very intelligent.” George worked for General Dynamics and the family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, hoping to return to Spokane. However, his sister asked him to come to Rochester, Minnesota, where he first worked for the Wonder Bread Bakery and later managed their restaurant, the Country Kitchen. Callie’s mother, Panagiota (nee Deliganis) (1923-2010), was born in Colfax, Washington, near the family home in Penewawa, Washington, where several Deliganis relatives had established their homes. Panagiota’s family was from the town of Kandila, near the center of the Greek Peloponnese. After Callie there are five Menegas siblings: Nicoletta, Mary, Tom and a second set of twins, Gregoria “Gloria” and Christine “Vivi.”
For Callie, it was “all Greek” as a child. In Spokane she attended Vera Elementary, Green Acres Junior High and graduated from Central Valley High School. From an early age she began singing in the choir at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and knows almost all the church hymns in Greek. Now, she sings from the pews and is saddened that more of the hymns are in English rather than the beautiful language in which they were originally written.
THEIR LIFE TOGETHER
After their marriage in 1963, Stan and Callie remained in Rochester and Stan continued to work for his mentor, George Kallimanis, for the next two years. During that time, he worked long hours and helped open four more “George’s Pizza” establishments in Clinton and Council Bluffs, Iowa; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Madison, Wisconsin. Stan was managing the Clinton store but found the humid climate almost unbearable. So, with their new daughter, Aphroditi, they moved to Spokane in 1965.
Initially they stayed with Callie’s parents until they purchased the home in which they still live. Stan found work driving a one-ton pickup truck, delivering newspapers to the surrounding towns of Moses Lake and Ephrata, Washington. He was working double shifts, up to six days a week delivering both THE SPOKESMAN REVIEW and its competing paper, the SPOKANE CHRONICLE, but was not earning enough money to support his family. When speaking with a relative, he learned about a job at Idaho Veneer, “The Idaho White Pine Experts,” and began a 42-year career with the company. He would rise at 3:30 am, drive to the plant in Post Falls, Idaho, and work until 3:30 in the afternoon. “I loved it,” he says, learning every machine, working in a lead position, then in shipping and production and with the last 15 years as supervisor. He even ran the company picnic for all but one of his years with Idaho Veneer. He could have continued working rather than retire but his feet began to hurt from standing all those years and, he was not willing to settle for an office job. So, in July of 2008, he left with good retirement pay and benefits.
Callie’s time has been spent as a mitera (mother) and yiayia and what she calls a “domestic engineer,” helping her daughter and two granddaughters. She mostly values the Greek characteristic of close family relationships and often uses the term se agapo (I love you) as she relates to her loving family and relatives. Stan remembers being called a “stupid Greek” on occasion but he resisted being equally critical of other’s ethnicities. He initially came to the United States to continue his education but has no regrets for the long hours and years of work which brought him a good income and personal satisfaction. He wants to be remembered for his hard work, his Greek spirit of dancing, cooking and fundraising for his Church. He and Callie have taken 15 trips to Greece and hope to take their granddaughter there for a visit. Their daughter reads and writes Greek but her use of the language has diminished. Their granddaughters know a few words of Greek.
Stan and Callie have an extensive collection of coins, silver spoons and shot glasses from around the world. Photographs of their family and Greek friends and relatives cover almost every wall of their home. Two large display cabinets hold numerous Greek artifacts and souvenirs. The size of the Greek community of Spokane has been reduced over the years but their memories of its spirit and faith remain strong in their minds.By John and Joann Nicon, November, 2018 VIDEO SEGMENTS
1 Stan Kanellos, 2018
2 Kanellos home in Chilomodi, 1950
3 Stan’s grandparents, date not indicated
4 Christos and Aphrodite Kanellos, 1937
5 Christos Kanellos visiting Spokane, 1981
6 Stan and friends, March 25, 1952
7 Stan and sister Maria, 1956
8 Callie’s family-seated: grandparents Maria and Louis; standing: Panagiota “Pauline” and Vivian, 1940
9 Four Generations-(l-r) Panagiota, Callie, Aphrodite, Tessa, 2000
10 Callie and Stan, 1963
11 Stan and Callie wedding, 1963
12 Stan and Callie at 50th anniversary, 2013
13 Stan and Aphrodite making pancakes, 1980
14 At Aphrodite’s wedding, 1988
15 Stan at Soap Lake, Washington, festival, 1984
16 Spokane AHEPA, Stan seated second from right, 1995
17 Brothers George, Stan and Costa in Idaho Veneer garb, 1996
18 Stan (third from right) with Coworkers, 2003
19 Stan and Callie in Hawaii, 2002
20 Stan and Callie with granddaughters Tessa and Sayla, 2013
21 Mike Iliakis, Stan and John Gormanos, circa 2005
22 Family reunion, 2005
23 Stan on the island of Tinos, 2006
24 Callie and Stan, 2018
Photos 1 and 24 by John Nicon; all others from Kanellos family collection SOURCES
Video interview by John and Joann Nicon, May 2018