The butterfly collection in Ethel Barbas’ home illustrates her joyful and optimistic visits with family and friends as she travels the roads in western Washington. Testimony to her travel is her 1997 Honda del Sol with over 350,000 miles. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Ethel (Anthe) Evans (Evangelou) has roots in Everett and Seattle as well.
Ethel’s parents were born in the town of Galimi on the west side of the island of Marmara south of Istanbul, Turkey. She is able to trace her family back only as far as her grandparents as they were exiled from Marmara and her ancestors’ vital records were burned. The Christians had to leave Asia Minor and many settled on the small island of Ammouliani in Halkidiki where they began their life anew. Ethel recalls many of the Tacoma Greeks sending money and clothing to the island.
Her father, Lazaros (Louie) Evangelou (Evans), born on March 15, 1890, came to Tacoma, Washington, around 1917 where several patriotis (countrymen) from Marmara were already established. He worked at various jobs in bakeries and grocery stores. For a time he was employed by the New London Bakery on Dock Street. Louie lived downtown with many other bachelors. In 1918 he opened a grocery store at 3223 South Durango and then in an apartment behind the grocery store at 3811½ South 33rd Street. The following year he opened a grocery store in a house next door to 3223 South Durango. That house was converted to a full residence by the Hicks family in 1919.
In 1920 he returned to Galimi to marry Fotini Anesti, born January 6, 1897. They were married in a double wedding with Louie’s brother Peter and his wife, also Fotini. Ethel’s mother Fotini subsequently adopted the name Frances and was often nicknamed “Fotoula” or “Fota.” When they returned to Tacoma, the couple opened a bakery at 11th and Fawcett and lived in an apartment at 1713 South E Street. In 1923 the Evans Bakery was moved to the current location in the Oakland addition of Tacoma at 3812 South 33rd (Wright Avenue). The family lived in a small apartment towards the back of the building until 1929 when they moved to the house across the street.
Ethel remembers the bakery as an old building initially with a wood burning oven and eventually an electric oven with rotating shelves and a wooden proof box where the dough raised. In her teens she helped occasionally by frosting pastries and wrapping bread. When deliveries to stores and homes were discontinued, the business became “jobbers” for other bakeries producing products under other brand names. Gavin and Cindy Jury purchased the bakery in 1998 and kept the tradition of high quality bread by using the best ingredients and by honoring the rich history of the bakery by keeping the Baker Boy logo. A picture of Dick, one of the Evans boys, wearing a baker’s hat, was the inspiration for the Baker Boy logo.
Louie and Frances’ first son, Evangelos (Dick), was born in 1921. A second son, Anestis (his birth certificate from Tacoma General Hospital says Leroy), died in infancy but not before he was baptized by a visiting priest from Seattle. Vasilios (William or Bill) was born four years after Dick. Anastasios (Tasos or Ernie) followed in 1931 and Ethel Anthe was born on March 10, 1936. Ethel believes the influence of a non-Greek couple who became like grandparents accounts for the Americanization of the names. With a 15-year span between Dick and Ethel, she was closest to Ernie and her older brothers were more like parents, especially after her father died in 1949. Of the five children, Ethel and Bill are the only surviving siblings.
Ethel doesn’t remember much about her father as he was working a great deal and died when she was 13 years old. She remembers he smoked unfiltered cigarettes and when he would deliver bread or other baked goods to his Greek buddies they would give him something to drink. On at least one occasion, he came home quite “soused.” Her mother, Fotini (Frances), was a very nice, petite lady. She was quiet and never raised her voice. When Dick and Bill went to serve in World War II and after Louie died in 1949, she worked regularly at the bakery frosting pastries and wrapping bread. She was also the banker for the business and took the bus into town to make the deposits. As she aged, the Evans brothers kept the bakery operating. Dick found there was not enough profit for all family members and left to go into the produce business eventually holding a produce specialist position with Lucky Stores (a super market chain in California which was later purchased by Albertson’s).
There were a number of Greek families living near the Evans family. Ethel’s brothers would ride their bicycles from their home to visit the Turlis family in South Tacoma. Chris Georgiadis, Tom and Georgia Ginnis, Tom and Mary Vitos, Nick Vitos, the Nicholas and Bulldis families and Anna Zacharias were some of the others she remembers. The Manthou family operated the Crème Crust Bakery farther south on Center Street. The Evans Bakery made baked goods for Crème Crust in later years.
Greek was always spoken at home. Bill was even sent home when he began school, as he spoke no English. While attending Greek school Ethel remembers some students hiding their books as they were embarrassed in front of their non-Greek friends. For Ethel, speaking English was not a problem, perhaps because of her older brothers’ experiences and her time with friends in the neighborhood. Ethel always knew when company was coming because she could smell the coffee. She also knew her uncle Paul Anesti was visiting from his farm in McKenna, Washington, when she saw his Model T Ford parked in front of the house. Ethel and her mother rarely missed services at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church despite the lengthy trip on two busses.
As a child Ethel kept up with the boys in her neighborhood – ice skating on nearby Snake Lake, sledding on snow-packed streets in the winter, swinging across a gully on a big rope, playing kick-the-can and playing baseball when weather permitted. She attended Oakland Elementary, Jason Lee Junior High and Stadium High School, graduating in 1954. A number of other Greeks also graduated from Stadium and Lincoln High Schools including Basil Anton, George Elias Hallis, Bill and Kathy Basil, Odie Victor, and Perry Dionis. Ethel considered herself an “OK” student passing all her classes and taking many home economics classes. A neighbor helped her obtain a job at Pacific Northwest Bell (the telephone company) where she worked until 1959. Then she began working for Northwest Airlines in reservations and ticketing first in downtown Tacoma and then in the hanger building at Seattle-Tacoma airport.
During this time Ethel befriended Katie Babunes (now O’Neil) at a Greek Orthodox wedding. Ethel had planned a driving trip to California with two Tacoma friends. Ethel and the two friends met Katie at Pete’s Poop Deck, a jazz bar in Seattle operated by another Greek, Pete Barbas. The purpose was for the friends to meet Katie as a possible companion on the trip. It was there that Ethel met Pete. They were married in 1966 at St. Nicholas Church in Tacoma and a 31-year marriage followed. While Pete and Ethel lived at the Barbas family home in Seattle, they began looking for a summer cabin. Camano and Whidbey Islands in Puget Sound were both considered. A cozy cabin on Camano with a marvelous view of the Cascade Mountains overlooking Port Susan Bay became their permanent home in 1970.
Her new home was now some distance from her work at the airport so Ethel changed jobs in 1979 and went to work at the Boeing Company. Initially she worked in Everett in Manufacturing Engineering as a secretary then switched to the Customer Services section. There she arranged travel for employees assigned to locations around the world where customers had purchased Boeing products. Then, her offices were relocated to the Duwamish area in south Seattle, another long commute. Ethel enjoyed a very satisfying career which was enhanced by coursework at Knapp Business School and Everett Community College. She retired in 1995 after 17 years with the Boeing Company.
Camano Island remains Ethel’s point of departure from which she travels often to her home parish in Tacoma, the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Seattle, and to other locations up and down the Interstate 5 corridor with her favorite jazz music station, KPLU, on the radio. Until her mother died in 1985, her weekly trip to church would include a drive south to Tacoma and back to visit Frances, about 200 miles round trip. She also has a close connection with Spiro Southas in Bellingham to the north (see THE BELLINGHAM BEAT under Making a Living) as he stayed with the Evans family in Tacoma while attending State Patrol classes. Her theo (uncle) Pete and thea (aunt) Fotini lived in Everett where she visited on many occasions and recalled youthful antics with her Everett cousin John Evans captured in the video Mischief in Everett.
Ethel’s parents were members of GAPA (Greek American Progressive Association). GAPA provided a means for Greeks to keep their cultural traditions while assimilating into American life. From the age of 13 Ethel has sung in her church choirs. That singing continued until approximately the year 2000. She has rarely missed annual Choir Conferences over the course of many years. Ethel was appointed to serve as the Regional Administrator for the Metropolis Church Music Federation, a position she held for more than 15 years. In recognition of her service to the Federation, Ethel was the recipient of the Patriarch Athenagoras Distinguished Service Award presented by the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians. In 2012 she received the Spirit of Stewardship award from the San Francisco Metropolis.
In addition Ethel has volunteered extensively for Greek Orthodox Church ministries. She was on the All Saints Camp Board for 18 years, volunteered at Camp Agape (Kids ‘n Cancer program) for four years and has served as president and membership chair for St. Catherine Philoptochos (womens’ charitable organization).
Although their marriage ended, Pete Barbas lives near Ethel on Camano Island and their friendship continues. She enjoys her independence and her interactions with many friends and family. She occasionally thinks she would have been a good private investigator or FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) agent where she could apply her curiosity in a professional manner.
Ethel has traveled to Greece about seven times and to Holland, Denmark, Italy, the Caribbean and Mexico. She has also become involved in her Camano Island community with the Friends of the Library and an upcoming election for its support. She is also the library representative on the Camano Island Chamber of Commerce. With her Island friends she frequently takes outings to surrounding destinations for entertainment and dining.
Matia su tessera (treat your eyes as if you have four of them, or be careful) is one saying Ethel remembers from her childhood. She does not feel she was treated differently because of being Greek. She recalls not talking much about her Orthodox faith when she was younger partly because she didn’t know how to explain it to others. Now, with much of the language of the Church in English rather than Greek, she has learned much more about her faith and can readily share it with others. While her Greek culture is very important, her commitment to her church is based more on belief rather than her Greek background. Singing the church hymns in English gives her much more meaning than the memorized singing of the liturgical Greek.
Ethel would like to be remembered as a nice person like her mother, but acknowledges her occasionally testy personality. She is proud of her independence and having had a variety of experiences in her life including trap shooting, ice and roller skating, playing pool in retirement and swinging on a rope over the gully in Tacoma1By John and Joann Nicon, February 2013
1 Ethel holding Evans Bakery apron, 2013
2 Cunard Line brochure cover, 1920
3 Passenger list, R.M.S. “PANNONIA”, 1920
4 Louie Evans, 1940s
5 Fotini (Frances) Evans, 1954
6 Evans Bakery exteriors, 1940s
7 Evans Bakery apron, 2013
8 Evans Bakery, 2013
9 Evans boys in the military, (l-r)Dick, 1943; Ernie, 1950; Bill, 1943
10 Ernie Evans in the bakery, 1980s
11 Women on the McKenna farm, (l-r) standing: Hilda Victor, Evriklia Martigopolos, Artemisia Victor, unknown, Eftaxia Pangis, Fotula Anesti; sitting: Ethel Victor, Irene Victor, Frances Evans, Eleni Politakis, Olympia Sofianou, circa 1930
12 Louis Evans Family, (l-r) Ernie, Louis, Frances, Ethel, 1940s
13 St. Nicholas church members (l-r) back row: Mike Hallis, Mr. Stergakis, Nick Vitos, Louis Evans, Nick Zovlos, unknown, Father Kouklis, Louie Formousis, Sam Scafturon, unknown, unknown; front row: Paul Nitis, Ernie Evans, Kathy Basil, Jim Nitis, 1936
14 Ethel, circa 1938
15 Ethel, high school graduation, 1954
16 Ethel, Boeing retirement sketch, 1995
17 Ethel and Pete in Spokane, 1965
18 Ethel, Frances and Pete, circa 1970
19 Ernie in a GAPA uniform, circa 1932
20 Ethel’s Spirit of Stewardship award, 2012
21 Ethel, circa 2009
Photos 1 and 7 by John Nicon; 8 from Baker Boys web site; all others from Barbas family collection SOURCES
Video interview by John and Joann Nicon; Baker Boys web site