Andreanna Raptis-Zafiropoulos has always wanted to write the history of Greeks in Washington State. However, when she left Everett for Quincy, she had no idea that her desire would be realized. As Quincy is in the geographical center of Washington, its location, coupled with her curiosity and outgoing personality, provided the perfect combination to become the center of Greek cultural activities throughout the state.
During the War of Independence (Greece from Turkey) in 1821 Andreanna’s great grandfather John was a rebel. The original name was Karebellis but one of John’s brothers was the town raphti (tailor). Thus the name evolved to Raphti or Raptis, a common occurrence where the person’s surname was derived from their profession or line of work.
Andreanna’s father, Andrew Basil, was born to Vasiliou and Sprithoula (nee Vretos) Raptis on July 22, 1900, in Sourousti in the mountains north of the Gulf of Corinth. The family lived in Sourousti in the summer and Gavrolimni between Nafpaktos and Missolonghi in the winter. Mandatory military service delayed his immigration to Canada. He served in the war with Turkey after World War I. In 1925 he landed in Halifax and started his journey to Penticton, British Columbia, and his reunion with his brother George. He listed his age as one year younger to qualify for a Canadian agricultural program for immigrants. He worked in the orchards in Penticton and during the off season he had a shoeshine stand at the intersection of Granville and Georgia in Vancouver, B.C. This may have been a violation of his immigrant status and, when the issue of paying taxes arose, he quickly closed the shoeshine stand. Later he and his brother George had restaurants in Trail and Penticton B.C. Andrew experienced several asthma attacks requiring hospitalization prompting a move from the area.
Andreanna’s mother, Constandina “Connie” was born on January 15, 1917, to George and Maria (nee Skeparnis) Kolyris in Paleochorion near Lamia in central Greece. Constandina’s older sister, Yiannoula was born in 1912. George died fighting in WWI in 1916 and Maria died in 1917 of the flu pandemic. Neighbors heard Maria crying but, knowing she was ill and fearful of catching the flu, they did not want to enter the home. When they finally did, the girls’ mother was dead. The sisters were separated: Yiannoula went with the Skeparnis family and Constandina with their aunt’s family (Kolofotis) in Paleochorion. George’s brother Nick Kolyris (anglicized to Colliers) immigrated to the United States in 1905. He was living in Everett, Washington, and went to Greece in 1924 to bring Constandina back with him to the United States. He raised her and thus became papou (grandfather) to Andreanna. Yiannoula eventually came to the United States, married Nick Christ and lived in Bellingham, Washington, until her death in 1986.
In the early 1900s the Kolyris family was one of three families living in Everett – first on Summit Street, then on Walnut Street. The rest of the 300-400 Greeks were bachelors. In Snohomish County, where Everett is located, local laws prohibited alcoholic beverages sometimes and not at others. This caused problems for the Greeks, who liked making their wine even when illegal. They were considered troublemakers and the majority of the bachelors were run out of town. The anti-Greek sentiment carried over into the job market with signs posted “Help Wanted – Greeks need not apply.” On one occasion Nick applied for a job at Eclipse Mill and, with blond hair and blue eyes, passed himself off as a Russian to secure employment. During the Depression several thought he was employed as the town horticulturist because he was seen planting trees and plants around the county courthouse. In reality he was performing community service as his penalty for bootlegging.
In 1939 Andrew went to Everett to visit his cousin Tom (Athansios) and Pangiota Southas, who lived near the Colliers family on Summit Avenue. The cousins learned there was a man from Canada who wanted to meet Constandina. Cousin Spiro Southas ran to the Colliers home and told Constandina she better look nice because the visitor was good looking. Andrew was introduced to Constandina in March; they were engaged in May; and married October 8, 1939. The couple returned to live in Penticton where their first daughter Maria was born on August 24, 1940. Andrew was a Canadian citizen, and Constandina a United States citizen. Constandina wanted Andreanna to be born an American citizen and returned to Everett for Andreanna’s birth on June 25, 1943. Wanting a son, when Andrew received the telegram telling him it was another girl, he chose not to make the trip to Everett. Andreanna enjoyed teasing her father about this decision.
When the Raptis family moved from Penticton in 1945, they lived with Nick (Papou Niko) in a two-bedroom house at 2946 Walnut Street with a play house, more like a wood shed, in the back yard. Wood-burning stoves were used for heating and cooking. In 1951 they moved to 2019 Rockefeller. Andrew worked for his brothers-in-law, Jim and Gus Colliers, at the Orient Tavern on Bayside Street and then on 33rd and Broadway. In 1956 he got a job with Snohomish County Department of Transportation and retired in 1971. Papou Niko continued living with them until he died in 1968. The Walnut neighborhood had a cluster of Greek families and businesses. On the corner of Walnut and Pacific was the Everett Fuel Company owned by Frank Drossos; a house away was the Colliers; then the Megas, Southas and Carotas homes. Across the street was Jerry Vandos’ saw mill. On Maple Street lived the Drosos, the Diamonds and “Barba” (a colloquial term for uncle) Spiro. These homes were demolished when the interstate freeway (I-5) was constructed in 1960.
The Raptis home on Rockefeller in Everett was also known as the Raptis Hotel, hosting Canadian friends and relatives and even the Vancouver, B.C., basketball team participating in the AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) tournament in 1955. Constandina, the oft-described Greek matriarch of Everett received a present from the visiting team while the Raptis girls were called “traitors.” Andreanna’s mother was the caregiver for Papou Niko. She was very intuitive and had a knack for correcting your behavior which made you feel as if you had done nothing wrong. Although Andrew had Parkinson’s disease, he died from old age and pneumonia in 1987. Constandina passed in 1985 from a heart attack
The Raptis family was very active in the Greek and non-Greek communities. Andrew and Constandina were members of AHEPA and the Daughters of Penelope (its women’s affiliate). Andreanna remembers one event in front of Koutlas Everett Milling (see EVERETT REMEMBERED) where she helped stuff paper napkins in chicken wire for the AHEPA and Daughters float for the Fourth of July celebrations. Her dad never missed going to a parade. The Greek community raised enough money to build the Hellenic Club in Everett where Greek plays were performed, dinners were held and even some weddings took place. Judd and Black auto parts store now occupies the location. While Greeks from the larger city of Seattle thought their Everett counterparts were “hicks,” Seattle Greeks were regularly seen at these events.
Andreanna’s Greek school teacher was Maria Wagner, a Greek from Egypt who spoke five or six languages. Greek school was held on Saturdays in the basement of the Drossos home. Elaine Drossos, Ann and Violet Amunsis and Georgia Baklezos were among the students. Andreanna’s sister Maria attended Greek school for two years while Andreanna lasted only one year as she believed she had enough schooling the rest of the week. But it was always Greek at home and English away from home. With her father’s interest in history and from stories from Papou Niko, her connection to the Greek culture remained strong. She learned to count by playing Koultsina (a Greek card game) with her papou.
Andreanna attended Monroe Elementary and, when the family moved to a big house on Rockefeller Street, she went to Washington Elementary, North Junior High and Everett High from which she graduated in 1961. She went to Everett Community College and Central Washington State College (now University) and obtained her bachelor’s degree in history and political science. She learned from a friend of an opening in Quincy in central Washington State but knew little of the location or opportunities there. After an interview with the superintendent, she signed a contract. What was to have been a one-year commitment turned into a 30-year teaching career in Quincy. She taught history for grades nine through twelve and advised students on the school newspaper and yearbook. Andreanna was able to relate to many of the students and their migrant worker families as they were much like her own family. Some of her students thought she was born in Greece. Andreanna found she could make a real impact in the small community of about 3,300 people at the time. The words of her father, “Get an education. Stay in school. No Boys! Keep your mind on the books!” inspired her. She would return to Everett for the summers, vacations and many weekends. Now, she does the opposite and spends those times in a condominium on the Columbia River, just a few miles from Quincy.
In 1988 Andreanna’s cousin Eleni Zourkos was working in her family’s restaurant in Bellingham, Washington. At the same time John Zafiropoulos was working for the United States Postal Service and spent a week in Bellingham. He frequented the Greek restaurants there and met Eleni. Divorced at the time with two children, he was interested in marrying again to a Greek woman. Eleni suggested Andreanna meet John but Andreanna’s initial response was, “No.” Then she learned more about John from a mutual friend. Meanwhile, her sister Maria was investigating John and learned from another Greek friend, Vasili Varlamos, that John was a good man. After two years of playing “hard to get,” Andreanna married John on April 21, 1990. Her nieces, Tina, Stacia and Christa, children of her sister Maria and her husband Tom Barbas, feared their ”Auntie Mame” would not be around to spoil them. That has not been the case as both John and Andreanna dote on the girls and grand nieces and nephews when the opportunities arise.
While her marriage to John has strengthened her participation in Greek activities, she has kept the culture largely on her own. Her first trip to Greece was in 1968 as a chaperone for an AHEPA excursion. The group stayed at Anavryta Experimental Lyceum in Kyfisia near Athens where King Constantine of Greece had attended school. On this trip she recalls returning from an outing in Corinth and having chills when she saw a full moon over the Parthenon on the same day the Americans landed on the moon. In 1984 she spent a month of intensive Greek language study at the Ionic Centre on the island of Chios. One of Andreanna’s desires has been to write a history of Greeks in Washington. Today she serves as vice president of the Greek-American Historical Museum of Washington State and in this capacity is helping to realize her dream.
One proverb Andreanna remembers is “I kamila then vlepi ti kamboura tis” (the camel can’t see its own hump or one does not recognize their own faults). At home her papou Niko would speak only in Greek to her. However, when Andreanna’s school friends came to visit, he would speak in English to them. Andreanna believes that being raised in a Greek family has given her the values she has used in her work and adult life. She feels that she may not have had the desire for education and a teaching career had it not been for her family. AHEPA, the Daughters and the Hellenic Club held the Everett Greeks together and it is sad to see those organizations dwindling. Andreanna believes those organizations still serve an important role and that one must know where they come from in order to understand who they are.By John and Joann Nicon, December 2012 PHOTOS
1 Andreanna, 2013
2 Kolyris family home in Paleochorion
3 Maternal grandfather George Kolyris, circa 1900
4 Anna, Nick, Constandinos, Vasiliki and Demetrios Kolyris, early 1900s
5 Constandina and Andrew wedding, October 8, 1939
6 Andreanna at 10 months, 1944
7 Raptis family: Andrew, Andreanna, Maria and Constandina, 1945
8 Everett AHEPA and Daughters Float (l-r) Sylvia Colliers, Anna Karanson with torch, Ella Costa, Tula Britizas, 1949
9 Greek Independence Day Celebration (l-r) standing: Elaine Karavity, Maria Raptis, Van Danas, Peter Evans, Elaine Drosos; front: Bessie Carotas, Alex Carotas, Unknown, 1955
10 Everett Ahepans, back row: Nick Karavity, John Tsiknis, Ken Callahan, Jim Ropas, Fote Koutlas, Bill Pappas, Unknown, Panos Tsiknis, Panos Koutlas; middle row: Unknown, Jim Colliers, Jim Pappas (Papademitriou,) Frank Drosos, Jim Manos, John Pappas, Costa Christothoulou, C. P. Koutlas; front row: Bill Geikas (standing), Gust Rakus, Tom Southas, Andy Kaddas, Bill Karanson, Jim Amunsis, Andrew Raptis, John Karanson, 1967
11 Andreanna (center) in first grade, 1949
12 Carol Deterling, Andreanna, Darlene Leonard, circa 1958
13 Andreanna’s high school graduation, 1961
14 Andreanna and Maria in Vancouver, 1960
15 Quincy “Jackrabbit” yearbook staff, front: Mark Call, Andreanna, Dick Weber, Middle: Mary Ann Martindale, Carol Boorman, Bev Thew, Kristie Colby; back: Carolyn Bender, Patti Keppner, Mary Steward, 1967
16 Dorothy Haskell, Andreanna and Maria, 2009
17 Andreanna and John at Crescent Bar, Washington, 2012
Photos 1 by Emanuel Athans, 17 by John Nicon; all others from Raptis family collection
Video interview by John and Joann Nicon, June and December 2012