Greek-American Historical Museum of Washington State

“As Greek as I can Get”
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“As Greek as I can Get”

Pearl Pavlos

1 PAUL AND PEARL, 2013With both Belgian and Greek legacies, Pearl Pavlos chose the latter and has always seen herself “as Greek as I can get” with inseparable ties to her Greek Orthodox Church.

Born on May 28, 1936, in Spokane, Washington, Panagoula (Pearl) Manos was named after her grandmother.  She was one of two children who received the baptismal name on the same day.  She became Pearl and the other child was named Julia.  The reasoning behind the secular names is unknown.

2 Pearl's Maternal grandparents wedding certificate, 19153 Mary, Pearl and Christos Manos, 1936Pearl’s father, Christos Andrea Koukoumanos (later shortened to Manos), was born in 1893.  His family came from the village of Prosymna (also known to the Manos family as Berbati) near the larger town of Argos in the Peloponnese region of Greece.  Christos’ father Andrea came to the United States around 1900 and worked on the New York subway system.  Andrea went back to Greece and Christos came to New York in 1909 also to work on the subway system.  Although Pearl learned little from her father when she was young, it appears Christos served in the United States Army in 1918 for a few months until World War I ended.  He then obtained his United States citizenship, learned to cook while working his way west and was finally employed on the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway (now Burlington Northern).  He joined patriotes (countrymen) Goritsons and Demas in Vancouver, Washington, for a while and settled in Opportunity, Washington, just east of Spokane.  Christos acquired a farm and associated with many other Greek bachelors in the area.

Pearl’s mother, Mary Van Renterghem, lived in Spokane with her mother, father and two sisters.  The family was from Belgium and relocated from Michigan to Spokane.  Mary’s father died when she was 12 years old and, as the oldest child, she had to quit school and work to help support the family.  She began working on the Manos farm, some ten miles from her home and decided she wanted to marry Christos.  At the time, Christos was 21 years her senior and, although Mary’s mother said “absolutely not,” the couple knew the relationship would work and the match was made.  After Pearl was born in 1936, she was followed by twin brothers, Jim and Andy, born in 1938 and now deceased.

Christos was a farmer for his entire life and was known for his “Hearts of Gold” cantaloupe.  Short and thin, he was very disciplined and Mary matched his hard work ethic on the 44-acre truck farm.  They 4 The Manos Farm     5 Manos farm picnic, 1938shared the cooking; he would start and she would finish.  For Pearl it was an amazing way to grow up, with large parties and good parea (companionship) as their bachelor friends and others would congregate on Sundays for meals of wine, cheese and Mary’s fresh bread.  Christmas (Christos’ name day – the day 6 Christos and Mary, late 1930s 7 Pearl and godfather,  1938celebrated for the saint for whom one receives their baptismal name) and Easter were especially festive occasions.  Pearl remembers the long line of tables laden with food and wine which was shortened table by table as the men began dancing.  Most of the bachelors worked in Spokane and gathered at Mr. Grivas’ kafenion (coffee shop) to share stories and gossip.  Pete Kasavetes operated the Metropolitan Café, Gus Hanches had his cleaning shop and there was John Kakakas’ hat shop.  All the bachelors used one mailing address, that of “uncle” Tom Mallos’ shoe shine parlor on Sprague Avenue.

During World War II Christos would take a big stake-bed truck to nearby Fairchild Air Force base, find the Greek servicemen and as many other fellows as could stand up in the truck.  He would then bring them to the farm to spend the day sharing food, drink and hospitality with the Manos family.

8 Mary Manos holding twon sons and Pearl, 1938 9 Pearl and brothers, circa 1940Christos spoke English with Mary and his children and Greek while playing cards or during other activities with his bachelor friends.  Mary resented the use of Greek, perhaps believing that they were talking about her.  Mary learned to read and write Greek when classes were offered at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church by Fr. Asimikithes.  No longer able to keep things from her, the men would switch to Arvanitika (a variety of Albanian) much to her chagrin.  Beginning10  Manos family and friends, 1950s when Pearl was in the first grade, her parents would close the farm for the winter and travel to Hot Springs, Montana, where they enjoyed a three week vacation at the hot springs.  On one such occasion bachelor “uncles” George Sugar, the psalti (chanter) at church, and a cousin, also named Christos and nicknamed “Shorty,” cared for Pearl and her brothers.  Unhappy with the situation, Pearl responded by crying in school and stayed instead with her grandmother nearby.

11 Pearl, 1955Pearl attended Verdale Grade School and, while at Central Valley High School, volunteered as a “candy striper” at Sacred Heart Hospital.  So, when she graduated in 1954 she hoped to begin nurses training.  This was not to be even though she loved school which was easy for her.  When her mother became seriously ill and was giv12 Pearl and Paul, 1955en a few weeks to live, Pearl set schooling aside to care for her.  Miraculously, Mary rallied and Pearl then began work at Dishman State Bank.  Dishman eventually became Spokane and Eastern Bank, then Seattle First National Bank.

When Mary Sellinas and George Stamolis were married in August of 1955, Paul Pavlos was working for Jack Cunningham as a photographer and was hired to photograph the wedding.  Paul was from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base.  When pictures were taken the night before at Alexandra Deligan’s home, Pearl needed a ride to the church and somehow found herself in Paul’s car.  Sometime later Paul dropped off some photos inside the front 13 Pearl and Paul wedding, 1956screen door of Pearl’s home.  As the front door was only used on special occasions, the photos went unnoticed.  Christos noticed someone driving back and forth in front of the home but it was not until Paul called and asked if Pearl received the photos that they were discovered.  And, that’s how it started.  They were married on January 15, 1956.

Pearl could only work at the bank until she was five months pregnant, a rule imposed by the bank.  Her first child George was born on December 4, 1956, and she returned to banking at Old National Bank as Seattle First wasn’t hiring.  When she became pregnant again, she hid the fact by wearing a girdle and cardigan sweater as she wanted to work until the December 15th bonuses were given.  So, she altered the due date and worked two more weeks.  After disclosing her pregnancy, her replacement was not successful and she continued working with permission until January 15 but was warned to “stay away from the main office.”  Her second child Chrisanne (after both her father and mother-in-law) was born on January 26, 1959.  Anastasia “Stacie” followed on April 16, 1960, Mary Elizabeth “Lisa” (after her mother and nouna [godmother]) on April 21, 1961, and the youngest daughter Annie followed on December 28, 1962.  Paul and Pearl have eight grandchildren ranging in age from 14 to 26.

Pearl’s grandmother played the piano and there was a piano in the Manos 14 Pearl at the piano, circa 1953home.  Pearl began playing at the age of six.  She never practiced, just played.  When the organist at Holy Trinity left, funds were made available to pay for organ lessons, and Pearl, Alexandra Deligan and Sophie Salandras were chosen to take the lessons.  For 19 years, Pearl sang in, played the organ for or directed the Holy Trinity choir in Spokane, filling in wherever necessary.  When she moved to Seattle in 1974, and began attending the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption, she was asked to play the organ.  Pearl took the job but refused the salary as the Church had already paid her in the form of lessons.  For the next two years she found pleasure working with Mary Martinson and accompanying an “amazing” choir which sang a variety of choral music.  Pearl still feels the Assumption is her “home” and is welcomed everytime she visits Seattle.

In 1970, Paul was president of the Holy Trinity parish council and co-chaired the annual Greek festival with Bill Garras.  At the same time John and Molly Tsalaky, Jim and Kathy Bourekis and Mike and Alice Poulos were working on establishing a 15 Pavlos men (l-r) Paul, Paul, George, George, 1990restaurant in Spokane.  Alice’s brother, Gus Dussin, and his wife Sally were visiting from Portland, Oregon, attended the festival and complained about the overcooked spaghetti.  Not knowing that Dussin operated the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurants in Portland and Seattle and was the force behind the new operation, Pearl and Paul initially discounted his opinion.  After the festival, they helped their friends at night to finish preparing what became the Old Spaghetti Factory in Spokane and learned of Dussin’s expertise.  When the new manager did not work out, Alice said “Why not have Paul do it?”  So, with little managerial or restaurant experience, Paul became the manager.  Subsequently he helped open an Old Spaghetti Factory in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was transferred to the Seattle facility in June of 1974.  Pearl and the children remained in Spokane during Expo 74, an environmentally-themed world’s fair, and moved to Seattle that September.  Paul’s association with the Old Spaghetti Factory continued and the business has grown to over 40 locations, primarily in the western United States.  He now works part time at the corporate offices in Portland.  The Pavlos and Dussin families remain close friends and the Pavlos children and grandchildren have been fortunate to always have a job when they wanted.

In Spokane the Greek community and AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) preceded the church which was without a full-time priest until 1947.  When she was very young, the Women’s Hellenic Society held its meetings at the Manos farm.  Yet, Pearl cannot easily separate her ethnic background from her Greek Orthodox Church.  There was choir practice on Tuesday nights, Greek school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and dinners or weddings, all at Holy Trinity.  The church, in Spokane, Seattle and Portland has been the center of her life.

16 Pavlos family photo, 2006

Pearl and Paul’s children have maintained some of the Greek traditions to varying degrees.  They particularly enjoy Greek food and are quick to assist at the Greek festival in Spokane.  They also assist regularly with “Kids n’ Cancer” Camp Agape, a ministry of Philoptochos, the women’s philanthropic organization of the Greek Orthodox Church.  Those holiday events involving Greek food with Paul’s chicken and potato dishes and avgolemono (egg lemon) soup are very special to them.

Pearl’s visit to Greece in 1995 was especially memorable as she visited the family horio (village) and was joyfully introduced to all the other women named Panagoula who were related to her.  The best thing about being Greek for Pearl has been always having a theo (uncle), thea (aunt) or someone’s yiayia (grandmother) who would readily treat her as a relative whether the relationship was real or not.  Her love of the Greek heritage and family has been perpetuated through her church associations where she could always find a cousin, a friend or a patrioti (countryman).  She is especially grateful that her father came to the United States when he did and that her parents provided her with significant support.

One of her favorite sayings is etsi pefti to topi (that’s how the ball bounces).  While she knows her children will not always agree and may not get along, she requires that they always love each other.  Pearl simply wants to be remembered as a loving, caring person who will always be there for others and perhaps as that crazy lady who sits in the back of the church and sings out loud.

By John and Joann Nicon, June 2014
1 Paul and Pearl, 2013
2 Pearl’s maternal grandparents’ marriage license, 1915
3 Mary, Pearl and Christos Manos, 1936
4 The Manos farm, 1980 sketch from 1960 photo
5 Holy Trinity Church picnic, Pearl on Christos’ lap, 1936
6 Christos and Mary, late 1930s
7 Pearl and godfather Angelo Bebekas, Easter, 1938
8 Mary Manos holding twin sons, Andrew and Jim, with Pearl, 1938
9 Pearl and brothers Jim and Andy, circa 1940
10 Manos family and friends (l-r) Standing: Tom Psomas, Jim Psomas, Mary, Pearl, Christos “Shorty” Manos; Sitting: Andy, Christos, Jimmy, 1950s
11 Pearl, 1955
12 Pearl and Paul, 1955
13 Pearl and Paul wedding (l-r) Christos, Mary, Pearl, Paul, Anna Pavlos, George Pavlos, 1956
14 Pearl at the piano, circa 1953
15 Pavlos men (l-r) Paul, Paul, George, George, 1990
16 Pavlos family photo (l-r) Standing: Anne Streifel, Dalton Coy, Dan Streifel, Chris Coy, Stacie Mether, Brian Mether, Logan Mether, Pearl, Pavlos, George Pavlos, Doug Lawrenson, Paul Pavlos, Chrisanne Lawrenson, Mollie Lawrenson; Sitting: Lisa Coy, Jesse Coy, Paul Pavlos, Niki Mether, Pam Pavlos, Stephanie Lawrenson, 2006
Photo 1 by John Nicon, all others from Pavlos family collection
Video interview by John and Joann Nicon, December 2013