Cashmere, with its apple orchards and factories was a change from the coffee shops and small churches that had been typical in Anna’s Greek village of Vitalo. Although she spoke no English it was not difficult for her to adjust to life in Cashmere, Washington
Anna (nee Pagones) Valison (Valissarakos) was born in the village of Vitalo, in Evia Greece, on April 20, 1919. About the same time two brothers, Gus and Nick Valissarakos bought the Cashmere Café together. After working in the cafe for a number of years Nick returned to Greece, met and married Anna. After they married, she came directly to Cashmere, Washington, in 1939 just as World War II broke out, on the last ship to leave Europe.
The Tertsagian family that owned Aplets and Cotlets befriended the Valison family. The fact that they were Greek-speaking Armenians and that their fruit concoction was very similar to a Greek sweet made for a close relationship.
Anna had three children before going to work in the cafe. Anna’s daughters remember raising chickens and making wine at the family home.
Anna says the cafe was the “best school” for her. Not knowing how to write in English, she took orders “in her head.” Customers were impressed with her ability to do so. The cafe remained in the family for 55 years.
After her husband died in 1960, Anna moved to Seattle for a time but returned to Cashmere in 1970 and spent the next 25 years there.
In the 1990s she rode in the Founders Day parade as Citizen of the Year with the Cashmere mayor. The “Citizen of the Year” continued to contribute to her fellow Cashmerites. In 2001 she made 100 pies for Cashmere’s Apple Days. Why 100 pies? The previous year she made only 52 and they were gone well before the festival was over. This fete appeared on the Food Channel on national television. Anna chuckled as she described asking her grandson to help her move the pies from her home. She remained in Cashmere until she again moved to Seattle to be with her daughters Olga Angelos and Demetra Valison.
1 Anna Valison at home
2 Valison extended family
3 Cashmere Cafe
4 Anna with daughters Dee Valison and Olga Angelos
Photos 1 and 4 by John Nicon; Photos 2 and 3 from Valison Family Collection SOURCES
Video interview by John and Joann Nicon, January 2011