I was born and grew up here on Poros. My family is local here, since 17th century more or less. Before that, we managed to find out, we probably came from Micro Asia. We don’t know exactly from where, but our relatives and grandfathers believed that is where the family roots are from. We are a family of butchers. There is one butcher Pavlou on the other side of Poros town and there is a Pavlou hotel in Neorio – his father was also a butcher. My grandfather decided not to be a butcher. He was a “bohemian” type – he had a nice voice and played the guitar. He decided to travel and so he went to Egypt, where he worked for many years. When he came back to Greece, he stayed in Athens, where he started a sort of mini market. He met and fell in love with my grandmother there, who came from a very rich family. They owned boats. My grandmother just finished studying at the time. She wanted to be a teacher. My father was very much in love with my grandmother so at that time he went everyday to her house to play the guitar and sing to her. He soon went to ask her father for permission to marry. They were around 20 years old at the time. My grandmother’s father said “no” to the marriage! My grandfather thought the only way is to kidnap my grandmother and take her to Poros, which he did.
They came to Poros in one of the wooden boats. My grandfather decided to open a small taverna. That was around 1915. He enjoyed food, especially with wine! My grandmother soon understood he would be out late every night, getting drunk, so she decided to sell the chairs and tables from the taverna. She had a relative that had a shop selling various tools. With the money she got from the sale of taverna’s equipment, she managed to buy tools and she changed the taverna into a hardware store. The official date of the founding of the store is 1919. My grandparents stayed happy, they had 3 children – my father and 2 sisters, who also grew up on Poros. They kept the shop until the Second World War. That is when the Germans came and took everything. I even have an original letter stating that “from now on everything belongs to the occupying forces”. With the material and tools from the store they built a military station up on the hill in Poros town, from where they were shooting the enemy. For the purpose of surviving my father (who was 18 at the time) went to Athens to sell olive oil and to exchange goods. After the war had finished, our family had a good name on the market, so all the suppliers gave my father lots of different products for free so that he could start his business again. Slowly, slowly the store started to recover. It was fully re-established in 1951 by my father.
I never met my grandmother unfortunately. She had a terrible death in 1957. It was a time when women used an iron with coal inside for ironing clothes. She was wearing a nylon outfit, which caught on fire. Her skin was burnt badly and she got poisoned by the smoke. The doctors at the time did not have the capacity to help with such cases. She died after 6-7 hours, which for my grandfather was very difficult, because they were very much in love. It took him many years to recover.
I grew up with my grandfather and grandmother from my mother’s side. I was born in 1962 on Poros, in 1980 I finished school and went to Athens to take up the Library studies. It was the first university in Greece to teach that subject. After I finished, I worked in a library in Athens. In 1985 my father wanted to retire so he called me and my brother Nikos to ask if we wanted to take over the hardware store. We both decided to come back to Poros and in 1987 Nikos and myself started the store that it is today. In the beginning we would go to Athens every weekend, because we had many friends there. But slowly with time we spent more and more time on Poros. Now we go maybe once a year to see doctors etc.
Before I met my wife, I had relationships with the foreign girls, who would visit Poros. Most of the girls were Dutch. One time I spent a month and a half in Holland with my girlfriend at the time. But I was really keen to meet a local, Greek girl. When I met Vangelia (in 1997), she was so different. Very creative and handy. She would come to our store almost every day to buy materials for the wooden boat model she was building. I was impressed with her ideas, like the navigation lights she made – red and green – she used Christmas lights for it! Unfortunately it didn’t work very well and she created a small explosion at her home! Fortunately, nobody got hurt and she continued working on her wooden boat model. I decided to ask Vangelia out for a date. I was 33 at that time, she was 10 years younger. Vangelia said we couldn’t meet at a coffee shop on Poros or anywhere public, because someone would see us and start the gossip. So we had to hide. Up on the hill, there is a small church. There is a beautiful view from there. We would meet there almost every night for 3 months in winter and have long, interesting discussions about anything. Once we saw my sister Eleni and Vangelis there too! They were doing the same as us! Haha! Another night, we were up there, talking for more than an hour or so and suddenly we hear a voice: “please can you keep quiet, I want to sleep!”. There was a man trying to sleep there! It was a crazy time!