Spiros: it was wonderful growing up on Poros. We were very free, spent a lot of time outdoors. We didn’t get much education and we were very poor (there were only a few families on Poros that were wealthy). My father was a barber in the navy, my mother was a house wife. We were 6 kids in total. We used to eat meat once a week only, the rest of the days we would eat beans and lentils. My mom would cook a big pot of beans – on the first day they were white, on the second day she would add tomato sauce and on the third macaroni (small pasta). I used to say: “mama, is it beans again today?” and she would say: “yes, but it’s different today!”. At that time people didn’t have many devices to help with house work. All washing was done by hand, ironing using those old school irons with coals. We had no water in the house so we collected rain water (which was used for washing). One of my tasks was to bring drinking water, for which we had to walk 500m (where taverna Platanos is right now) with big containers and collect it there. I was 10 years old, maybe less at the time. I was also responsible for all the shopping. I would go all the way down the hill and back up with groceries. My father used to hate grocery shopping because the owner of the shop was a communist and my father was from the right. But this shop owner was such a nice person. He would allow us to pay for groceries only once a month. Once a year my mom made these special cookies for Christmas. She had to hide them very well, because we would eat them all at once! She would put them on top of the cupboards or under the bed. We would find them eventually and eat them in hiding. When my mom realised what was going on, she would call me: “Spiros, whistle!” And of course I couldn’t because I had all these cookies in my mouth! (Spiros laughing). We would wear shoes only on Sundays, for church. We would also put a set of so called “good clothes” for that occasion. All the other days we didn’t wear shoes at all. We grew up very wild. But this hard situation in the childhood taught us how to appreciate the good things in life.
My older brother went to the military school (he was 13). One of my sisters got married to a very ugly and very bad man, just to relieve my parents. My other sister left to Athens to work. They were both very young, 14, 15 years old at the time. As for me, at 14 I went to the same military school as my brother. They said: “Spiros, you go there, you eat 5 times a day, you can travel”. I was happy at least I got to play in the school band! I was playing tambourin and guitar. But this military school was very tough for a young boy like me. They used to treat us badly, gave us crazy tasks – for example, they gave us matches and told us to measure a football pitch with them. When we finished and gave the officer the measurement, he said we had to do it again because the number was incorrect. And we would do it again. In the end I left the military school after 8 months, I couldn’t stand it anymore.
When we were growing up, boys and girls, we would all go out fishing all the time. We would create rafts ourselves and take them to the sea to fish from. Of course sometimes we would end up in the sea ourselves as the rafts were not very stable. We were catching fish and seafood also to provide food for our families. Years later, when we came back with Elizabeth to Poros, I decided to buy a boat. I didn’t tell her anything in the beginning. When she eventually discovered, she was mad! We didn’t have much money at the time and the boat cost about 250 000 drachmas. It was a lot of money! Elizabeth said: “what have you done?!” And I just replied: “you will never go hungry Elizabeth as long as you are with me” (Elizabeth and Spiros laughing).