I spent some time visiting with my aunt Xeni yesterday (Thia Xeni to us). She lives downstairs from our home in Athens. The two sisters (my mom, Mary, and Xeni) bought this block of land in the 50s and built a duplex, two houses side by side.
Thia’s house has not changed since we arrived in Athens in 1970. In fact, it probably hasn’t changed since the day she got married in the 60s sometime.
I looked through her house and found all kinds of memories. Like this great photo of the family. Don’t ask me why its in colour. Someone, somewhere along the line got it blown up and colourized. This photo is from the 1930s.
|My grandmother sitting in the middle holding my mom’s second youngest brother. From left to right: my aunt Anna in blue, Xeni in white, no idea who the one in gold is, then most likely mom’s oldest brother Yianni, Giorgo on grandma’s lap, mom on the right in white. At that age I think I looked like mom.
Thia Xeni’s house is full of her old furniture, as I said. She knows I love old stuff so she says “When I die, cause you know I have heart problems, I could go at any time” (she’s always ‘going at any time’, she’s 86 and she’ll most likely outlive us all!) “I want you to come and take anything you want”.
Then she proudly shows me her gorgeous old lounge suite which has never had its covers off. Its in mint condition. The old buffet and dining table and chairs…
Everything is always covered. I couldn’t get decent photos!
I love her crystal chandeliers in the living room, dining room and even a small one near the door where the original hallway would have been before they opened up the space to make the house more open plan.
She has the original double bed she bought when she got married, in that spotty laminated timber, with its matching bedside tables, wardrobe and vanity. “They’re fine” she says, “why would I need to change them?”
She’d probably have a fit that I’m showing her bedroom to the world… Don’t tell her!
Notice the retro wallpaper? Its so kitch its cool!
I told her I’d be back for her chandeliers and her furniture. She’s resting easy now.
But it was when I went into the bedroom that I started planning a trip to ransack her house. She has my grandmother’s old Singer!
And she still uses it!
My grandmother on mom’s side was a seamstress. I remember spending many siesta hours on Paros, where house rules were you lay down during the hours of 2-5 whether you liked it or not, going through all my grandmother’s old fashion magazines. I bet they’ve all been thrown out now, but back then there were piles of them in the storeroom and I’d go through and read the articles from the 50s and 60s.
Maybe that’s where my love for old stuff started. I was warped at a young age.
My aunt has our old bookcase. My uncle Yianni made this for us when we moved to Greece in 1970. It was made for the bedroom my brother and I shared in the old house downstairs. Its a bookcase with 2 pull-down sections which served as our desks.
Ah memories… Sharing a room with a little brother who loved onions… who’d come into the bedroom and breath over my bed to stink it up before bedtime.
I really didn’t like my brother that much back then. I love him now though. He’s my little brother.
I definitely believe we appreciate our family more the older we get. I know I do.