Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories/2016/Spring/Section 021/Gus Geraris

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Gus C. Geraris
President Roosevelt and Officers the Order of AHEPA Greek American Society
BornGus Constantine Geraris
May 2, 1901
Village of Dervenion, Greece
DiedMar 7, 1966
Richmond, Chesterfield County, Virginia, USA
NationalityGreek American
OccupationRestaurant Owner

Overview[edit]

Gus Constantine Geraris immigrated to America from Greece in his early adulthood and was interviewed for the Federal Writer’s Project in 1935.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Geraris was born on May 2, 1901 in the village of Dervenion near the ancient Greek city of Corinth. When he was twelve years old, he went to the seaport town of Piraeus, Athens to work in his uncle’s drug store. Later as a young adult, Geraris worked as a low level worker on ocean liners and freighters, crossing the Atlantic Ocean 17 times and visiting 28 countries. Confusion with time zones lead Geraris to be left behind in one particular seaport. Geraris then networked with a fellow Greek and made arrangements for his immigration to America.[1]

Professional Life[edit]

In America, Geraris drove a bread cart for a Greek Bakery and learned English in an Americanization night school in Norfolk. In 1932, Geraris came to North Carolina to help another Greek friend with his restaurant. Geraris agreed to help his friend for two weeks but ended up staying six years. After those six years, Geraris started his own restaurant with another Greek partner.[2][3] During this time, Geraris became a member of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA).[4]

Later Life[edit]

In 1937, Geraris visited his hometown one last time and was surprised to see the economic and industrial developments that had transpired since he was last there. These developments included transportation advancements, such as automobiles, busses, and trucks, and communication advancements such as telephones and telegraphs. Geraris recalled the biggest changes were that the rich no longer dominated the governing system in Greece, and there was peace instead of war between the Turks and the Greeks.[5] Geraris died March 7, 1966 in Richmond, Virginia, USA.[6]

American Hellenistic Education Progressive Association (AHEPA)[edit]

AHEPA’s primary mission is to aid American citizens of Hellenic descent to become better Americans. The immigrants of the early 1900s created AHEPA in 1922 in Atlanta Georgia. The association was modeled after American associations and aimed to help male immigrants find acceptance in middle class American society. AHEPA focused on adapting immigrants to the democratic use of hierarchical organizations, which according to sociologist Mary Treudley, "pressure individuals to conform to set behavior patterns."[7] This pressure was brought about by bigotry and racism in the early 20th century.[8] To combat this, AHEPA used the economic relationships of America to teach Hellenistic immigrants American ways of acting. When the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, AHEPA became an even bigger asset to its members by providing group support and resources.[9][10][11] Not only did AHEPA attract men of Greek origin, but according to Ames Scofield, " [it] also attracted Americans interested in upholding Hellenic ideals of education, civic responsibly, individual excellence, and philanthropy".[12] AHEPA today is know as the Order of AHEPA, has its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and is organized nationwide with over 500 chapters.[13]

Greek-Turkish Conflict[edit]

The Greco-Turkish War[edit]

The Greco-Turkish War lasted form 1919 to 1922. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, the Greeks claimed territory in Asia Minor they were promised by Britain and France after joining the First World War. This claim was constituted through the Treaty of Sèvres, which assigned eastern Thrace and the Millet of Smyrna to Greece. In response to the Treaty of Sèvres, a Turkish opposition began the Turkish War of Independence.[14]

The Treaty of Sèvres[edit]

Signed on August 10, 1920, the Treaty of Sèvres was a post World War I pact between the Allied powers and the representatives of the Ottoman Empire government. The treaty abolished the Ottoman Empire and territorially designated out its land to the Allied powers. The treaty also restricted the Ottoman Empire Military. The Ottoman Army was limited to 50,000 men, the air force was forbidden, and the navy was limited to thirteen boats. In addition to these limitations, the treaty called for the Allied powers to oversee these military terms. Lastly, the treaty gave the Allied powers the right to reform the election system of the Ottoman Empire.[15]

Turkish War of Independence in 1919[edit]

First, the Greeks evaded Asia Minor and began a consolidation along the Aegean Coast. Landing in Smyrna, the Greek troops occupied the city and the surroundings under cover of French, British, and American ships. While the Greeks of Smyrna, forming the majority of the city’s population, saw the Greek troops as emancipators, the Turkish population saw the Greek troops as an invading and threatening force. Greek offensive operations increased into Anatolia with an objective to defeat Turkish Nationalists and to force Kemal, Commander in chief of the new Turkish government, into peace negotiations. However, the Greeks met opposition west of Ankara, which spurred a Turkish resistance lasting 21 days. Although both the Turks and the Greeks were exhausted and considering withdrawal, the Greeks withdrew first to their previous line. After this breach of Greek defenses, the Turks then advanced and recaptured Smyrna. Historian Bernard Lewis explains that this Turkish victory "enabled the Turks to restore their national life in the Anatolian heartland in a Turkish national state."[16] The resolution of the War thus comprised of the Allies retaining control of eastern Thrace and the Bosporus, while the Greeks were forced to evacuate these areas. Next, the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in Lausanne, Switzerland on July 24, 1923, defined the boundaries of modern Greece and Turkey. The Treaty of Sèvres was revised to include these new boundaries. Since then, each Greece and Turkey has claimed that the other has violated the terms of the treaties. Anti-minority laws in Turkey have diminished the Greek population in Turkey. Oppositely, the Muslim minority population in Greece increased significantly due to the Muslim minority in Greece being considered ethnic Turkish.[17][18] Later recognizing the need for peace and better relations, Greece and Turkey joined Yugoslavia and Romania in the Balkan Pact of 1934. This treaty agreed for mutual assistance to settle unresolved issues and ultimately bettered the relations between Greece and Turkey.[19]

References[edit]

Camp, Glen. “Greek-Turkish Conflict over Cyprus.” Political Science Quarterly Vol. 95, no. 1 (Spring 1980): 43-70, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2149584.

Chock, Phyllis. “The Greek-American Small Businessman: A Cultural Analysis.” Journal of Anthropological Research Vol. 37, no. 1 (Spring 1981): 46-60, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629514.

Halabi, Awad. "Liminal Loyalties: Ottomanism and Palestinian Responses to the Turkish War of Independence, 1919–22." Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 41, no. 3 (Spring 2012): 19-37, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jps.2012.xli.3.19.

Lewis, Bernard. "The Ottoman Empire and Its Aftermath." Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 15, no. 1 (January 1980): 27-36, http://www.jstor.org/stable/260456.

Saunders, W.O. "Why So Many Greek Restaurants?" Elizabeth City, North Carolina, 1935. Federal Writers' Project papers. Coll. 03709. Folder 1032, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Scofield, Ames. "History of APEHA." Last modified November 06, 1997. http://ahepa.org/ahepa/.

Strauss, Steven. “Euro Crisis: If We’re Heading Towards a 1930s-Style Depression—Why is the Stock Market So Bullish?” The Huffington Post, Aug 19, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-strauss/euro-crisis-stock-market_b_1608305.html.

Taylor, Nick. “The Great Depression: A short History of the Great Depression.” New York Times, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/the-great-depression.

Treudley, Mary. “Formal Organization and the Americanization Process.” American Sociological Review Vol. 14, no. 1 (February 1949): 44-53, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2086445.

Notes[edit]

  1. W.O. Saunders. "Why So Many Greek Restaurants?" Elizabeth City, North Carolina, 1935. Federal Writers' Project papers. Coll. 03709. Folder 1032, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  2. Phyllis Chock. “The Greek-American Small Businessman: A Cultural Analysis.” Journal of Anthropological Research Vol. 37, no. 1 (Spring 1981): 46-60, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629514.
  3. W.O. Saunders. "Why So Many Greek Restaurants?" Elizabeth City, North Carolina, 1935. Federal Writers' Project papers. Coll. 03709. Folder 1032, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  4. Ames Scofield. "History of APEHA." Last modified November 06, 1997. http://ahepa.org/ahepa/.
  5. Glen Camp. “Greek-Turkish Conflict over Cyprus.” Political Science Quarterly Vol. 95, no. 1 (Spring 1980): 43-70, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2149584.
  6. W.O. Saunders. "Why So Many Greek Restaurants?" Elizabeth City, North Carolina, 1935. Federal Writers' Project papers. Coll. 03709. Folder 1032, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  7. Mary Treudley. “Formal Organization and the Americanization Process.” American Sociological Review Vol. 14, no. 1 (February 1949): 44-53, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2086445.
  8. Ames Scofield. "History of APEHA." Last modified November 06, 1997. http://ahepa.org/ahepa/.
  9. Steven Strauss. “Euro Crisis: If We’re Heading Towards a 1930s-Style Depression—Why is the Stock Market So Bullish?” The Huffington Post, Aug 19, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-strauss/euro-crisis-stock-market_b_1608305.html.
  10. Nick Taylor. “The Great Depression: A short History of the Great Depression.” New York Times, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/the-great-depression.
  11. Ames Scofield. "History of APEHA." Last modified November 06, 1997. http://ahepa.org/ahepa/.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Camp, Glen. “Greek-Turkish Conflict over Cyprus.” Political Science Quarterly Vol. 95, no. 1 (Spring 1980): 43-70, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2149584.
  15. Awad Halabi. "Liminal Loyalties: Ottomanism and Palestinian Responses to the Turkish War of Independence, 1919–22." Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 41, no. 3 (Spring 2012): 19-37, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jps.2012.xli.3.19.
  16. Bernard Lewis. "The Ottoman Empire and Its Aftermath." Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 15, no. 1 (January 1980): 27-36, http://www.jstor.org/stable/260456.
  17. Awad Halabi. "Liminal Loyalties: Ottomanism and Palestinian Responses to the Turkish War of Independence, 1919–22." Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 41, no. 3 (Spring 2012): 19-37, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jps.2012.xli.3.19.
  18. Bernard Lewis. "The Ottoman Empire and Its Aftermath." Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 15, no. 1 (January 1980): 27-36, http://www.jstor.org/stable/260456.
  19. Ibid.