Monday, November 13, 2017

BIOGRAPHY OF PANTELIS LEOUSIS

PANTELIS LEOUSIS, born October 25, 1925, Citena, Kynouria(CYNURIA (Ancient), CYNOURIA), Arcadia, Ellas to Xanthy (nee Vlahogiorgakis) Leousis and Elias Leousis.

Parents:

MOTHER: Xanthy (nee Vlahogiorgakis) Leousis was born (nee ?, in Citena), and married to Elias Leousis in 1924. Her mother’s name was Stamatou and her father’s name was Theodoros Vlahogiorgakis. Xanthy was a hard-working housewife. She worked in the fields cultivating the mountainsides of small steppes (Wheat, potatoes, green beans, onions). She cared for the one family goat by cutting fresh branches to feed the animal. She would mend and hand-weave wool cloths for her family (if she could obtain wool). She would also work for others for a few drachmas in the village. Before her marriage, she had gone to Sparta to sew her “prika”. She met her husband by “sigesio”( matchmaking); she was a few years older than my father. She gave birth to five children; myself( Pantelis), the second was Mitsios (born Oct. 26th, 1926), Theodoris (born Feb. 1927), Eleni (born to twins; one died 1929), Vasilios (born 1932).


FATHER: Elias Leousis born(nee, in Citenta at bout 1890) born to Pantelis Leousis and Eleni (nee Karatzia). When he was young he was sent to Athens where his brothers and sisters had relocated. There he attended elementary school and likio, then called “scholarhio”. He learned the craft of shoemaking. He was drafted in the armies but did not participate in any of the wars. (WW I, II). Leaving Athens he married in Citena where he practiced his craft as a shoemaker. He would visit various villages collecting shoes for repair. During the depression, he would sell wood posts, chai, tree resins etc.


GRANDPARENTS:

My grandfather Pantelis Leousis was supposed to have “abnormal” physical characteristics. Was tall, slim and extremely strong; could cross a river carrying two men. Was originally from “Silimna, Mantineas” but married in Citenas. He is known to be physically sexually “well endowed” and had married twice. Must have had at least 8-9 children (First wife: Three girls and three sons; Elias, John and George. Second wife: Theodoros, Ourania). He would work at the “kaminia” all over Arcadia in the production of asbestos. Would also be involved in thievery (Animals; goats, mules, etc.) He owned a small amount of land (Ambelli).


My grandmother (father’s side) was named Eleni Karatzia. The Karatzia (tzia) family was considered the aristocracy of the village (Citena). She died early in life after her fifth child from gynecological complications. I met my second grandmother (second wife of Papou Pantelis Leousis) when she was alive. Her name was Stamatoula Soursos.

Growing up:


At age 9, my parents (1934) sent me to work in Nafplion, the home of a wealthy family (Lambrou). There I was to serve as in the store (Zaharaplastion) washing trays and other baking utensils but I was too short to reach the counters so I was sent to the master household to run errands. While washing dishes, I accidentally broke some; in punishment, Mrs. Lambrou took the hot coal iron and sizzled my right hand. I stayed there for about a year when finally I ran away heading for my village in Citena.


At about 11 my father took me to a priest in Tegea, the village of “Ahouria” to work for him. The priest would have me sing during rituals. One of my tasks was to take the “prosfora” ( during the night by donkey so as not to be detected by the populous; he intended the prosfora to feed his sheep. The “presvitera” liked me most because she was an alcoholic and I would be sent to purchase wine for her. Although I was to attend school the priest would have me care for his animals instead. After a year with the priest, I left and went to an area known as “Giokareika” where I did all types of manual labor (sheep herding, working in the fields, etc.); I stayed there about a year. From there I went to “Rizes” as a sheepherder. For a loaf of bread, I would herd the sheep. During this period, I was infected with lice because I wouldn’t bath for months.


I learned to speak the Tsakonian dialect, which has traces of the ancient Doric, language from people in my village; the dialect was commonly used amongst the villagers: When I was about thirteen years of age, we were returning from a day’s work of tilling and planting wheat on our land. On our way, we met a friend of my father’s who was heading to our village in need of a place to board for the night; my father offered the hospitality of our home. The next day my father and I decided to accompany this friend towards his village of Tyro: My father was in search of buying a donkey, his friend accompanied us on this mission. We passed by a number of villages, “Agios Andrea, Tyro, Melan, Leonidio, Poulithra to an expanse called Nasopos in Lakonia, searching for the right donkey. What I remember most of this trip was that when we visited his friend’s home in Tyro and stayed the night, his mother spoke no Greek but only the dialect of “Tsakonika”.


At about age 15, I returned home to Citena. During this time WWII was declared and soon enough the Italians had entered Greek soil. At about this time, I went to “Varvitsa” to work for the Strifas family as a sheepherder. During this time, I found a cache of arms (Two shotguns, one British handgun (Thompson .45 and a rifle), hidden in the trunk of a tree. On a visit to my village, I mentioned this to my brother Mitsios who returned with me to Varvitsa to take the cache of arms. By now it had become more difficult for me to stay in Varvitsa in fear of my safety: The owner would have me graze his sheep in other people’s land during the night; a practice which could easily mean my being shot for trespassing. With the loot of arms my brother and I, decided to return home to Citena when it was safe. Unfortunately, my employer George Strifas and his brother had gotten wind of what we were up to. They had been waiting outside my home in Citena to cease any of the wears, clothes, etc. I had anticipated such, so before we arrived in Citena, I had hidden the cache of arms that they knew nothing about. My father sold one of the shut guns; I used the other to hunt game. The rifle and handgun were ceased by the partisans.


I later left for the Athens “Asvestokamino” where I worked as a cook: I would go to “Halandri” and obtain food supplies and would return to Pendelis; where the asbestos was made. One day, a man from “Liopesi” arrived and asked for some asbestos; he offered me a bottle of wine in exchange. I drank the wine which made me quite dizzy; it was the first time I had been drunk. On another occasion on my trip to obtain supplies, I was stopped by the Germans. Apparently, I had been out past the 18:00h curfew. The Germans intercepted me, beat me and locked me up in a school with others. In the morning, those that were able to work were taken to “Tatoi”; the construction of the airport; the less able-bodied young men, like me, were let go.


I later left and returned to Citena. The German searched for young men, partisans. They brought with them a young wolf from Northern Greece which later escaped from them. This wolf terrorized the area for some time. In one instance, I heard him howling not too distant from where I was minding my sheep. I took aim and shot but I missed. Later a posy of men went hunting for the wolf and finally tracked him down and killed it. They then went to every sheep owner in the area to collect their ransom (one sheep, goat, etc.). On another occasion, when the Germans searched our home they found a German jacked which my father had bought on the black market. Because of this, they beat him. In an attempt to intervene and help my mother was almost scuttled with boiling water; the Germans intended to use the boiling water to pluck chickens which they had rounded up for slaughter in the village square. My father was taken to work in Germany as slave labor for the Reich.


It must have been about 1945 when the partisans (Efedriko Ellas), came to our village to enlist young men especially those who had lost kin to the Germans. I joined the resistance to fight against the “Tagmatasfalistes”. These were German collaborators who had entrenched themselves in Tripoli and were well-armed. In order to avoid a bloodbath, an agreement was reached to allow the “Tagmatosfalistes” to leave for Athens. We left for Nafplion where we met up with a British garrison. We were to assist a British General by the name of “Skombi” to cross the Isthmus which bridge had been destroyed. When we arrived in Athens, General Skobi and his soldiers opened fire on the partisans killing hundreds; the politics had changed. The Tagmatosafalistes who served the Germans had now turned in support of the Greek Monarchy who had sought to return to Greece. The then British were now on the side of the Royalty as well. I found myself on cement rooftop with nothing but the shirt on my back being gunned by the British and the Tagmatoasfalistes. We escaped via a Red Cross truck to Kolonos, Elefsina and wound up in Korinth where I became sick with Pneumonia. I wound up in “Davies”, where I was treated by an Italian doctor: During this time many Italians had joined Ellas because they were being pursued by the Germans. The Doctor advised that I be placed in a warm place and cared for. I was taken to “Silimna” my grandfather’s village. There an elderly couple took care of me. Once I regained my strength I walked to my village in Citena where my mother, brothers, and sister were waiting. A “formal” governance had emerged and Ella's fighters were to lay down their arms; I surrendered my rifle. My father (Elias Leousis) had been liberated from the German camps in Germany and walked towards our village from Serbia, Bulgaria, etc.. My father engaged in gathering herbs, honey, and other medicinal. At about a time I managed to find work a lumberjack. With a village friend, we would cut lumber and carry it to the centers where we would sell it for a few kilos of flour and oil and other needs in support of our family.


By 1947 a formal Greek government had been established and I was drafted in the army. Fighting against the partisans, this time I was wounded in battle and escaped to a field hospital barely surviving from my wounds. In Tripolis, where I was stationed after my recovery, I met my wife, Euthimia Chontos. I was told of this woman by another soldier who was hard-working, so I pursued her. I had only seen her working in the fields once when I asked for her hand in marriage from her mother, Panagiota Chontos. We married in April 1949 and had our firstborn son Elias on April 22, 1950, followed by our daughter Xanthy in Jan. 1952. During my military service in Tripolis, I became interested in Photography which I later pursued as a profession after my discharge. With the assistance of my wife, who also trained as a technician in lab photography, we established a flourishing business that earned us a very comfortable income up until 1957 when we departed for Montreal, Canada. We were sponsored to Canada by my sister-in-law, Katarina Chontos, who had immigrated to Canada three years earlier.


We arrived in Canada without much know-how of where we were heading: In Canada, we resided in Montreal, Toronto briefly and in Vancouver B.C. for about two years. After we were established in Canada, we assisted the immigration of my three brothers, Vasilis, Mitsios and Theodoris: Each of which brought to Canada multiple relatives. Life in Canada was difficult for many reasons as is the life of many immigrants. We raised our two children as best we could. Xanthy married first to John Papamakarios; she has three boys, Harrilaoes (Harry), Pantelis and Alexandros. Elias married later and had two children, Telly (Pantelis) and Effie; he later remarried and had another son, Stefan. I have been blessed with five grandchildren (Yianni, Nikolaos, Sofia, Olivia, and Stefan) and two great-grandchildren Sofia and Hannah from my granddaughter Effie Leousis-Schlossberg.


Today, is December 19th, 2012, I have just returned from church, after my dear wife's funeral: According to my children, who sought to my wife's care in the hospital she went peacefully. I am happy to have seen and met so many good friends, close relatives who came to my wife's funeral. Furthermore, I want to recognize all the hard work and organization my daughter Xanthy did along with the help of my granddaughter Effie, in organizing my wife's funeral. Life goes on.


Right after, my wife's funeral my daughter Xanthy Papamakarios, insisted that I sell my house to her and move into a senior home; what followed next, was a tragedy. I lived at Manoir Chomedy for a while and when my condition health deteriorated, I was placed in a public senior home in La Prairie and forgotten there. I have left an audio file in my own words, so there is no doubt, which explains my predicament.


I rest in peace, without hate or anger against anyone - LIFE IS WHAT IT IS.


Pantelis Elias Leousis, died at Hôpital du Sacré- Coeur de Montréal at 19:20h, 2014-01-18.

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