Eleftheria Forever in Black

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Alkis Pappas is the author of Eleftheria: Forever in Black. Born in 1936 in Alestia, a tiny remote village in central Greece, he was the last of 10 children born into the Papaioannou family. During WWII, at the age of four years old, like everyone else, he was a victim of the German occupation, hiding the caves of the high mountains where only eagles and condors dared to go. After WWII was over, the ordeal continued into 1950 with the Greek civil war. Once again, hungry and barefoot, he fled to the snowy mountains, but this time Mother Earth couldn’t provide the vital wild veggie roots because of the snow-covered ground and the freezing weather. They left for the big city, Agrinion, where the churches opened their soup kitchens and the schools gave temporary shelter to the needy. During those years, educatiob was nonexistent. In a span of seven years, the Papaioannou family lost three children: Nickolas was in the army and was killed in the war; Elias was 8 years old and died at home, not able to find a doctor; and Harilaos was killed in a hunting trip. All these unfortunate events left a big scar in Alkis’ life. They never healed, and seventy-five years later, he still suffers from a nightmares and severe depression. In 1955, at the age of eighteen, Alkis immigrated to the United States, hoping to continue school, but he couldn’t because of financial problems. He learned English on the NYC subways by reading American newspapers with the help of a pocket dictionary. His first job was a busboy, earning sixty-seven dollars a week. In 1965, he went back to Greece and married his wife, Eleni. He now lives in New York and has three wonderful children and seven grandchildren. Two of his grandchildren bare his name.