Katina Tsirantonakis and Margaret Tsirantonakis

Recorded April 2, 2009 Archived April 2, 2009 01:17:03
0:00 / 0:00
Id: LMN001392


Katina tells her daughter about growing up in Crete during and after WWII, and later moving to the USA.

Subject Log / Time Code

KT/ Nazis systematically killed men and boys of Crete - including KT’s father, brother
KT/ visited cemetery every Saturday with mom
KT/ moved to USA when husband was offered job there
KT/ revisited Crete after 10 years away - emotional
KT/ her husband was an honest, hardworking man


  • Katina Tsirantonakis
  • Margaret Tsirantonakis

Recording Location

StoryCorps Lower Manhattan Booth


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00:05 Okay, my name is Margaret sir antonakos and I am 51 years old. And today is April 2nd 2009 in our New York City and some I am interviewing my mother.

00:27 My name is Catrina Toronto Marcus 76 years old.

00:34 And today

00:37 With my daughter in New York to talk about my story my life started.

00:45 Okay.

00:46 All right, Mom. I'd like to hear some of your memories of before the war for World War II and creepy. Well, I don't remember too much. My father was a great man. And I remember once I used to eat bread and cheese in the garden will have a beautiful garden and just eat more bread than cheese. Okay, even though we'll have a lot of cheese but he was and he was a great man and my brother he was older than me maybe 2-3 years. How old was he was like 16 15

01:27 Maybe I remember him when she was 14 and she was running after me because I didn't something that he got mad at me then. That's what I remember and then

01:41 Dim the war

01:44 Him and May 21st, the Nazis came to create and they fight them and

01:55 No, that was April 21st, and then August 1st.

02:02 Came The Notches the soldiers and they kill every man love is so in the Villa all the villages around there because when they came coming from the planes the local people that used they kill a lot of them, you know.

02:21 And

02:25 My father took my brother that he was 15 then a walk because he couldn't hear very well and they walk and they wendal by the from the house and oranges there and their orange juice and they kill them both and what I remember our house when they came even the soldiers to tell my mother the whole neighborhood was there.

02:50 And my mother was crying, you know my ship my older sister and I remember the young soldiers fainting like my mother and my sister I was walking around and I didn't know what was going on and the soldiers were so sad. What happened? What they did. They were standing in the women there helping my mother my sister and the soldiers and I remember those eyes and that was the most tragic thing, you know was not happy. It's wrong time.

03:25 Can you talk a little bit of you tell me about the dreams that you had? Yeah, I just I just told them my father and he was coming my dreams every night and he was telling me to tell your mother not to tell your mother to tell him I said she was giving me order send in the morning. My mother used to take me. Let's take a walk sweetie. And will you stick a walk and tell her my what my father told me in my dreams now? I don't know. Why was I was too young? I don't really know what I was thinking about this thing. So real dreams that was often very often.

04:12 Now you're you have you have you have you have two sisters? Yes to older sister to older sister run and the other sister was 7 years old again, and she was very nice to me and

04:39 She was engaged when she was 16. So not to the war after I'm going to get him from Albania where they have the wall there. They got married and has two boys. You know, how much you owe in the matron, right? And I was the sister older sister.

05:04 And can you talk to me a little bit about visiting the cemetery? You said you were doing it as a child got some flowers to go to the cemetery and she was crying and I was young. I want to talk with my friend. So do something but that was my Saturday out go to the cemetery in finesse every Saturday.

05:30 And also you mentioned that your house was very open. Your mother was very generous with all my mother was very generous and blood in the water. And after the war people really but her family her father had a lot of properties in a lot of thing, you know ran their properties to other people that they have animals, you know, we're used to have a lot of milk is made an older than everybody was coming every night. I remember all my cousins come to my house and I was the youngest want nobody but then she and they but my mother was very generous to know. It was a boy in the village that his family was very full and every day. You're still coming wait there and look, you know, here it is again going to give him a bread a piece of bread and a lot of people love their needs food.

06:30 Then they need something. It was come to my mother. She was very generous and that it was very hard time. Then it was no no.

06:41 A food company to my sister's husband. He made his father. I'm doing it and all the other people cuz they was coming along here. You mentioned some chores that you had to do yoga and then you didn't like to do you just go to the field you have to go and take the water. Well, or I kept clean something nice to me.

07:30 Gladys life, what about your going to school you went to school and I'll let you know in the neighboring Village High School. I beg my mother and this evening. He was little far for me to go. So I never Village next to our Village open a high school a couple that it was very nice educated both of them. They used to teach in high school and they open high school there and then I start in the mall room older kids and young kids in the same class, you know, and I'm stuck there.

08:14 For 2 years, but after that I will used to walk. You know what I wanted so much to go to school. I want to be a teacher I beg my mother but anyway, and then I went to find you my godfather, you know, I'm stronger lost. His father was my godfather and he had them and that she was old and cuz it's more house and I went there to stay with her and Kanye and Kanye West take him to the church every Sunday and they are I met with a group of other girls and was too very gifted place, you know Brothers now they have I use you on and then I connect with that and we for the girls then it was so hard even the girls. Are they have father.

09:14 Liberalism, it was very hard in crimson and

09:18 We connect with our religion. So we are going to be in bananas.

09:25 And little by little I finish high school and I was very connected with all the girls going to the monasteries and make plans with your teenage years when no dancing or singing just going to what did some good things, you know who other people but that was your Morrow.

09:48 And

09:51 And so

09:54 Can you talk about how you story of how you met my father did not finish High School. I was with my mother and I want to go on be a teacher. No way and then one day my mother told me she says, okay, let's go to the city orange dress and I don't want to go. I have a long face, but I had to go I was working and then you're actually I still remember that since your father was working. It was very handsome and very emotional The Village. He was coming back and forth in America, and then she was very handsome very nice and well-to-do.

10:41 And I guess I look at him, you know and then he look at mrs. Look at night. Good nice girl with her mother going to the orange this and that was sick. I'm going to marry this girl told you this afterwards.

11:06 And he asked somebody to ask me and all that's a No-No and I are on our way to go to the monastery by then. They pick me up and then we set in Tears for Fears, I was in the room and everybody was taking their who's everybody the family room lights on and I'm doing and Sophia and always and he start talkin to me. So sweet and I was looking at my heart. I'm going to stay with his men mind. Nobody's talked to me like that in my life. And of course, my mother was there too.

11:51 And if he's fighting get up and since you didn't say anything I was thinking but I didn't say anything. I just Smiley that I guess and I said, okay, I'm going to leave you don't say anything when I get upset. Just kiss. I'm going to Maddie's you and everybody left the room and I was the first time there was kiss hug from another man. It was great and that's how it starts with e,

12:22 So that was your first kiss ever. Yes.

12:28 That was my first kiss and then

12:32 We started from there and we got that. My mother was Splenda nice wedding for me. She was very happy with us by then after a year. She got sick and she died. So your mother could not your mother was obviously very always in the morning right now. I should have it all the special at losing the boy in 15 years old have known she never overcome that's very difficult for her very difficult for her and she tried to handle, you know, I mean during the war and other people to mostly men older men pick up the oranges and go to the city from the mountains to sell the oranges to buy some bread and she used to do that when she tries so hard but

13:26 It was and she was 54 years old when she died. And you were engaged with and I will send Gage it was like it was engaged after a year. We got married and we stay in the house in finesse for a while. And then we start I have Sonia actually thought it was there as a baby honey on the first my brother and then we went to find you.

13:58 The first time I was in the fullness house was on a Xena and son is Nina was also living with you. Ya know she has cared on play. She was the end over your father or his.

14:16 Father sister sister and she was unable to take care of yourself for the family day care about your daddy. Mostly fat woman by Joe Kerrigan on. Okay, so she was still living when you went to find yeah. She stayed in fortnite. She stayed know she stay with us until you came to me and then I couldn't handle and the house was small and we live when we get was The Pink House.

14:50 Where are crkt knives downstairs and what this woman that allegedly your dad and she took care of her and we moved to the other house house. Yeah, we end up going while I'm done with the other and I was born and you was born in the pink. I'm nineteen fifty-three years old.

15:28 Can you tell a little bit of memory I had to Tony react game home a baby bunny got very jealous.

15:37 And said Mama I Live Now, I'm going to go to see if I have a friend over. I'm going to Seattle. I'm not going to stay with the baby and then I understood she was so jealous. She lost lost my mother and father and she wants to leave. Yeah and one day she was sitting there and the police that was fast and furious. Are you a good boy, or should I take you to jail know? I'm a good boy, but it's a baby inside and crotches going after that.

16:19 And how is it dealing with some with the dad's brother? Theo Manali? I got Tina how I was feeling okay until you know, my father's older brother, you know him so well that I got bad at yeah, it was not easy. What's your sister? Actually, I was very cross with the sisters, you know, we love each other so much but

17:16 Do you want to talk a little bit about then? What happened with oh Dad was working and kind young at the airport. And then what happened? They need somebody the American companies big companies are making them make a big thing in Kenya and the other way around and they need somebody to translate from Greek to English and English to bring and somebody told your daddy and then she spoke English and she went there and they hired him that you work there for actually. Yes something lives in the ocean that like him so much and they gave him a job to come to America and says we're going to go to America. Okay, are you started in the market since about TV and he came and he knew he was born.

18:16 So she came she went there where they store seemed like she can write her a call, So she came back to know you are okay and after few months we came and let me tell you this decision from that was a big change for you. I mean, where is it something you wanted you were you could always said you kind of wanted to leave the small town and see if you always curious and I mean, I think it was too much or if I didn't fall that's going to be so difficult. You know, how many find you or if I thought about you lyrics to kids and go to America. I can know how many she accept your daddy. I didn't know English. I tried to give a teacher then to come in and teach me to hang loose and yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah in school in high school, then we used to have the French.

19:16 But I was immature are you know, and then we came to 9 it was like a year old and Sony was 4 years old.

19:35 And no.

19:39 It was not easy. We went to Brooklyn for a year, but then we want to go to connect with a greek-american. Tony was your massage to go to school and we moved to Astoria community of Greeks that maybe you wanted to be around and I mean every time yeah, yeah a lot of Greek Americans, you know what people from

20:09 Embrace, you know ya from create. Yeah and

20:17 Wisconsin I didn't actually was so excited. You're not metal, I met a lot of friends and I connect with a crazy, you know homesick recruiter.

20:34 Well sometimes but not because I'm in our heads really they are him my older sister that she has her family my other systems. Do you know I miss creative pause the house. What was it something that you didn't mind leaving behind and starting fresh to sit as an immigrant friend advice? My Persona do I like the changes but it was my life to you know, it was not easy and then I realized I could stay high and we could have a good life till there.

21:16 But then come to make it was an experience. I had to read them. Right? Right, right, and I tried to go to school when I came and I got that involved with a charge the Greek Americans charge and the prison Association was very involved with that. Lay on the first time. We went to Crete I was 10 years old after 10 years years we were how is that for you going back after it was great. It was emotional. I remember the plane going there and start crying you don't then I realized

22:18 That I miscarried that, you know, I realized and that you know.

22:28 But then you worked it out you and Dad. Yeah where you're going to go over to somebody for a long time, you know, and that picks up the house in the village. I meant so much to him.

22:44 Yeah, yeah. I was great. Actually going to comment on Mac up for me was very with experience. I learned so much and I and I think I connect with a great grace Moore.

23:06 Although we have that and

23:12 I song.

23:19 So

23:21 Is there anything?

23:24 Other stories you want to talk about?

23:30 What you want him to talk about?

23:36 And so so when you

23:40 You also made really good friends here to are you made some here in America, Yeah. I like very good friend cuz you were somebody that made Sprint makes friends so easily ride and so important in that went when I start working in the office before the computer send the receipts for the daughter in a very nice place. I meant this black man, you know, I don't want to mention that you know, but he was one of the best people I met, you know, and that make me not to be racist or you know before she was on the best people educated nobody or if she was so nice to me and help me. Okay, and I'm going to kiss a nice position there and I met a nice people, you know and

24:37 I make a lot of talion friends and friends and numb.

24:46 From moreover, you know grease. I meant very good friends all over. You know, when he retired. You also want to you were able to do trips that's been selling for in right now, and I'm from Grease movie length of Europe is Ryan's oldest history, you know Grace and in New York.

25:17 The Opera the first time that I saw that I never knew anything about the Oprah and I will say

25:25 And the violin watches name?

25:30 Famous player that once I got to take a smooth and we went to the Metropolitan. And they play the Four Seasons the violin and I want to go and talk to him and invite him to make for him a card and I have a great experience in New York all the theater musicals.

26:03 Your daddy would love the musical place. So we so everything some then we saw four and three times and so we lived in Astoria and then we moved to Bayside only start. I started High School, right? And then you lived in Bayside for how many years with the other than yours The Longest Time by side ride and then and then we move to Stamford Hue and I know what the kids you moved. And when was it 2004?

26:41 He went to Stanford. That was a

26:44 I'm not sure your position and then you came to the Stanford and tell me about that that experience moving with the Connecticut to stop by or anybody. I have no friends or my friends was in Bayside than I used to take the train and go to New York and all that but your daddy was so older and he realized that if anything happened to him and and she went with used to come all the time and we felt very close. Yeah.

27:17 And

27:20 It was a little hard for me to decide then when I came. I'm very connected with the Greek American friends in the Greek Church.

27:31 All of your, you know, see the kids going up and great and now I count my blessings being there and all my friends from the Bayside a more, you know, right and the time that he had and still in Connecticut handstand and she was so calm and relaxed because he knew that I'm not going to be you know by myself and you take care of him. So well, you know, she was soul.

28:11 The last words that he says how much he loves you and how much he loves me. So yeah. I was the last things I can and so and now when you

28:31 I know last year going back to Crete was a little I know it's hard the first time since I thought you had very good friends and out every night. You know, of course the family will let me know if she's very nice and

29:02 I've met you. I left a little early, but I think I could stay longer. And yeah, it's very nice wooden crate is really the best and I went to Russia. Is there any other story you want to save from your childhood that and I can maybe you want while your tassel to know anything else that I know? It's such a different time from the way they're growing out him and see when I can fly I remember the drama and that day I remember you know

29:57 And no.

30:01 And after that

30:15 I'm sorry. I don't know how else can I say but when it's so nice now that we are but when we go back now, I mean it's nice that we demetres in the village like the Ville and Tony. I mean, I like the village tuba. Tony has a special connection to the house a special connection. Yeah, there's something there that even though we got I mean that you we was so much and still didn't we got sick of it? And I think that sometimes are Molly and tassel feel that way by U2 as it's always Creek rescreening me a ride, but there's something there that I think will always have as you know, and it runs so deep it goes. Yeah, right.

31:02 And I know dad want always has more about me and you know how I love to go there to go to Pilot Beach to go to have a good time. And I think it was great that you both had two things you. And you worked it out. So you had both world world you had you know this, New York.

31:35 Awesome, then you had cretu and that was never said we always do new things, you know different things and your daddy was such a good dinner with water. Can you know, I'm working with the city? Oh, yeah. Yeah, you know, I'm in the beginning and somebody saw him from the city and 10 minutes and inspector from New York. So I came and she went to call Santa's. I like this pain to come and work for the city.

32:19 And when she ain't when she's finished what he was doing there, she went to the city tomorrow and I forgot his name to a very nice man, and he hired nation became inspector and a lot of money would like all the Greeks, you know, what's business with reference. That's what you know, she said the stable income and that's why she was not nervous, you know, okay, we had enough money to pay our bills decorative tomorrow to sometimes you extra money, but it was great because it was so sincere and you know, she didn't try to take it. No, he was very very many times people tried to pay him, you know.

33:19 I was fighting with him why you didn't text him want it? That's why I want to go in by address.

33:27 So she was very good then.

33:34 How are the the times when we were teenagers otamatone and I have to wait for him sit in the chair soon as you open the door outside. I used to run because she was angry if some wedding and I remember you leave me alone. Leave me alone. I'm going to do this. My remember to watch this about you was going to New York to meet sometimes Molly. If you know a famous Greek American girl, I don't know and you put a pair of pants jeans and they have calls but you won't answer my leave me alone back to your right.

34:34 Now it's payback know that your kids are nice and you're great and all of you and show, you know.

34:45 And my friends are jealous and you love New York City, right? You always say how much I'm so happy to be here that like, you know, like I mean you're if you're not see the building, right?

35:07 Ruidoso

35:10 I know you are you've talked a little sometimes about it you doing a reading that have helped you with your frame of mind like being more positive. Do you want to stay a little bit like that? Like when I worked on because I have kind of depression from the childhood. I always got it and depression thing, you know, and I had a lot of books that help me deal with my feelings deal with myself and and I listen to TV and I read a lot of Drake. I mean in Greek in English, and actually I learn how to read by myself, you know put myself I could something, you know that I could go ahead and call Jerome.

36:00 And yeah reading those books that very important books and help me to deal with my myself how to analyze myself and I still do that somewhere. That's so sweet. I get depressed. You know, I miss you. I miss you cuz you always seemed to me like an optimistic person and a happy for you know, but I know sometimes you have this side of you that's see now and I think we'll set that by then. I have to help my skin, even though I still do that, you know going side me lots of the book. That's very nice. And that's why you telling you you have to check yourself inside and find you no accept yourself the Way You Are

37:00 No skin help you actually except you know.

37:05 Yourself, right and now you're willing to talk about things that and that you didn't want to bite your past, but you're okay with it to my friends that I'm agreeing. I make a lot of friends, you know, I never talk about my childhood because that was the sad part that I pretend I never happened and now I'm really happy that I talk to you know, because I accept that and I know I wanted to find out more about it too so dry and you have the key.

37:49 Yeah, but you looking forward to your going to go to Crete again this summer. Yeah, I'm going to go and I'm going to stay a little longer my friends away. Therefore May. Okay, cuz we have a lot of things to do.

38:10 It's going to be fine, and hopefully you can someone is going to live a while and then you come well. Thanks, Mom. Now I came up.