The Vagabond - from Greece to Gadsden: story of the Likos family

May 15, 2020 chris
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By Danny Crownover

Part III

Many people in Etowah County do not realize that many of the hard-working citizens of the area were from other countries. Two of those early citizens were Greek emigrants George and Domina Likos. The Vagabond recently spoke to a former classmate, Tina Likos Wilson, the couple’s granddaughter. Tina’s aunt put together the story and Tina shared it with The Vagabond. Here is Part III.

George eventually arrived in New York, and he and brother Tom went to Colorado where they got a job working in a coal mine. This was not an ideal job, and one day a large rock hit George in the head. Tom was so upset that he told George that they were not going to work in the mine any longer.

There was a bakery owned by Greeks located near where they lived. George began helping out at the bakery without pay, just to have something to do.

Seeing that George was a hard worker, the bakery’s owner decided to hire him. The salary was menial, so when Domina’s brother Pete wrote he needed help in his restaurant in Alabama, George left Colorado. Shortly afterwards, he sent for Domina and Steve, who was three years old at that time.

Pete had sent his brother and sister Leekareah tickets to come to America. Along with Domina and Steve, they went to Athens and Piraeus to prepare for their trip overseas. The U.S. immigration quota was filled, however, and they were not allowed to leave Greece.
Disappointed, the family was returning to the hotel when met a friend named Kyrios Lionedes, who had been the postmaster in Tennethos. He knew Domina because she often went to the post office to pick up mail and checks from George and sign for them.

Kyrios Lionedes had to leave when the Turks took over the island. He asked the family what they were doing in Athens, and they explained about the quota being filled. Lionedes said he had an uncle who was the tailor for the gentleman in charge of immigration and would ask him to help. After a few days had passed, Kyrios Lionedes contacted the family and said he would be able to help Domina and Steve since George was already in the U.S., but not the others.

Domina and Steve sailed on a ship called The Constantinople and it took 21 days to arrive in New York. The family settled in Alabama City and George soon opened a restaurant near the Republic Steel plant. Because of his home remedies, George was affectionately called “Doc” by his customers. The Likos family lived in Alabama City until 1936, when they moved to 1015 Third Street in Gadsden, where they lived until 1988.

By then George and Domina had six children – Steve, Bessie, Gus, Jimmy, Angelus and Mary Ella. The family eventually was increased to 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

“My grandfather owned and operated small cafes,” said Tina Likos Wilson, George and Domina’s granddaughter. “I think one was called City Cafe in Alabama City, which served the steel plant area. The other one was Courthouse Cafe near the courthouse in Gadsden.”
George Likos died on January 13, 1990, in Gadsden. His wife Domina passed away on October 26, 1991. Both are buried at Crestwood Cemetery.

Tina’s parents were Gus and Katy Croft Likos. Gus was born on Aug. 12, 1925, in Gadsden. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology at Jacksonville State University and served in World War II and the Korean War. He began his career at Holy Name of Jesus Hospital in Gadsden in 1953 as a medical technologist and retired as chief of the hospital’s laboratory in 1991.

Gus married Katy in 1953. The couple lived in Gadsden before relocating to Daphne in 1992. They had three children – Tina (John) Wilson of Orange Beach, Karen (Bruce) Thomason of Daphne and Marty (Rhonda) Likos of Guntersville.

Gus and Katy were active members of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter in Gadsden. Katy worked for a local newspaper starting right out of high school through the 1950s. She also taught at Disque Junior High School. Gus passed away at the age of 89 on Nov. 5, 2014, in Daphne.