By Danny Crownover
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.
In 1914, George Likos was drafted into the Greek army. Since he had experience in working in a restaurant, he was detached to General Pericles Soochos’ home as a house boy. Soochos served as an aide to King Alexander. He was married to Avanthia and had three daughters – Maria, Frosso and Ellie.
George Likos lived in the Soochos’ home, the first time a soldier was allowed to stay there. He was well liked and trusted by the Soochos family. George was so endeared to the family that when other soldiers of his status were being sent to the front lines, he was given special dispensation to stay on with the Soochos family. This was indeed special, because under no circumstances was any soldier to be excused from front-line duty. George eventually was stopped by the military police and told had to leave. When he told Avanthia about this, she intervened since she did not want George to leave the household.
Avanthia’s husband’s sister was married to a general who was an aide to Eleutherios Venizelos, the prime minister of Greece and an opponent of the king. She wrote a letter to Venizelos concerning this matter and sent it by George to his home. Avanthia’s brother-in-law gave it to Venizelos, who then wrote an order that George would be exempt from serving at the front and remain with the general and his family.
Even after George and Domina were married and had their son Steve, Kyria Soochos cried when George wanted to leave to be with his family. While George was stationed in Athens, Domina and Steve were living with her family in Tenethos but planned to visit George in Athens. Domina was unable to get a permit from the mayor to leave Tenethos since she did not have a marriage license. When she and George married, the straits to Tennethos were closed because of a dispute with the Turks and was unable get her papers.
Domina wrote to Kyria, who went to Metropolis (where the cathedral in Athens is located) and paid for all of Domina’s papers to be put in order. She then sent them to her. Domina was very grateful to her and felt good when she took the papers to the mayor of Athens, who thought Domina was an unwed mother.
George eventually was discharged after serving five years in the Greek army. There was talk of war and Domina feared that her husband would have to serve again. She wanted him to either write her brother Pete or his brother Tom (who both were in America) for help in coming to the United States. George was reluctant to write Tom because he was upset with Tom for not sending money to their mother.
Domina soon took matters into her own hands and wrote a nice letter to Tom, who soon sent George money, papers and ticket to come to the USA.
From these monies, George was to give a dowry for his sister Mary. Domina was afraid that George would not have enough money, so she sold her pearl necklace that was a gift from a wealthy aunt.
It took many trips back and forth to Athens to complete plans for the Likos’ trip. Steve, or Stellios, was eight months old when his father left for America. Domina and her son stayed in Tennethos with her parents. Steve’s grandfather enjoyed taking him to the seashore.