Off to School
In the beginning I went to school in one of the shacks, just as the church was also in a shack, instead of the massive building it is now. Later on, Venizelo's school was built up in Kaisariani and I attended there for the rest of my schooling.
I can not remember, and I could not distinguish since I was a small child, if the other children were from various parts of Greece. It seems evident that they must have all been the children of refugees. As I said, in our neighbourhood we also had Armenians. Later on, I do not know how and why, we also had a lady called Mrs Stella 'the Mytilinian'. She was from [the island of] Mytilene, and since she was not from Asia Minor we used to point her out, and whenever we referred to her we would say 'the son of Stella the Mytilinian did this...'
We used to study with the light of the petrol lamp. But I must admit that I never really enjoyed my schooling. At home there was nothing more than the New Testament and the newspaper my father would read. My parents would get me to read out to them The Apocalypse of John, but I could not understand what it said. My mother was completely illiterate. I taught her how to sign her name. My father had completed elementary school at Bayindir, so he could read the newspaper with ease. But we had no books at home, except for the school books. For us the term 'educated' referred to the children that were attending high school.
There were about thirty children in my class. Our teacher was Mrs Soso, who had a limp. We also had the 'Pupils Vestiary', and every year they would come and hand out to poorer pupils a blue school smock which would fasten at the back and a pair of leather shoes. That was the case until I finished primary school. There was a time when they also gave us rations, so we would take a napkin and a plate with us. Our school building housed three different elementary schools and I was in the third one. Opposite there was a sports ground and children would play soccer or play on the swings and slides.
I remember a lady we would call 'the American'. She would hand out condensed sweet milk to the women for their children, before the [German] occupation of course. She used to congregate the mothers in a classroom and instruct them concerning their children. The mothers would attend once a week...