In this post I will give a brief overview of my father’s (Georgios Kefaloukos) many activities in the early part of his life. After dinner today I decided to ask him about his life story, and took as many notes as I could. My writing may seem like a glorified enumeration of his many occupations with only sparse attention payed to artistic style.
A young carpenter and waiter on Kalymnos
When my father was 13 years old, he lived alone with my grandmother in Pothia on the Greek Island of Kalymnos. My grandfather had left the family a few years earlier for reasons I don’t really know. As a young teenager my father worked as a carpenter in the summer. He also served coffee and cake to customers in the cafe that was located in the hotel in the harbour where my grandmother worked as a cleaning lady. Needless to say, they did not have a lot of money.
From petroleum lamps to electric light
As a 14-year-old teenager my father worked as an electrician apprentice in Pothia. The island had just started transitioning from petroleum lamps to electrical lighting and many houses needed electrical installations. This meant that it was easy to get work.
Blasting mountain roads with dynamite
As a 16 year old, my father helped build the winding road that runs along the sea from Pothia to Vathi. The work partly consisted of blasting the mountain away with dynamite. Before the road was built, you had to travel from Pothia to Vathi by ship or walk over the mountain. In the old days, horse carts would carry passengers into the valley where fruits and olives are grown.
With the money that my father earned from the roadworks, he purchased a “naftologio” for perhaps 1,000 drachmer (amount from memory), which gave him the right to work as a sailor in the commercial navy of Greece. In Greece, it was, and partially still is, required to pay for an expensive licence in order to many types of work, including being a cab driver or sell cigarettes on the street. I have heard that such licences can even be passed down from one generation to the next.
During the winter of my father’s 16th year, he worked as a cook for a couple of months on board the ship Manos. The ship was a small freight carrier that transported goods between the Greek Islands and also the Greek mainland. While he sailed on this ship, my grandmother and grandfather moved back together on Rhodes, after many years of separation. They lived in Ippodamou 44 in the old town of Mandraki. Because he dismantled the ship so soon, the captain was not very pleased with him.
In the summer before he turned 17, he worked on the cruise ship Ellas that sailed in the Eastern Mediterranean. The ship visited ports in Beirut (Lebanon), Limasol (Cyprus), Alexandria (Egypt), Rhodos (Greece), Piraeus (Greece), Corfu (Greece) and Venice (Italy), were the wealthy tourists disembarked to explore the historical cities.
Hatha Yoga and spirituality on Rhodos
After his first stint as a sailor, my father became hippie and settled for a while on Rhodos where he studied yogawhile living at home. Perhaps the Yoga and his search for an identity prompted his idea to become a monk.
Monk on Athos
At the age of 17, my father met Nektarios, a monk-priest from Kalymnos, in Athens. He told him that he would like to become a monk and they agreed to live together in Agios Minas one of the most settlements on Athos – situated at he very tip of the peninsula. My father lied to my grandmother and told her that he would sail with the ship Anna-Maria, named after the Danish princess, but instead he secretly travelled to Athos to meet with Nektarios. Upon arrival he sent my grandmother a letter from Athos and told her the truth. He lived for about 1 year in Agios Minas. Later he would return many times to Athos and learn the art of icon painting.
In his later days, he has travelled frequently to Athos and toured with several Danish celebrities and TV-presenters, including the cook and entrepreneur Klaus Meyer and the journalist Hans Bischoff.
After his first stay as a monk (novice) on Athos my father would return to work as an electrician on Rhodos, mostly in hotels. At this time he was 18 and 19 years old. Soon he would join the navy as part of his military duty.
From special forces to ordinary marine
As a 20-year-old my father spent 28 months serving his military service in the Navy. The military junta ruled Greece in those years. Initially, he trained as a frogman, but soon had to transfer to other duties for political reasons. My grandfather was a communist at the time, and the junta didn’t allow sons of black-listed people to serve in the special forces. He transfered to the destroyer Aetos (Αντιτορπιλικο Αετός), which is featured in the Greek movie Alice in the Navy. The movie features the actress Aliki Vougiouklaki, with whom the Greek Prince Konstantinos allegedly had a brief love affair. During the final months, my father served onboard a mine sweeping vessel.
Sailor again on the seven seas
At the age of 22, my father returned to Rhodes. After working once again as an electrician, he would take work aboard the freight ship Atlantic Star. To rendevouz with the ship he flew from Athens to Tokyo, Japan and waited a couple of weeks for the ship to arrive. To get to the right port, he would travel through Japan on board the high-speed trains from Yokohama, Osaka to Nagasaki. On-board the Atlantic Star he sailed from Japan to Perth, Australia and from Goa to Cape Town.
On other ships my father would sail to Sierra Leone, New York, Boston, Murmansk, Northern Norway, Montpellier, Casablanca, and Liverpool. During a trip from Murmansk to Norway, a welder from Rhodos had accidentally opened a big hole in the hull of the ship, which took in a lot of water and listed dangerously in the freezing artic waters.
Drummer in Greek night clubs
At the age of 24, he returned to Rhodes and played drums, guitar and bass at the nightclubs there. It was during this time that he met my mother, who by the way is from Finland.
Black belt in Denmark
As a 28-year-old my father moved to Denmark with my mother. They lived at Saxhøjvej in Valby, Pension Norden in Nørrebro, Rosenørns Allé and Danas Plads on Frederiksberg and finally Lupinvej in Vanløse. In those early years in Denmark he trained Shotokan karate on Amager where he got the black belt.