My Dad’s Early Life Story

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 a cafe that was located in the hotel in the harbour. This is also where my grandmother worked as a cleaning lady. Needless to say, they did not have a lot of money.

Pothia, Kalymnosa>

The port of Pothia on the Greek island of Kalymnos.

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 to transition 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 required blasting the mountain away with dynamite. Before the road was built, you had to travel from Pothia to Vathi either by ship or walk over the mountain. In the old days, horse carts would carry passengers from the harbour in Vathi and into the valley where fruits and olives are still grown today.

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 money to obtain a licence for many types of work, for example to be a cab driver or to operate one of the street kiosks. I have heard that such licences can even be passed down from one generation to the next and are considered valuable assets.

Ahoy, sailor!
During the winter of 1964, my father's 16th year, he worked as a cook for a couple of months on board a ship called Manos. The ship was a small freight carrier that transported goods between ports on the Greek Islands and 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, which is situated close to the old Turkish bath house of Yeni Hamman. My father left the ship quite soon after and 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 called port 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 a hippie and settled for a while on Rhodos where he studied yoga while living at home. Perhaps his Yoga practice 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, which is one of the most remote 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.

My Father as a monk (novice) on Mount Athos around 1965.

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.

My dad revisiting Mount Athos together with friends in 2011.

Electrician again
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 that 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 serving for 28 months in the Hellenic Navy. Initially, he trained as a frogman, but soon had to transfer to other duties for political reasons. The military junta ruled Greece in those years and my grandfather was a communist at the time. 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 on-board a mine sweeping vessel.

Navy photo from the time when my dad served on-board the vessel Aetos.

Archaeologist assistant

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, to Osaka and Nagasaki. On-board the Atlantic Star he sailed from Japan to Perth, Australia and from Goa in India to Cape Town in South Africa.

On other ships my father would sail to Freetown in Sierra Leone, New York, Boston, Murmansk, Northern Norway, Montpellier, Casablanca, Alexandria, 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. My father told me that he calmly played his guitar while the rest of the crew was in panic.

He had a small bike on-board the ship and while the other sailors would typically go to bars to drink, my father would ride his bicycle around the cities they visited, for example in Freetown, Alexandria and Montpellier. The bike got stolen in Morocco, but somehow he managed to get it back and eventually he took it back to Kalymnos.

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 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.

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