Camel 5 of 17

Roughly speaking, my grandfather met my grandmother in Alexandria, Egypt in the year 1910 . Just before that, my grandmother, Aikaterina (or Katerina), was hidden in a cave near her home on the Samos Island, to escape torment from pirates. The villagers of Nenedes (now Ambelos) sewed her into a mattress and took it with my grandmother in it onto a boat, which headed for Alexandria, Egypt. There her sister, Irene, met her and took care of her until Katerina married.

Irene and her husband George owned a rooming house. Andreas (Andrew) Halkiopoulos, a mechanic, rented a room from them. He wanted to marry Katerina while she was still very young, but Irene forbade this marriage until she was older.

I recall two photographs of our Greek grandfather, Andreas Halkiopoulos. One dates roughly to about 1910, and it depicts Andreas with another gentleman propped on the backrest of di Dion Bouton (an early French-made automobile) appearing content and enjoying a tour with Thomas Cook, Junior, who was driving. Cook was accompanied by his wife in the front seat. In the background, we see the stones of one of Giza’s great pyramids. Is this a Cook tour? Had Andreas just arrived to Egypt? …or was this a business tour? Where was the conversation going? Roads? Auto companies? Acquiring more vehicles for more tours? Developing Egypt, maybe Turkey, as well, for the travel and auto industries? The pyramids? The di Dion Bouton?

The Greeks, like the British, French and many other European entities were in Egypt to make money. Greece was in a terribly impoverished state in the early twentieth century, so many Greeks saw opportunity, as my grandfather did, to set up businesses in Egypt. To be an auto mechanic, then, included the tasks and prestige of an international businessman and a diplomat, especially in Egypt, a crossroad for so many foreigners. It was inevitable, then, that Andreas would run across someone like Thomas Cook, who continued his father’s pioneering exploits in Egypt, working the Egyptian tours before the British (in each case) tightened their administrative control over Egypt. All this explains the likely scenario behind the picture of my grandfather on a tour posing in front of the pyramids of Giza, the same ones on the cigarette pack, with the touring magnate Thomas Cook Jr.

(NEXT: The 1914 Picture)

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One Response to “Camel 5 of 17”

  1. rachel j Says:

    wow… these photos are fantastic!
    and i love getting all this history in story form!
    keep it coming!

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