Helen and Teacher

Helen and Teacher
The Story of my Life

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym: Maya Angelou,

Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym: Maya Angelou,: We salute another excellent woman, Maya Angelou, and mourn her passing. I studied many a work by her, and consider her a compatriot, Eonia ...

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Monasteriaki

The Monastiraki Flea Market I developed a taste for old dolls, even antiques, when I was five years old. I learned to love Greek Dolls when I was three, and it was also three Greek dolls that started my collection. Numerology, anyone? Well, all kidding aside, I hounded my parents to take me to antique shops and flea markets every where we went, and I could spot a Bru when I was eight years old. I knew the difference between papier mache and composition by the time I was nine (In my estimation, most recipes for composition involve wood shavings and more glue, while papier mache according to the firs grade recipe in Mrs. McAllister’s class involved library paste and newspaper strips soaked in water. You get the idea. In tribute to Mrs. Macalister, she had her own dolls and made a sock doll for me!] So, when we went to Europe, I had to get to the Monastiraki Flea Market. The Monastiraki is named for a 10th century church located in the area, Pantassa Church, and the name means “little monastery.” Line 1 and 3 of the Athens Metro take you there. It is a relatively safe, but there are reports of pickpockets on the Metro escalators. Be prudent as you would in any big city. There are also ruins near the flea market. It is also near Old Athens, called The Plaka, which had open air restaurants and all night cafes. Nearby, we ate fresh seafood, especially lobster. You could also order sea urchins. My folks took me there as a surprise. Everyone had been buying me lovely costume dolls, and Greek play dolls by El Greco and Kehagias [later moved to Canada], the two big companies. My godmother, also named Ellen, gave me a 3’ hard plastic Italian Doll that had lights pinned all over her skirt. You could really plug her in. Her brother took me to a toy shop across from our favorite restaurant and bought me anything I wanted. I wanted tiny rubber East German dollhouse dolls, at about 1 inch, they were smaller than the counterparts we had at home. I could have had a Bubble Cut Barbie made for the Greek Market, too. He wanted to buy it for me, but I didn’t want to seem greedy. This just proves being nine can also mean being stupid. My Aunt Voula gave me a beautiful 12 inch vinyl doll with blonde hair. I called her Voula, but she looked a lot like Melina Mercouri might have as a little girl. Aunt Voula was my grandma’s sister, and she was a seamstress like my grandma. So, she created a whole wardrobe for Voula doll. She also gave me a little china rabbit. At the Monastiraki, located in Avissynias Square, Athens, I saw three antique doll heads, maybe later open mouth Jumeau or SFJB heads, maybe Armand Marseilles. They cost about 30.00 each US money at the time. Now, these are bargains, but then, it was a lot of money, though my mom almost broke down and bought one. The exchange then was the drachma; about 15 drachmas was about fifty cents US coinage, and it bought lovely souvenir dolls of cloth with wire armature, and painted cloth mask faces over a wooden form. We did buy one of these cloth over mask faces, created as a head with a collar, of a Black woman. She has lovely side-glancing painted eyes, and a bouffant black mohair wig. Her collar is dark blue, trimmed in sequins, lace, and Greek embroidery. We completed the doll and dressed her in matching blue, embroidered Swiss fabric. I sent a photo of her to Maria Argyriades, author on Greek dolls and curator at the Beenak Toy Museum, Athens. She was a friend of my friend, Mary Hillier. Things haven’t changed too much today at The Monastiraki. There are still tavernas, or small restaurants that serve local appetizers surrounding it. My grandfather had one of these in Calamata, and Yannis' family used to frequent it. There are no fees, and there are things for older and younger children to do at the flea market. Those who love sightseeing will note that there is a grand view of the Acropolis behind it. For those who shops, there are still lots of shops and stalls selling dolls, souvenirs, hats, food, etc.

Jeannie out of the Bottle

I just started reading Jeannie out of the Bottle by Barbara Eden; it is hard to be more excellent of a woman than she, but I'll keep you posted, no pun intended. It is proving to be a very interesting read so far.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014