Interview with Sophia Wallace, October 22, 1984

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History
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00:00:01 - Grandparents' immigration to America

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Partial Transcript: Would you please give me your name?

Segment Synopsis: Sophia Wallace is introduced and discusses her family's immigration to America. She focuses on her grandfather on her father's side and tells the story of how he avoided a military draft by coming to America and eventually settled in Lexington. She talks about how her grandparents were some of the first Greeks in Lexington, and she discusses the core group of the Greek community. She talks of her grandfather's business, fortune, and name change.

Keywords: Asia Minor; Boom towns; Coal; Courts; Eastern Kentucky; Fruit stands; Greece; Greek immigration; Hot dog stands; Immigrants; Middle class; Military draft; Miners; Refugees; Revolutions; Turks

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Greek Americans--Kentucky--Lexington.

00:06:10 - Mother's parents elope / Sophia's parents marry

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell me something about your mother's family?

Segment Synopsis: Wallace discusses how her grandparents on her mother's side elope in New York to escape the dowry system and create a new life. She talks about how they moved back and forth from New York and Kentucky. Wallace talks about how her mother and father married and settled in Kentucky where she was born.

Keywords: Army; Dowry systems; Eloping; Great Depression; Greek newspapers; Greyhound buses; Mainland Greece; New York; North America; Paris, Kentucky; Railroad towns; Restaurants; Romantic; Villages

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Families.; Lexington (Ky.).; Marriage.

00:11:05 - Lives of early Greek immigrants

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell something about the, uh, businesses that the Greeks who were first here were in?

Segment Synopsis: Wallace discusses the jobs held by newly immigrated Greeks and says that the majority of Greeks owned restaurants or food stands. She talks about the Greek immigrants of the 1920's. She describes the core group of the Greek community, specifically the two different "families" or rivalry groups that make up the church.

Keywords: Asia Minor; Businesses; Chili; Cincinnati, Ohio; Downtown; Eastern Orthodox; Greek Orthodox Church; Greek community; Jobs; Paris, Kentucky; Refugees; Restaurants; Revolutions; Richmond, Kentucky; Rivalries; Southern Greece; Wars

Subjects: Church; Families.; Greek American restaurateurs

00:14:32 - The role of the Greek Orthodox Church and how it has changed

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Partial Transcript: What is the position of the Greek Orthodox Church in holding the Greek community together?

Segment Synopsis: Wallace talks about how the Greek church had once been the base and center of the Greek community, but over time attendance has lowered and the church has lost strength.

Keywords: Archbishop; Cincinnati, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Greek Glendi; Greek Orthodox Church; International Business Machines Corporation (IBM); Involvement; Louisville, Kentucky; Panagia Pantovasilissa; Priests; Stereotypes; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Orthodoxos Ekklēsia tēs Hellados.

00:21:05 - Important parts of Greek culture

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Partial Transcript: What are the, uh, things that Greeks do to feel Greek?

Segment Synopsis: Wallace talks about the various cultural things that bond Greeks, focusing on food as well as ties to mainland Greece.

Keywords: Cuisine; Easter; Ethnic; Folk dancing; Greece; Greek culture; Greek food; Greek language; Greek restaurants; Greek school; Kinship; London, England; Modern; Paris, France; Passover; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Travelling

Subjects: Food habits; Greek Americans--Ethnic identity.

00:27:01 - Prejudices towards Greeks / Byzantine art / relationship between Greeks and Turks

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I'd like you to discuss at this point any feelings that you or your friends/community may have had about feeling different in Lexington and if you have seen any manifestations of prejudice.

Segment Synopsis: Wallace discusses whether she faced any discrimination growing up and how she was never ashamed of her background. She speaks about Byzantine art, telling a legend of a religious icon of her church. She discusses the rivalry between Greeks and Turks, and how it is prevalent still.

Keywords: Asia Minor; Background; Democracy; Folklore; Greek Orthodox Church; Greek heritage; Legends; Madonna and Child; Minorities; Miracles; Monasteries; Mount Athos; Patrons; Prejudices; Priests; Proud; Refugees; Religious icons; Rivalries; Schools; Turks; Virgin Mary

Subjects: Art, Byzantine.; Discrimination.

00:36:08 - Marriage

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Partial Transcript: I don't think, uhm--my mother and my father are both Greek and they married each other and my--I think all my aunts and uncles on my mother's side all married Greeks.

Segment Synopsis: Wallace talks about marriages in the Greek community and how they have shifted from intermarriages to mixed marriages. She discusses the role her heritage plays in her marriage.

Keywords: Acceptance; Backgrounds; Compromises; Dominant; Greek customs; Mixed marriages; Respect; Roles

Subjects: Greek Americans.; Intermarriage.; Marriage

00:44:15 - Future of the Greek community and church

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Partial Transcript: Uh, do you have any prognosis for the future?

Segment Synopsis: Wallace predicts a troublesome future for the Greek community because of lack of involvement, loss of strength, and money problems. She discusses the basic demographics of the church, breaking down the numbers of families who remain active. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Core group; Ethnic responsibility; Founders; Funding; Greek Orthodox Church; Greek community; Immigrants; International Business Machines Corporation (IBM); Involvement; Money; Problems; Social responsibility; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Greek Americans--Kentucky--Lexington.