My Grandfather Vellios first came to the United States as a stowaway. We were told he came several more times by working on ships.
Grandfather and his two brothers envisioned a better life in this country than in their homeland, Greece. It was on Grandfather's fifth trip that he and his brothers came to Ellis Island for processing. He was just 17.
One brother did not pass the physical and returned to Greece. The other became successful in the restaurant business in the East. My grandfather went to work for the railroad. Along the way he met a pretty French girl who became my grandmother.
Life was hard in some ways and rewarding in others. Just recently I learned that my grandfather never drove-never had a car-and they all walked a lot. My grandfather died on his job.
A really memorable thing is my Uncle Bob's cooking. My mom and I suspect Bob got his great cooking skills from his dad and uncles. I wish I could share a recipe here but my uncle, Bob Vellios, always said it was a secret. All I can tell you is that I think his skills are a combination of effort and inheritance. In the 74 years since Grandfather immigrated, his family has spread from coast to coast. I think he would be quite surprised.
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.