Embroidered shoes

In Attire
Embroidered shoes
Embroidered shoes

My grandmother, Maria Papantoniou, brought these shoes and the handiwork for a pair for a husband, when she came to the U.S. in 1920 from Kastelorizo, Greece, an island off the coast of Turkey.  Her father was a shoemaker and I can imagine him making shoes to send his oldest daughter off to the New World, hoping she would marry well. The extras never became shoes, but she did marry.

In the U.S. she went to her brothers in W.VA. Soon her oldest brother said, “Mary, it’s time to find you a husband.” She was beautiful, from a respected family, a fine baker, an impeccable housekeeper and did delicate crochet. The brothers assumed finding a husband would be easy. “This is what we’ll do.  We’ll invite the Greek men to play cards. You bake sweets and serve coffee, then watch the men and pick the one you like.” 

Mary sat at the kitchen door and watched. After the party, her brothers asked who she chose. She picked Basil Daniels, the most educated of the lot. He was a tall young man, from Anatolia, Turkey, who was studying medicine in Paris when the Turko-Greco war broke out and his parents wrote him to go to the U.S.  Mary and Basil had three children and opened a dry-cleaning business. He died young, but from what my mother told me, they had a happy marriage. Mary kept those shoes and their mates until she gave them to me when I was marriageable age. I, too, saw my husband from a distance and decided that night that he was the man I would marry.  Maybe the magic is in the shoes.    


Place(s): Wheeling, W.VA., Kastelorizo, Greece, Anatolia, Turkey
Year: 1920

– Paula M. Kirifides

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant