CHARLENE KNADLE RECEIVED HER BACHELOR'S DEGREE FROM HARDING COLLEGE, MASTER'S FROM STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY, AND DOCTORATE FROM ST. JOHN'S UNIVERSITY. SHE IS A POET (DANDELION SLEEVES: POEMS OF NATURE AND ORDINARY LIFE; LOCAL COLOR: THINGS, PLACES, PERSONS, EXPERIENCES) AND NOVELIST (PAPER LOVERS) WHOSE WORK HAS BEEN NOMINATED FOR A PUSHCART PRIZE. SHE EXAMINED THE WORKS OF PAT CONROY FOR THE 11-VOLUME LIBRARY REFERENCE WORK, POPULAR CONTEMPORARY WRITERS.
George Giannaris describes his book, Ferry Tales, as being "primarily for my children," yet I have seldom read an autobiographical work that seems more of an offering to the world. (Most recently, I found that quality of voice in the late Nuala O'Faolain's Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman and have since read upwards of a dozen such books.)
Giannaris doesn't disguise autobiography as fiction, the way Khaled Hosseini, in most of The Kite Runner, seems to. The book is straightforwardly about himself, yet there is a "storybook" feel to the narrative as he relates incident after incident. In the process, the unique characteristics of colorful characters become exposed. His experiences are varied, intertwined with the lives of others, and lived for long durations in different locations—Brooklyn, Queens, both forks of Long Island's east end, and across the ocean in Greece, among others. He has felt included and loved, chastised and shunned; he has seen himself as the "outsider" and as the center of action; he has felt enormous pride and keen embarrassment at members of his family. In short, he invokes a sense of the universal, stimulating in readers memories of our own related but very different lives.
The book is peppered with humor—both smiles and guffaws, all of it organic, none forced. An occasional phrase seems both perfect and admirably witty, some bordering on the literary. And there are passages that suddenly and unexpectedly draw tears.
George Giannaris writes of his own life, yet he often mysteriously seems more observer than actor, even as he lets the reader in on his inner responses and outer reactions. Most of the time we notice his generosity of spirit towards others, even as he lays bare the truths of his humanly angry or mean-spirited feelings.
Educated as an electronic engineer with an emphasis on computers, Giannaris nevertheless has stayed with the family business, that of running a Greek restaurant, The Hellenic, located in proximity to the ferry that runs between the eastern end of Long Island's north fork and Connecticut. Relating to so many familiar and new customers on their way to or from the ferry forms the basis of many of the scenarios of the book, hence the title. Yet the heart of the matter is closer, with fellow workers, family, friends, the pressures of sixteen-hour, non-stop days, and with recreational experiences (boating, spear fishing, diving, day trips to exotic places). George Giannaris seems to be one "on whom nothing is lost,"* who is able to recognize the significance in the every-day even as he lives it. The wisdom he weaves into the telling of each true tale of himself teaches and rewards us, even as, entertained, we read with our feelings close to the surface.
No proper blog would be complete without mention of the bloggers favorite artist. The initimidating fellow in the photo is the gentle David Crowder of the David Crowder*Band. (click on the thumbnail to visit their website.)
My family and I were walking down the beach together in Cutchogue when my sons spotted this decaying shark. So much for my theory about no toothed sharks existing in the Sound. This one doesn’t count as one of two; he wasn’t swimming!
Since the book has been in circulation, I have not had any disgruntled bikers complain, especially those of the smaller type. I am glad that the vast majority have appreciated my wit, rather than be offended by it. I would also like to thank Kari, Joe Jr. and Yianni for allowing themselves to be morphed into dwarfs for the book’s cover.
Some people become famous because of the oddest endeavours. Take the inventor of the paper clip for example. What’s his name? It is funny that when you are within a twenty mile radius of Hellenic and you mention the word “lemonade,” people make the immediate association.
The “John H” impressed me the most when it was added to the fleet. Click on the thumbnail to visit their website www.LongIslandFerry.com
Norman and I where diving one day. We were told by other divers to avoid the Race. The visibility was zero feet. We thought that they may have been fibbing, so we took a chance. They were right. I shot this one in total darkness three inches from my spear gun tip. All I saw was a dark shadow until he was three feet away. Fifty five pounds and change. Sweet.
My mom’s first cousin, Gus, was the man with the plan. He motivated my father into buying Brown’s Cabins back in 1976. A great man who is missed. I wonder what I would be doing right now if my father chose not to partake in the business venture.
It used to snow a lot more on Long Island when I was in my single digits. My family would take a winter trip out to Greenport and check up on the cottages and snack bar. I recall snow above my waist. In some spots, it had reached my chest. I also remember being very afraid. The back windows of almost all the cottages were smashed in, and frozen, rotten pumpkins were sprawled all over the floor and beds. I recall fearing that the evil people would find out were we lived in Astoria and smash our windows there as well. Who could fathom the repercussions of their own sinful actions and their unexpected after-affects?
The sign is actually tilted. A backhoe bumped into it. We got so many requests from customers to straighten it out that we left it crooked. People notice it more when it is bent than when it is straight. Ah, the beauty of blessings dressed as curses in disguise.
(click thumbnail to visit site)
This barbershop-quarter-style photo of the boys captures the behind-the-scenes crew with whom without we could not function as a restaurant. (Don’t mention that because they will rebel and demand higher wages. Hey, It will only wind up costing you more!) Can you guess who the guy in the upper center is?
Coming back to work one day after a nap, I noticed that the quintessential, Greek Olympiad by the register was bare-assed. In a semi-comitose state, I drew a g-string, thong on him, to stricken any further nudity. Who knew he would adorn the back cover?
This is my little guy’s modern, photographic interpretation of my vessel. Savvas took this shot from a dingy on the side of our boat when we were anchored at “Cinderella Island.”
These are the prefered lures when angling for striped bass. They are hanging on a rail in the cabin of the vessel “Donna Mae,” owned by Captain Joe Angevine, the finest commercial bass fisherman on the East Coast. (Click on the thumbnail to visit his website.)
This is the type of ornamental basket featured at art openings at Chrysalis Art Gallery in Southampton, as mentioned in the chapter titled, “Not a ferry nice day.”
This woman is a Greek superhero of sorts. The legendary, stereotypical “Yia-yia.” Besides her ability to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, Yia-yia needs no sleep ever. She is able to cook, knit, and accomplish the most trivial tasks with incomprehensible patience. The source of her superhuman strength? Wild harvested dandelion leaves. It is true. Her debilitating kryptonite? Well, that wouldn’t be fair to post on the web.
After the book went to print, my father remembered that during the bull episode, my Theo Bill had made an unsuccesful attempt to distract the bull by wacking it in the hind quarters with a short length of wood moments before it decided to charge my dad. This is a perfect example, demonstrating with clarity, that we cannot be evolving to a higher order of intelligence. Compare Theo Bill’s logic to that of Socrates or Plato. Desparing huh?
This is the infamous Race Rock Light House. It has been documented on the Discovery Channel that it is haunted. A beautiful location and a wonderful place to learn how to dive, it is the first place where Rick (NFWG) had to get cozy in a Speedo under his wet suit.
One day, my dad was trying to impress friends and he put together this platter. It has been on our menu since. It is a sampling of the diverse Greek entrees on our menu. (click restaurant photo to visit our website)
My mother is a wonderful, loving and caring woman. I may have harped a little too long on her quirks in “Ferry Tales,” however she is a gem, and is most happiest when surrounded by her grandchildren. Yianni is my oldest son.
This little majestic creation is a hummingbird. My boys and I thought it was a bee as we watched it buzz around Impatients outside a toy store on Cinderella Island. It was mesmerizing. You can’t put a price on the natural beauty found on that remarkable, special place.
The man. The Legend. “Pete the Greek.” Striped bass slayer extraordinaire . Fish quiver at his presence when he is miles from the water. (click on the thumbnail to visit his awesome online underwater video website)
Rick & Ellie Coffey own the Coffey House Bed & Breakfast next to the Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant.
Ellie came up with the title for my book “Ferry Tales.” Rick is the founder of the North Fork Writers Guild. He has been a huge inspiration that has led to the publication of “Ferry Tales.”
Yes. It is true. We do actually “marine camp” on our boat. It works quite well. Please buy extra copies of “Ferry Tales” so that I could afford a custom canopy. I’m getting tired of being called a “cheap author.”
This is a photo taken from our first newspaper review in a 1978 Newsday issue. My father was about my age then. He had more hair than I do (sigh). Lemonades were only sixty cents back then (sigh).
The sign on the cover does not exist. It is completly made up in Photoshop. The actual sign it is modeled after is further west from the restaurant.
Every few years, we are visited by a fleet known as the “tall ships.” This one is making its way out of the fog just outside New London, Conneticut.
A boat load of fish caught on Pete’s legendary 17’ Montauk. As a reference, mind you, they span the length of the boat from the helm to the transom.
Rest In Peace.
The master “Pete the Greek” giving Yianni his first diving lesson.
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Picture taken boarding the John H. On the way to New London.
This is the famous & fabulous “Casa De La Slinky”
The boys admiring the horses at the Big E
My dad with Savvas noshing on a Johnny Rocket’s breakfast. Another successful ferry trip visiting the Indians.