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Out of the Balkans

Part 1: Out of the Balkans

Chapter 4:
Jimmy: I'll Take Manhattan

On 23 April 1916, Dimitraki arrived in America and was reunited with his half brother George Papana. He soon became known as Jimmy.(1)

For several months, Jimmy worked with George and lived with his family at 141 West Seventeenth Street in Manhattan. A family photograph was taken, about 1917. The brothers apparently never got along well, and circumstances did not improve the relationship. George treated his wife and children badly. He was demanding, selfish and arrogant.

Jimmy was uncomfortable in George's unhappy home. He left it with the few dollars he had accumulated and found a job. He was a Western Union delivery boy on a bicycle for all of one snowy New York day. He did not know his way around the territory and got lost. His supervisor chastised him, telling him that he was slow and a loafer. Jimmy's pride was hurt so he quit. He would not allow his integrity to be questioned and placed a high value on his reputation.

After his experience at Western Union, Jimmy worked for two years as a sewing machine operator for a doll manufacturer. When the opportunity presented itself he entered the fur trade. A photograph shows Jimmy at work in February of 1919.

Manufacture of fashionable furs had become an industry in Kastoria in the eighteenth century. Generations who entered the fur trade learned their craft well there. Kastorian furriers were active in Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, France, and Canada. Some established themselves as far north as Denmark and Sweden. Many of these young men arrived in the United States either directly from Greece, or from countries to which they had previously immigrated. They were ready to provide the fur fashions demanded by women in prosperous America.

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