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Out of the Balkans

Part 2: Jason's Journey, Recollections and Celebrations

Chapter 2, continued:

As busy as her life was, Nitsa was socially active with her high school classmates and at Christ Church. I never understood how she won all those "A" grades. She rarely seemed to crack a book.

By the time she graduated high school I was calling my sister Helene. She had grown out of her childhood 'Nitsa.' Helene wanted very much to attend Smith College, a prestigious women's liberal arts school in Northampton, Massachusetts, or one like it. Her commitment to helping Mom and Dad kept her at home. I do not think that Dad could have managed the tuition, room and board at Smith. Helene had been offered a scholarship at Juilliard (she played the piano brilliantly) and probably would have received financial aid at Smith.

Helene attended Hunter College where she made many friends among her sorority sisters. Her major was linguistics. She studied several languages including Latin, Spanish, French and Greek.

In her senior year, Helene attended the national convention of her sorority representing her chapter as its president. The convention was at Banff, Canada. Nitsa (we still called her that from time to time) was the first in the family to travel by air making the trip in a sequence of hops in DC-3's. I was in awe of her courage.

Helene's college graduation photograph shows her wearing her Phi Beta Kappa Key, which she won in her junior year, a significant accomplishment.(photo)

After college she attended a secretarial school; then entered the workforce. In today's world she could have become an executive.

As a teenager Helene stayed closer to the Orthodox Church than I, even though she was socially involved at Christ Church. I remember her carrying the Orthodox Service Book to church during Easter Week, and reading the prayers in Greek.

Helene, who I often called "Sis," was sometimes frustrated with me. I was less serious than she and according to her, girl crazy. But we got along well and I listened to her when she offered unsolicited advice.

We attended all the Greek (read "Macedonian," read "Kastorian") dances together even after Mom and Dad stopped attending. It was my duty as brother to escort my sister to all social functions where there were eligible young men. Those who were eligible were great for partying and dancing, which Helene enjoyed, but few were educated or had anything in common with her.

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