John Sooklaris’ Latest Video Crete 1961

I just had an email from John Sooklaris that said:

Ray, If I had realized that these movies that I sat and watched when I was a kid, and fell asleep to, as my father would show them to all of our relatives, time and time again, would create such interest in the world, I would have posted them a long time ago when my father was alive. Alas, I am happy with the interest that we have received by people like yourself, and my mother is, no doubt, flattered by the interest as well. Yes, I just happened to visit your site yesterday, before receiving this message and even changed the one about Akrotiri in which you said I was confused. I wasn’t really confused, but just ignorant to all of the places in these videos. With the help of people, like yourself, we’ll get this all straightened out so we can properly inform our viewers. But I did take your word for it and changed it to the Agia Triada in Akrotiri. I will read your other comments on the other videos as well, as I do care about the quality of information that I post. Thanks for your help, as I continue to post the remaining videos from that time. John Sooklaris

Here is the latest video from John – part 1 0f 2:

I don’t recognise the first memorial, but the second after a minute or so is certainly the memorial south of Hania on the Omalos road at the Alikiarnos junction. This is a memorial to those dead in the last war when the Germans occupied Crete. There is listed the names of those killed in around five local villages. In the basement of this memorial is a glass ossuary containing many skulls of those killed, each with a bullethole over the right ear.

Later in this movie I see the hospital in Rethymnon which was newly built in those days. The big ceremony/festival near the end of the movie is certainly in Eleftheriou Square (Freedom Square) in Iraklion. That’s the one with all the crowds and marching soldiers. If you watch carefully you will see the Iraklion Morosini  Fountain twice.

Here is part 2 of 2 of this film.

The first part of this film is obviously a trip eastwards from Iraklion towards Agios Nicholas. The first part of the film is a stop at St Georges church in the gorge of Selinari near the village of Vrahassi. I remember this place on the first bus I took when I arrived in Crete going to Agios Nicholas. No Cretan can pass this shrine without stopping. The whole busload got out and said a quiet prayer here.

Most of the rest of the film is taken in Agios Nicholas – you can clearly see the small lake with the boats that connects to the sea. The final part of the film is I feel taken on a trip to the Lassiti Plateau – you can see the windpumps/windmills.

If any of you out there can do better than me and identify more of the places in the film, of which there may be several, then I and John would be grateful. Please post a comment.

I would appreciate it and so would John Sooklaris. In memory of his father who took these great films.

Celebration at Agia Triada 1961

This is another of Anthony Sooklaris’s movies published by his son John Sooklaris.

I think that John is a little confused about the whereabouts of this movie but I see it clearly as at the monastery Agia Triada, the monastery of the Holy Trinity in Akrotiri. I don’t know if the day was a special celebration or just a welcome for the Cretan Americans but it all happened in 1961.

Here is what John had to say about this movie: “Akrotiri Chordaki Sternes 1961

This video takes place in what appears to be Chordaki Akrotiri Crete Greece, and then moves on to Sternes at the home of Kosta Verganelakis. Early on the video, I believe I recognized Themistocle Tsouchlarakis as well as Antoni Panagirakis who is the dancing Chorofilaka.

Beyond these few faces, I don’t know anyone else in the video. I would love to hear your comments and hear from you if you recognize anyone, the villages, the reason for the get-together, and anything else that you would like to share.

Because I noticed a female lyratzida, I selected the music of Tasoula to serenade you while you watch this movie clip.”

The word lyratzida means violinist.

The link to the website of Agia Triada is here

I hope that you enjoy this unique movie.

O Pramateftis – Iraklion 1961

This next video is taken in Iraklion in 1961. It has been posted by John Sooklaris but the man behind the camera is his father Anthony Sooklaris. They visited Crete on a ship sponsored by the Pancretan Society of America in 1961.

This film shows Iraklion very well. You clearly see the old market in Iraklion with all the butchers and fruit and cheese shops unlike now when it is mostly tourist shops. You then have some clear shots of Eleftheriou Square (Freedom Square where I used to work in 1968 on) and the Morosini fountain.

In the closing shots of the film you see a man walking across the road. This is the later very famous musician Nikos Xylouris the great singer of Crete.

Here are Johns words about the movie: “O Pramateftis. While this video clip is more the life and times of Heraklion, Crete, in 1961, it does tell a story that Mountaki so eloquently tells in this story of the poor peddler. You will see peddlers selling their wares at or near the Agora. I just love the shot of the traffic cop.

Anthony Sooklaris so keenly captures the moment in this amazing footage of what life was like. Make sure to catch the traffic cop. It’s a classic solution to a then “new” problem of how to deal with more cars on streets that were once more populated by horses and donkeys, than by motor vehicles.

It was a more simple life, and it will no doubt remind us of fond memories of this most precious past.”

Here is the movie:

Enjoy, but see also how much this island has changed in 47 years.

Film of Hania in 1961

In 1961 a cruise ship called the Queen Frederica set out from the United States to visit Crete. On board were a large number of American Cretans coming to see again – or see for the first time, perhaps, their homeland.

Luckily, one man had what we used to call a Super 8 movie camera. The kind that takes 8mm wide film that you have to have developed professionally. He took some film of the trip and what they saw and where they went in Crete. These old movies, amateur movies but well filmed have now been converted by a man called John Sooklaris in America, and submitted via Youtube for me to display here on my Cretan website. John, thanks for doing this, these films are quite unique and priceless.

The first movie that I am putting on here is of the city of Hania and around in 1961. This was five years before I came to Crete over forty years ago. The film is wonderful, it shows the squares and the Agora and some of the beach between the city and the Akrotiri peninsular. It is ten minutes long. Remember that in 1961, Hania was the capital of Crete. It was changed to Iraklion in 1975. So here is the movie in the days before tourism.

I hope that you enjoyed it and I will be posting more of this 1961 trip very soon.

Zorba’s Dance.

I really love this clip from Zorba the Greek. It is the final moments in the film following the enormous disaster that Zorba caused running logs from the monastery on top of the hill down to the sea. The clip is taken on Stavros bay in the Akrotiri peninsular. Anthony Quinn is Zorba and Alan Bates is the English guy.

Nice stuff, I hope you enjoyed it.

Romiosini – The Memory

I wrote an article a while ago called Romiosini, the soul of Greece and I don’t know how many of you read that article. But it was for real. I spent some time back in the sixties and seventies working on what I had discovered as the soul of Greece. For English people coming to live here I felt that it was an idea that they should understand.

And I feel that you should try to make an effort to understand this. To help, I have added this fragment.

Carnival Day

Tomorrow is clean Monday, the first day of Lent and the day that all Greeks go and fly a kite on the beach or a high hill. But today, today was Carnival Day. Here are some pictures of our local carnival in the town of Kalives, Hania.


These are a few of the well dressed locals walking through the village.


Now the floats start to go by – headed, of course, by the god Dionysus.


Here is the wonderful queen of the carnival, sitting between the feet of the Sphinx. Perhaps I should have said Egyptian queen, ah well…


And of course Harry Potter seems to be taking over the world.


I do love this beautiful dragon.


This is the float for the local football team, the Titans.


Perhaps I shouldn’t say too much, but you may remember the recent police raids on the village of Zoniana. This float represents that and you will see . . .


. . . from the writing on the float some of the dubious benefits of that place. The little trailer at the back is of course the safe that was stolen from the local bank and allegedly found somewhere else.


So let us end there with our beautiful dancing girls . . . whoopa!!

Spring Has Arrived In Crete.

Although yesterday was a tad cloudy in Hania, we decided to hunt for spring in the Amari valley – 500 metres above sea level. Around two weeks ago we had a cold snap that was part of the worst cooling period in February for fifty years – all across the northern hemisphere. Yesterday in the Amari valley it was just pure warm sunshine and cloudless blue skies – and everywhere, like magic, flowers had sprung up. The magic that is always spring in crete.

Wild Fennel

Here are the huge yellow balls of flower on the wild fennel.

Wild Irises

The wild dwarf Irises bursting through the undergrowth

Psiloritis and a Pistachio in blossom.

Here is the superb wild Pistachio tree with snowy Psiloritis (Mount Ida) behind.

Wild Anenomes

Wild Anenomes bursting through the grass. In fact these Amari Anenomes are so beautiful that I took a close up:

Close up of Wild Anenomes

So there you have  it. Spring has sprung already on the beautiful island of Crete.

Joni Mitchell – Star of Crete

I have to say here and now that I am a great fan of Joni Mitchell. The posts that I have written here regarding her time in Crete and the video of the song Carey that I placed a week or two ago have generated so much response that I think that perhaps readers of this blog like her too.

Her songs are so unique. They are musically and poetically so different from other songs or artists that perhaps you either love her or loathe her. She has made many albums, some more successful than others but to see her ‘live’ when she sang these songs was the most amazing thing.

She did a concert for the BBC Television in 1970 and she sang beautifully:

Hard to believe that in fact she is older than me. She was born Roberta Joan Anderson on 7th November 1943 and she grew up busking on the west coast of Canada. Her life details are available to all on Wikipedia. The song Carey is available on her album ‘Blue’, an excellent album.

As far as I can make out she was in Crete, mainly in Matala, in 1968 to 1969. She must have written the song Carey about this time I guess.

Today she is approaching her 65th birthday in November this year. She is still singing. One of her earliest songs was called ‘Both Sides Now’. A lovely song of novelty and a freshness about about life. Here it is performed in 1970.

Here is the lyric:

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.

It was a song from a young girl trying to understand life and also accepting her lack of understanding. Fast forward forty years and Joni Mitchell on her latest album has decided to sing this same song very differently. The words are the same but the song now seems to contain forty or more years experience. By choosing the same song that made her so popular long ago and singing it today almost in a new light shows her great ability and her dignity.

So here it is: ‘Both Sides Now’ made in the year 2000 – 57 years after she was born.

I hope you enjoyed her.