Growing up the Greek Way in the Big Apple

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Oct 14, 2011 / 0 comments

We've got an author interview to share with you today! Mike Pappas wrote a memoir, his second, entitled Growing up the Greek Way in the Big Apple. It's an account of his younger years, growing up in New York City. His memories include his mother's Greek food (which of course made me hungry), second generation Greek culture, school and religion, life overseas with the military in Korea, and his lively antics about growing up.


Growing up the Greek Way in the Big Apple



WE: What inspired you to write this book?

MP: It all came about after I wrote my first book “Thirty-five years of bologna”.  When I retired just about six years ago from the food industry; my friend encouraged to write about my years of experiences.  After I wrote that book, my youngest son asked me why I never mentioned more about my personal upbringing. I told him that I will write another book, in which I entitled “Growing Up the Greek way in the Big Apple”.  So as you can see, he inspired me to write my second book.


WE: Do you feel that where you grow up ever leaves you?

MP: My memories are always with me, one thing I learned nobody can take that away. Family values are the backbone of our upbringing, then, now, and tomorrow. 


WE: How did your time overseas influence your life?

MP: When I was drafted my whole life changed; when I was sent to Korea I learned more about life. Living here in America, we all take everything for granted. After spending 13 months there, I learned to appreciate our way of living even more. Even in our darkest days, there is no place else I would want to live.


WE: Did you ever return to Greece? How did growing up as a 2nd generation Greek in NYC influence your time there?

MP: In my first book(Thirty-Five Years of Bologna) I mentioned my experience on going to Greece. We were originally schedule to leave on 9/11/01. We were all packed and ready to leave when we learned about the terrorist attack on the Trade center. So of course because of that, all flights were cancelled. Knowing what happened, we knew we could not enjoy ourselves, so we re-scheduled our trip for the following summer.

Going to Greece and visiting my parents homeland was an experience I could not put into words. My mother would tell us stories about her living in Greece, as a young child. So when we went I was able to see some of the sites she would tell us about. Places like where she born and where she would hang out and the church where she was married. My parents came from one of the twelve islands called “Nisyros”. The island is about 16 sq miles and is volcanic, and you can actually feel the heat coming up from the big mouth of the island. Her house sat on top of a mountain, overlooking the breathtaking Aegean Sea.



WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

MP: In closing, I would like to add it took me over two years to complete the book, and in all that time I was re-living my Growing up. So as bad as things might seem, just look around and count your blessings!




You can find Growing up the Greek Way in the Big Apple at Amazon, Powells, and any online bookseller.




Note: We were sent a review copy of Growing up the Greek Way in the Big Apple from the author. Thank you!