Life in Verroia

 

The centuries old oak tree (Pournaria) the way it looked not to long ago…

After many periods of prosperity and decline, came the decades of 1950 and 1960, which was also the last period of prosperity of Verroia. In those years, Verroia was an amazing summer retreat, a vacation spot for entertainment and care-free life. It was a place where yound and old lived for two or three months a different life, much more beautiful and attractive from the tiresome and stressful life of the rest of the year. From the first of July, the feastday of the Holy Unmercenaries, the Vassarian, as well as other vacationers, began coming and establishing themselves in this truly paradisical village. During this period, all the houses were full and there wasn’t even a “chicken coop” available for rent. The main road, from Kotronakia to Palioklesi, was thick with people of every age and every origin: Vassarians, Spartans, Athenians, Australians, Americans, Canadians, and from every corner of the earth, who strolled around and talked about one thing or another. It was truly a revitalizing experience.
Every night, the nightly gatherings were plenty. One at the fountain, one in front of the Sgouritseiko house, one at the church, another one at Pera Rache, still another at Pournaria and another at St. Nicholas. Everywhere there was good cheer, everywhere there were games, songs and dances. The stores participated in their own way in this happy atmosphere. Wherever anyone went, one could find welcoming and good-hearted people, eager to offer you a drink, to welcome you, to help you. Renowned were the stores of Tasos and Panagiotitsa Psallida next to the fountain, with its fantastic vanilla delights in water, submarines as they are commonly called, the loukoumia (Turkish delights), and the refreshments, the beers and orange juice, which were kept cold all day long inside a tin can under the tap of the fountain. Next door to the Varsameiko store, with the imposing walnut tree keeping all the customers cool in its shade, was the vacation home of Tasos Rontiris and Demetris Velisares, where card games, backgammon and pinnacle, as well as the delicious appetizers with the famous tripe (patsas), was the order of the day.
A little further down, and around the church, was the “down town” of Verroia.

And the way it looks today, next to the new house that Theofanis Gavrilis is building, formerly “Papageleiko”.Elias Papantonis was the dominating figure there, known to all, who with the help of his wife Pota and sister Eleni, offered the most delicious appetizers and the best service, since there you could find anything you wanted. Bread, sugar, meat, oil, batteries, cement, nails, newspapers, magazines, as well as the telephone and the post office. Exactly across, was another tavern, with Michale Ntakogianne at the helm of care and service. Above and across from the church, two young Vassarians, Georgios Panagos and Nikolaos Koufos (Skaloumpakas), offered the best of everything that a coffee house could offer at that time period. Next to it, at the Psallideiko house, prospered another store, the beautiful shop of Anargyros and Chrysoula Psallada, which was known as the bus agency and a necessary stop of those passing through.

View of Verroia from the top of the hill next to “Arvaniteiki Fountain”.A little further down was another coffee house, where Takes Meletes and his sisters, with a smile on their lips and the impeccable service they drew the public like a magnet, and especially the women who at that time had begun to make their appearance shyly at the various vacation centers. At the same store, in a corner, Demetrakes Rontiris maintained his barber shop, taking care of the beautification of the heads. Again across from the church, and at the house of Karagiannes, Panagiotes and Arete Masgana had set up their staff headquarters, with all the articles of the green grocer, which Panagiotes carried tirelessly fresh every day, with his famous “Karnavalo.” Reaching the Rache and the house of Panagiotakes Plagakes, you would find young Sotere Panorios, who with his foresight which characterized him set up a little store which put the foundation for the modern dance clubs and discos, gathering the young people, who spent many enjoyable hours there.
Other snapshots of the life of Verroia were the most famous spring, Katoureli, where whenever anyone would go there, they could see young and old people going up and down the narrow path, carrying the celebrated water of Katoureli, like the bees which carry honey.

The main road to Verroia with “Souditsa” in the back ground.In the lush Leivadia, what would go on there every day cannot be described. Young children and older boys and girls played various games, while others ran and squealed like swallows. Nannies and mothers and grandmothers, in order to watch them and keep an eye on them, would created a happy shindig, giving it the appearance of a festival. Before noontime, new voices, new jingling, new laughs and calls and new running would fill the countryside. Boys and girls, sheep and goats, donkeys and mules, all would return from the grazing fields, which was reminiscent of a victorious return of an army. Every Sunday we had a soccer fiesta. From early in the afternoon, young and old would make their way down to the soccer field of St. Nicholas, where our team “Malevos” played many hard-fought games with teams of the area, and especially that of Tsitzina. All these and many more events took place which were which characterized that period as the “Golden Age of Verroia.”
Afterward, all thing chance everywhere. And this change could not be resisted by our small village of Verroia. They were overcome. At first emigration, and then the leaving of our youths to larger cities for a better future, left on Verroia their stamp of abandonment. The houses remained closed, except for a few exceptions, the streets were almost rendered impassable from the trees and grass, the stores were closed and locked. An oasis was offered in this desert for years by the unforgettable Georgios Ntakogiannes, who for several years, like a solitary pillar, kept his little store open, offering a little life and hope for a resurrection of Verroia. And lo and behold, this year, another Verroian, Spyros Kolovos, son of Lia, opened a most beautiful store next to the church, offering to the area a modern tavern, comparable to those of the larger cities. While locals and strangers are rebuilding their houses, several being built from the foundations, the value of the real estate is increase, and in general there appears to be new activity, which brings us back a few years and makes us believe that a new golden age for Verroia is approaching.

 

The well known George Dakogiannis, who was the alpha and omega for the area.

 

On the left are shown Dimitris Velisaris with his wife Argyro, Vasiliki Dakogiannis and Marianthi Rontiris. On the right George Dakogiannis with his wife Vasiliki.