Fereniki Politis Jacovides

The last person who spoke to master luthier Alexandros Politis!

A warm, kind, female voice on the other end of the telephone line captivates my mind, dragging me  back into a journey full of memories, music, and family values, as so beautifully, with great clarity and love, she describes the years living next to her father, Alexandros

Her name Fereniki or Niki as she likes her friends to call her…a young, full of life, 83 years old, proud Greek woman.

At the US Census in 1940, we find her with the name Frances. 
(She laughs remembering how hard was for someone to pronounce her real Greek name even back during the school years)

-My father was a loving, warm, kind, funny man. Often, returning back from work, he use to sing a Greek funny song which made us  laugh hysterically ( Fereniki starts singing the Greek lyrics)

He was also a man who feared God. He would read the bible every night before going for sleep. 
And above all, he had a great passion for music…Ahhh !!! ...Yes, music. My family was full of musicians .
Five out of his six children played a musical instrument
Our weekends were full of music and family reunions around a table with Greek dishes.

-My father had  in the house a santouri, a mandolin, and a flute, which he use to play. 
When I was still a child he built a mandolin for me, and he taught me how to play it 
 I passed this valuable mandolin later to my son John
Fereniki's mandolin
Fereniki's mandolin
Fereniki's mandolin
My father loved to play the flute. But after a visit to his dentist and a lost tooth his passed the flute to my brother James

James loved so much playing the flute that he finished music studies in the University of Florida
He continued his studies in NY where after some years he got the position of second flutist in the NY Philharmonic Orchestra.
His talent was recognized when he became the principal flutist in the NY Metropolitan Opera. He kept that position for the next 25 years until his death.

My mother Theodora, had a beautiful voice. She was the one who would sing often in the house.
I remember the times I was taking with my mother the subway to deliver in different areas of Ney York musical parts (mostly for violin) made by my father.

Alexandros and Theodora

-My brother Kostantinos  was a gifted and talented man. He could create gold with whatever his hands would touch My father took him to work with him in his workshop .
He had great expectations from Kostas , but soon he quit and decide to get into the police force .My father was greatly disappointed.

I visited my father a lot of times in his workshop. 
I use to go to the Greek school of the Greek Orthodox Church which was literately across from his workshop. A lot of times the priest from the church would stop first at my father’s workshop. He loved to talk with him regarding the Greek religion and the secret meanings of the  bible. A lot of times the priest use to tell me
-Your father knows much better the bible and its meaning than me !

Sometimes when I was visiting my father at his workshop, I found visitors from Greece ordering custom made  bouzoukia 
I remember my father becoming upset when they were ordering from him custom bouzoukia with a lot design and mother of pearl.
When the customers had left, he use to look at me in the eyes wondering in a monologue  :
-Why you want to spoil the bouzouki and its sound with mother of pearls? 
-Why do not you  want to keep the beauty only from the woods? 

I will never forget how he use to make amazing violin bowls. They had such a success .He was selling them all over NY.
To create the violin bowls he was using a  mold made by two pieces of steel.That was where he was forming the violin bowls. He would tied with nuts the 2 steel pieces together and he would bring them late at night in our home. He used to put them in my mother’s range in a low temperature and start creating the violin bowls. His violins were really amazing.

The years of the Great Depression my father kept his spirit high. We didn’t have enough money, but we never felt poor. We always had food and clothes in our house.
When he first came to NY he worked in the Steel Mills. That was a very hard job 

Workers in Still Mills circa 1910

-Later he met the owners of Epiphone who were Greeks, and they took him to work for them. He was very happy when he was working for Epiphone. Was the years of the Great Depression and he was thankful that with 6 children he didn’t lost his house, and he was not depending on relief money from the government to survive .

-As an epilogue I have two very vivid memories I will never forget from my father 
The day both of my brothers came back home alive , after the end of the Second World  War .One of my brothers was conscripted in the infantry in UK and the other one in the Airforce in Japan
This was by far the happiest day of my father’s life.

My saddest and most vivid memory from my father was on April 6th 1956, the night I heard that thump in my father’s bedroom  
I was engaged with my future husband, planing my marriage which was coming in two months.
I was still living with mom and dad at that time.. 
I ran so fast that night into my parents bedroom. I saw him lying in front of his bed. 
I grabbed him trying to lift him up .As I was holding him, he left his last breath on my arms. He passed away from heart attack at the age of 69.


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