Here is the family lineup: grandpa, dad, brother, uncle and nephew – all named George. Yes that’s right, they’re all Georges. George Tergin, grandpa, James George Tergin, dad, George James Tergin, brother, and George Anderson, baby nephew. Even my uncle’s nickname is George. So we have Big George, Little George, Uncle George and now, Baby George.
It’s a Greek tradition to name children after their grandparents, which explains why my middle name is taken from my grandmother’s, Ourania. Yet in reality, I’m Little Carrie and my cousin is, of course, Big Carrie.
Our United States roots were first laid when my young, orphaned grandfather (pronounced Popou in Greek) set foot on Ellis Island with his uncle. When the two traveled through Missouri, the journey ended, and a new life began as my grandfather caught sight of the Capitol. As soon as he saw the dome, he knew this is where he wanted to stay and he did. He opened a shoe shine/hat cleaning business on Madison Street in the Central Trust Building and then a dry cleaners on High Street, which later became Carrie’s Hallmark when he retired in 1976. He lived one block from the Capitol in the art—deco style Tergin Apartments, which still stand today at the corner of Washington and McCarty Streets.
I’m proud of my family and the connections we had growing up and still have today. Greek tradition means generations live close by just like in the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” (I promise we never had the Greek flag painted on our garage though.) In my mind, everyone had Popou and Yiayia, their grandparents, living with them.
Now that Baby George has found his home in mid-Missouri by way of Minneapolis, I look forward to his experiences in this awesome area. I can’t wait to share with him the future Veteran’s Bridge to the Jefferson City Riverfront Park at Adrian’s Island, the wonderful parks and greenway trails, or getting scared at a prison ghost tour with him and friends. We will certainly have our share of banana splits at Central Dairy.
Regardless of roots, I feel sure everyone has a little Greek in them. Each of us has our own crazy and unique family stories that make us who we are today, and somehow we all ended up in this wonderful place, #JCMO, in what my grandfather, George, called the “best country on earth.” Although he took trips back to Greece, once even in his 90s, all by himself with one little suitcase, each time he returned, he kissed the ground. He was always so thankful to be back home — back in the United States!
I feel certain that George and Ourania are shining down on us and happy about their granddaughter, the mayor. In turn when I see the Capitol, I remember how and why it inspired my grandfather to plant roots. I am lucky that he did and am proud to carry on the tradition of our family-friendly community. #MayorTergin #GoJCMO #GrowJCMO