Stamatis Krimigis, a Silver Spring resident mentioned in a story in last week's Maryland Weekly about the Greek-American community, was incorrectly identified in the article as a scientist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Krimigis is a physicist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory who has done research for the space agency in the past.
There is a reason, Rena Papapostolou says, why she and her teen-aged daughter perform the hassapiko for guests at their Rockville restaurant every Saturday night.
It is, of course, good for business, this ancient dance of Greek sailors that is languid and feverish by turns.
But there is something more, something the Greek-Americans who flock to Rena's understand, she says. "After a few years, the young people, they absorb themselves into America.
"But Greeks are proud of their history and culture. To keep it alive we need things that are different from other people--our language, our dance and music."
"You see," she adds wistfully, "we're not 100 percent here, we're not 100 percent there. We are divided between two countries."
There are an estimated 35,000 Greek-Americans and Greek immigrants in the Washington area, most of them scattered across Montgomery and Prince George's counties. From Bethesda, which boasts a Dial-a-Baklava service, to Clifton, where a Greek Orthodox church will soon open a school, Greek-Americans have woven a culture within a culture, a rich tapestry of churches, festivals, ethnic restaurants and fraternal organizations.
Like any close-knit community, this one is invisible to most, veiled by language and strong religious traditions. But every year at this time, as Orthodox Greeks prepare church and home for next Sunday's Pascha, or Easter, the community is at its most vibrant--and visible.
"The church is our life, the real center of our community," said Papapostolou's husband, Harilaos, whom everybody calls "Harry."
"This is the season for the church, and without the church, there is nothing," he said last week after breezing through a medley of Greek folk songs at the restaurant his wife operates. "The church, you know, is like mother."
It was an Orthodox church in Washington that brought the Papapostolous to Maryland in 1967, from the small town of Agrinion where Harilaos, an expert on Byzantine music, ran a conservatory. With Rena, his former pupil, Harilaos immigrated to this country to be a choir director and teacher at the District's St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the area's largest Orthodox congregation.
Today, Papapostolou and others said, Greek churches around Washington are both nurturers of souls and perservers of culture. "For hundreds of years," said Harry, 50, "when Greece was dominated by the Turks, the church kept us united.
"It does the same thing today."
It does so even as Greek-Americans have drifted to suburban Maryland. Montgomery and Prince George's have produced two Greek churches of their own and a professional class of lawyers, scientists, restaurateurs and top-ranking federal workers.
Among the luminaries: Conrad G. Valanos of Bethesda, owner of Capitol Hill's Monocle Restaurant and confidant of the nation's political elite; James Bacos of Colesville, a leading heart specialist; and NASA scientist Stamatis Krimigis of Silver Spring.
"Greeks make up one nationality where every father hopes that his son will do better than he did," said Andy Manatos, the grandson of a railroad worker and coal miner whose father, Mike, was an aide to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
A consultant who was a top Commerce Department official under President Carter, Andy Manatos, once sifted through 1970 Census data and found that in the space of one generation, Greek-Americans had gone from being one of the lowest-educated ethnic groups in America to one of the highest. Not only were income levels remarkably high for Greeks, so was the number of those who were self-employed, he said.
"There is a self-reliance among Greeks, a very strong identification with the family," said Manatos, 38, who has named his four sons for his father and grandfathers. "For us, tradition is a living thing."
The tradition is as sublime as a bouzouki, the twangy lute-like instrument played wherever Greeks sing or dance. It is as pungent as broiled lamb or golden Retsina wine, semisweet with the flavor of raisins. And always the church, the religious words and music that hark back 1,500 years to the early years of the Greek Christian Church.
"There's a very fine line in the church," said Leon Andris, the young president of the parish council of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Bethesda. "Some in the Greek community get involved with the church because it's their church, while others come for the ethnic flavor."
St. George's, which grew from 60 families in 1966 to about 260 today, is still growing, thanks largely to a strong youth program, said Andris, a real estate broker whose father shortened the family name of Andritsakis after arriving in this country 30 years ago.
Shortly after the church's founding, members of St. George's Ladies' Philoptochos Society launched their version of the traditional fund-raiser for Greek churches--baking for dollars. Their Dial-a-Baklava service has sent the honey-nuts-and-pastry desserts to hundreds of area homes.
In Prince George's County, meanwhile, a growing number of new arrivals to the county is swelling the congregation at St. Theodore Greek Orthodox Church, three miles south of Clinton, according to the Rev. Elias Mentis, the congregation's minister.
"In the spring, more than any other time of year, the church is the social as well as religious center," said Mentis, 63. Established in 1972 with 26 members, St. Theodore's has grown to 95--enough to support a parochial elementary school the parish plans to start this summer.
Religion and religious music has been the recent theme on the Sunday radio show of Penelope Apostilodes, 69, of Silver Spring resident who has hosted a sort of broadcast-bulletin board for more than 30 years.
"Basically, we like to give news of the Greek community--like who got married and so on," said Apostilodes, who also organizes monthly Greek film festivals at a theater in downtown Silver Spring.
Her hour-long Sunday shows on WLMD, a 1,000-watt AM station in Laurel, are a melange of mournful Gregorian chants, lively folk songs and guest spots for family members. "Something for everyone," she says.
Some Greeks transplanted to the condominium corridors around Washington said they feel a certain nostalgia for the Greece of old, for the quiet rural life before the country came under military rule in the late 1960s.
At the same time, however, few of them are eager to leave this country. "Some have the dream to go back," said Rena Papapostolou, 40, a mother of five who allows only Greek to be spoken in her Rockville household. "But in this country, it is the same for people with or without an education. That's why Greeks like it here.
"If you want to do something--to start your own business--you are free to do it," she said, scanning the jovial crowd in her restaurant.
Then, shrugging, she added: "Of course, in this country it is always work, always the job.
"In Greece, there is more time for life."