#47: Progress in Thessaloniki (1927)

"On May 1st, 1927, I left my family in Minneapolis and my work among widely scattered friends in America, to make another trip to Macedonia, which included the opportunity of meeting our trustees, secretaries, and friends in Boston on the way out and back. In Thessaloniki, progress was apparent at every point in the horizon. There was an increasing number of Greeks in the city who had made some money in the United States and came back to invest it where capital was more scanty and life more easy. One touch of America appeared in a movie picture announcement, not far from the College, entitled in English, "Jim the Devil". I was glad that that was not the only kind of influence from the land of my citizenship in the land of my adoption. It was encouraging to find four boys in four of our teachers' homes, born within the year; and while our teachers' salaries were often so meager as to make one feel very sober, during the ten years of this period some ten families of our College Staff each acquired a modest house as a home of their own.


"The School for Girls" had vacated its old abode on Rue Franque, where American mission work had been started long before and carried on for years, and it now occupied a new and far better site between Allatini Street and the Aegean Seashore. The ground was limited and the building, while good of its kind, was only the "konak" or mansion of a Turkish official, who had left with the rest of his people. There was the inevitable urge of growth in whatever has vitality. The School had outgrown its permit, gradually dropping its lower classes and adding classes higher up, until the permit for a common school had been outgrown and did not apply to the actual courses of instruction followed. So, the School was ordered closed, by meticulous officials and with legal right. A good deal of discussion, planning and some discouragement was finally terminated when, by a sort of side door route, it was found that if the College permit could be stretched so as to cover the Girls' School, it would be satisfactory to the officials of Greece. Provisional plans toward this result were agreed upon among us locally, and within a year when Boston could take unhurried action, this arrangement was confirmed. As one result, Miss Mabel Emerson was added to the Board of Trustees, and the Girls' School and College began to move toward a merger which could not be stopped half way. When it was announced in manager meeting that the Government in Athens had revoked the order closing the Girls' School, our feelings were expressed by our youngest member, who took a flying leap over the chairs and table with which the room was furnished.


As a city, Thessaloniki was struggling forward. Paving of main streets had begun, although such municipal improvements proceed slowly unless there are large, capital resources available for taxation. Parks and parking were taking shape. There never had been a sewer in the city until these years following the war, but by this time an urban system was fully half built. Millions were said to have been expended in building in the business area, which had been burned during the war. A "Free Zone" had been established in the harbor to provide transportation and trade facilities between Yugoslavia and the Aegean Sea, free from Greek custom duties or other regulations. Forty-five ten-ton freight cars each way were reckoned as average normal daily traffic."

NEXT: Macedonia (1927)