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  • Tags: greek

On a beautiful day in 1924, the Tulumaris family is ready to venture out for a drive in their car. Before strip malls and extensive development, Tarpon Springs was considered a place of great natural beauty, attracting artists and wealthy snowbirds…

Inside a kafeneion during the 1970s, a waiter picks up a coffee from the small kitchen while the men take a break from playing cards to discuss a serious matter. For the last 110 years, Greek men have sat inside and outside the kafeneia sipping…

Sponge warehouses of the Greek-American Sponge Company of Chicago and the American Sponge & Chamois Company of New York, October 1932. In the past, there were many independent local sponge buyers, as well as agents of larger international merchant…

This early image of a sponge packing house is associated with the name Trefon Constantinou. Sponge merchants are central to domestic and international distribution. Many belong to families that have worked in every aspect of the business for…

On the site of the old Sponge Exchange, a complex of boutique shops in a faux Cyclades Island architectural style opened on March 16, 1983. Several klouves on the north side of the Sponge Exchange were retained, originally intended for use by sponge…

Aerial view of the demolition of the Sponge Exchange in 1981. The Sponge Exchange was sold to new private owners who wanted to create a shopping complex. Although many members of the Greek community and preservationists from the Florida Department of…

Sponge brokers examine the piles of sponges for sale in the Sponge Exchange courtyard on November 6, 1936. Many of the men are taking notes in preparation for the silent auction.

Piles of all types of sponges fill the courtyard of the Sponge Exchange on an auction day in 1921. Most of the men in the courtyard appear to be Greek, except for the African American man walking towards the camera. He was one of many who worked in…

The Sponge Exchange bustles with activity with activity. The Sponge Exchange was an organized cooperative warehouse and distribution system established around 1908. At the time of this image, iron-grilled klouves (storage cells) separated the catches…

Men gather to survey heaps of large sponges in the yard of the Sponge Exchange. The early wooden buildings indicate that this might be in the 1910s, before the sturdier brick buildings were constructed.

James Piccolo sizes sponges at Acme Sponge & Chamois Company, one of the largest sponge distribution businesses in Tarpon Springs. The company was established in 1938 by Michael Cantonis, who came from a family of Symian sponge merchants. Acme…

George Danapas demonstrates trimming a sponge at a festival on the Sponge Docks on March 6, 1987. Danapas was long involved in the sponge industry, and had his own hook boat.

A crew member finishes the grueling job of cleaning sponges on February 11, 1975. Sponges, which are simple animal organisms, must be cleaned of their skin, internal matter, and any stones or sand that have adhered to them. Crew members repeatedly…

The crew of the St. Michael crew clean the sponges harvested during a recent trip on October 4, 1973. After returning to port with sponges, the crew members count them, put them into net bags, and the captain keeps an account of the number, type, and…

Gus Tsourakis and a crew member unload strings of cleaned sponges on June 27, 1969. Tsourakis owned a hooking boat, which was smaller than the larger diving boats. On this trip they harvested more than 5000 sponges, primarily wool.

Niki Samarkos hangs finger sponges to dry on October 28, 1966. Most sponges harvested by the fishermen have some kind of personal or industrial use, but finger sponges are purely decorative.

Back in port, the crew finishes cleaning and sorting sponges for auction on October 10, 1969. Cleaning the animals entails allowing their skins to decompose, rinsing them with water and squeezing them to eliminate internal matter and bits of skin,…

Costas Tsourakis loading strings of sponges into the back of a truck during the 1940s. Tsourakis arrived from Greece in 1905. In addition to working with sponges, he made charcoal for the sponge boats at a lot on Athens and Cedar Streets.

Nikolaos G. Skyllas (1926-2011) takes a break from demonstrating diving in hard hat sponge gear for tourists in February 1975. Like many, this veteran professional sponge diver turned to exhibition diving on the tourist boats in his later years.

John Maillis (1935-2002) and his crew pose on the sponge boat Dorothy J. Mailli. John Maillis, known widely as John the Greek, was one of the most highly respected sponge divers. Raised in Kalymnos and Tarpon Springs, he began diving at 14 years…

John Mehas removes the helmet from diver Leon “Roxy” Velousis. Note that the diver is holding a cigarette. Immediately after ascent, divers were often asked to smoke in order to discover whether they were developing decompression sickness. It was…

This is the identification card for sponge fisherman Paul Stavropoulos. During World War II, sponge fishermen needed identification cards issued by the captain of the port in order to journey out to the sponge beds.

Greek sponge fishermen pose on a schooner that has been adapted as a diving boat. Since the image includes a man with a bowler hat and tie, this looks like a photograph possibly taken to send to families back at home that the men might not see for…

On October 2, 1970, the crew of the sponge boat Eleni hauls strings of sponges off the boat to store in the Sponge Exchange until they are auctioned later in the day.
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