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Sonia Lang - Immigrant Stories

Aspasia Sonia Anyfantaki Lang was born in Heraklion on the Greek island of Crete. During the German occupation of Greece from 1940 to 1945, she and her family fled to the countryside to live. She remained in Crete until she was seventeen, when she decided to go to the U.S. as an exchange student. After returning to Crete, she met and married a U.S. Air Force airman and moved to the United States in the 1960s.

Interview Links

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Early life, emigration to the U.S. through Sonia’s marriage in 1961

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Early years in America through a move to Springfield, Illinois

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

Life in Springfield and Sonia’s art and sculpture

Transcript


Photos

Caption
This picture was taken at a family gathering on October 25, 1946 of Aspasia (Sonia) Anyfantakis, 4 years old, & her brother Giorgos (George) Anyfantakis, 6 years old at Liberty Square, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.

Where:
Liberty Square, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

When:
October 25, 1946

Ownership:
Narrator's photo

Caption
Only two walls of Sonia’s birthplace in Astrokoi, Crete remained standing after WWII. The family took refuge here during the war. This photo was taken during the summer of 2007.”

Where:
Astrokoi, Crete

When:
Summer of 2007

Ownership:
Narrator's photo

Caption
An original birth certificate was issued to Sonia before her marriage. This is her birth certificate with her birth name, Aspasia Anyfantakis. This certificate gives details of her birth by the Civil Registrar in Greek and English.

Where:
Heraklion, Crete, Greece.

When:
1961

Ownership:
Narrator's photo

Caption
This document is Emmanuel Anyfantakis’ Kingdom of Greece ID issued to Sonia’s paternal grandfather in 1946, after the Germans left Crete the previous year, (1945) It states that he was born in Mochos, Crete, in 1875. The date of death not available.

Where:
Kastilli, Crete

When:
1946

Ownership:
Narrator's photo

Caption
A family picture. Pictured are Sonia’s mother, Ekaterini, aunt, Eleni and uncle, Michalis in a family picture in the 1930's.

Where:
Unknown

When:
Circa 1930

Ownership:
narrator's photo

Caption
Family members gathered during WWII. Included are a friend, Ekaterin (Katherine), father Ioannis (George), grandfather Emmanuel, Michael and cousin Calliope. Seated are cousin Irene, Sonia, brother George, cousin George, Maria and Ioannis Papadaki.

Where:
Grandfather Emmanuel’s orchard in Astrakoi, Crete

When:
December 28, 1947

Ownership:
Narrator's photo

Caption
Young Sonia on August 25, 1952 near St. Titus Church in her Girl Scout Brownie uniform, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.

Where:
Heraklion, Crete, Greece

When:
August 25, 1952

Ownership:
Narrator's photo

Caption
Easter in 1949 with Sonia, brother George and parents Ekaterin and Ioannis Anyfantakis.

Where:
Unknown

When:
Easter in 1949

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Sonia’s sixth grade graduation class picture. Sonia is in Row 4, on the right, tapping a classmate’s shoulder. Also included are sixth grade students ranging in age from 12 yrs. and older depending upon their ability to read and write.

Where:
The 4th grade Elementary School near St. Titus Church, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.

When:
1954

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
Sonia’s school building was originally the Church of Our Savior, later to become a Turkish mosque, and finally a business school which was located on the first floor. The building no longer exists. This picture was taken in Heraklion, Crete, Greece.

Where:
Heraklion, Crete, Greece

When:
1954

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Sonia’s maternal grandfather, Giorgos Lambrakis, from Dafnes Melevisiou, was a grade school teacher. At age 36, he received his teaching certificate in the new state of Crete. The red stamps are tax stamps for the independent state of Crete.

Where:
Crete

When:
December 20, 1900

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
When seventeen years old, Aspasia (Sonia) became an exchange student to the United States. She received a passport written in French and Greek. She lived with Mable and Glenn Root in Blue Earth, Minnesota, graduating from Blue Earth High School.

Where:
Unknown

When:
1959

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
Sonia graduated from Blue Earth High School, Blue Earth, Minn. as an exchange student from Crete, receiving her high school diploma in 1960. The diploma contains a Greek translation.

Where:
Blue Earth, Minnisota

When:
1960

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
Sonia’s American parents bid farewell to Sonia on her last day in Blue Earth, Minn. as an exchange student. Sonia remained close to Glenn and Mabel Root the rest of their lives.

Where:
Blue Earth, Minnisota

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
A temporary Greek Visa was issued to Sonia in June, 1968 which allowed her to return to Crete with her sons, John and Leo (George Jr.) while George was stationed in Saigon, South Vietnam.

Where:
Crete

When:
June,1968

Ownership:
Narrator's photo


Caption
This engagement picture was taken several days after becoming officially engaged, but before meeting a number of relatives from the Varvaroi village, where many of Sonia’s father’s relatives lived.

Where:
Heraklion

When:
September 15, 1961

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
George and Sonia were married on November 26, 1961 in St. Titus Church, Heraklion, Crete. Tradition dictated that the couple enters the church with the priest.

Where:
November 26, 1961

When:
Heraklion, Crete

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Sonia and George on their wedding day in St. Titus Church. Facing the alter, women stayed on the left, and men to the right. There were no pews and the congregation surrounded the bride, groom and priest during the ceremony.

Where:
Heraklion, Crete

When:
November 26, 1961

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
The couple were driven to the photographer’s shop for photos. Sonia was the first bride in her family to have a photo taken by herself. The rented wedding dress was then returned to the photographer and she changed into a dress for the wedding dinner.

Where:
Unknown

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption
Sonia with sons John and Leo (George Jr.) in Montgomery, Alabama where George was stationed. Sonia became A U.S. citizen in April, 1966 in Montgomery.

Where:
Montgomery, Alabama

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption
A temporary Greek Visa is issued to Sonia in June, 1968 to return to Crete with her sons, George and Leo while her husband is stationed in Saigon, Vietnam.

Where:
Unknown

When:
June, 1968

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
Sonia arranges the first gathering of artists for a show at the Astoria Hotel, 1969, in Heraklion, Crete, during the military Junta (1967-1974). Artistic awards were given by the Governor of the State of Heraklion.

Where:
Heraklion, Crete

When:
1969

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
St. Mark’s Basilica was the site of the first art show under the patronage of the Governor of Heraklion in 1969. Sonia and fellow artists hosted an exhibit of their art. St. Mark’s Basilica is now the Municipal Art Gallery.

Where:
Heraklion, Crete

When:
1969

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Sonia’s India Ink and brush painting, “The Protest”, is displayed in St. Mark’s Basilica, November 1969, depicting racial struggle.

Where:
Heraklion, Crete

When:
November 1969

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Pictured is a work in progress by Sonia using the lost wax method. She was commissioned by the Lion’s Club in Catlin, Illinois to commemorate physician Dr. Fred Koenig. This was Sonia’s final project before receiving her B.A. from the U of I in Champaign.

Where:
Unknown

When:
1985

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Sonia in a lighter moment while at the Lincoln Public Library in Springfield, Illinois, in 2010.

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
2010

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Several of Sonia’s color sketches in 5 minutes displayed at the 2010 Prairie Art Alliance Exhibit.

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
2010

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Sonia with two of her paintings on display at the Prairie Art Alliance “Cycles of Life” in 2007.

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
2007

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo




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