Effie (Eftychia) Feretos Kakavas was born in Kalamata, Messinia
(Peloponnese) on November 16, 1933. The eldest of four children, Eftychia Feretos, grew up in Kalamata. Her father was a merchant who worked odd jobs as well and her mother was a housewife. After surviving the Albanian front, her father was killed in a Nazi roundup before they pulled out of Kalamata in 1945. Effie only finished grade school since both the Italians and Germans used the local school as an army office and then, after the war, her mother wanted her to attend sewing school. Effie finished her seamstress studies in Thessaloniki. She always dreamed of leaving Greece for another place. Effie and her three siblings shared one house in Kalamata along with their mother. This house was all that they had. Effie did not feel it was right to have to give her share of the house for a 'prika' (dowry) and refused to marry any man who wanted a dowry. Besides, there was nothing else to offer. This fueled her desire to leave Greece.
In August 1961, she left for Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to join her younger brother Yanni who emigrated before her. They shared an apartment with another brother and sister from Kalamata. Since all their other Greek acquaintances rented 'single rooms', their apartment was a center of socialization for their group of young Greek friends. They were too broke to go out and would gather in the apartment to dance, sing and socialize. At other times, they would go in a big group to the botanical gardens, especially in winter, since it was free. Or even still, they would go to the airport to hang out and look for arriving Greeks!
On a trip back to Kalamata several years later to visit her family, she met her future husband, John, who was not interested in a dowry. John was from Piperitsa, Messinia, a very small village outside of Kalamata. Effie Feretos and John Kakavas were married in Montreal June 14, 1964, and the following year they had their daughter Vassiliki. They moved to Chicago to join John's brother in 1967 where they had their other daughter
Christina two years later.
They were able to send money back to Greece to support John's family, take family vacations, buy a new house in the suburbs and a car. Things were good then John died suddenly in 1979. Through hard work and tough times, Effie was able to continue working and managed to send both daughters to private colleges. Both are successful and have married. Effie has one grandson. She continues to be actively involved both in her church activities and in her Greek associations.