Leonidas (Leon) Theodore Kokkins (1916-1973), my stepfather. I called him Pop.
Crumb buns, jelly doughnuts and Kaiser rolls on Sunday mornings along with the Sunday papers and perhaps a ride along the causeway in Miami Beach in our black Pontiac convertible, circa 1949, with the top down of course (1952 through 1954). Then, on to Charlotte. We had a different car, perhaps a 56 Chevy, but it was not memorable. Charlotte, the city, on the other hand certainly was. I became Billy Kokkins there, long story but it never stuck. We left all too soon, back to Miami Beach, briefly, then to Colombia where I was born (and my baby brother Teddy’s infamous famous hunger strike; … he missed Pop).
So, … on to New York City! Pop’s home town. Queens: first Ozone Park, then Hollis, then Queens Village, then Flushing, all in the space of four years. In New York, the routine was similar but the car was a sky-blue 1959 Chevy with a sort of split trunk and a hard top. I liked the Pontiac better. Actually, I loved the Pontiac.
But childhood ended in New York. In the fall of 61, boarding school, separation, college at the Citadel in Charleston, and suddenly, I was an adult on my own.
Way too soon, everything was gone and we were scattered, barely still a family. Disfunctionality had fast become the norm and we were trend setters.
1973, Pop’s final year. He passed away in the early spring, very young (57). A beloved enigma, at least as far as I was concerned, but like all enigmas, a mystery.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.