The Men of North Royal Street

When I was looking at data from the 1920 U.S. Census for Alexandria, something that seemed interesting to me was a group of six Greek immigrant men who all lived together on North Royal Street and had immigrated within the same five year time period, 1910-1915. John Demos, Chris Thomas, James Thomas, Thomas Demos, and Louis Rams were all roomers in the same house. And–they were all waiters in a lunchroom. As we learned from Demetrios is Now Jimmy, many Greek immigrants worked in the restaurant industry in the U.S. South, sending that money home to support their families.[i] Eventually, they planned to return home to Greece once they had made enough money. Another piece of evidence from the census that supports that theory is the group of men living and working together, are all single and around the same age. They did not travel with any older family members, and they did not travel at an age where they were too young to work or too old to travel back. Being from Greece, they were still attached to their homeland because they did not leave via religious turmoil. like Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe at the same period.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Greek immigrants had started businesses in Alexandria’s food industry and employed other Greek immigrants, often friends or family members. Although speaking English was not necessarily required in the food industry, it could be helpful. Looking at the 1920 U.S. Census, all six of the men could read, write, and speak English, all of which would be helpful working in Alexandria.

The 1920 U.S. Census was extremely interesting because it showed that Greek immigrants lived and worked together.

[i]  Larry Odzak, “Demetrios Is Now Jimmy”: Greek Immigrants in the Southern United States (Durham, NC: Monograph Publishers, 1997), 10-29.

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