A Greek-Aussie: love writing, love the outdoors, love my 2 kids, love heavy metal and love life (usually!).
Published February 26th 2013
What to write about Athens? Hesitation for weeks, as well as contemplation. Well, this weekend I got it! Or rather, it got me – in the form of old radios. What's Athens got to do with old radios you may ask – or at least I want you to ask, because you see, Athens – Athens, Greece is not only about the Acropolis, the Plaka district and its central surrounds. Nor is it about the port area Pireaus – the jumping off for the hop-step of island jaunting.
Nor is Athens about it's two other typically guide-book mentioned, fridge suburbs. Opposite sides geographically – one north, the other south but same side economically. There's Kifissia, a northern leafy, neo classical mansion dotted suburb. And Glyfada, a southern 'Athenian Riviera' (beach side) locale, modern, going- for-chic-sleek, with shops and cafes.
Alas, they don't have what we have though. And I say we, because the old radios inspired me to write about my patch – The Western Suburbs of Athens! Western suburbs of Melbourne eat your heart out. This is nittier and grittier – working class sweet realism at it's best. A Ken Loach field day – no need for Laverty, I'm here, writing from the Western suburbs, about them in the flesh: Greek-Australian working class gal maked and baked in both lands' hard working, everyman (and woman) hero terrains. Ok – enough Jimmy Barnes hootin' tootin' and salutin' re: working class man worship.
Thing is that this old radio place in the Western suburbs of Athens, is a Radio Museum. Of course it is about old radios, but it's also about a whole lot more – love, learning, dedication and passion. Life itself. 'Each radio has it's own size, shape, some more curvy than others, different to the touch, to the sound. Each has its own personality', claims Mr Markos, a 'fan boy' in his 60's who travels twice weekly from an Athenian Riviera suburb 20km's away to soak up the atmosphere of the radio museum.
An intrinsic part of this atmosphere is the whole operation's humanness.
You see it's free – free admission to this wonderful world of nostalgia and electronics. And you get a friendly, guided tour, and a Q & A session which will surely develop, as it's all truly fascinating. And you can take your time – every day from around 10am to 1pm. No pressure, no fees, just captivating stuff. You see, its founder and owner Mr Dimitris is not in the slightest concerned about making a buck – the old profit mover and shaker of the world; obviously not all the world, as Mr Dimitris is living proof of. Show, don't tell – it speaks for itself, but I wanna both show and tell, in fact yell. What an amazing place – hooray for the Radio Museum in Petroupolis!
Mr Dimitri's passion for radios began when he was around thirteen, at a time when he became intrigued by their workings. He told me that instead of playing soccer games in his spare time like most of the boys of his 'hood, he hung out with an older gent who had a radio repair shop close by. From there Mr Dimitris learned his craft and went on to open his own store repairing TV's as well as radios. This was in the good ol' 70's, and he even did a 6 year stint in the USA to learn the English language he told me, but there he engaged in part time radio repair work as well.
Over the years as technology has changed – and Mr Dimitris has seen and touched just about all insofar as radios are involved, he kept radios that were no longer wanted due to their owners getting upgrades. He travelled to local markets in search of his babies, when upon adopting them he lovingly restored (restores) them. And now he travels via the Net. You can see his entire collection in his museum, which is actually a section of his house (the part his wife allowed him he claims jokingly) which he's converted into this amazing showcase. Please see his comprehensive site: www.oldradiorepairs.com
As for his radios, there are cathedral style, teak encased numbers and others from the 30's. His oldest radio is from 1926 – a black and gold, 6 valved meticulously preserved and restored unique piece of listening equipment. Not to mention the retro beauties from the 40's and 50's in bright Bakalite (a type of new plastic in those days) shades of bright blue or pink, etc. And the sizes of radios range from austere and bulky table top types, to the more compact side table console sizes - all unique and design marvels in their own right. From the sound vents, to the tuning knobs and channel selection viewers, to the cloth mesh and curves and grooves, Mr Dimitri's radios really rock.
The aforementioned Mr Markos visitor, an avid collector (but not restorer) himself, was a man on a special mission this time. He was there picking up a large 1950's spiffy Philips radio in a light walnut wood finish with gleaming gold coloured knobs, and a sound that knocked me out! And I'm into Heavy Metal – Manowar look out. OK lock up your daughters world, but lock up your speakers boys coz this old Philips baby has sound to kill. Clear, crystal, beautifu! Mr Dimitris sighed that after tending to this Philips beautiful beast for weeks, he'd be sad to let it go. Upon which Mr Markos laughed and outstretched his arms 'Plenty more to keep you company'!
Hope you can make it out here one day. (Directions on the website).