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" 'Why are you crying father,' my children once asked me when we had gone to Athens. 'It's not that is crying, it's my eyes because of the dust and the gas', I answered. I stayed in the hospital for 40 days and I couldn't even drink water. I don't like water from tanks and in nylon bottles. I couldn't wait; I wanted to go home beside the river as soon as possible. When I first came to live here I was bothered by the sound of water, but then I got used to it. My grandchildren don't like it here because they feel lonely. They don't even ask how the watermill works. They only care about the dogs; they are constantly gathering bones to feed them".
All is done by the water
Since 1941 Costas Papanagnou's watermill has been working under the bridge of Gorgopotamos. "It built made out of necessity because there was no other way for us to cut the wheat. Since there wasn't electricity and oil, we made the watermill in the stream and the water did its work. Even the Easter lamb's spit is rotated by the water".
Mr. Costas's watermill reminds us of a folklore museum in full operation, but its exhibitions are not hidden behind glass windows. When the miller's wife, Katerina, died, this took a toll on the mill. The beloved and capable woman used to work at the mill traditionally.
Young men's blood was spilled
Mr. Costas recalls the bridge's blowing up by the rebels and the English in 1942. "My mother hid us so the Germans wouldn’t kill us in retaliation. She hid us in a wool woven sack and took us to an aunt in Moschochori. But some unfortunate children from Ypati were caught and murdered".
Mr. Costas never forgets the sacredness and the historical importance of this place. Years after the Germans were gone, he saw a relevant dream and decided it was his duty to make a cross in honour of the executed heroes. He climbed on the rock beside the bridge, cleared a spot and drove a cross into the ground. "Young men's blood was spilled here, a small sanctuary should be built, so that people and animals won't step on it, and garbage won't be thrown".
Eight hundred kilos of explosives
During the council that took place before the explosion, Velouchiotis, Zervas and the English, discussed the best way to neutralise the guard on the bridge's outpost without making any noise. The Agouridaioi brothers said: Don't you bother, we will get the guard without the slightest noise. And that was it. There was an Italian soldier, more of a child than a man, who was locked in the arsenal and deprived of the key.
Mr. Costas's information about the explosion is firsthand: "I don't make these things up, the man who carried the dynamite with his mules told me. They used eight hundred kilos of explosives in order to bring down the metallic bridge; even the huge pillars were cracked. They should have left part of the bridge as a monument, for people to remember by. Nothing was left; all was taken by junk dealers".
TEXT-PHOTOS: GEORGE ZAFEIROPOULOS