1939-1940: Grecian Romance

Eleutheria Psaradelli

Elutheria Psaradelli, circa 1939

In May 1939, during his trip through Greece and along the Turkish coast, Davis met Eleutheria Psaradelis. His diary records the chain of events.

“May 4 In the evening after dinner I had a long talk with one of the smartest and most charming girls. A Greek from Athens. We talked till 2 A.M. She is very beautiful and I would like to paint a portrait of her.”

“May 6 The afternoon we went on to Skyros, swimming again with Miss Psaradelis, who is a very charming person. I did a drawing of her on the boat. She is very beautiful.”

“May 7 Delos and went swimming again with her. We had lunch on the island. We then walked around together in the ruins. She is very kind.”

“May 8  Arrived in Piraeus 7 A.M. and left to go to our hotel. I received a phone call from her and at 1 P.M. she met me at the hotel. We went to a little restaurant outside and we had lunch. She ordered for me. Then we went walking in the gardens and sat and talked for a while. She is so sweet and just herself. There is very much meaning in some of the things she says. The boys in the meantime decided to fly to Salonica, so we got tickets and I took my drawing of her to their shop, which is very nice, and I told her about it and I met her father. She has a bad cold and couldn’t hardly talk but she is a lovely creature.”

“May 12  This morning after breakfast I called up Elentheria. We couldn’t have lunch together but she said to come by this afternoon which I did and we talked about having dinner, the rest of the boys and me too. So at 8 we met at their place and her father came along with us and we went to a place that he thought was the best typical Greek. He ordered for us and we all had a pleasant evening. Gosh but she is marvelous.”

“May 13  I called her up and at 2 o’clock we met at the entrance to the park. We had a long talk and I think she understood how I felt. I gave her my picture and when I went to go she was very kind. She said some of the things that make me wish my two years were up. Well I certainly hated to leave her. That evening we took a taxi down to the boat and left at 8 P.M. I must see Athens and this girl again.”

Davis also wrote about Eleutheria in his letters to Donald Mattison:

May 18, 1939 “I did a portrait of a Greek girl I met on the cruise, but gave it to her. She is very beautiful, has been educated in the American College at Athens, has a wonderful personality and is very intelligent. I like her very much, and hope to be able to do a portrait of her sometime for myself. We had many enjoyable times together and on the cruise she was quite a help for she translated for me.”

December 28, 1939 “So about the middle of January, I’m going to Athens, stop off there a few days, (I have a very kind friend there, the girl I met on the cruise) then go to Rhodes and Alexandria.”

January 19, 1940 “On our way back we are stopping at Athens.... Also, I am taking supplies along so that I can do a portrait there in Athens of the girl I met and who went on the cruise last year. We have corresponded since then....”

When Davis wrote to Mattison on March 4, 1940, Davis’s relationship with Eleutheria had become more serious:

“Then, (this is confidential now) I met last year the most lovely girl over here in Athens, She is Greek, but speaks English and French beautifully, and that is why I am here now. I’m doing her portrait. Well, the truth is we are very much in love with each other and when my work is done at the Academy I want to marry her. She is the most charming person I’ve ever met. But you see, I’m not sure of a job when I get back, but if I had some kind of a teaching job, I’m sure we could get along until I got started. Gosh! She’s lovely Mr. Mattison, I hope you will get to meet her, for I hope and pray I can bring her along when I come back to America.”

Now, what I’m driving at is this. Is in any way you can be of any assistance to me in looking for an opening for me or putting in a good word, you don’t know how grateful I would be....

So, you see, now, Eleutheria, that is her name, means everything to me. She is my inspiration, a good critic, and everything I admire in a woman.”

In his letter to Mattison written on April 2, 1940, Davis expressed his great feeling of bliss:

“The days are so swell now, too, clear and warm and everything is taking on a new life, the trees and so many varied kinds of shrubs and flowers, in bud and blooming and I’m very much in love and we’re going to be married, so why shouldn’t I be as happy as a lark. It’s going to be quite an experience getting married over here and to a Greek girl, it will take 3 months after we are married to have all the necessary papers for her to be able to come with me to America, but gosh, will I be proud of her, she will be my own. I can’t hardly realize that I should be so lucky to meet and fall in love with someone like her. Well, you will see her and then you will know what I’m talking about.”

Letter from the State Department to Harry Davis
Letter from the State Department to Harry Davis

On April 4, 1940 Davis wrote to office of the American Consul General in Athens to confirm the process for getting papers that would allow Eleutheria to travel to the United States after their marriage. Above are copies of the reply.

1939-1940: Grecian Romance