Sunday, October 31, 2010

True Ghost Stories II and One Ghost Photo

(This is Part II of the three-part "True Ghost Stories" saga I posted on Halloween last year--brought back by popular demand.)

When I was writing a regular column for Country Living Magazine in the 1980’s, I asked, in November of 1983, “Tell us about the ghosts in your country house…Write us a letter describing any experiences with live-in ghosts, poltergeists and things that go bump in the night.”

I received 101 letters from all over the country and, to my delight, only one sounded like it was from a nut (she had also been kidnapped by aliens), but the rest all seemed very reasonable, from people who included a psychiatrist, a police officer and a librarian (with a haunted library.} I thought these letters were beyond price—a treasure trove that would help me learn a great deal about ghosts and haunting and what they really are.

But along with these letters came complaints to the editors saying that our question was opening us up to the work of Satan, that we were in grave danger, that ghosts were just Satan’s demons preying on vulnerable people who had lost loved ones, and that these readers wanted their subscription to the magazine canceled at once.

This naturally rattled the editors, and they asked me to keep the eventual article short and up-beat and as inoffensive as possible to the religious right who thought even a discussion of ghosts was inherently evil.

I made notes on each ghost story. While I couldn’t detail in the magazine the scarier stories I received, at least the summary I did of the letters allowed me to learn what people experience when they encounter a “ghost”. I was struck by how many described feeling a sudden patch of cold air, and many described an odor—perfume or pipe tobacco or flowers. The presence of ghosts in fourteen cases played havoc with electrical appliances –lights, toasters and washing machines that would go on and off even when they were unplugged from the wall. Then there were the flying objects.

After reading all these letters, I came to the conclusion that what people perceive as ghosts are probably several different kinds of phenomena which they grouped under that one word. But I’ll tell you in my next post about that. Right now I’m going to give you the highlights of the letters.

The article that I ultimately wrote in Country Living began:

Imagine what you’d do if this happened to you:

You see the image of a Civil War soldier hanging from the rafters in your barn.

You climb the stairs only to find the way blocked by a wall and to feel someone pushing you down.

Periodically at midnight you hear a horse gallop up to your kitchen door, the locked door flies open, and a woman’s voice screams, “Oh, no!”

The antique blanket chest in your living room erupts with such knocking that you have to grab the television set on top to keep it from falling off.

You go to bed leaving a crossword puzzle unfinished and awake to find it has been completed in the characteristic left-handed script of assassinated president James Garfield, who once lived in your home."

I did not go into detail about the few letters that described truly evil spirits that seemed determined to harm someone in the family—those I’ll tell about tomorrow—but for the most part, people felt comfortable with the supernatural beings in their house and 24 people believed they know the real former identity of “their” ghost. Some who didn’t gave their live-in ghosts names.

Among the more than one hundred spirits mentioned, there were ten child ghosts, three Native American ghosts and four animal ghosts (two cats and two dogs) as well as haunted objects: a wicker wheelchair, a family portrait, an antique blanket chest, and a baby carriage.

Forty-one people out of 101 claimed they had actually seen their ghost —anything from vaporous shapes that would pass through a door to what seemed to be a flesh-and-blood person until it suddenly vanished. One reader saw her ghost in a mirror, two described ghosts complete except for having no face, and one reported only the top half of a man repeatedly seen crossing the dining room of her mother-in-law’s restaurant in Indiana.

In 22 cases, pets and small children reacted to the ghost first (like Ronald Reagan’s dog Rex in the Lincoln Bedroom), and children were much more likely to actually see the spirits while their parents saw nothing.

Four readers described being repeatedly pushed down a flight of stairs and two others started to fall down stairs, then were suddenly caught by an unseen hand that left a red handprint on their body. A woman who rented a house in East Kentucky wrote “My first trip downstairs after moving in was on my backside…tearing the muscles in my shoulder. Every time I was on the stairway, I had to hang onto the wall or I’d slip or stumble.’ After three weeks, she and her husband had their pastor come and command the evil spirits to leave, and they did.

Five readers described ghosts who showed concern for their children, covering up babies with blankets, putting toys in the crib, sitting by a bedside and rubbing a feverish brow. Lucy Ensworth, a 12-year-old girl who died in 1863 in Kansas, haunts her Victorian home (she’s buried in the small cemetery on the property).

Lucy has been known to tuck in the baby and to close all the attic windows—propped open with sawed off broomsticks—during a sudden downpour, but she also has emptied a glass of water on a napping adult, smashed dishes all over the kitchen floor, pulled the pegs out of a gun rack before the eyes of its owner, kept the four-year-old granddaughter awake by walking around and rapping on the walls, “just the sort of things a bored, restless pre-teen would do,” according to the woman who wrote the letter.

Ten people said their ghosts make small objects disappear and then reappear in the strangest places—like a flyswatter stuffed into a radio. People described watching flying teapots, mugs, candle snuffers and crystal vases that leaped off a table, rocking chairs that rock by themselves, a wicker wheelchair and a baby carriage that move their position every day. One told about a fork that rose from the table and pricked the cheek of a visitor who scoffed at hearing the house was haunted.

Ten readers told about being repeatedly startled out of sleep by a deafening crash; sometimes to find a scene of chaos, but more often to find nothing broken. (One woman and her daughter would leap out of bed at hearing the din and meet in the hall every night, while her husband slept quietly, never hearing a thing.)

A California woman woke up and found her bed shaking from side to side, while she could see that the prisms on the chandelier weren’t moving. Three people described having their bed shaken, and not by an earthquake.

I have lots more ghost stories from the letters which I’ll tell you about tomorrow—including the scary ones that resemble the “Amityville Horror”, but I’ll stop now.

The photo above was sent in by a woman from New Jersey who wrote:
“While vacationing in sunny California this summer (1983) my husband and I came across an interesting small town in Northern California called Los Alamos. [She actually wrote "Los Alimos" but I couldn't find a town of that name.] …We came across this Victorian house...I snapped a photo. We certainly were surprised when we got our pictures developed. The image of a girl dressed in clothing not of this era was clearly visible…. I would really like to find out more about the history of the house.”

To her it looks like a girl in old-fashioned clothes—to me it looks more like the Grim Reaper. What do you think? And have you had any encounters with the other world?

Friday, October 29, 2010

True Ghost Stories 1: Reagan's White House Ghost

(I’m planning a three-part Halloween series of investigative blogging this weekend on the question of Ghosts—Are they real? Are they dangerous? And what are they exactly? My answers are based on the fascinating stories from 101 letters I received many years ago from readers of Country Living Magazine who answered the question “Is your house haunted? Tell us about it.” Most of the contents of these letters have never been published, because the magazine toned down the piece after discovering how controversial the subject was, so you’ll hear it here first.. But I wanted to start off my Halloween ghost extravaganza with my favorite haunted house story because it was told to me by the President in the White House.)

Ever since the White House was first occupied in 1800, there have been rumors of hauntings, but I got this story direct from the President’s mouth. No, not President Obama. I first heard about the White House ghosts directly from the lips of Ronald Reagan.

It was March 18, 1986, and my husband Nick and I had been invited to a state dinner in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The State Dining room was filled with gold candlesticks, gold vermeil flatware and vermeil bowls filled with red and white tulips. I had the great privilege of being seated at the President’s table along with Chicago Bears’ running back Walter Payton; the Canadian Prime Minister’s wife Mila Mulroney; the president of the Mobil Corporation; Donna Marella Agnelli, wife of the chairman of Fiat; Burl Osborne, the editor of the Dallas Morning News, and Pat Buckley, wife of William Buckley.

The President, a brilliant storyteller, entertained the table throughout the meal and the story I remember best was about his encounters with the White House ghostly spirits. Here is how I wrote it later in an article about the dinner for the Ladies’ Home Journal: “According to the President, Rex, the King Charles Cavalier spaniel who had recently replaced Lucky as First Dog, had twice barked frantically in the Lincoln Bedroom and then backed out and refused to set foot over the threshold. And another evening, while the Reagans were watching TV in their room, Rex stood up on his hind legs, pointed his nose at the ceiling and began barking at something invisible overhead. To their amazement, the dog walked around the room, barking at the ceiling.

“I started thinking about it,” the President continued, “And I began to wonder if the dog was responding to an electric signal too high-pitched for human ears, perhaps beamed toward the White House by a foreign embassy. I asked my staff to look into it.”

The President laughed and said, “I might as well tell you the rest. A member of our family [he meant his daughter Maureen] and her husband always stay in the Lincoln Bedroom when they visit the White House. Some time ago the husband woke up and saw a transparent figure standing at the bedroom window looking out. Then it turned and disappeared. His wife teased him mercilessly about it for a month. Then, when they were here recently, she woke up one morning and saw the same figure standing at the window looking out. She could see the trees right through it. Again it turned and disappeared.”

After that White House dinner, I did some research and discovered that half a dozen presidents and as many first ladies have reported ghostly happenings in the White House. It’s not just the ghost of Lincoln that they see, although he tops the hit parade. He caused Winston Churchill, who was coming out of the bathroom naked but for a cigar when he encountered Lincoln, to refuse to sleep there again. And Abe so startled Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands that she fell into a dead faint when she heard a knock on the door and opened it to find Lincoln standing there.

I also learned that the Lincoln bedroom was not a bedroom when Lincoln was President—it was his Cabinet Room where he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

It’s well known that Abraham Lincoln and his wife held séances in the White House, attempting to contact the spirit of their son Willie, who died there and who has been seen walking the halls.

The ghost of Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison, appeared often in the Rose Garden, which she planted. There is even reportedly a Demon Cat in the White House basement that is rarely seen. When it does appear, it is foretelling a national disaster. While the Demon Cat may at fist look like a harmless kitten, it grows in size and evil the closer one gets. A White House guard saw it a week before the stock market crash of 1929 and it was also reportedly seen before Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

Abigail Adams’ ghost has been seen hanging laundry in the East Room—she appeared frequently during the Taft administration and as late as 2002 and is often accompanied by the smell of laundry soap.

Lincoln himself told his wife he dreamt of his own assassination three days before it actually happened. Calvin Coolidge’s wife reported seeing Lincoln’s ghost standing at a window of the Oval Office, hands clasped behind his back gazing out the window (just as Reagan’s daughter saw a figure in a similar pose.) Franklin Roosevelt’s valet ran screaming from the White House after seeing Lincoln’s ghost . Eleanor Roosevelt, Ladybird Johnson and Gerald Ford’s daughter Susan all sensed Lincoln’s presence near the fireplace in the Lincoln Bedroom.

I’d love to find out if the Obamas have encountered any ghostly knockings, or if their dog Beau has suffered the same alarming anxiety attacks as Reagan’s dog Rex. This weekend, as the portals between this world and the other world swing open, I suspect the White House will be hosting a ghostly gala of the illustrious dead.

(Note: Exactly a year ago I wrote three blog posts on true ghost stories--culled from my own findings as a journalist. Those posts drew more readers than any other subject, so I thought I'd run them again this Halloween weekend. Next week I'll wind up the saga of "The Wedding 10-10-10" with "The Prequel")

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's Not the Earliest Photo of a Human Being Ever, Mr. Krulwich

I keep seeing on the internet the very popular blog post from Robert Krulwich of NPR, who writes about science--the post in which he asked "Is this the earliest photograph of a human being ever?" And he's talking about a daguerreotype taken in Cincinnati in 1848.

Well, it's not, and it's driving me crazy to keep reading this. So I finally posted the following comment on his blog--don't know if he'll ever read it.

"I hope I am not the first collector of antique photographs to write and tell you that a photograph of a human being dated 1848 is not at all early, much less "the first photo of a human being ever." Daguerre revealed the secrets of his process in Paris in August of 1839 and Samuel B. Morse brought the process to the United States and had taken a successful daguerreotype of a church by September 28th, 1839.. (the same guy who invented the telegraph.) He immediately started taking portraits and by early Oct. 1839 he had succeeded in making "full length portraits of my daughter single and also in groups with some of her young friends...taken out of doors, on the roof of a building in the full sunlight, with the eyes closed. The time was from ten to twenty minutes."" in Newhall's book "The Daguerreotype in America" you will find a "self-portrait of Henry Fitz Jr, " taken around 1839--also with his eyes closed due to the long exposure time needed. By the 1840's the exposure time was considerably shorter, eyes were open and daguerreotype mania was sweeping across America. I have in my own collection many daguerreotypes of humans taken well before the 1848 Cincinnati image that you propose is "one of the first ever taken."

Joan Gage
October 27, 2010 9:54:26 PM EDT

And just so you'll know what he wrote in the first place, it's this:

First Photo Of A Human Being Ever?

Back in September, we posted a set of old photos of Cincinnati daguerreotypes from 1848 where I caught a glimpse of two people at the Ohio River's edge. That would make them among the very first people ever to appear in a candid photograph. 1848 is a long time ago. They looked like a pair of men, one tall, the other short. They were standing with what looked like a bucket between them. I figured they were there to fetch some water. I then went on in my way to talk about cholera.
Well, an eagle-eyed reader who calls himself Hokumburg (and has a spectacular blog of his own, The Hokumburg Goombah) did his own investigation, enlarged our photo, and peered more closely:

University of Rochester

And he wrote:
I have lightened it up a bit and messed with the contrast a little, and I think the man on the left is standing behind the wooden beam wall (wharf? dock?) with his left leg up on the wall and his left hand resting on his knee, while the man on the right is standing on top of that wall. What do you think?

Well, what I think is that he's right. I think he's picked up details that escaped even the very good folks at the University of Rochester and the conservation lab at George Eastman House. I think he’s a superb forensic picture-watcher.
Which does raise the intriguing (and unanswerable) question, what were those guys doing at the river’s edge? If not hoisting water in a bucket, what? His answer:
I think they've just come down to stare at the river, as people here in St. Louis go down to stare at the Mississippi every day. A river has an irresistible pull on some of us...

Louis Daguerre/via

My admiration for Hokumburg jumped another notch when I discovered that on his own blog he'd come up with a city photo older than ours, which he claims may contain the "first photograph of a human being." Wow! I didn’t check with the experts, but here's his picture.
It comes from 1838 and was taken by Louis Daguerre himself. The scene is from Paris. It's a view of the Boulevard du Temple.
He writes there were probably people wandering through this scene on that day, but if they didn’t stay still, the camera would have missed them. Only one man shows up. He is on the sidewalk down on the lower left of the photo.
To achieve this image (one of his earliest attempts), he exposed a chemically treated metal plate for ten minutes. Others were walking or riding in carriages down that busy street that day, but because they moved, they didn't show up. Only this guy stood still long enough — maybe to have his boots shined — to leave an image.
Other primitive forms of photography had preceded this picture by over a decade. But this anonymous shadowy man is the first human being to ever have his picture taken. There is also the very faint image of the bootblack bent over his work.
Odds are neither of them ever knew they were making history that day.
I am impressed. Thank you Mr. Hokumburg, whoever you are. (Dunno why, but I am guessing you are a "mister.")

Joan says: Now there is a possibility tht the tiny, almost invisible figure in the Daguerre image might be the first image of a human being ever--if it was in 1838--but the dags. that Morse took of his children are certainly in the running--because we know the dates for those.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wedding 10-10-10 Part II—Fires, Fireworks, Fancy Footwork & Food

(Because my own camera’s battery died shortly into the reception I have compiled the story below using photos generously shared by others. Please click on the photos to make them bigger.)

I just read that an estimated 40,000 other couples got married on 10/10/10, but none of them, I’m convinced, had as much fun as Eleni and Emilio, celebrating with 144 friends at the Corfu Sailing Club at the base of the Venetian Fortress on the island of Corfu, Greece.

After the two wedding ceremonies—first Catholic and then Greek Orthodox—and after a little Greek line dancing, the throwing of the decorated wedding bread, and posing for family photos with the fort in the background, everyone walked across the bridge over the moat and into the Fortress itself, treading carefully over cobblestoned paths and down uneven staircases to the waterside where luminarias lighted the way in the twilight to the Restaurant/Club bordered by small vessels tied up at anchor.

The newlyweds soon followed to a thundering rendition of “Today a Wedding is Happening “ (Semara Yamos Yeinete) as everyone rose to their feet, applauding.

The tables had been set by the restaurant staff and the florist, Rammos, with decorations featuring ripe pomegranates (collected by us from the trees in Nick’s northern Greek village of Lia) along with ivy, red berries and roses and tulips in the red-orangey colors of Eleni’s calla lily bouquet. On each plate was the menu that her sister Marina had designed and printed, incorporating the restaurant’s sailboat logo and the wedding’s double E logo (for Eleni and Emilio) also designed by Marina.

Despite her full-time job in California, Marina also managed to find people to embroider the logo in two colors of blue onto lace-edged handkerchiefs which were then filled with 11 Jordan Almonds each, tied with blue ribbons and decorated with a small silver sailboat to create the homemade boubounieres (favors) --a requisite part of a Greek wedding. (The “Big Eleni” put together nearly 400 of these favors—for the wedding and the engagement party-- with a little help from me. Now she’s thinking of going into the boubouniere business professionally.)

The florist had also put votive candles on each table, and before the evening was over, impromptu bonfires flared up at intervals as two handkerchiefs and one bread basket caught fire, adding another level of excitement to a generally riotous evening.

The newlyweds set things off with their first dance, carefully choreographed and much rehearsed, to Frankie Valli’s’s version of “You’re Just too Good to be True.” The more athletic lifts and spins, which some compared to the film “Dirty Dancing”, drew cheers from the crowd.

Then Emilio danced with his mother, Carmen, and Nick with Eleni, to the music Nick had chosen—the father-daughter duet by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole, “Unforgettable”.

The mezedakia courses began to arrive—Greek-style appetizers that followed one after another until everyone groaned at the sight of the main course—sirloin and pork medallions-- but we all tried valiantly to do it justice. The wines—four cases –were sent as a gift by Soteris Ioannou from the Averoff Winery in Metsovo, in Nick’s native province of Epiros—but after those ran out, the crowd drank another 37 bottles of the restaurant’s stock—to the amazement of Niko, the manager.

Shortly after the eating began, the much-anticipated political star of Greece—Antonis Samaras, the head of the opposition New Democracy party—arrived to a standing ovation. He pronounced a gracious toast to the newlyweds and reminisced about getting to know Eleni and our other children when they were small and he was a frequent guest at our house in Massachusetts.

(Earlier in the day, his rival George Papandreou, the Greek Prime Minister, arrived to speak at our hotel and met Emilio. In a speech, the PM cited an upturn in Greek tourism, thanks to the film “Mama Mia”, and mentioned Eleni and Emilio’s wedding as an example.)

Nick spoke, Samaras spoke and the DJ ramped up the sound to a throbbing mixture of Greek popular music of the “Zorba” nature and such non-Greek hits as Taio Cruz’s “Dyn-o-mite” and “Daddy Cool.” Everyone (but me) discovered a previously unrealized gift for Greek dancing, and quite a few people over fifty and under five began to act like people in their twenties.

There was a pause for the cutting of the cake and then the staff brought out small individual cakes for everyone, each one topped—you guessed it—with the double E logo.

There were more toasts, most notably from Emilio, who praised the three important women in his life—his grandmother and his mother, Carmen, who brought him up, and now Eleni. At this point, many guests were using their embroidered handkerchiefs to dry their eyes.

Just before midnight, everyone was given a sparkler to light, filling the restaurant and the dock with fireworks as the newlyweds walked to a waiting boat— labeled “Eleni & Emilio’s Love Boat”—to sail away into the sea of matrimony.

As everyone waved good-bye, a rambunctious eleven-year-old named Andronikos jumped on board to sail away with the couple, waving regally to the crowd—after all, it was his father’s boat.

I learned the next day that most of the guests went on to an after- party at a Corfu bar, but the rest of us wended our way back through the fortress to sleep at the Corfu Palace Hotel, serene in the knowledge that the twice-wed-in-one-day Emilio and Eleni sailed into married life buoyed by the love of everyone around them and the luck of a wedding date they’ll never be able to forget—no matter how old they become.

They have even composed a mathematical formula to express it all:

“E squared plus ten cubed equals double happiness.”

Next: Wedding 10-10-10, the Prequel: Pomegranates, Preparing the Wedding Bed and the Island Populated by Rabbits, Pheasants and Menios.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Wedding-- 10-10-10—Part 1—Bourbon for the Weather Gods

(Please click on the photos to make them bigger)

In Corfu, Greece, last Sunday, the day of my daughter’s wedding began with a threatening black cloud looming over the island, but two days earlier we had buried a bottle of bourbon upside down in the dirt at the Corfu Sailing Club— on the advice of my friend Kay from New Orleans, who promised that this would ward off bad weather. Predictions for 10-10-10, which I had been nervously monitoring for a month, ranged from “heavy rain” to “full sun”.

The biggest Greek newspaper, To Vima, called Eleni at the Corfu Palace for an article about people in Greece who were getting married on 10-10-10 for good luck. She told them that the Catholic priest (who was conducting Eleni and Emilio’s first wedding ceremony of two on that Sunday) said he was doing four "10-10-10" weddings—including a couple who wanted to get married at ten in the morning, but he had a liturgy at that hour.

By the time the hairdresser arrived to put Eleni’s hair in an up-do with a rhinestone clasp, the sky was a brilliant blue with only two tiny clouds. Female cousins and aunties arrived to sing the traditional wedding songs while Eleni finished dressing, helped by her sister Marina, who practiced bustling the wedding dress with its train of lace, and her cousin Frosso.

Shortly after three o’clock we watched from the lawn outside our garden room as Emilio, the groom, his mother, Carmen, and the two young flower girls, Maria Agustina and her sister Ana Isabel (both from Nicaragua) came out of the hotel, serenaded by musicians playing the violin, guitar and accordion, and flanked by singing troubadours in Corfiot native costume.

As soon as the carriage deposited the groom’s family at the nearby Catholic Duomo, it came back to collect the bride. The carriage (provided, like the musicians and troubadours, by Eleni’s Corfiote cousins), was decorated with flowers and tulle. On the back was the intertwined “E” logo that Marina designed for the occasion. (Those double “E”s were on everything from the invitations to the menus to the embroidered handkerchiefs filled with Jordan almonds and tied with ribbon and a silver sailboat to make the wedding favors.)

Eleni descended the hotel’s red staircase to enter the carriage, joined by her parents (Nick and me) and her honorary second mother—the “Big E”—Eleni Nikolaides. But first she posed on the stairs with some of her girlfriends.

The horse, named Danae, pulled the carriage up the harbor-view road to the central square and made a tour around, past the famous arcaded street of cafes, the Liston, as pedestrians applauded and Eleni waved, looking like Princess Grace of Monaco. The troubadours and costumed singers managed to keep up behind us, despite Danae’s eagerness to break into a trot.

The door of the Catholic Duomo was decorated with long persimmon-colored calla lilies that matched the smaller lilies in the bride’s bouquet. Emilio escorted his mother, Carmen, and Eleni entered on the arm of her father. Her friend Leslie began to sing the Ave Maria, bringing tears to many eyes. The service, which the priest celebrated in English, included readings from Eleni’s maid of honor, her cousin Areti Vraka, and Emilio’s best man, his uncle Jose Oyanguren.

When it was over, the newlyweds led a procession of their guests, walking from “Town Hall Square” through the Liston, past the Royal Palace and to the opposite side of the square where the little apricot-colored church of the Panayia Mandrakina sits below the Venetian fortress that dominates the harbor.

The procession arrived early for the 5:30 Greek Orthodox ceremony, so we posed for photos in the small park nearby and Eleni and Emilio joined in a Greek line dance of celebration.

Not everyone could fit into the tiny church with its beautiful Italianate icons, but most of the guests crowded in. There were no pews, so we stood close to the couple as they participated in the Orthodox wedding ceremony, which involved chanting (including a guest-star participation as cantor by former Minister Yianni Paleocrassas), the trading of the rings back and forth, sipping wine (which had been brought all the way from Cana in Israel by Areti, who was the koumbara—the sponsor of the wedding), and, finally, the switching of the wedding crowns, linked by a ribbon, three times, alternating between the bride and groom.

When the priest, holding the Bible, led the couple three times around the altar in the “Dance of Isaiah” the crowd erupted in cheers and a storm of tossed rice and flower petals. This set off so much excitement, especially among the children, that the priest had to calm the congregation before he could conclude the ceremony.

Outside the church the families formed a reception line. Then the bride followed another Greek tradition—throwing the decorated loaf of sweet bread—the bougatia—over her head to her unmarried female friends gathered behind her.

Her friend Catherine Mailloux, who had come all the way from Worceter, MA, caught it with blocking skills worthy of a fullback. Everyone cheered and the guests began to wend their way across the bridge over the moat and into the fortress where they would follow the “Double E” signs through the cobblestone streets and down the steps to the Corfu Sailing Club, nestled between the base of the fortress wall and the covey of small sailboats anchored in the sea. There, when family photos were finished and the twice-married couple arrived, the celebration of Eleni and Emilo’s Greek wedding would begin.

Next: Fires, food, fancy footwork and a launch onto the sea of matrimony.