That’s Enough… One War, Three Revolutions! Tom Ranglas Sr.
Written in 1970
That’s Enough… One War, Three Revolutions!
“One war and three revolutions are enough. I am glad I am in Del Mar,” said soft spoken Tom Ranglas as he thought of some of the experiences in his life, where violence was a frequent visitor. Tom Ranglas, 46, is the owner of the Del Mar Fire Pit and the adjacent Del Mar Motel. He purchased The Fire Pit from Mr. and Mrs. O. I. McKenney in 1968.
“I deeply appreciate this country, but things are too easy,” said The Fire Pit owner, who speaks with an easily understood Greek accent.
There were other days “First we fought and defeated the Italians. Then in 1940 came the Germans. They invaded Greece through Yugoslavia. They came in with tanks, motorcycles and trucks – we were no match for them. In 1941 our people died like flies in the cities from starvation. I saw them die,” he said. “I found a job working in a restaurant 14 hours a day, seven days a week. My pay? Just for food to eat, and I was lucky.”
Under the German heal Ranglas indicated that the Germans were brutal toward the Greek citizens – shooting them with little provocation. “I had my back turned when a German kicked me down – I just happened to be in his way,” said the Del Mar resident.
In 1942 the situation was eased as Red Cross food arrived. The Del Mar resident graduated to a three wheeled pushcart. The native of Olympus sold one product; raisins. Working from dawn to dusk he eventually opened a small sidewalk store selling dried nuts. It was a slum area with unimaginable poverty. The war ended and the revolution started. The British and Greek troops had open warfare and the Germans left. “They had an hours truce at noon. I crossed the street to the bakery, before I could return the fighting started again. I was apprehended by the British and placed on a ship. My mother did not know what had happened to me.”
Visits Egypt “They sent us to Alexandria and then to Tobruck, someplace, I was in this concentration camp for three months. Finally they got the records from everyone in the camp. Out of 8,000 persons only 800 were wanted for crimes. I was then returned to Greece. My mother thought I was dead,” said the owner of The Fire Pit.
But violence was not over for the Greek born Del Mar resident. He then had to serve two years in the Greek army.
A mine explodes “We were in the mountains fighting the communists. Our captain had warned that some of the paths could be mined. I was carrying a Bren gun with a tripod. I was walking through the brush next to the path. Three of my friends were walking on the path. A mine exploded and they were all killed,” said Ranglas as he recalled the disastrous moment. With an uncle in Spring Valley (East San Diego), the United States looked good. His mother had remarried to an American of Greek dissent. She had sought to sponsor her son in 1954 to the United States.
Arrives in Chicago “I arrived in Chicago and went to work. I asked how much I was going to get paid. The man said, “$1.47.” This was .47 cents more than I was getting paid in the Greek army, so I thought this was fine. “At the end of the first week I got my check. It was for over $50.00. I went to the fellow who spoke Greek and told him that someone had made a terrible mistake, that he had told me I was to be paid $1.47 a week. My friend laughed and explained what had happened. I knew then that I really had it made. I couldn’t believe it,” smiled the Fire Pit owner.
Now the owner After buying the lease for the Fire Pit from the McKenney’s in 1968 he bought the real estate two years ago which included the property next door.
Del Mar is a long ways away from the terror of Greece during World War II – “And I deeply appreciate this country and what it has done for me – but I am sincerely afraid that unless we can work harder our country is going down the drain.” Perhaps not if we work half as hard as the starving Greek of 30 years ago.
Update: January 2018
Over the past few years, Tom Ranglas, Sr., has ceded control and ownership of the restaurant operations to his children, who have continued to fulfill the dreams of their father. Tom Ranglas, Sr., still visits the restaurant on a twice-daily basis and is a familiar and friendly face to many of our long-time customers.