From grocery store owner in Vatum, Pontus, to travelling greengrocer in Piraeus, Georgios Tsouchnikas and his family became refugees twice, both times carrying along their few possessions. Among them were his scale weights; important work tools, but also reminders of the shops he left behind and proof of his hope that he would be using them again in his new life. Today, they are in the possession of his granddaughter, Vasiliki Tsouchnika, a keepsake to remind her of the ‘weight of her people’s history’.
Georgios Tsouchnikas was born in Sourmena (Surmene), Pontus, at the end of the 19th century. In 1911, he married Vasiliki Dimitriadou. He ran a grocery store with his brother, which allowed them both to lead a comfortable life with their families. In 1918, the two brothers and their families became refugees for the first time, fleeing to Kerts in Eastern Crimea. A year later, they found themselves in Vatum where they lived for more than 10 years, opening a new grocery store where the weights carried from Sourmena were used again. Panagiota Tsouchnika was born in Kerts in 1919 and Georgios’ next two children were born in Vatum, Galateia in 1920 and Ioannis in 1924. In 1930, they all boarded a ship and became refugees once again. They made it to Piraeus and settled in Palaia Kokkinia, on the boundary with Nea Kokkinia. In 1934, Georgios and Vasiliki had a third daughter, Anthi.
In these new circumstances, Georgios Tsouchnikas found himself working as a travelling greengrocer, selling his wares off a cart. Soon, his son, Ioannis, started working with him and, after the war, he opened his own fruit store in Athens, at 4 Voulgari Street. Ioannis ran this store until he went into retirement many years later. The weights from Sourmena accompanied him throughout the years, a material remnant of his family history. Today, they are in the possession of his daughter, Vasiliki.