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George Grim on Christ Legeros
Minneapolis Morning Tribute - Thursday, June 18, 1964
THE MAN WITH THE GENTLE friendly face smiled and sighed.
"Now my last bachelor son John is married," said Christ Legeros, who is doing vacation duty at the Rainbow Cafe, the one he founded, at Lake and Hennepin. "Now I can be a happy man with the prospect of more grandchildren and great-grandchildren!"
Christ is 75, coming to the United States 57 years ago, an immigrant from Greece "with only God in my pocket."
I hadn't seen him at the Rainbow for some time.
"My boys run the restaurant so well I'm not needed," he said. "But it's vacation time and I'm here to help out. Maybe next year I'll be finished here for good."
THE ROUND-FACED MAN looks at you, seemingly without neuroses. Over the many, many years I've know him, the proprietor of the Rainbow never raised his voice.
His calm, however, is no mere neutrality. He can chuckle, laugh and lecture. (I've heard that "When are you going to get married?" talk for years and years and years.) And though his home has been ransacked, a truck knocked him down, bandits heisted $4,123 from his son, John, on the way to the bank, Christ has remained an island of tranquility.
At home, a place furnished with dreams that come true for the immigrant boy, Christ and his wife watch TV, welcome visits by three younger generations. A sense of quiet accomplishment is all about them.
One of Christ Legeros' most vivid memories-- when his 86-year-old mother agreed to accept a plane ticket and fly to see her son and his family. That was in 1949. Mrs. Elaine Legeros had never been more than 15 minutes from her home in that mountain village in Greece. Two far-apart worlds of Palioxarion and Minneapolis were united in the warmth of family joy. (I wonder if Christ remembers the double-breasted suit with the big chalk stripes he wore to the airport that day his mother arrived?)
FOR MOST OF US, the public, Christ Legeros has been the man who inquired about was every all right with lunch or dinner, about our health, perhaps a personal reference that proved we were more than customers.
The other night, that still held true. Perhaps some of the younger-generation diners at the Rainbow didn't know who was that quiet, friendly man who seemed to be watching the kitchen, the staff, the patrons. They've missed knowing a man of undemonstrative sincerity. Seldom possessed by the hand-shaking, back-slapping hello-there public host.
Copyright 2017 by Michael J. Legeros