About This Item About
Related Items


Interview with Rose Mercury




World Region



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License Please contact Immigration History Research Center Archives staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.



A. SPELIOPOULOS: In an oral history Ann Rose [Boosalis] Mercury 3424 Free Mart Avenue South and this is Angie [unintelligible - 00:00:12] And your name please.
R. MERCURY Rose Boosalis Mercury.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: And place and date of birth?
R. MERCURY Owatonna, Minnesota, October 26, 1915.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, and your maiden name was?
R. MERCURY Boosalis.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: And you've been married one time to?
R. MERCURY Yes, 55 years.
R. MERCURY John Mercury.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay remember your father's name?
R. MERCURY James Boosalis.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and his date of birth and year of death?
R. MERCURY Just the year of death is 1960.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Where was he born?
R. MERCURY He was born in Niata, Greece.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: And what did he do for a living over there?
R. MERCURY Well he came as a young boy, so he’s been doing anything over there. He was 13 years old when he came to America.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: What did he do here in [unintelligible - 00:01:03]?
R. MERCURY Oh he was a – he had a restaurant here. He worked and had a popcorn machine at one time, he was one first thing.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and did he have a nickname?
R. MERCURY He had Parigori, we called him.
R. MERCURY Parigori.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Well your mother first maiden name?
R. MERCURY [Carioca] Boosalis.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Year and date of birth?
R. MERCURY No, she died in 1963.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay where was she born?
R. MERCURY In Niata, Greece.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and where are your parents buried?
R. MERCURY They are buried in Lakewood, Minneapolis.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Lakewood cemetery is located on 35th and Irving.
R. MERCURY Irving.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: And Irving and it's close to St. Mary's Greek Orthodox.
R. MERCURY No [unintelligible - 00:01:43] 36.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: 35th and Hampton, yeah, and it's close to St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay name your brothers.
R. MERCURY I have two brothers, George and Nick, and then I have three sisters Georgia, Elaine, and Daphne.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and name your brothers’ wives.
R. MERCURY They are – well Katerina is Georgia's wife.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: And her maiden name was?
R. MERCURY I don't remember.
R. MERCURY I had Vula Zokali was his next wife.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: And your sister's husband?
R. MERCURY Theodore Brandisas is Georgia's and Chris Yano is Elaine and James Suarez is Daphne's.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and your grandparents, just give me your grandparents, if you can give me your grandparents if you can remember.
R. MERCURY Clare [unintelligible - 00:02:32] and George Boosalis and Georgia and Kosta Boosalis in Niata.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, Niata. Do you know when they died?
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and how about your Nonno and your Nonna?
R. MERCURY My Nonno was a bachelor for many years; his name was Peter Boosalis and got married in later years.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and your place and date of marriage?
R. MERCURY Fairview.
R. MERCURY April 27, 1933.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: 1933, okay very good and was your marriage arranged?
A. SPELIOPOULOS: It was arranged by whom?
A. SPELIOPOULOS: One of the uncles.
R. MERCURY Okay, good.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: And was there dowry?
A. SPELIOPOULOS: All right, your husband's name, place of birth and date of birth?
R. MERCURY John Mercury, Minneapolis Minnesota, November 16th,1907.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay did he have a nickname?
A. SPELIOPOULOS: All right who was the [unintelligible - 00:03:34] at your wedding?
R. MERCURY Chris Boosalis.
R. MERCURY His Nonno.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: All right, your father-in-law's village.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Do you know when he died?
R. MERCURY I think it was 68 that he died, 67.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: How about your [unintelligible - 00:03:49] the maiden name?
R. MERCURY Divorced.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and her first time was?
R. MERCURY Kind of developed.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: When she was also born in?
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and she died do you remember when?
R. MERCURY Well I think it was 68. I'm not sure.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, your deceased son Peter was born when?
R. MERCURY 1948. October 18th, 1948 and died 1969.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and his godparents were?
R. MERCURY Murdorch Phillips Lombardo.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Do you have any children you baptized?
R. MERCURY Athena Mellows. She is now deceased.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, you also went to Greece when you were how old? Over there you were going to United States?
R. MERCURY I was I went when I was 4 years old and lived in Greece until I was 15 and my dad brought us back, my sister Georgia and I, and we stayed with the aunts, my Georgia stayed with my aunt Tina and I stayed with my aunt and uncle Gus Boosalis and Telbo, till I got married.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and then why did you go over to Greece?
R. MERCURY Well they just wanted us to go in learn the language and that was the reason.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Well do you remember what Niata was like when you were over there when you are like this?
R. MERCURY Oh yes, I thought it was quite a big city, but after I went visiting I didn't think it was so big. I thought the house was big and all but after I-- when the first trip I made was 1965 with my son, Peter. There was the National Convection of the AHEPA there and we went and we travelled all over then. We went to Niata and we took a tour of the islands and we stayed in Athens for a week and we really enjoyed then after that we had gone several times. 1970, 72, 76, 78 and the last time we had been there and I was 81.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and how – in Niata, would you compare it to what size of town?
R. MERCURY It's about a thousand population, but now it's really kind of a cosmopolitan because lot of people have retired there and have fixed homes just like here and it's really one of the nicest villages around there.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: So those people that came back put money into this –
R. MERCURY Or they send for their relatives.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Or they sent, yeah.
R. MERCURY Or some of them are back there living, retired.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: So they switch the roles, how many churches are they?
R. MERCURY There is a lot of churches all over except the one big one in the center of the town. But they have [unintelligible - 00:06:42] Dmitri, its chapels where they celebrate and the [unintelligible - 00:06:47] date.
R. MERCURY They only go and light candles.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: What do people do in Niata?
R. MERCURY They work in the fields.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: What have they grown there?
R. MERCURY They grow olives and grapes. Now they have oranges and grape fruit.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Any livestock at all, any goats or –?
R. MERCURY Not too much, they have goats but not too many. They all work in, you know, [unintelligible - 00:07:17] and other town where there is, they have plenty of water and they raise a lot of oranges and meals and everything and they export them up to Athens. So that's what the younger people are doing.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Yeah Athens is how far away?
R. MERCURY Five-hour drive from Niata.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Good roads?
R. MERCURY Yeah these are fixed now so it’s open you know it's just up on the mountains it wasn't so, you know, but the roads are good.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Oh good, I certainly have to go there. Now when you came to United States after your dad took you, was it – do you remember?
R. MERCURY It was in August but I don't remember what date.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Ok can you remember the year?
R. MERCURY 1929 I came back.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and the ship and where you were?
R. MERCURY Yeah it was Satunia it was an Italian boat and we had a lot of spaghetti because we liked spaghetti.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: How long did it take you?
R. MERCURY 11 days, it did in 1929.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: What did you do at the boat that time? Now we have all kinds of recreation going, but what did you do?
R. MERCURY At that time you just kind of walk around, take a nap. There wasn't too much going on. And we all brought our-- see in Greece, you learn to crochet and you learn to do fancy work from a young child, I was the youngest one. 10 years old I learned about doing fancy work in a machine and by hand and when you bring them along in the boat and you keep on doing that, so that's part of the – that occupied the time.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay and what port did you come in when you came here?
R. MERCURY We came in New York.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, after you travelled back with your –?
R. MERCURY From there we took a train, we stayed in New York with some relatives for about four days. My dad, my sister and I, Georgia and then we took a train and we came right to [unintelligible - 00:09:08].
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Oh my goodness, okay.
R. MERCURY And we stayed in Fairview and my sister Georgia stayed about two, three weeks in Fairview and then she went to [unintelligible - 00:09:16] and stayed with my aunt Tina, do you remember her?
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Oh yeah, really well, yeah.
R. MERCURY That's my mother's sister.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, the reason we are making reference to that is [unintelligible - 00:09:34]. Okay what kind of education did you receive when you were in Greece?
R. MERCURY Well I finished grade school and I went up to eighth grade here.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, so they sent you to school here?
R. MERCURY Oh yeah.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Was it hard for you to learn English?
R. MERCURY No, because where I lived with all my cousins and they were all in school so we were just, they would just correct me when I do something, you know, say it wrong.
R. MERCURY And they would all teach me
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Oh, that’s great.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, and what occupational skills do you have, with [unintelligible - 00:10:06]?
R. MERCURY Well I have worked in the restaurant mostly but after we sold the restaurant, I and just went and work for a jewelry store and [unintelligible - 00:10:16] department store.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, okay, what special interesting skills and hobbies do you have?
R. MERCURY Well I used to crochet and embroidery. I don’t do that so much anymore.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, now you’ll tell me [unintelligible - 00:10:29] in your life? Were they [unintelligible - 00:10:30] or personal or were they [unintelligible - 00:10:33]?
R. MERCURY Well we had a good life. We always attended conventions. We had lots of friends and they would come and visit us and always in the summer we always had a lot of company, relatives and everything.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Yeah, this is then kind of the main house that you come to?
R. MERCURY It used to be, now [unintelligible - 00:10:51] more.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Yeah, yeah.
R. MERCURY Yeah that’s funny
A. SPELIOPOULOS: And you’re also District governor for the Daughters?
R. MERCURY Well I have been very active for the Daughters. I was a charter member in Minneapolis and I’ve been active ever since, for 50 – since 1933 was not 34, 33.
R. MERCURY 33 we organized and I was president, district governor of all the chapter offices back then. Now I am still a [unintelligible - 00:11:27] where many –
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Yes doing a fine job. Now what I am supposed to do here, is that because both your mother and their father were Boosalises and they do come from Niata and the Boosalises here in the Minneapolis in the surrounding areas are like the Smiths and the Johns, I’ve asked her if she could give us a background of who the Boosalises are and what they have done as far as businesses.
R. MERCURY Well the Boosalises, they come from Niata as three different clans, and I think at one time one of them used to be different name but they – this was many years ago that they all went – followed the Boosalis name and that’s why the Boosalis married the Boosalis but they are not related.
R. MERCURY It was three different clans.
R. MERCURY And in Minneapolis, there is a lot of Muslims in Minneapolis where they are. They are all over there, there is some in Southern Tennessee and some live in Hawaii, but – and they’ve always some of them are in politics, professional and the rest are in business that started with the rest you know, what I mean, children of course we took our education on there in different fields now, professors – and it’s a well-known name in the Minneapolis especially.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: If we will just start with your dad now, your dad his name was?
R. MERCURY James Boosalis.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Yes, and he had –
R. MERCURY They were five men at that time they were –wanted to be adventurous and they left Niata. None of them knew the language and one was about four years old. He used to talk about him and he came to New York, and what they did at first they all moved together so they could work and make some money to send back home, because my father was left an orphan, his father died when he was like five or six and had two sisters left, so were they he had to send a prikka to marry them and this wasn’t [unintelligible - 00:13:54] and it was [unintelligible - 00:13:56]. And he used push carts. He used to tell us in New York to sell fruits and, you know, a lot of them would because they couldn’t understand the language, they would be mean to them and – but they made it and then that gradually Peter Boosalis, the oldest one, came to Minneapolis and opened a restaurant, so they kind of all followed and that’s why they are so many living in Minneapolis because they all kind of followed each other to Minneapolis.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: How did he, why did he come to Minneapolis? Was there a relative here?
R. MERCURY No because Peter Boosalis, the old man first came, and they all from Niata followed him.
R. MERCURY He was the [unintelligible - 00:14:37] in at that time you know [unintelligible - 00:14:39] system and that’s where most of them appear to stay like because he opened a he had a big restaurant through the Boosalis and he employed quite a few so this were they were sure of a job.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, so this is your dad’s brother?
R. MERCURY No, no.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Oh, he was just –
R. MERCURY No, he was just a relative.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: A relative.
R. MERCURY A relative.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: So he came in Minneapolis and your father and?
R. MERCURY And all the others from Niata, [unintelligible - 00:15:03] and I don’t know what the -- you know they all came, the once that came together so and eventually they just started their own business.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: I’ve always – when they first –you know how the first Greek church we had here?
R. MERCURY St. Mary’s?
R. MERCURY Oh yeah, I remember the one on Lake Street.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Yeah, the one on Lake Street. Is that the one that [unintelligible - 00:15:21] –
R. MERCURY You know what there was one before that but I do not remember that.
R. MERCURY It was long before my time.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay so but there is one on Lake Street that they built?
R. MERCURY They built it.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Is it a business center [unintelligible - 00:15:31]?
R. MERCURY They used [unintelligible - 00:15:33] and Peter Boosalis was the one that started it, you know, and everyone lived around the church at that time.
R. MERCURY John’s Nonno, Chris Boosalis and the other one, Nick Boosalis. I don’t know if you heard both his name, they are all gone now. None of them are living.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: So now how about your mother’s side with the Boosalises?
R. MERCURY Yeah they also came. My uncle came right after my dad did, and how he got – I don’t know, I think he came right away and with his uncle and started a restaurant in Owatonna and that’s – and then after they bought the one in Fairview which is the you know.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: And what is it called?
R. MERCURY Olympia.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Oh the Olympia I just is this the one?
R. MERCURY No, now they are it’s closed.
R. MERCURY They are selling the building and all because they don’t work at the [unintelligible - 00:16:30].
A. SPELIOPOULOS: So they actually first cousins?
R. MERCURY That’s right.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Yeah, okay.
R. MERCURY First cousins, I grew up with them even though when I came from Greece, I stayed four years until I get married. I got married at 17 so they were just like my brothers and –
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Oh yeah, yeah. Okay how about now as far as Minneapolis with the history of Boosalises, would you have to say they were instrumental really in the Greek community and the church you know because –
R. MERCURY Well I think to start with, yes.
R. MERCURY They started it and then there was a few others.
R. MERCURY But there was most of them was Boosalises but they were some of the old timers like they had the church.
R. MERCURY I forget their names because this was before I came here.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, now the present Greek church is located on Lake Calhoun and it was sold, the property was sold to the good church by a widower who had like a mansion on there but decided its history because it was the home of the Kahn brothers who were the first missionaries here in Minneapolis and so we would have a –
R. MERCURY There was such a beautiful place. We used to think words before we go to church there.
R. MERCURY And they had staircase outside, beautiful lawn you know all over and [unintelligible - 00:17:50] he used to live up two blocks from the church and I would come and we would go for a walk it was so beautiful where the church –
A. SPELIOPOULOS: The other thing that I remember is that they had a bowling alley downstairs.
R. MERCURY And it was sold out I would just cross –
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Was there some kind of [unintelligible - 00:18:04]?
R. MERCURY Really?
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Yeah with the diamond and I remember that, and that church was there do you remember when it was built?
R. MERCURY 1957.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: 1957 and how was the [unintelligible - 00:18:15] before then?
R. MERCURY No, I thought it was the same.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Oh is it the same? Did they get the same time?
R. MERCURY I don’t know, sure.
R. MERCURY It will always took them over a year to finish but they were built the same time.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay, and so here in Minneapolis we have one Greek church and the very part of our priest Father Anthony [Canaris] who has been with us for I believe 30 years.
R. MERCURY Well he was ordained here and still he is our priest here within, we have an assistant priest, Father [unintelligible - 00:18:44].
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Was he here before 457?
R. MERCURY Oh yes, he was here in 1949.
A. SPELIOPOULOS: Okay so 1949 so oh he is 40 years then?
A. SPELIOPOULOS: He has been her four years, okay.