George Papageorge, CE 1925


George Papageorge, CE 1925


This is a Living History interview with George Thomas Papageorge, class of 1925, conducted by Marilyn J. Somers at his home in Atlanta, Georgia. The subject of this interview is student life and Georgia Tech and Mr. Papageorge's life in general. George has lived a long life and experienced many interesting things. As a young child George traveled to America on a ship across the Atlantic Ocean. George is originally from Constantinople, Turkey. His like had been rich with the experiences he has had. To begin with, his family travels from Providence, RI to Newark, NJ to August, GA to Atlanta, Ga. George notes the differences in cultures between the North and the South in the United States. They were moving around so much because his father was a Greek Orthodox Clergyman and these towns all contained new parishes. George leaned at a very young age the importance of knowledge and learning, this was avidly stressed by his parents. George came to Georgia Tech because he knew that it was a good school and that by becoming an engineer he would be able to get a job. George has vivid memories of several Tech professors including Professor Morty, Professor D.M. Smith, and Dr. Perry. While at Tech, George and his family lived in the city and he commuted to school; he talked about the rides on the street cars that he took to get to school. At this time, athletics were very important at Tech. George talks about the football team, the Golden Tornado, and also about the intense rivalry between Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. To celebrate winning games the students, including George, would run about the city of Atlanta participating in what was called a nightshirt parade. George was also involved in the Cosmopolitan Club. He received his degree in Civil Engineering on June 8, 1925. With this degree he obtained a job in the Georgia Highway Department. Soon after graduation George's father passed away. George took on the responsibility of guiding the family. Family is extremely important to George, he never married because he needed to take care of his father's family. All together there had been seven children. George was the oldest followed by his sister Evangeline, whom he speaks very highly of. The others were significantly younger than George. George sacrificed a lot for his family. While working for the Highway Department for nearly 20 years he always sent the majority of his money home to his mother to support the other children. While involved with the Highway Department he had an occasion to be associated with the workings of Georgia politics. George talks about notable characters such as Eugene Talmadge, George Hamilton, and Ed Rivers. Also, while working for the Highway Department he was warded a fellowship to study traffic engineering at Yale University for one year. After returning from Yale, George became the first Traffic Engineer in Georgia in the new Traffic and Safety Division. George felt the Georgia Highway Department to work for a private company, this lasted only one year. He then got a job in what is now called the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). George worked here for nineteen years. He retired at the age of 70 because of a mandatory retirement age policy, this was in 1974. George says, however, that he was still quite vigorous. In his spare time since retirement George has traveled around the world. He was highly involved in the adornment of the interior of the Greek Orthodox Church here in Atlanta. George also keeps his mind quite active by both participating in and teaching several different classes at Senior University. All in all, George has enjoyed his life and he might only change one aspect of it and this would be to have been a professor from the start. At age 93, George is still quite vigorous and active and his experience and intelligence is vast and very admirable. He has experience so many changes in his life from the onset of two world conflicts, to the computer revolution, to the changing of the world order, and he still treats it all as a valued experience.


1997 February 14