The Scolinos brothers (Pete and John) were born in Los Angeles, California. Pete Scolinos who was born November 9, 1916, went to Manual Arts High School where he was active in sports, particularly basketball. After graduation in 1934, he went to work for Southern California Freight Lines as a truck driver and gradually worked his way up to a dispatcher. When World War II broke out, his work, planning for the possible evacuation of Los Angeles, was considered very important to the war effort.
Pete went to all the different activities of the Greek community, particularly dances. He loved to dance and was known to be a great dancer along with his brother Frank. There was a lovely young dancer that Pete particularly loved to dance with and at every opportunity asked Mary Kanaky to dance with him. This blossomed into a full-fledged romance, and they were married at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in 1941.
The stress of the work he was doing for the war effort led to an ulcer, and Pete had to stop working for the Southern California Freight Lines in 1950. After surgery he was offered work as a salesman for the Young’s Market Liquor Company, a wholesaler. Despite the fact that Pete was a teetotaler, he was very successful as a salesman and was able to retire at the age of 62 in 1978. This gave him and his wife, Mary, the opportunity to spend many years traveling to Asia, South America, and Europe. He continued his interest in sports by playing golf regularly and was a referee at college level basketball for many years. After an illness, Pete died in 2002, leaving his wife Mary and three adult children, Mariann, Harry, and John, and several grandchildren.
John Scolinos was born on March 28, 1918, went to Manual Arts High School, from which he graduated in 1937. He particularly loved baseball but played football in high school as there was no baseball team. John played semi-professional ball for four seasons as a pitcher, outfielder, and first baseman in the Los Angeles Winter and Summer League, before seeing service in 1942-1945 in the Army Air Force during the war. He was drafted by the St. Louis Browns, where he played minor league ball for the big club for five years. He studied at Pepperdine University and began coaching in 1946 as he continued to complete his studies. During his 14 year stint at Pepperdine, he was not only the baseball coach but also served as football coach from 1947 through 1959.
John transferred to Cal Poly, Pomona, where he was an assistant baseball coach for one season before taking over as head coach in 1962. Over the years John was the recipient of many awards: Collegiate Baseball Magazine NCAA Division II Coach of the Century; inductee to the Hall of Fame of the American Association of College Baseball Coaches in 1974; Professor of the Year in 1976 at Cal-Poly, which renamed the baseball field Scolinos Field in 1980; coached the USA Olympics team in the World Cup Games in Japan 1980; pitching coach of the 1984 United States Olympic Baseball team. Gus Dalis, GHS board member, remembers John Scolinos as a role model in the Greek community, where he inspired many youth to pursue sports.
John met his future wife at the home of friends in Los Angeles, where the Veneris family had recently arrived from Pennsylvania. He immediately liked the eldest daughter, Helen. While riding the bus home from Pepperdine, Helen happened to also be riding on the same bus. On the spur of the moment when he saw Helen on the bus, after talking for a while, John asked Helen for a date. After a brief courtship he married Helen Veneris in 1950. John retired from Cal-Poly in 1991 to care for Helen, who was not well. John passed away in 2009, leaving a legacy to which few can lay claim. He is survived by his wife, and daughter, Violet, and one grandchild.
Pete and John Scolinos’s father, Haralambos (Harry) Scolinos was one of the early Greek pioneers and came to the United States ca. 1901. Harry was born on the island of Kythiros, formerly known as Tsirigo, at the tip of the Peloponnese. He married Viola (maiden name unknown) and then left her in Kythiros and headed for the United States. His plan was to make enough money to return to Greece. In the beginning Harry worked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a steel factory. When a co-worker that was standing next to him lost his footing and fell into a vat of molten steel, he took off his apron, threw it on the floor, and quit. Harry came to Los Angeles where his brother Paul (Pavlos) was living.
He worked at various jobs until he and his brother were able to start their own candy-making business, the Scolinos Candy Company. By 1911, ten years later, he decided to bring his wife Viola (Violet) to Los Angeles instead of returning to Greece. They were blessed with four sons, Frank, Harry, Peter, John, and one daughter, Mary. In the ensuing years life was good, work was plentiful, and the Scolinos family lived the good life. When the depression came in 1929, Harry lost his business and all four of his sons helped the family by selling newspapers. Around 1933 Harry Scolinos was able to open a fruit market called Scolinos Market on Sixth and Hope. Harry and Violet Scolinos left a wonderful Greek legacy here in Los Angeles.
Information for this article was taken from an interview of Pete and John Scolinos by the Greek Heritage Society; conversations with Mary Scolinos, Mariann Scolinos, Violet Scolinos; and articles written by Sid Robinson and Tim Mead, and Brian Pickering. Thank you to Diana Savas for editing assistance. August 2012