Saturday, September 25, 2010


Dear Friends,

Well, I only have five more days left on Crete. I am as nervous about leaving Crete as a man on death row who is about to be executed! I have become fidgety and restless. Tonight, I wandered around the little seaside village of Amoudara, looking for anyone I might know, just to tell them that I only have five days left here!!!

I think I have come to recognize my problem: I am a "Crete-O-Holic"!!! Yes, I know what you are thinking, "Bob, how did you let yourself slip into the depths of becoming a "Crete-O-Holic?" I don't know how it just slipped up on me...and before I knew it...Crete had me in its grasp!!! I think that I first became a "Crete-O-Holic" on my first and only assignment to Iraklion Air Station in late 1968. After my first 18 months were drawing to a close, I requested, and was granted a one-year extension. Then, as that extension was drawing to a close, I requested, and was granted a two-month extension. I left Crete in August of 1971 after having spent 2 years, 8 months here on Crete. You would think that I would have had my fill of Crete, but Crete had become my drug of choice! I was hooked and Crete had me in its grip!

I returned to Crete in 2008 for a three month "fix", but that only primed my hunger for more! So, I came back again in 2009, hoping that my three month visit would quell any future desires for Crete, but I just wasn't satisfied. So, I returned for a third visit...this time realizing that I was hopelessly a..."Crete-O-Holic"!!!

I really believe there should be a support group created just for us...Crete-O-Holics Anonymous, or CA for short. However, CA should not be confused with California or with Clarksville Academy!!! It would be a support group created by us...and for us. I can just picture the attendance of my first meeting there. After an opening prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, the members of Crete-O-Holics Anonymous would be required to stand and introduce themselves. I would stand, nervously shifting my weight from one foot to the other, all the while wringing and twisting my sweaty hands together, and then in a somewhat shaky voice, I would say, "Hello. My name is Bob. And, I'm a "Crete-O-Holic." At that moment, there would be a chorus from all the others seated in a circle around me who would echo in unison, "Hello, Bob." And, then, I would know that I was among friends!

I don't think there is a known cure for those of us who are "Crete-O-Holics", and, quite frankly, I hope there never will be. The most that we can do is gather in places like CreteStock Yahoo Group or in small groups like reunions, or if any of us are really fortunate we can actually make a return visit to Crete. But in our little groups of Crete-O-Holics Anonymous, we can lean on each other and share our concerns and address questions that may have no answers. But, it is somewhat reassuring to know there are others out there who are as addicted to Crete as the rest of us! So, when your mind begins to wander...and your thoughts become consumed with nothing but Crete, just are not alone!!!

Take care, stay well, and let me hear from you.

Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",

Bob Armistead

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Dear Friends,

I am sure that many of you have heard or read about noble quests which have been pursued throughout history - some were spiritual, some were historical, and others were for treasure. There was the quest for the Holy Grail, the quest for Shangri La, the search for El Dorado, the search for the Ark of the Covenant, the search for Black Beard's gold and for Captain Kidd's treasure. Well, I have embarked on a quest of sorts. Many of you may think it is frivolous..a waste of time. But, when my attention is grasped and I think there may be a story buried or a mystery to be uncovered, I delve into it with great fervor.

I'm sure when you were on Crete, at one time or another you probably heard others talking about the hippies at Matala who were living in the caves there. It was Life Magazine which first ran a story with photos in 1968 about a number of young people called "hippies", who were living in caves at the little seaside village of Matala on the southern coast of Crete. But, of course, the caves weren't really caves at all, but rather Roman tombs. These young hippies had moved into the caves (tombs) to live their idyllic lifestyle. There were even reports that piles of bones, topped with human skulls, could be found in some of the caves. However, finally recognizing the historical and archaeological importance of these Roman tombs, the hippies had been forced to vacate the caves (tombs) years ago, probably in the mid or late 1970's. At any rate, sometime around October of 2009, I accidentally stumbled across a photograph on the internet entitled, "The Last Hippie at Matala", which was on Matala: Hippies and Real Fun on Facebook. I borrowed that photograph, along with some earlier photographs of the hippies at Matala and posted them on my blog in October 2009, along with some of my own photos of the caves and Matala after having visited there. Later I received an E-Mail from someone who had read my blog and claimed to know Scotty, the last hippie at Matala. NOTE: It should be pointed out here that Scotty is also variously known as Scotti, Skotty, or Skotti. The first report was that Scotty has passed away about a year earlier, but later this report was proven incorrect. Subsequently, it was reported that Scotty was suffering from ill health and a possible stroke, and was living in a home for the aged in the Iraklion area. But, around July 10, 2010, I received a link to a short video of a birthday gathering for Scotty in Matala. I was able to make contact with the man who shot the video. He stated that he believed Scotty was now living in a rest home for the elderly in the area of Mires, not far from Matala. Sensing the importance of documenting the significance of Scotty's life as the last hippie at Matala, I set out on a quest to track him down.

I took a bus to Matala shortly after mid-July 2010. When I arrived in Matala, I began to inquire of shop owners if any of them knew a man called, "Scotty". To my amazement, they all knew Scotty. The entire village of Matala was on a first name basis with Scotty! It seemed Scotty was a celebrity of sorts. I have been aware of only a few people who have ever been known only by their first name to the masses - Jesus, Napoleon, Elvis, and now...Scotty. When I asked the whereabouts of Scotty, no one seemed to know anything definitive. One older Greek gentleman said that Scotty was in Mires; a young woman said he was in a home for old people near Iraklion; and, at least two others said that he was in a monastery, being cared for by monks. I was told if anyone knew where Scotty was, it would be a man named, Franck. Franck apparently was a very close friend of Scotty's. When I asked where I might find Franck, I was told that he could usually be found walking down the main street in Matala. I had no idea what Franck looked like, but I was told it would be easy to spot him. He had long hair, an unkempt appearance, and was hobbling on a crutch due to a recent leg injury. I entered a small taverna on the main street in Matala, ordered a Cretan salad, a cold Mythos beer, and waited...and waited. It was a hot day and not much air was circulating in downtown Matala, so I ordered another Mythos. The second one tasted even better than the first...and colder, too! After having waited there for the better part of two hours, I came to the conclusion that either I had missed Franck, or else he had already come and gone. I left the taverna and began to wander around Matala, looking for anyone on a crutch or a cane...or even limping. But, I didn't see anyone who even remotely matched the description of Franck. I took the next bus out of Matala bound for Iraklion, arriving there in late afternoon. Then, I caught the Number 6 bus near Bus Station "B" for Amoudara. I arrived back at my apartment, hot, tired and disappointed that I had not come away from Matala with the knowledge of Scotty's location. I actually began to wonder if perhaps the people of Matala were trying to keep "outsiders" from learning the whereabouts of their beloved Scotty - as if they were attempting to protect him. Maybe they had even given me false or misleading information in an effort to direct me away from put me on a false trail. At that point I decided I needed to enlist the help of some my friends who lived here on Crete and to ask for their assistance. First I talked with friends of mine who owned a local hotel in Amoudara, and also with my very good friend, Miltiadis (Miltos). Miltos said that he would inquire of others about a monastery near Iraklion that cared for elderly people. Time passed. In the meantime, I was getting ready for Crete Reunion 2010. At our initial dinner on the evening of August 22, 2010, one of the wives of a former airman who was stationed at Iraklion Air Station, attempted to locate Scotty, but she didn't have any real success. Then, on August 26, 2010, Jim and Pat Janakes and I drove to Phaestos to visit the ancient archaeological ruins and then drove on to Matala. After taking several photos of the caves (Roman tombs) at Matala, we decided to have a drink and a little noonday snack at a small taverna just off the wooden walkway to the tombs. While there, I asked our waiter if he perhaps knew Scotty. Yes, he knew him, but he didn't know where Scotty was. Next, I asked if he knew Franck. He pointed to a small group of people seated on the ground just off the end of his taverna. "Franck," he called out, and then spoke something in Greek which I didn't understand. One man, seated on the ground, motioned for me to come over. He had a small crutch laying beside him. I approached him, introduced myself and asked if he knew Scotty. He nodded yes. I then asked if he knew where Scotty was and that I wanted to visit him. Franck told me the name of the place where Scotty was living and being cared for. When I returned to Amoudara that afternoon, I was told by a hotel proprietor that he had located the monastery in which Scotty was staying. He told me the name of the was the same name that Franck in Matala had given me. Finally, I felt as if I were finally closing in on Scotty - the last hippie at Matala!

On the evening of Monday, August 30, 2010, I received an E-Mail from an American friend of mine living here on Crete. He said that he knew exactly where Scotty was being cared for, and would arrive the next morning just after 9:30 A.M. to to take me to the monastery. And, true to his word, the following morning just after 9:30 A.M., Joe pulled up on his little Honda motorbike. Now, I wasn't really sure about riding on the back of a motorbike through Iraklion traffic, and I wondered if it was a bad omen when Joe and I pulled away from the front of my apartment with Joe wearing a helmet, and the only thing separating me from Eternity was only a thin layer of my hair that would act as a cushion between my skull and the pavement. However, I must admit that Joe knew the traffic and possessed the necessary skills to navigate safely. After only a couple of wrong turns, we pulled up in front of the Church. Around to the left side of the Church were signs that pointed to "Girokomeo", or a facility for elderly people. I followed the flight of stairs upward to a second story level. Through the double doors, I could see a long corridor lined with elderly people, most sitting in either chairs or on sofas in the hallway. The door was locked, so we proceeded downward in an attempt to find an alternate entrance. About that time, we heard the sound of doors being unlocked above. A white-haired man stood at the double doorways at the top of the stairs. I hurried upward, fearing that he might relock the doors before I had a chance to enter. I quickly stepped through the double doors and asked him, "Do you speak English?" He smiled, "Yes, a little." "Do you know a man named, Scotty?" I asked. "Yes," and then looking down the hallway, he called out, "Scotty!" He led us down the corridor to a man seated in a chair beside a sofa. The man was wearing a ball cap, had mostly white hair, light blue eyes, a scruffy beard and a toothless grin. I looked at him. "Are you Scotty?" I asked. "Yes, I am Scotty." At long last I had found the last hippie at Matala. I asked him if I could talk with him about his days at Matala. At first he seemed a little hesitant...almost reluctant, but then, as he began to open up, his light blue eyes danced about the room as he laughed and reminisced about a time long ago. He told me that he was born in 1940, but on my second visit with Scotty on September 3, 2010, he told me that he was born on June 20, 1939. This date was substantiated from a short biography about Scotty which I found online. From this same biography, I learned that Scotty's first name was actually Hans. Scotty told me that he was born in Scotland of a Scottish mother and a German father. During World War Two, Scotty's father organized resistance and fought against the Nazi regime. After the end of World War Two, Scotty and his parents moved to Germany where Scotty was raised and educated. I asked Scotty what year he first arrived in Matala. He told me that he first visited Matala at age eighteen (1957) with an uncle who had come to Crete on business, but he did not actually come to live at Matala until 1964 - at that time he would have been either twenty-four or twenty-five. I asked Scotty if he remembered any of those who had lived with him in the caves at Matala. He smiled and said that he remembered many of them, and even recalled the caves in which some of them had lived, but many of them were now dead. He reminded me there were many who had lived in the caves at Matala, and there was a constant coming and going of people. Some, who had been living there in the caves awhile became disillusioned with the hippie lifestyle and left, while others who were disillusioned with the lifestyle of the world sought refuge in the caves at Matala and to live the hippie lifestyle of free love, peace and flower power. So, apparently, there was a frequent turnover of tenants in the caves, but the rent was cheap and Scotty stayed on. I inquired of Scotty how he made money while living at Matala. He said, "I made jewelry and sold paintings." I learned that Scotty had actually studied art in Sweden and France. He told me that sometimes he would sell as many as four or five paintings in a day. "Good money," he said, smiling, as he rubbed the ends of his four fingers and thumb together.

Around Scotty's neck hung a small wooden cross and a long iron key almost five inches long. "Did you make the cross, Scotty?" I asked. "Yes, that was some of the jewelry I made at Matala," he replied. "And what is that key hanging around your neck?" I asked, pointing at the key dangling on a thin cord. "That is the key to my house in Matala," Scotty responded. "One day I will return." He gently caressed the key in his hand, almost as if it had feelings.

At one point during our interview, an elderly woman shuffled to Scotty's side. He reached up and slid his arm around her waist. "How do you like my hippie woman?" he asked, smiling. I couldn't help but smile myself. "Scotty, I like her just fine," I responded. Then the old woman reached around and with an unparalleled act of gentle kindness, softly stroked the side of Scotty's face. I don't believe that I have ever witnessed a kinder, more gentler act of affection than what I observed at that moment.

There were moments during the interview when I saw Scotty glancing wistfully out the window, while at the same time gently touching the large iron key that hung round his neck. But it didn't appear as if Scotty were looking at something in the courtyard or even in the garden below. His gaze seemed transfixed on something far away, perhaps on Matala, and perhaps to an era of youthful days that have long since evaporated like the morning mist.

Whether I agree or disagree with the counter-cultural, anti-establishment hippie philosophy of peace, love and flower power, is completely irrelevant. The hippie movement had a dramatic and international impact on war, peace, and everything that fell in between the two. I have to admire Scotty that he stuck with his convictions and never abandoned them. It would have been easy for him to have left Matala, just as all the rest eventually did. But he never deserted Matala or the hippie philosophy, even though he had been deserted by all the others who had come and gone in Matala.

When I left and walked through the garden and courtyard beneath the large building where Scotty now lived, I turned and looked up at the window under which Scotty and I had been seated. I couldn't help but feel that somehow Scotty's heart and spirit would always remain at Matala. As I walked away from the monastery, I think that I came to the realization that Scotty would never really die; he would just gradually fade into the tapestry woven from the threads of his very colorful life.

Take care, stay well, and let me hear from you.

Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",

Bob Armistead
P.S.: Many thanks to George, Irini, Joe, Maro, and Miltos for your assistance in helping me locate Scotty and get to the monastery.
NOTE: Click on any photo to get a larger image.

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: August 31, 2010 - Scotty, the last hippie of Matala.
UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: August 31, 2010 - Scotty (L) and Bob Armistead (R) enjoy a light moment during the interview.

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: September 3, 2010 - Scotty, the last hippie of Matala, tilts his head to one side as he ponders an answer to a question.
UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: September 3, 2010 - Scotty, proudly shows off a wooden cross he carved while at Matala, and a large iron key to his home in Matala.

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: September 3, 2010 - Scotty (R) slips his arm around an older lady at the home, then smiles and asks, "How do you like my hippie woman?"
UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: September 3, 2010 - In response, Scotty's hippie woman, gently pats the side of his face.

UPPER LEFT PHOTO: September 3, 2010 - Scotty (L), Matala's last hippie, and Bob Armistead (R) pose for one last photo together.
UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: September 3, 2010 - The monastery building in which Scotty now lives.