submitted by George Poulos on 01.05.2004
I have appropriated the following Oral History transcript from the site -
The site includes transcripts of lengthy interviews with 5 Kytherians.
Another feature of the site is access to sound recordings of the interviews. In May, 2004, I noted that this facility had "broken down". In fact the site gave the impression that it had not been maintained for some time. Only 1 of the 5 Kytherian entries at this time was accessible.
The names provided are psuedonyms (Grk - "pseftika onima" - "false-names").
I very, very, strongly suspected that "Mr and Mrs Londos" are my maternal great-uncle and great-aunt, and their son, my second cousin.
My great-uncle, Peter Katsoolis, and great-aunt, Chrisanthi Katsoolis, are now deceased. My second-cousin, George Katsoolis is alive and well. I have gained permission from cousin George to reveal the "real" identities of "Mr and Mrs Londos".
In 1978, great-uncle Peter and great-Aunt Chrisanthi were living in Rainbow Street, Kingsford.
Incidentally they were "great" - not only by genetic designation - but by "nature" as well.
I include a copy of the transcript here - because I believe that ALL Kytherians, should be encouraged to record this "free-flowing" type of Oral History, and that those Histories should be posted onto the site at kythera-family.net.
Take a tape-recorder, and ask members of your Kytherian family the simple information-eliciting questions, such as those that have been asked in this interview.
The wealth of Kytherian information that can be revealed by a simply structured Oral History interview is quite amazing!
Typical Oral History
George Londos (!?!?!), 1978
My name is George Londos. I was born in the island of Kythera in the village of Potamos on the 15th July, 1896. At the age of fourteen when I left primary school I was called at the place where my uncle was a newcomer from Australia and he asked me to write a letter to his friends back in Australia.
When I wrote the letter, he said what are you going to do with my career and I said my father thinks that I have to go higher in Education and to find out whether I'll be suitable for any profession in Greece. And he replied, don't do such a silly thing, you go to Australia, whatever you do in Greece you'll never be able to earn a decent living, he said, you go to Australia and within a few years you'll be on top!
I said to him, how do you mean "on top"?
he said you'll be learning the language in a short time, and then you'll be able to start working for someone at a very nice wage, at the time the wages that he told me was half a sovereign a week and for five years you'll be working for wages and after five years if you're a good economist you'll be able to start a business of your own.
This is what he told you?
Well I said to myself I better tell me father about it and if he can send me to Australia I'll get to Australia. My father got the idea it was great and he tried to get me out of Greece during the time of the Balkan's War 1912 and 1915, well I got away from Greece into Egypt. In Egypt for a few months and then I tried to get a berth for Australia, but no possible opportunity simply because a lot of immigrants from England were going to Australia, full ship, no vacancies, and some travel agent told me if you go to Toulon you'll get a berth there before they fill up the berths. So I managed to get to Toulon and my father gave me the money and immediately I booked.
What happened, you left Egypt and went back to you father?
No, my father sent me the money and I went to Toulon and there I got a berth on the orient liner ORAMA for Sydney. The fare was 9 1/2 pound English, which I had and paid half fare. I landed in Sydney on 17th July, 1913. Looking for a job it was impossible, things were tough in Sydney, simply because it was Winter and there no activities and I couldn't speak English.
Now how did you get....? (question cut off by answer)
When I landed in Sydney I asked to find where a school mate of mine was working and I eventually found out where he was and I asked him if he could get me a job anywhere, and he said no it was impossible. He said things are very tough in Sydney at the present time. Winter time, no movements, no activities.
Well I said my Uncle that was in Greece told me that I can get a good job for half a sovereign a week, I said where's my Uncle, so he found out where he was and I went to (answer cut off by question)
Now this friend of yours, which restaurant did he work at? Who owned it?
Kovraris in King Street, the restaurant was at the basement in King Street, run by Mr. Kouraris from Ithaca. From then on I found out where my Uncle had his shop and I communicated with him and he told me to go and wait for him immediately if I could get to the train. So I found another Kytherian who was entertaining every migrant that was coming off the ship and he gave me a shelter for two or three nights and he gave me one of his employees to take me to the train so I could go to LOCKHART in the Riverina, N.S.W. At the time, I couldn't speak English but an employee of another Greek took me to the railway station, he got my fare which I paid back to him after working, and he told some of the passengers in the carriage, this young boy is going to Lockhart, would you be good enough when he reaches the station to tell him to get out, there'll be someone else waiting to take him to the shop. So I landed in Lockhart.
Excuse me! How long did you stay in Sydney between landing and getting on the train?
I must have been in Sydney about two weeks.
Now how did you meet the Greeks when you got off the ship? How did you get all these contacts - your friend in the restaurant?
The average Greek at the time in Sydney when they heard a boat arrived from Europe, they'd go the boat to find who's arrived. They knew we couldn't speak English, they knew we were destitute but they were only too pleased to meet us and give us shelter. One of these was Nicholas Aroni who had a restaurant in Circular Quay, Sydney and he was only too pleased to accept any migrant especially boys that they were coming in without any knowledge of anything and he'd put them up at his premises, give them shelter such as meals, bed and try his best to find work, and one of these migrants was me and when I got a job at Lockhart when I found out my uncle was over there. I landed din Lockhart and I stopped in that shop for four and a half years.
What sort of a shop was it?
Restaurant, I learnt the language after two years, good enough to take charge of the restaurant, as soon as I knew that I could run a restaurant and I saved 'round about 110 pounds, I looked around to find my own business which I did. Eventually I found a business for sale near the Richmond River in N.S.W. near Lismore for 200 pounds, well I already had 100 and I paid half and loaned the balance, and I stopped there for around two years and I made enough money to sell it and buy a bigger business.
Were you by yourself there in that town?
I was by myself.
In Lockhart, how many Greeks were there and what period are you talking about ?
There were two Greek shops and two families, one family was about four personnel and in the other only two personnel in 1914, 15,16 and 17. I left in 1917.
Were these families Kytherians?
The family I worked with was a Kytherian naturally, but the other fellow was from Limnos, he was a bachelor but I think he eventually go married and became a family man and that is all I know about him. When I left my first business which I sold at a profit I looked for a bigger business which I found not far away and I bought the second business, at the mouth of the Richmond River at a place called Ballina.
Were you married at this stage, not yet?
I was a single man all the way. And when I found out that I could do better in a much larger area I sold that business again and I got a profit and I got a bigger place.
How long were you in Ballina?
I was in Ballina for about seven months.
And the first shop, how long?
Eighteen months. The second was seven months and then I got enough capital out of the two businesses to acquire the third business between Newcastle and Sydney and the name of the township it was Wyong. At Wyong, I found out that I could buy the freehold so I had enough money to buy the freehold.
I'm sorry, but what does that mean?
The property of the business premises and that saves you a lot because you save rent and when you save the rent for ten years, well, the property belongs to you.
In all these towns, were there other Kytherians you met?
In the third town, I was the only Kytherian. No other Greeks.
What about the other two towns. Were there Kytherians?
There were Kytherians.
In the first place I was the only Kytherian. In the second place there was another family of Kytherians and when I left there was only just the one family of Kytherians.
No other Greeks? And in Wyong, what year was that?
When you first bought that premises and how long were you there?
And I was there for forty years and then I sold out and I retired in Sydney where I'm living now.
You were there for forty years. How was it, was it tough?
There were tough years. Hard years for young people and they had to work hard, from 6 o'clock or 7 o'clock in the morning 'till 9? At night. The restaurant had to be open for people to come in and eat. Therefore the work was hard and the money was little because there wasn't much money circulating in those days. It was a poor existence, hard work and perseverance and economy. Well you saved money. Then you'd utilize it in investing in a business, real estate or in shares.
How were you treated in the town?
Well in a town where you give service to the public and be honest you get a lot of people who sympathize with you and patronize you and that's why the success comes in with the businessman. You got to be honest in your business and you got to be clean and you got to be attentive at all times so the people can depend on you for anything they want. But you do have those people especially in those years not lately. They didn't like the Greeks or Italians or anyone from the Mediterranean. I think the reason is because a lot of them came out in advanced age, couldn't speak the language very well. They were really not quite civilized amongst the Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxons were people who occupy northern parts of Europe. They got different ideas and ways amongst themselves. Whereas the Mediterranean people got different ways and naturally the Anglo-Saxons didn't like the ways that the Mediterranean's had. Some of them, they couldn't speak very well, or some of them they were what I call ignorant of a lot of things, the law of the country or the way the people must behave amongst themselves or they wouldn't be social enough simply because of lack of language or knowledge and some people they were hating us they were not friendly enough. But many a times they were very glad to get service from the Greeks, where the Australian compatriots they wouldn't care about it. That's why the Greeks were successful, they were giving service, they were prepared to go over the capacity to satisfy their customers. And of course you have to be honest businessman to succeed and that's why the Greeks do succeed in business, they do have good intentions - honesty of purpose. Of course, there are those who are not civilized 'cause there are quite a lot that they still have from the Turkish occupation of Greece, bad manners and that's what killed the best of the Greeks, the bad manners of a few. Fortunately, there are only a few.
Did you socialise with the Australians in the town?
Yes they do, with my forty years in Wyong as a business man I was twice President of the Chamber of Commerce of the district, President of the Parents and Citizens Association, within politics I was the Treasurer for one of the political parties.
Which political party?
Liberal, and naturally I had some prestige. When I sold out and retired in Sydney, three or four prominent people asked me why I wouldn't stay in the town and put up as a member of the council of the local shire municipality, I refused definitely. I didn't like to be in limelight, a person who's on civil semi-government always is in the limelight, you'll never get everyone to like you, you'll always get someone who does things against you especially when you're a Greek, you've got to stay behind and let them do.
In your forty years in Wyong were there other Greek families that arrived?
I was the only family there!
You were the only Greek person there? You weren't married then?
I was married in the meantime!
When did you get married?
I got married in 1933.
Is your wife from Kythera?
My wife is from Kythera, yes.
How did that take place, was that by Proxy?
Not at all, I met here in the social party in Wyong.
Were there other Greek families?
They were passing three families such as Kytherians visiting.
Who were they visiting if there weren't other Greeks?
Well there were three or four families that really close to our township from Gosford, from Newcastle and Sydney, all those people coming through the main highway where my business was there and naturally, they'll come in contact. But not by Proxy!
How long did you know your wife before you married her?
Well I knew her for about six months.
And did you have any children?
Yes, I got one son who is a Pharmacist and he's married and he's got three children, and he's prosperous.
Was your son born in Wyong?
And he went to high school in Wyong?
And he got married to a young Greek girl born in Sydney, he lives in Sydney.
Was she Kytherian?
No, she came from the island of Paras in Greece, very nice family.
Was she educated in Sydney, finished high school or university?
Unfortunately she never had to go to university because she got married early, she met my son in Sydney while my son was a student at the university.
Oh, he went to university?
Yes, he met her while he was a student at Sydney University and, at that time, it was a small Greek gathering such as student and they used to have a body. I think it was called the Olympic Club at Sydney University and naturally my son was President of the Club and he met his wife there at a social gathering.
At that time were you all living in Sydney?
At that time when my son got married we were living in Sydney.
At what time did you leave Wyong, what year?
Was that when your son started university?
No, he was at university before that, he finished university in 1959.
Did he come to Sydney by himself?
Oh yes, he was boarding in Sydney and attending university studies as well.
Why did you decide to move to Sydney?
Well I sold the business in 1958 and in '59 I went to Sydney and lived in Kingsford.
Why did you come to live in Sydney, what was the reason?
For social reasons, up at Wyong, I was the only Greek family there, no associates with any other Greeks and I had forty years of life in business and I thought it was time for me to have an easier life for the rest of my life. At that time my son was studying at university and when he finished his studies and got married and then he went for a honeymoon around the world and when he came back he started his own business and that's where he is now.
As a pharmacist?
As a pharmacist, yes.
Does he live close to you?
He doesn't live exactly close to us, 'cause his home is a bit out of the way on the North shore.
What suburb does he live in?
And how often does your son see you?
I see him practically every fortnight, according tot the time that we are in need of one another.
Would you say there's close family contact?
In Wyong, there was no Greek churches?Nothing?
No, no Greek social life in any context, you never get into any social life unless it is a big enough city. If it's a town there'd be two or three families at least but that wouldn't be what I call a good social life. Everyone would be caring for their own businesses, but if it's a big city such as Newcastle or Goulburn or Albury or Dubbo where there is hundreds more than one family naturally they get little gathering now and again for dancing. They have a Church and a visiting priest. The Greek life in Australia in the early days was a very hard life 'cause they were isolated, there were no communication with other Greeks, there would be just one Greek family in that town and that town would be just big enough to support a Greek family in business and a family would only be three or four persons, it wouldn't be any more.
How large were the towns then?
They would be around three or four thousand population. When it comes to another five or six thousand well there would be another Greek shop, there would be three more families there. In some places where populations were there were six or seven thousand or eight or ten or fifteen thousand there'll be about a dozen or more Greek shops and that means more population of the Greek type.
Were your supplies for the shop got from a Greek here?
What do you mean?
Maybe coffee, stock, food and stuff for the shop?
You mean the grocery line?
No, the majority of the Greek shops in any country town they wouldn't be anything like you have in Sydney. There'll be a plain restaurant or a plain milk bar or fruit stand or a little mixed business in an isolated position that there'll be very little to expect from it. Where as in the city, you'll find corner shops run by Greeks in any suburb there flourishing they have a good business, if it's a corner shop you can bet your life it's a good business.
Was your son influenced in Greek ways, was he encouraged to speak Greek while he was at home?
While my son was a student of the English school an hour a week would be taught the Greek language to read and write by me and fortunately my son speaks good Greek.
Did he only speak Greek at home?
Yes, speaks Greek fluently, although he's not very advanced in writing at least he's got the Greek language that he can understand in his own profession, the Greek customers.
Where does he have his shop?
He's got his pharmacy at Western suburbs which is called Summer Hill.
And did you help him establish him?
Well naturally when the boy left university he doesn't have the capital to start his own business. That's well understood, as father of the boy naturally I had the means to give him a start in life, I placed him in business with my own capital and that capital whether it would be eventually his or mine or not, that belongs to him. Whether it was mine before it would be his in the long run. And he is well established, he got married and he has a family and living as far as I know quite a happy life.
When was he born?
He was born on 24th October 1934.
Did your wife help in the shop a lot?
What year did you get married?
In 1933 I got married. My wife helped me a lot in business.
From the very start?
From the very start.
What part of Kythera is she from?
I came from Portamos and my wife came from a little next village, really not a town, a romantic place called Karavas.
And when did she come to Australia?
She landed in Australia in May 1928.
How old was she then?
She was seventeen or eighteen.
Why did she come to Australia?
Because she had two brothers in business in Queensland.
Stanthorpe, Queensland where her brothers had a flourishing business and she worked for a few years until I married her.
They financed her trip to Australia?
Yes, the brothers.
Did you know what ship she came on?
She came on the Vilda Tatrus. French name for message of sea transport company.
How was your wife's social life, did she feel that she?
She had a good social life in that little town when we were there.
Was she part of any ladies' club or group?
No, she was just an ordinary wife! She never took any part in any social activities, not like me.
You were the one that was part-
I was active in the town and the Chamber of Commerce and the Parents and Citizens Association.
You were very well accepted it seems? Even though you were Greek?
I was accepted because I had a business and I could be of help.
Did she also feel she'd like to move to Sydney for social reasons as well?
Well, I didn't like me leaving because I was well known, I had a good name, I had to get away because after forty years in the one business and age was creeping up and I had to relax my health. And I wouldn't advise anyone to stay behind a counter in business just because he's making money, money, it's not everything, it's only just a way to get what you want in life and if you do get what you want in life, you don't want anymore because the more you look for the more you want and then you finish and doctors get everything.
And how long have you lived in Sydney now?
Nearly nineteen years.
In Sydney, have you been involved in the Kytherian or Greek community?
Yes, we are members of the Kytherian brotherhood, we are attending functions, we go to churches. We are relaxing after forty years hard work.
Are there lots of Kytherians in this area?
Yes, quite a lot.
What area would they mainly live would you say?
They live in the Western suburbs, a few live in the northern suburbs. Others Eastern, South East, they are scattered about in the Metropolitan area. Quite a lot of them, about fifteen thousand.
And the year you came to Sydney, what year was that?
Was the Kytherian organisation-
Yes the Kytherian organisation in Australia started in 1923.
And who organised it, do you know?
It was organised by few Greeks that were in business in Sydney then.
In Sydney. But not the country?
No. They were Sydneyites organised the Kytherian Association in Burwood and naturally the rest of the Kytherians were scattered around the country side, they became members and others came down to Sydney for functions and weddings, baptisms and dances and a lot of them settled in Sydney, quite a lot of them were university students, others professionals already, doctors, dentists, architects, and we've got quite a lot of them, Kytherians.
What do you think the chief function was behind the organisation?
Was it for social reasons that it was formed, was it to have contact with other Greeks?
Well you have social reunions as we call them you know that a person was fifteen thousand miles away, somewhere in Brisbane, or long distances in New South Wales, three hundred miles, five hundred miles they liked to come to Sydney to have a social reunion. Well we have our own building, the Kytherian brotherhood house as they call it. It's in Redfern, really we don't call it Redfern, it's the neighborhood of the Central Railway station where all the buses and trains meet, we've got a lovely building, five stories high.
What street is it on?
Regent Street and they have social functions and dances, so they live in a happy life, majority of them, I don't think there is anyone who's miserable in Australia. Someone may be miserable but he must be lazy or couldn't care less.
Have you gone back to Greece?
Yes, I had visit to Greece in 1972.
How long did you stay?
We stayed for three months.
Where did you go, Kythera?
I traveled right throughout. First of all we went to London, then to the European states and then we spent two months in Greece proper travelling top to bottom and all the islands.
Did you stay with any Greek families in that period?
Well we have a place in the isle off Kythera where we stayed naturally.
Your own place, and how did you find Kythera after how many years?
Well after sixty years, well I left Greece with mixed feelings, I loved Greece, it's a beautiful county, got all make life pleasant but simply we were brought up differently to the Anglo-Saxon community in Australia or America or if it's in South Africa. Once you are ten years away from your fatherland, well you can't be contented being there.
How was Kythera, what sort of changes did you see?
I see nothing but ruins, nothing to make your life pleasant for long. Simply because the place was neglected, the island was 12,000 or 13,000 people and during my visit I only find out 3,500 people on it and everything else in ruin.
Was there any young people or were these old people?
There were very few young people, mostly old people but it's a lovely island, they've got beautiful one men's home, very modern, one of the best in Greece and they got a first class hospital, they've got main roads all tarred, they've got electric lights. They have water and lovely shops but not enough people. During the winter there's nobody there, it's cold and miserable, summertime is nice, everywhere in Greece it's lovely.
How did you find the Greek families when you were there? Any different from the ones here?
Well, naturally they are different!
How are they different?
They were completely different!
In what way? If I didn't know you were trying to explain to me, how would you describe them?
The difference between a Greek family here and a Greek family there?
The families in Greece although they were tight, even close families naturally they were close. As far as I can remember there were no families only old people.
In Kythera, what about in Athens?
In Athens, I didn't know anyone in Athens, they were all strangers to me. Staying at the hotel, they don't care about children and families as long as you pay their way, that's all they want unless of course you live in Athens a long time then you're got people who you know who you are. Naturally when you got to visit a Greek family in Athens or anywhere else they welcome you. Give you all the attention. The Greek family always welcomed strange families, we are Greeks, we are strangers, they call me a stranger because I went to theatre. With my wife, I got first class ticket, front row and the usherette come along, shows us seats and sit there, and she put her hand out, what is it, only she said you're strangers, just like that! Naturally we were. Although we were Greeks and we knew a bit, we were strangers simply because we never knew to give a tip. When she put her hand out, I should have known she wanted a tip, well I should have known that and because I didn't put anything on her palm, we were strangers in Greece of course. They are strangers, otherwise we were very pleased and everything we never had any people there we call this and that, no, I found very civil and honest, I must admit it, and even though we were strangers.
Do you find the Greek family in Australia has changed?
Over 80 years?
There's quite a lot of changes went through the Greek family in past.
What would you say they are?
They are really the majority of them. Few of them don't stick to the strict Greek ways, they are Australianized.
In what ways? How has it changed?
In the ways of going out without asking, insisting to adopt the Australian ways of life.
Which is? How would you define it?
Well by going around about different houses and meeting different Greek people.
Going out a lot you mean?
Yeah, I can see that within 10 or 13 years the Greek family will be Australianized.
What are the changes, how have you seen, what exactly have you seen since you first arrived?
Well in a lot of homes there is no respect for the parents by the children and that's bad.
You were saying there's no respect.
No respect, I wouldn't say generally there is i8solated cases where there is no respect from the children, they wouldn't listen to them, and it looks like within 15 or 20 years will be just generally a new generation will follow. Third generation especially there won't be any Greek left at all because I know, observing different homes, different ways, different people I visualize within 15 or 20 years, third generation which will be grown up they will be away from the Greek way of life.
Which is, how would you see the Greek way of life?
In some parts it's a good way of life.
How would you describe it if someone didn't know what it was?
It is honesty, respect, it's healthy, another thing which is most important.
In what way do you mean?
Say a brother and a sister in a Greek home, they meet another brother and sister, a friend from the other ways, Australian way of life, they meet up, they absorb the Australian way of life from the brother or sister and they go from there to there instead of going home early, they get home in the early hours of the morning, instead of going to a nice place to properly and civilly, they get drunk. That's no good for health in the long run. The health deteriorates and naturally you don't expect a healthy community.
Do you thin Kytherians should only marry Kytherians?
Has that occurred?
No, I wouldn't support the idea. I like the Kytherians to be very careful and marry not only Kytherians but others as well.
The have to be very careful to meet Australians because often one in a thousand will be a failure. I don't think it would be a wise move. The third generation will marry Australian, naturally that will be definitely, and that's not Greek, Greeks are finished then, but even now at the present time, there's a lot of, I wouldn't insist a Kytherian to marry a Kytherian just 'cause he's Kytherian. Because I like mixed blood.
How do you think the Kytherian community feels? Do you thing it's mixed blood? It's another Greek you think that's mixed blood?
Yes! Well it's mixed blood.
It's still mixed blood?
Yes, it's still mixed blood, my son married a girl, her parents were from POROS, well, the offspring which will be much smarter in brains and ability. While if it's close related sometimes or close neighbors it does make a difference. Personally, of course there are other who say you got to marry Kytherians or you got to marry from Cyprus or you got to marry from Kalynos. Well I don't agree with that.
How does the Kytherian community think do you think on that issue?
The old folks do not think that's right, I'm one of the old folks, but I'm different.
Do not think what's right, sorry?
I don't think that it's impossible that the Kytherians to marry Kytherians.
But who thinks it is?
The older generation, some of the old people, my age, I'm different, I'm 82 years of age. But I'm still different. But others think oh, no you should marry Kytherians.
How do you think your son would think on this issue?
My son was free to marry, but I must insist he had to marry a Greek girl.
Did you insist on that?
Oh yes, my son was during his university career, naturally as a young man he had a young lady friend and she was from England, what she was studying I don't know, she was English girl and as it happened I found out that she wanted him to marry her immediately, while he was a student, well I said I'm sorry I wouldn't allow my son to get married at that age and she was insisting on that when I found out by fluke.
How did you find that out?
Well I got a letter.
From a friend not from your son?
No, no, I got a letter from somewhere and they told me and said your son is after a girl from England and she's contemplating marriage. I told my son is that true and he said I don't know, no he said. Whether it's true or not I said, it's finished. Nothing doing. I said you're still a student, you have no mind of your own, and the little girl has no mind of her own.
How old was your son at this stage?
19, I think.
What year, second year university?
I think he was in second year. Anyway that killed it. I said just forget her, tell her off or I'll tell her off! I said.
So what happened?
They parted and in the meantime they mixed up with the Olympic Club. All the Greek girls.
When did that organisation start?
The Olympic Club, they had a vaudiville party, they performed it three times in one of those Sydney Theatres and I still got the program with everything that was written and said about it.
Would it be alright if I have a look at it?
Well if I have it handy anywhere. I don't know where it is. I haven't asked any of the people I've interviewed. But I got it somewhere.
I wouldn't mind having a look. If that would be possible?
The Olympic Club where he met this young lady, all Greeks, and a particular play, under the headline soap ads?, and it was to be played all in Greek, a very nice play it was, they performed it three times I think and naturally I kept the program and when he met this young lady, his present wife, we found out that they were a Greek family, they went together for about six or twelve months and then they got married, that the way I believe not necessarily 'cause I'm from Kalynos I should marry a girl from Kalynos.
Why don't you believe in like Greeks marrying Australians?
Because there is not a successful marriage yet as far as I know.
Have you seen lots of it?
Oh yes! Quite a lot in my career.
Kytherians marrying Australians?
Kytherian boys marrying Australian girls.
Or Kytherian girls marrying Australian boys in Sydney?
In Sydney and country towns, yes, quite a lot simply 'cause the Australian way of life doesn't agree with the Greek way of life.
Why, what did you see?
Simply 'cause the Australian way doesn't agree with the Greek way of life.
Why do you think that?
I don't know, seems to be that there is more freedom in the Australian way of life and the Greeks are very strict.
Why do you think the marriages have been unsuccessful? In what areas do you think?
Well mostly in the city area.
No, I mean in what areas of the marriage would it not be a success, how?
You mean the age. Both, the age of the people. I don't believe he should marry a girl before the age of 25, and a boy before 30. That' s a successful marriage 'cause both know their own mind. They know what they're going to meet and how they're going to finish. But the way things are going now (in Greek) seven out of ten marriages are failures!
Now why did the Greek and Australian marriages you had seen didn't succeed?
Because the Greek doesn't suit the Australian girl's way.
In what way?
In education, in manners and the girl wants her freedom, she wants that and she wants this. With the Greek, he either hasn't got the means or the way his parents were living, as an example I had a brother-in-law and he married my sister, she died, he had business in another country town, and he married an Australian girl, she was his servant, she knew it.
She was working in the shop?
Yes, got married, they got three children, now, brother-in-law died, she completely ignored everything that is Greek.
For the children, an ASSOCIATION they are strangers, while he was alive after that it was completed. It's a shame because they are really not social enough.
Where are they living?
They live in a country town far away. And sometimes the Australian girl is meeting or visiting a Greek family in their home, she doesn't like hearing Greek spoken, she prefers everything should be Australian. Well, some people they can't very well express themselves in Australian, they have to speak Greek to make themselves understood. Oh, she gets annoyed at that! So they have a big row at home with the husband, well it's not a pleasant thing, is not civilized, it complete strangers, they should marry third generation yes, not first or second. It will be a failure whatever it is, and if it's not a failure altogether, it's an unpleasant life, right throughout, quite a lot of them have made a mistake and they're very sorry now. But it is the young and foolish they just go and get married. They don't think what's coming behind, once they get married well you got to put up with all the consequences whatever it is. And naturally the consequences nowadays from what I can see throughout the community are not pleasant.
Did you follow the Greek papers in Sydney?
When you were here, did you read Greek papers?
What were you concerned about, what aspects?
The newspapers! Well the Greek newspapers in Sydney they go one way they pick up exactly what is written in the newspapers of the Australian press and as far as I can see because I'm well read in Greek I haven't seen a decent editor yet, reading articles in Greek newspapers in Sydney written by semi-educated editors, they had good editors when they first started it in 1926.
Who started it?
A Greek... eh... a Kytherian named George Marcellas started the Hellenic Herald, he came from Kythera, he had some money and was looking for an editor, and the editor arrived from SMIRONA, a very well educated person. When I was up at Wyong in my business I received the first issue of the Hellenic Herald, Greek paper, it was a few big pages, I read it, and whoever did it was a very clever man. So we came down to Sydney and I visit the office and I wanted to know who the editor was. I knew the Kytherian who started it Mr. Marcellas but I never knew who was the editor. So I asked him who is the editor and he said SILISOM. I said very clever, he said do you think so, and I said very clever. That paper will prosper and it did prosper, it's the best, well not the best, but it is the largest circulated paper outside Greece, but it went down because the editors went underground and died. And they never had enough money to engage better and so it was the Sydney Hellenic Herald.
The paper is still owned by Kytherians?
Now, no, the Sydney Hellenic Herald, it went to hands and the editors are not worth anything.
Are they Kytherians?
One of the editors, isn't he, another Greek paper?
The National Tribune, that the VIMA that is Kytherian.
Do you know who owns that?
Yes, Mr. Peter ARONI that VIMA paper was called, Australia, when I first came to Australia in 1913, I said no newspapers in Sydney but next year 1914 it came out. It started in 1913 but I never knew until 1914 and then I became a subscriber, but it didn't last long because the man who was a very clever man too, a good editor, he was drinking too much, and drinking and gambling sent him broke. And Mr. Marinakia from Sydney bought it out, and he changed the name from Australia to VIMA now the VIMA wasn't very strong or well circulated because they never had good editors and they never have now. Although Mr. Peter Aroni, the Kytherian who owns it, for quite a number of years now, he can't get good editors and a good editor won't come to Australia because he's getting good money in Greece, and they can't afford to pay very much money, I don't think they can afford very much. But anyway, it's a credit for the Greeks to have a few newspapers going round and get the news direct from Greece now.
Are you a member of any Australian Associations?
Do you write to Greece, to anyone in Greece?
Well I'm a good judge of newspaper reading both English and Greek and I can't see any Greek newspaper clever writing and to get a newspaper in English which I read I suppose for the last 55 years. Sydney Morning Herald.
Is that the only paper you read?
That's the only paper I read.
Do you read any magazines or anything else?
Magazines I got, sometimes the wife buys the Women's Weekly (yay) although it is not wonderful, it's mostly advertising, it's the best you can get for the money, as far as the Greek newspapers and magazines, they're not very much. I like the good editorship, I can always tell a good editorship.
You're not part of any Australian organisations?
After you left the country town, very few contacts with Australians here at all?
They asked me to be in a lot of things but I do not 'cause I can't attend sometimes functions, my health is not the very best lately, 'cause I said I'm 82 years of age.
You don't look it at all, I wouldn't have guessed it!
I have a doctor who asked me to be very careful what I do and simply I can't very well call to many functions at all, especially night time, I'm very careful how to pass my last quarter of life, still happy.
You seem to have led a very full life Mr. Londos, incredible, you have been so informative. Did you find any prejudice in Sydney against Greeks?
Was there any difference coming from the country town to Sydney to live?
Yes, in the country town you're well known, you're respected, you are one of them especially when you live long enough with them. And they assist you in any shape and form, they'll give you any information you want, they'll take notice from you if you are very successful business man. But in a city, nobody knows you, nobody cares bout your next door neighbors unless they're good Greeks 'cause some of them are bad Greeks, they shouldn't care less, but the Australian people, as far as I know, they don't know you, they don't like to know you.
Do you still feel like-
Like a stranger. Then again you've got the Greek community. That's the only what I call satisfaction you get 'cause you got the Greek community and you go out and go down to the shopping center and you find lots of Greeks there and converse with them you hear some news, but the Australian way they don't care.
But you don't have a shop, you don't have much contact with them?
Maybe if you joined a bowling club and joined clubs you would?
I never did like any such as bowling club although quite a lot of Greeks they are.
Really, in Sydney, Kytherians?
Oh yes, in Sydney, Kytherians, in fact I read the local newspaper that they circulate that in a game of bowls, seven were the Kytherians that were the most successful bowlers, seven! They told me their names.
Who told you this? Your wife, are you a member of any AHEPA or Greek organisation?
No (husband says). You're not.
Do you go to the Castellorizan Club?
Oh yes, sometimes we go there. (Wife) We've been to the Castellorizan Club a few times.
So your social life was with the Kytherians' organisation more?
Well, I do recognize the rest of them as well I'm a man of quiet disposition.
You've done so much in your life. You've told me so much about your life, but you've led a very active life. Did you fell lonely living in a country town, how did you feel?
(Aside to Mrs. Londos) Why are you nervous?
(Mrs. Londos) I'm not used to talking, you know.
Did you feel lonely 'cause you didn't have any relatives there?
(Mrs. Londos) No, I felt lonely and depressed when I first came out here. I went to my brothers, but not in Wyong.
Not in Wyong! Even though there weren't any Greeks?
(Mrs. Londos) No, no.
Did you socialise a lot with the Australian women?
Yes, well... eh...
In what way did you?
I didn't go to parties or meetings or anything like that very much. You see we worked in the shop, we had about six girls working for me, that's how we passed most of the time.
It's a lot of your life. But now it's totally with Greeks here - your contact within the 14 years you've been in Sydney.
Your social life has been mostly with Greek women?
(Mrs. Londos) Oh yes, from dances from Filoptohos (Church charity organisation). (Husband) Every Church has Filoptohos.
(Husband asks question) Do you believe in Filoptohos?
(Mrs. Londos) Do I believe in Filoptohos in Australia? Ah! Do I believe in Greek charity organisations? Yes, I think any money that can be raised to help people its great.
(Husband asks question) Do you think the Greeks are suffering in Australia?
Simply because there were no industries here, Australia was dependent on primary industries. When we first landed in this country, the population was 4 1/2 million.
(Mrs. Londos) In 1932. Just imagine, we had restaurants most of the Greeks, we had to go to the table and take the order from the person, take it in the kitchen, ask the cook to cook it, set the table and the knives and forks, sugar basin and everything, all silver, and then when the meat was ready, we had to go back to the kitchen and take it out to the customer and when the customer finished, you had to clean up the table, take them all in the kitchen, they didn't have very good conveniences in the old days like they have now. You see now they got take away food all on the counter, we used to so long in and out just for one customer.
Just to serve people?
And only for 20 cents, 2 shillings.
Was it a milk bar, was it hamburgers?
They call it "Refreshment Rooms".
Were you the only one in the town?
The only one in the town!
According to the size of the town, if the town was big enough. (Mrs. Londos) Oh there were a couple of other little shops.
Refreshment shops too?
Yes, but they were insufficient, there was not as much activity in those as there were the Greek shop, the Greek shop had the number one activity.
So you definitely think it was harder for you in those days?
It was hard, yes where business was a little lovelier, we had hands, waitresses, but a lot of places couldn't afford to put a waitress on, especially if you had a wife and child. Then we had a lady helping in the kitchen with one thing and another, but not waitress, eventually when the business grew up and the town became more populated we had a better business, we had a couple of waitresses.
The Castellorizans came around the same period?
The Castellorizans, the first Kytherians who landed in Australia was 1854. Mr. Krythery from Karava, Kythera, and then there were the Comino Brothers, Mr. Arthur Comino arrived first, I think he was a deserter from a ship, and then they brought out his brother, and then the cousin and then the nephew and the likes of that. So one big family Comino landed in Sydney within a few years. They spread, some of them went as far as Cairns in Queensland, others stayed in Sydney, the biggest Kytherian name in the last century, the Cominos. And then there were Aronis.
This is the person you first met, Peter Aroni? Is he connected to the Doctors now, the Aronis?
Yes, all one big family.
He owns the paper now, the Aronis?
Yes, he owns the paper, well I learnt a lot of English from Mr. Peter Aronis' father.
Who was he?
The man who printed the Vema, his father he was in the shop I used to work for in Lockart.
Your uncle's shop!
My uncle's shop.
He was in there, he was working there.
He was working there and I took a lot of lessons from him in English.
What happened to him?
He went off and bought his own shops too?
He went to Greece to Kythera, and I was left in charge of the shop then, I could speak English then and manage the little restaurant and he went to Greece to Kythera and got married and Peter was the son, and two girls, one of the girls is in a Kensington cake shop, and the other is Mrs. Mary Samios, Bellevue Hill, Spiros Samios' wife, she did have some home function.
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
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