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Newsletter Archive > February 2006

Newsletter Archive

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 30.03.2008

February 2006

_Dolmades for Lunch
_Recent Message Board entries
_THE PICNIC by Harris George

Dear Friends of Kythera,

for those of you who don't look regularly at the message-board area of the site, we've decided to list the newest entries in the newsletter each month, so that the searches and announcements of other community members reach you. Don't forget that if you have a missing branch on your family tree, or even if you are looking for someone to make spanakopita for, leave a message on the board. As soon as someone answers your posting you automatically receive a notification from the site - this feature also works when someone adds a comment to any of your entries.

While our regular island reporters are away for the winter, we have a new columnist who I hope can contribute regularly. "Crissouli" was, like so many of you, brought up in a country town where being of Greek and Kytherian heritage was something of a novelty. Perhaps, while reading "Crissouli's" words, some of your own fond and not so fond memories will occur to you. If they do then we'd enjoy hearing about them from you.

And as a special treat we are giving you a taste of a new book which has quite a few stories about Kythera and kytherian relations in it. Harris George's "By George" is a wonderful read. One of the Kytherian stories "The Picnic" is reproduced at the end of this newsletter, together with information about where you can purchase the book. A "must have" for all passionate Kytherians.

>Kythera-Surname Book
The translation has begun. Emmanuel Kalligeros' brilliant book on Kytherian Surnames - the Greek first edition of which sold out a few months ago - is being translated by John Stathatos, known to many of you as the director of the Kytherian Cultural Association and, in my opinion, one of the finest Greek-English translators in the business. Here is a short excerpt from one of the surnames - Andronikos - which was recently translated:
"A fairly widespread Kytherian surname, it is also one of the oldest. It derives from the ancient Greek name Andronikos, which was borne by many distinguished Greeks from the days of Alexander the Great. It occurs in the Hellenistic kingdoms of the east from whence it passes to Rome and eventually Byzantium; one of the commonest Byzantine baptismal names, it was also the name of several emperors...
... In 1799, the priest Dimitrios Andronikos from Kousounari was at the heart of the violent disturbances which took place during the panigyri (feast) of Agios Theodoros, culminating in the murder of the nobles Tzanetos and Panayotakis Kassimatis; the two men, already notorious for their arrogance and violence, were lynched by an outraged mob of peasants after they had behaved offensively towards the priest's wife."

As you can see, even one paragraph from one surname history can be of interest, regardless of our surnames. Mr. Kalligeros has devoted thousand of hours to research and write this first class overview of more than 300 surnames. Our website team, led by Angelo Notaras of Sydney, viewed it as a priority to have this 800 page work available in English. We hope to have it ready for publication in 2007.

Please don't forget that lives from its entries. We've recently added a "Life Story" category to the People section on the site - if you've always wanted to add your parent's or grandparent's biographies, now is the time to do it. For those of you who are new to the site or forgotten, you have total control over your entry. By logging in and going to your personal page, you can always go back and edit or add to your entry. So, if a few details or a possible entry are still missing, don't let that hold you back - indeed, by putting your entry online you might well find that someone with the missing information contacts you through the site.

Crissouli's "Dolmades for Lunch" and Harris George's wonderful short Kytherian story "The Picnic" follow below with the message board postings.

All the best from a thawing Berlin,

James Prineas

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by Crissouli

Growing up in a small, country, seaside town in NSW, Australia, was a wonderful experience.

We, my younger brother and I, were well aware that we were a bit different. After all, didn't we have Greek grandparents, an Australian born, Greek father, and an Australian-Irish mother?

We went through various stages of total acceptance , and others where we were constantly asked simple questions, such as what did we eat... After being expected to have dolmades for lunch, (maybe followed by ouzo?), we decided that we may as well get some benefit from our difference. Remember that this was a small town in the 1950's...

So the two of us decided on a money making venture. After all, if our friends were always so full of questions, why shouldn't we give them some answers? We talked about it at length and eventually the day came. We had told everyone that we would put on a Greek concert for them. The fact that we had little knowledge of Greek or Greek dancing wasn't going to stop us, after all, neither did anyone else.

Of course, we weren't going to do it for free. A penny for just songs and three-pence if they wanted song and dance. Of course, everyone wanted both. Our dreams of financial independence grew bigger by the day. We organised for someone else to collect the money for us, after all, we were busy getting ready. This friend was paid in baklava that our Nona had made for us.

Lunch time saw groups of children all gathering on one of the side verandahs of our old wooden school; the side furthest from the headmaster's room, of course. Let the concert begin. You would never have seen anything like it... or for that matter, heard such interesting songs... there never got to be a repeat performance. Not because no one liked it, but because so many did. They went home and asked their parents for money, pity one of them was the headmaster's daughter! Oh, well, our fame was short lived, but the memory lingers on!

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Passing of Spiro Calligeros.
submitted by Denise Calligeros on 06.02.2006

We recently wrote looking to trace any family/friends of my dear father-in-law Spiro Calligeros. We have just found some, but the search goes on. We have contacted the Smiles (?) family from Roseville, and also Casimatis family in Kingsgrove. There is also a Varthas(?) family in Kingsgrove. We also know that there are more in Brisbane. if any one out there can help us - maybe you are one of us! Please write asap. Would love to finish this puzzle soon.
To contact please log on and go to this link and click on the author's name:

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Karavitiko Symposium
Sunday, 12th February, 2006. 11:30am - 5:00pm
Once again it is our pleasure and delight to invite you to Karavitiko 2006.
The Church service is returning to the
Greek Orthodox Church, Kogarah,
and the luncheon will be held in the Hall right next to the church:
Prestige Function Centre
14 Belgrave Street,
Kogarah, 2217.
More information:

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Roxy Theatre 70th Anniversary Festival

The magnificent art deco Cinema at Bingara in north western New South Wales was established by three Kytherians.

Peter John Feros, Katsehamos, (Mitata)
George Ernest (Proto)Psaltis, Katsavias, (Frilingianika), and
Emanuel Theodoropoulos Aronis, known as Emmanuel Aroney, (Aroniadika)

To celebrate 70 years since the inception of this most "Kytherian" of cinemas, Gwydir Shire Council is holding a Festival which will culminate with the Roxy "Movie Ball" - 1st April 2006 - 7:00pm. Attendees are encouraged to dress in the fashion of the 1930's.

There will be an unveiling and dedication of a framed photographic display of the 3 Kytherian founders at the Roxy Theatre, Bingara.

At 6:30pm Peter Prineas' wonderful book will be launched.

A true story of Greeks and Australians in the early twentieth century
240pp, paperback, bibliography, notes, index.
Read more here:

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submitted by Frances, Peter Vlantis, Solovieff 13.01.2006

Just a hello from Gaithersburg Maryland. I am the daughter of Peter Spiro Vlantis. Our family wishes anyone hit by the earthquake a fast a safe recovery. Our hearts and prayers are with you.

Peter Vlantis and wife Margaret Vlantis from Kalokerines Kythera, now live in Freeport, New York, Long Island are expecting their 4th grandchild in April.

We are looking forward to a visit to Kalokerines in the future, with the entire family. I can't wait, maybe the year 2007, when my new born is out of diapers. Dad (Peter) is busy working at the restaurant and Produce delivery business. Mom (Margaret) is busy teaching science to children in New York.

Son Peter is busy working his home improvement business in Maryland, with his wife Denise and two children Mia(5) and Chloe(4). Mia started kindergarten and Chloe go to nursery school. Youngest son Anthony is DJing at clubs in Manhattan. He is also taking computer classes. Daughter Frances and husband David Solovieff, have a two and half year old son Ivan. We are expecting our second son, April 6th. I will be naming him after my daddy (Peter). We are so excited.

We are healthy and fine. And hope to travel to Greece all together in the summer of 2007 or 2008.

Frances Peter Vlantis Solovieff
Direct Link:

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Looking for Comino/Calligeros family members
submitted by Denise Calligeros 09.01.2006

I am a Calligeros through marriage, and am trying to trace my husband's relatives. His father is Spero John Calligeros, and his father John, married Katerina Comino, who had a brother called John Peter Comino.
He had the Lithian Cafe in Binnaway in 1926 till about WW2, when he sold it to my father-in-law. My father in law has a brother Peter, and 4 sisters called Mary, Soula, Koula and Helen. They are from Potamos.
Any information to steer us in the right direction, would be very helpful.

Submitted by Spyro Calocerinos(Kalokairinos) 06.02.2006

Hello Denise.
I was just talking with a good friend Emmanuel Cassimatis and told me that he has given you all the information re. above relatives. Good luck. Spyro
Direct link:

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Family History
submitted by Dimitra Samios 09.01.2006

1) Panayiotis Lagonaris married Efrosini Cosmopoulou from Armiros, Volo, Magnisias(northern Greece) early to mid 1800's.
2) Any information on my great-grandfather Nikolas Galanis who married Maria Thoeropoulos re their parents would be greatly appreciated.

Contact Dimitra Samios:

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Mr. Hlentsos
submitted by Kiriaki Orfanos 06.01.2006

Can anyone give me information about Jack (John) Hlentsos, who worked in Nowra during the 1960's?
Direct Link:

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Search for Cassims family
submitted by Leanne Curtis 19.12.2005

Hello, I am searching for the Cassims family, namely Kathleen or her siblings, that visited and settled, maybe briefly, in London, or Birmingham, England prior to 1965. If anyone has any information, please contact me. Rebecca Cassim
Contact via:

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To Krasisas!

submitted by Kevin Smith 12.12.2005

I visited Kythera many years ago. I have never, before nor since, drunk such splendid wine. I confess I drank a great deal in the taverna that evening, much more than I reasonably should have. And yet, the next day, I awoke without any suggestion of the excess of the previous evening. Being scientifically minded, I repeated the experiment twice more - both times with the same result!! What is the secret of Kytherian wine?

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Website Featured Entry:

by Harris George

Mom had died suddenly in 1968, and the family decided that it would perk up Dad's spirits for the family to take Dad back to the island of Kythera, the island of his birth. The family was excited because, except for Ted, none of us had ever been to Kythera.

In 1969, thirteen of us landed at Kapsali, Kythera's only port - Dad, my siblings, their spouses, children and I. Although we stayed at Kapsali's only motel, we were all eager to go to Karava, the village in which both Mom and Dad had been born. We chartered a bus for the next day.

Vasili, who owned the bus, was also its driver. We crowded around the bus and saw that it was old and its tires bald. Vasili, sensing some apprehension, quickly assured us that he was an excellent driver, as well as a master carpenter, expert fisherman, learned scholar of Greek antiquity, and a superb musician. "Besides," Vasili said, "this is the only bus on this side of the island." Thus reassured, we boarded the bus.

The trip was exhilarating. The road was unpaved, consisting only of two deep ruts winding through the mountains. We could see the valley far below, and the view was spectacular. Suddenly, my sister, Mary, who was sitting in the front seat of the bus, squealed. An old truck was coming down the mountain at high speed toward us, its wheels in the same two ruts as our bus's wheels. How could we pass each other? The road was only one lane wide. Neither vehicle slowed. All eyes were peering out the front window of the bus. Collision seemed inevitable. When the vehicles were about ten feet apart, our bus veered to its right, as did the truck. Our bus's wheels were now on the road edge of the mountain and on the ridge in the road between the two ruts.

There was no guard-rail. Everyone on the right side of the bus, looking at the valley perhaps three hundred feet below, screeched simultaneously. It was a long way down. The bus then lurched left, its wheels again finding the two ruts. Miraculously, the vehicles had somehow passed each other. Vasili's voice boomed, "I told you I'm a good driver. I haven't had an accident... for at least two weeks."

The road became even narrower. Vasili announced that he would be stopping for a few minutes to pick up something from a relative who lived on the way to Karava. Five minutes later, Vasili pulled to a stop in front of three small houses and said that anyone wanting to stretch should do so. My nephews and I emerged from the bus. I saw three old men drinking coffee around a small table on a stone ledge outside one of the houses. Recognising me as an American, they smiled. I sauntered up to them, and, endeavouring to make polite conversation, in my broken Greek, I asked them whether this was the road to Karava. The oldest of the three smiled even more broadly and said, "Monsieur, this is not Paris. There is only one road to Karava."

Vasili emerged from a house and headed for the bus, as did my nephews and I. The journey resumed, and the bus entered Karava and came to a stop at the village square, where villagers were waiting to greet us. We got off the bus, and the villagers, most of whom were aged, began hugging and kissing Dad and Ted. Soon, the George family was introduced to the villagers, some of whom were our relatives who had not seen Dad or Ted since 1933, when Dad, Mom and Ted (then sixteen) had visited Kythera.

I began chatting with Thee-ah Ma-ria ("Aunt Mary") who, when a little girl, had been a playmate of my mother's. Aunt Mary told me that, when she was a child, her parents had left Karava to emigrate to Australia, where she had spent most of her life. When she was sixty, she had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and given only six months to live. She decided to spend those last six months on Kythera - and she was now seventy-five! Although frail-looking, she spoke with conviction and passion, constantly gesticulating.

The villagers had gathered because they were preparing to take the George family on a picnic. Unfortunately, Dad felt tired, and he decided to remain in the village. The picnic had been Aunt Mary's idea. She would lead us to the miraculous spring, the waters of which had cured her of her fatal illness fifteen years ago and had kept her healthy and vigourous ever since. Baskets of food and drink, watermelons, various breads and Greek pastries had been assembled, and, at last, Aunt Mary gave the word - Pa-mai" ("We go"). I asked Aunt Mary, "How far are the picnic grounds?" She answered, "Ena vee-ma" ("one step").

Since I, at six feet two inches, towered over everyone else going on the picnic, I decided to take two large watermelons, one in each arm. As I picked them up, I saw that Aunt Mary, carrying a basket, was heading toward the edge of the square, away from the village. Carrying a watermelon in each arm, I hurried to take my place right behind her. She left the square and started down the mountain. I was amazed at Aunt Mary's sprightly pace. After some ten minutes of descent, the ground levelled, and we came upon a rather wide stream. There being no bridge, I assumed that this was the picnic site. I was shocked to see Aunt Mary jump onto a rock in the stream and then another until she landed, completely dry, on the other side of the stream. Undaunted, and carefully balancing the two watermelons, I too jumped from rock to rock and crossed the stream.

Aunt Mary, who had waited for me, now started up a small hill. The watermelons were beginning to feel heavy, and I called out to her, "How far are we from the picnic?"
"Ena vee-ma," came her prompt response.

Cresting that hill, we came upon a stony down slope. It was difficult to get secure footing, and, cradling a watermelon in each of my arms, I carefully made my way behind Aunt Mary, whose pace seemed to have quickened. I looked behind me and saw that the procession was moving steadily, lugging baskets of food and drink. At the bottom of that hill, my arms really began to ache. I couldn't stop now to put the watermelons down and give my arms a rest, I thought. I was the biggest guy in this whole group, and I've got to keep up with Aunt Mary. As we began ascending the second hill, I called out, "Thee-ah, how far?"
"Ena vee-ma."

Both of my arms were now absolutely numb. Desperately, I clutched the two watermelons as I struggled up the hill, which was somewhat steeper than the previous one. I was silently exhorting myself to keep up with Aunt Mary. Finally, I saw Aunt Mary, ahead of me, put her basket on the ground. NIRVANA! I thought. I made it! I have kept up with (seventy-five year old) Aunt Mary. I put the watermelons down and flexed my arms several times to restore feeling. The miraculous spring was in a rock outcropping amid a grove of trees beside a swiftly running stream. Some of the villagers had brought musical instruments - a bouzouki, a flute and a mandolin.

Aunt Mary insisted that the first thing to occur was that each member of the George family should drink from the spring. Once that had been accomplished, the George family and the villagers feasted, drank and enjoyed the music and the camaraderie. After a half hour or so, my arms began to feel normal again. I chuckled to myself as I thought of the ordeal my arms had endured because of those watermelons. Ena vee-ma, indeed!

Soon, it was time to go. Everyone began collecting baskets, food and trash. I saw a small, old villager struggling to bring a metal canister to the spring. "What are you going to do with that canister?" I asked.
"I'm going to fill it with spring water to take to your father in the village" was his answer.
Inwardly shuddering, I said, "I will carry it to my father."

We retraced our route, up and down the steep second hill, up and down the stony first hill, jumping on the rocks to cross the stream and - at last - up the final slope to the village square. This time, I was hauling a metal canister heavy with miraculous spring water. This time, my ego did not get in my way. I stopped from time to time to put the canister down and to rest my arms. The villagers offered to help me carry the water, but I refused. Some of the villagers kept my pace and, when I stopped, they stopped too. By the time I reached the village square and put down the canister of water, I was exhausted, and my arms were aching painfully.

Many other villagers had now gathered at the square, eager to glimpse the newly-arrived Americans. There also stood Dad and black-robed, bearded Father Gregory, St. Charalampos' priest, clutching stalks of basil leaves in one hand and a small silver bowl in the other. Father Gregory made the sign of the cross three times over the canister and began chanting in Greek. The villagers bowed their heads, and the George family followed suit. After five minutes, Father Gregory spoke softly to a villager, who picked up the canister and poured water into the silver bowl.

Aunt Mary quietly instructed the George family to line up next to Dad. The priest, with Aunt Mary holding the silver bowl filled with water, approached Dad. Father Gregory dipped his index finger into the bowl and made a tiny sign of the cross on Dad's forehead, chin and two cheeks, murmuring the names of the Holy Trinity. Ted's forehead, chin and cheeks were next, and Father Gregory continued down the line until all of the George family had been blessed. He then dipped the stalks of basil into the bowl and began sprinkling the villagers, again intoning the Holy Trinity.

Father Gregory smiled, proclaiming, "Today the blessed waters have united the George family from America with those who welcome them to their ancestral home of Karava." A smiling Aunt Mary, putting her arm around Dad's shoulder, shouted to me, "Bud, your father has been blessed and is now fully rested. Grab some watermelons, and let's have another picnic."

This entry can be found at:

Thanks to Harris George for his permission to post this story on the site. This and many more wonderful tales are recounted in the book, which is available at Itasca Books for only US$20,00 and can be ordered online:
To purchase a copy of the book in Australia, email George Poulos at
It will also be on sale at the Karavitiko Symposium
Sunday, 12th February, 2006. 11:30am - 5:00pm
Prestige Function Centre, 14 Belgrave Street, Kogarah, 2217.

more about the book:

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