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Newsletter Archive > March 2005

Newsletter Archive

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 03.02.2008

March 2005

Dear Friends of Kythera,

after a long winter hibernation the sounds of birds have returned and I in-turn have found time to send out our newsletter for the first time since November.

Our planned "Discover your Kytherian Roots" event on Kythera will unfortunately have to be postponed. The response to the program and costs in the last newsletter weren't sufficient to make it viable. We will work on the concept an present it anew when ready.

Since the last newsletter in November there have been about 900 new entries on Today the total tally stands at 5725. I, for one, consider that amazing. And for every entry submitted, dozens more are being read. Kythera must be becoming one of the best known islands in the Mediterranean.

So many entries are now being submitted that I can't keep up with them all. Just now I found an entry from October which I hadn't noticed, submitted by our collator extraordinaire George Poulos of Sydney. It is about sea mines or "Nurki". The entire article follows below after the other special features (including a letter from Kythera and an interview with a champion).

I remember that the when the Encyclopedia Britannica was first reproduced digitally, it fitted onto one CD-ROM which could hold about 600MB. That just happens to be how much information is now on our site. Admittedly the pictures make up a lot of that volume on our site, but as each of them are renowned to be worth a thousand words, I'd say that we aren't far behind the Britannica.

So help contribute to our Encyclopedia Kytheraiika! It doesn't cost anything. It's fun. And the time you spend doing it will be easily compensated by the enjoyment it will bring to the thousands of visitors to the site in the next months, years, and decades. Register (if you have already then just log-on), tell your story or upload your picture, and press "submit". It's as easy as ena, theo, tria...

Best regards from a chilly Berlin,

James Prineas, Website Team Leader Europe, Berlin

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Letter from Kythera, March 2005
Carnival on Kythera
By Rowan Parkes

Clean Monday, the day of catharsis, of cleansing, of cooling down after the sizzling antics of the Carnival weekends. I say weekends because these days we have Carnival Number One on weekend in Livadi, and then the main parade and celebrations in Potamos on the official Carnival weekend following.

It has certainly been a long and exhaustingly satisfying event for everybody. The previous Carnival in Livadi was, by general agreement, a bit of a disappointment, although the kindergarten artists were very sweet, as were the junior school chimney sweeps accompanying Mary Poppins, and the fairy tale characters put on a good show. The only real highlight was a reproduction of Charles's choice of Camilla for his bride. In Greek, Camilla's name can easily be translated as "camel", and our island version of Charles's choice picked her out of a large group of zoo animals! Apart from that, the priest theme (the orthodox Church in Greece is currently enduring a series of very public scandals - ed) was overdone to the point of acute boredom, and the turnout was sadly a lot smaller than Livadi might have wished. Though it should be mentioned that their Mr., or rather Miss Carnival, was excellent.

After seeing this not very inspiring state of affairs, it was not without misgivings that we traipsed to Potamos the following week. However they were soon forgotten in the laughter, hilarity and general enjoyment that followed. Pelagia junior school gave us all a wonderful message about the environment with their beautiful fish costumes and placards, many of them children of fishermen who are finding it harder and harder to ply their trade as the catches become fewer and fewer. The need for better regard being shown to our waters was understandably stressed. Similar messages were shared about the rainforest. Katerina and her gym class excelled themselves many times over, satirising both themselves and their large appetites for less exercise and more chocolate biscuits. Eurovision had a couple of takeoffs, hopes for Saki Rouvas winning last year having been dashed, and the Olympics were also successfully and humorously portrayed. Avlemonas and Mitata went hand in hand, one parading overly large and rowdy school children, the other even larger and rowdier babies and toddlers (who for some unaccountable reason appeared to have lost their bottles and adopted alcohol as their main form of sustenance). My personal favorites were the hilarious portrayal of Kytherian wives and Kytherian musicians, the former being personified by sheep with large aprons draped over them, the later being so accurately and hilariously mimicked that I for one was in stitches.

The May Pole having been danced around with great rioting and giddiness, many retired to the party that had been set up by the politically active voluntary group of Potamos, where they enjoyed the real versions of the Kytherian musicians doing their thing, along with dancing and drinks and face painting for the children. Just as the party finished, the bakery opened for the special occasion and people queued up to get the first "laganas", the traditional Clean Monday flat breads sprinkled with sesame seeds, hot and crisp from the oven.

The baker Nikos, having spent the day running back and fourth from one float to the other, taking part in almost every event, spent the evening slaving over the ovens, and then somehow managed to find the energy to repair to the Camelot club (dressed, originally, as a baker!) and was last seen dancing on the bar and covering everyone in flour. Wait, I lie, he was last seen the next morning, how he got out of bed no one knows, probably by not bothering to get in it in the first place, and for some reason saw fit to wear dark glasses.
All in all, a hectic weekend, and according to custom it isn't over yet and people are out flying their kites and enjoying their picnics, and the island has obliged by bringing back the sunshine and taking away the chill.

So, we hope you had as good a Carnival as we did!
Regards and loud samba music from Kythera!

Rowan Parkes, Aloizianika, Kythera

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A Kytherian Champion

Late last year I interviewed one of the most industrious contributors to the, Spyro Calocerinos. He has contributed well over 100 entries of enormous cultural value to the site, from stories about occupied Kythera to pictures of classes of school children from Hora. Sypro has thus preserved his private Kytherian knowledge and collection not only for his children and grandchildren, but for the benefit of every one of us interested in Kythera.(JP)

Interview with Sypro Calocerinos
1. Tell us a little bit about your early memories of Kythera.
I was born on the 28th of January 1932. I was the youngest of five children born in Hora, Kythera. My father was born 1893 and my mother 1900. Before the war, our family was considered by many as reasonably well off and my parents' education was considered those days as very good. My father had gone to Business College and my mother was educated in a girls' Catholic school where she received her diploma in French. My parents were well known in Kythera as they had a successful business in Hora which actually still exists and is owned by my nephew - another Valerios Kalokairinos (my father's name). I remember our life before the war as a happy environment, a life that would be impossible for today's youth to experience. It was so care-free with a lot of influence placed on religion, school choir, traditional music and songs of the Seven Islands "Eptanissa", with people singing in the streets what they called "Kantades", playing different instruments such as mandolin, harmonica piano accordion, guitars etc. Piano accordion was my favourite and at school dances in later years I was providing the music. It wouldn't be out of place, while walking to Belvedere in Hora, to hear the beautiful music and songs of those days, or indeed in the plateia or just walking in the streets and singing. One would think that if this were to happen today, the musicians might be locked up.

I went to public school a year earlier than normal and after four years in that school, I enrolled at the "Octataxio" - eight years High School. When I finished High School, I was eligible to sit for exams to enter - if I was successful - the Agriculture College of Athens. My intentions were to specialize on vineyards and winemaking. Those days, one would have to sit for exams to enter university or higher education, no matter how good ones marks were at High school. In my case we knew that there were only going to take 50 students out of approximately 2000 who sat for exams or one in 40.

My eldest sister Pipitsa, was married to Peter Semos (Semitecolos) 1934 - when I was two years old - and they lived in Australia. In 1949, Peter Semos died and my sister needed someone from our family to be here with her, even if it were for a short time. I was the only one that could get a passport to leave Greece before I was called to serve in the Greek army. On the 21st of May 1950 I left Greece and travelled by plane and arrived in Sydney on the 26th of May 1950. I met my sister for the first time at Sydney airport. (See a picture of the event at: )

My intention was to stay in Australia for six months, then return to Greece to continue my studies, but my sister had not seen our family since 1934 and she wanted me to stay until she returned from Greece with her children. She returned 12 months later and by that time I felt it was too late to continue my studies, therefore I decided to continue my life in Australia. I was lucky that I knew some basics of the English language and learning the English language well was one of my priorities.

In 1959 I married Sadie Karpathakis, who was born in Sydney and her parents were from Symi and we always intended to go to Greece after we had a family thus enjoying our trip with our children, so they could visit my birth place and also Symi. Our first trip was in 1975-25 years after I left Greece- and there were many reasons for this delay.
a) With three children it was very difficult to establish oneself in a stable and secure position, especially with no financial assistance from anyone and as the children were getting older, the demands in life were getting greater.
b) During those years, people that I loved dearly weren't there any more, therefore, every time we started making plans for a trip, a very dear person wouldn't be there and the desire was diminishing with the loss of each one of these people. My grandmother, brother, mother who was killed in a car accident on Kythera - and my father, had all passed away.

In 1975, our eldest child was 15 and the youngest was 9 years old. It was very difficult to take them away from school for three months, but when I asked the headmaster if this would place the children at a disadvantage, his answer was: "We will never be able to teach the children what they will learn by visiting the country that gave democracy and so many other important "lights" to the world. That was exactly what I wanted to hear.

It was true that by visiting Greece, the children had sufficient slides (photographs) from different parts of Greece, and ensured that they knew the history of each one of those slides and places, that enabled them to make a program with the assistance of a slide projector and a tape recorder. These were shown at the schools they were attending and eventually a number of other schools. Our children have been to Greece three times and some of our grandchildren have visited Greece twice. As to my wife and myself, we have lost count, but I guess we have been to Greece around 15 to 20 times, each time not less than six weeks. One of the highlights of our trip is the reunion of my school class which is organized annually on Kythera on the 18th of August.

2. How did you find out about
The site was introduced to me by my grandson, who is also very interested in learning more about Kythera and wishes he could go and live there. He has been to Kythera twice.

3. Do you find easy to use?
Please remember, that at my age, it is not easy to become a computer wizard and my computer knowledge is very basic. Having said that, I think that after my first few mistakes, I find the website easy to use.

4. What do you like about the site?
The fact that future generations will be able to log on to this web site and find out their heritage, family tree, stories, Kytherian history and so many important photographs of Kytherians, that in a few years would disappear unless someone today - not tomorrow - gives this gift to their children or grandchildren. What better present can one leave behind other than memories and information? I have discovered through for the first time, photographs of my grandfather's brothers. I can see so many Kytherian descendants looking for their roots. Many find a lot of information about relatives in Kythera or other parts of the world through .
Our generation who lived on the island during the occupation of the Italians and Germans can provide priceless information for future generations. If we spend one hour a week with one of our grandchildren guiding us to use the computer, we may find that the grandchild will be interested in learning more about his/her heritage and also assist us in providing the information that other children want to know. I don't think anyone can guess the value of information this site will provide in a few years time

5. Do any other members of your family ever visit or contribute to the site?
Yes, my grandchildren visit the site and are very interested in what they read, but with their studies, they find it very hard to contribute.

6. Do you think that is important to the Kytherian Community?
Certainly. Possibly the best way that the young generation will get to know more about Kythera and our heritage.

7. Have you ever been contacted by someone through the website
>and have you had any response regarding your entries?
Yes I have been contacted by a small number of people.

8. What is your favourite category/article on
History up to 1950 mainly during the years of occupancy, Culture and Photography

9. Is there anything else you'd like to say about the site?
On a personal basis, this site not only provides this wonderful information, but also gives me many happy hours reading about the place I was born at and people I know or have known.

Many thanks to Sypro for his marvelous contributions and for allowing us to print his thoughts about Kythera and the website. His passion and technological fearlessness should inspire all Kytherians to enjoy the site.
James Prineas, Website Leader in Europe

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Museum seeks Australians returned to Greece
A collaboration between the National Museum of Australia and the Kythera Cultural Association

An official from the National Museum of Australia in Canberra will visit the Greek island of Kythera in April, looking for the stories of residents who left the island, settled in Australia and became citizens ñ and then chose to return to Greece. With the assistance of the Kythera Cultural Association, Adam Blackshaw will interview returned Kytherians, gathering their stories on audio-visual tape to become part of the National Museum's collection on migration.

"We tell the stories of many migrants to Australia, but we don't often think of Australians as migrants to other countries. We more often see ourselves as home to a wide array of ethnic groups," said Mr Blackshaw. He believes that tracking overseas Australians, a relatively unexplored research area, is an important goal for the Museum. "Discovering and telling the stories of migrants who return to Greece in their later years is a rich area to document," he said. "Greeks, more than other migrant groups, keep in touch with their homeland, and many return to retire. Many of their children and grandchildren also return to live in Greece, or alternate between the two countries."

Greek migration to Australia began in large numbers in the 1920s, increasing substantially up to the Second World War. By 1940 around three-quarters of Greek settlers in Australia were from the Greek islands, Kythera prominent among them. Major contributions have been made to the Australian community by people with Kytherian background ñ including filmmaker George Miller, master architect Alex Tzannes, actor Claudia Karvan and emeritus professor of engineering Dr Harry Poulos.

The director of the Kythera Cultural Association, John Stathatos, will help Mr Blackshaw locate Australian Kytherians who have returned to live on the island. Mr Blackshaw will be on Kythera from April 24 to May 5. Those who wish to talk to him should contact John Stathatos at the Kytheraiki Politistiki Etaireia on (27360) 31 718, or at or write to him at PO Box 48, Chora, Kythera, 801 00.

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An interesting entry:

Sea Mines. Nurki. (Greek). A fascination with dynamite.
submitted by George Poulos 12.10.2004

(Tony Fardoulys is a Real Estate agent in Liverpool, Sydney, Australia. In the past decade he has travelled to Kythera every Kytherian summer. Town of origin: Ayia Pelagia. Parachoukli Alai. He recalls the following about sea mines).

Sea mines - are called nurki or nurkes (plural). They were big and round ....about 1,5 metres wide. They had detonators every 7-8 inches ( 16 cm's). Many of them washed ashore in Kythera.

To immobilise them they were dragged out to shore. Kytherians would stand in the water up to shoulder height, and slowly unscrew all the detonators. Once there was no longer any chance of their exploding, the men would use chisels to cut them in half - like a watermelon.

They used to chisel along a seam in the mine, which ran from end to end. Inside was two tanks, and between the two tanks were all the explosives and detonators.

On either end were two plates - like steel caps - which were fastened with bolts. The men would unscrew those to gain access to the wires linked to the detonators.

When they obtained the cordite, they put it in jam tins to store it, and then used it to make small bombs with....usually for fishing.

The drum halves of the mine shells were often used as feed troughs for animals. For example to put hay in for the donkeys. These are still in use at Kalamitsi, near Ayia Pelagia for this purpose.

George Poulos 12.10.2004
You can see the entry online and contact it's author here:

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