submitted by Gaye Hegeman on 17.01.2007
The first member of Jim’s family, who ventured to a new life in Australia, was his father Andy (Anargrios) Panarettos. The exact date of his arrival is not known, but he came in the late 1800’s, before the turn of the century. He owned a cafe in partnership with his brother at Gunedah in New South Wales and after more than five years of residence, was naturalized in 1905.
Not long after his naturalization, Andy who by this time was over thirty years of age, returned to Greece and married a girl from the Zantiotis family. They had six children of whom Jim was the eldest born in 1908, followed by Ralia in 1911, Panagiotis (Peter), Athena, Athamantia and the last born Stavros died in infancy. Andy lived to the age of eighty and died around 1961/62.
Jim went to primary school at Potamos, and then at fourteen started high school in the township of Hora at the southern end of Kythera. His first year of high school was the first year of the schools’ establishment. During the following six years of schooling, he studied French, Latin, the Greek Classics, Higher Mathematics, History, Georgraphy and Physics.
A very unhappy event occurred when he was seventeen and still at school. His mother became ill with leukemia. She received a blood transfusion from her son, but sadly did not survive. At twenty-six Jim left Kythera for Athens where he attended officers school followed by two years of service in the Greek Army. He enjoyed the work and his new responsibilities. On his release from the Army, Jim remained in Athens. He worked as a waiter and studied bookkeeping part-time. In 1937 he left Athens for Australia and did not return again until 1979, forty-two years later. He was proud of the fact that some of the best houses on Kythera were built by Panaretos families with money sent from Australia. Two of Jim’s sisters still live in the family home at Potamos. One is a widow and the other is unmarried.
In Australia Jim worked as an interpreter for the Commonwealth Bank. During the course of his work he made the observation that the name Panaretos also occurred on other Ionian Islands, particularly Ithaca and Corfu. Jim married. His wife comes from the Black (Mavrokefalos) family. She is a younger sister to Nina Black, a well-known educator and dance instructor from Melbourne. The Mavrokefalos family originated from Ithaca.
Jim took obvious pleasure in reminiscing about the Panarettos family. He spoke about his grandfather, Zacharias Panarettos who was a seafarer. His grandfather carried merchandise and passengers between islands, as far as the coast of Asia, to Cypress, the northern Aegean Sea and the Ionian Islands. He said the Greeks have always been great travelers and seafarers. The Greeks who lived in Smyrna, Turkey excelled in the arts, trades and had many opportunities for education not available to mainland Greeks. When about one million Greeks left Turkey in the 1920s many who had relations or connections on Kythera, settled there.
Children born to his grandfather Zacharias Panarettos, were Vretos, Anargrios (Andy), Garyfolia, and Stavroula. Stavroula married into the Fardoulys family, and had nine children. All but one of these children migrated to Australia.
While he was growing up Jim remembers that there were four large families of Panaretos living in Potamos. To distinguish each family from the other, they had nicknames. Jim’s family was known, as “notas” meaning south, another was “justice”, an English word. There was “xelynos” or wooden and the fourth family was “karepis”. The “justice” Panaretos family were also seafarers. Some of the Panaretos names he remembers from those years, are Victor Panaretos, John Panaretos and Spiro Panaretos. The family of Spiro Panaretos lived next door to Jim’s family. They were second cousins, but more like brothers.
Ninety percent of the population on Kythera were farmers. They were self sufficient and the whole family worked to provide for the home with the growing and production of wheat and wool. The animals they raised provided milk and cheese.
There is a legend that a Panaretos excelled at throwing the shot put, which evolved into the saying that “he throws it like a Panaretos.” The Greek dictionary meaning of “panaretos” is “all virtuous” that is full of virtue.
Jim made his home in Hobart, Tasmania where he raised his family. Some other Kytherians he knew who resided in Tasmania, was the Cassimatis family. Gregory Cassimatis came to Australia long before the turn of the nineteenth century and began work as a fishmonger, dealing in crayfish and scallops, also known as doughboys.
I visited Jim at his home in Hobart on two occasions, at the end of December 1987, and early January 1988. I am a little confused about the correct spelling of Panaretos and especially for Jim’s family, hense the variation. All the documents I have in my possession for my grandfather, Theo Andronicos and his brother Emmanuel (also from Potamos), consistently used the version –Panaretto, their mother being Panagiotitsa Panaretto.
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
‘Andrew’ Anargyros Vretos Fatseas
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