submitted by Peter Tsicalas on 03.03.2004
Lower New England
The Barrabarians were civilized in late 1905 by a subtle new twist to the euphoric fragrance of frying onions, that great cooking smell, wafting out of a shop in Queen Street. Standing at the stove was the Mylopotamian maestro, George Emmanuel Potiri, who had pinched his mother’s recipes in 1902, aged 20, and spent 3yrs adapting them at Tamworth and West Maitland with the help of his Andronicus cousins. Alas, he moved onto Walcha in 1908 and the converts were left with a mystery Kytherian benefactor until the Bavea Bros shingle appeared on the shop front in 1913.
Jack, Peter and Jim Nick Bavea traded as J. Peters & Co, perhaps indicating a loose connection to the Panaretos conglomerate. Peter had landed from Potamos in mid 1909, aged 16, and gone to Inverell where he had his own small business within a couple of years. He came here in early 1913 to join his older brother, Jack, who, upon landing in late 1911, had come straight to Barraba to work for the post Potiri mystery man, as did his 16yr old brother Jim the following year.
Peter, who often used the alias Peter Peters, moved to Manly around late 1916 and a year later passed this business to Jack and settled in Lismore. Jack played for Manly for a year, again as J. Peters & Co, when he decided to terrorize Narrabri in partnership with Archie Gavrily. Meanwhile Jim had been left counting the cash at Barraba until about 1918 when he passed the abacus to the Cassims and left for Lismore.
Cyril Cassim, aka Cosma Nick Cassimaty, indulged the Barrabarians for 10yrs until the gourmets of Sydney beckoned. He had come from Potamos in 1910, aged 15, doing kitchen time in Gilgandra, Dubbo, Coonamble and Narrandera prior to offering his skills and brother Kyriacos to the service of Barrabas.
The Cassims passed the shop to Peter Stan Vamvakaris, trading as Peter Harris & Sons, who remained for a couple of years before on-passing two shops, one to John D. Conomos and James Sophios and the other to Jack Theo Feros and his vagabond brother-in-law, Dimitri Peter Psaltis.
Dimitri came and went frequently over the years and is believed to have remained in silent partnership with Jack in various ventures through to the late 1930s. Jack, born 1903 Mitata, had established or acquired the Waratah café at Armidale in the late 1920s, in silent or hands-on partnership with Dimitri, which he left in the safe hands of his older brother Nick upon moving to Barraba, apparently with a stake from Peter John Feros and George Ernest Psaltis of Bingara.
Following Dimitri’s usual awol act Jack continued to dutifully attend the Barrabarians until the late 1930s when he was posted to Uralla, passing command to his nephew, George Charles Psaltis, recently commissioned from Nick Feros’ Armidale Academy. [Nick had bought out Jack (and possibly Dimitri) sometime in the early 1930s and continued to attend the Armadites into the 1950s.]
There is a heap of conflicting folklore surrounding Jack’s wayward partner Dimitri, whose first expedition was around the turn of the century when he decided to give Murwillumbah a fright. Shortly after this nth trip in about 1928/29, in which he escorted his daughter Maria, he again left Jack as the frontman and ambled across to Bundarra to take on Jim Cosma Aroney’s IXL café after Jim decided to move out to his farm to see whether raising mutton was more profitable than cooking the stuff. (It wasn’t.) In 1932 Maria married Archie Caponas of Mullumbimby and a year later Dimitri passed the IXL to Kyriakos Nick Cassimatis, (Cassim late of Barraba), and allegedly electrified Sydney for a while before again recharging his batteries on Kythera.
Archie Gavrily, his wife Evanthia (nee Andronicos of Moree, the sister of Jack Feros’ wife Alexandra) and children, Theo, Golfa, Effie and John, came to town from Gravesend just after the war to relieve George Psaltis, who subsequently quarantined himself in Mosman after his brothers caught the dreaded Mullumbimby banana disease. Golfa had married George’s brother, Peter Cosma Psaltis, at Barraba in 1944 and went off to worship King Banana at Mullumbimby with Peter’s brothers, Theo and Nick, the latter subsequently taking care of Jack Feros’s White Rose at Uralla sometime after Banana became godforsaken.
[And by the bye: The father of the banana growers, Cosma Psaltis, son of George and Katina (nee Castrisios), could be amongst the first Kytherians into Chile. He spent 12yrs there all up, first trip in 1907.]
The wonderfully named Commona Panreita, no doubt another alias of Comino & Panaretto of Moree, established an oyster saloon here around 1905, but who was interred as a manager is still subject to an archaeological dig. Sixteen year old Charlie Theo Andronico of the Muswellbrook Andronicos came to town straight off the boat in early 1905, perhaps implying there was a rellie already on the job, and remained for a bit over a year awaiting his brothers’ summons to Lismore.
Thereafter follows another dark-aged period until Theo Vasili Panaretto (Notos) arrived from Gunnedah in late 1910. He, 18yrs old when he stepped ashore in 1908, had undergone the short course at the Moree College of Catering and had his own small business at Gunnedah by early 1909, probably in partnership with Nick Caloudas who joined him at Manilla in mid 1911. They sold up in 1915, Theo moving to Macksville to join brother Tony and Nick disappearing to Brisbane, leaving Jack Calokerinos (and short-lived partner Emmanuel Haniotis) to stoke the stove.
Jack, the son of Nick and Irene (nee Feros) of Alexandrades, had landed in 1912 and was seduced by the magic of Manilla after a spell in Walgett. The story goes that he was one of those eternally happy people, so much so that his cheerful disposition made him one of the most popular figures around town and earned him the nickname ‘Smiley.’ And being a smart marketer, promptly adopted the surname Smiles and traded as J. Smiles & Co thereafter.
He returned to Kythera in the late 1920s to charm Christine Karvousanis and seems to have left his shop in the caretaker hands of Emmanuel Vasilios Petrohelos while his partner and first cousin, Phillip John Feros, continued to experiment with product differentiation from the partnership’s second outlet. Jack came back in the early 30s and begat Nick, Irene and Maria before again returning to Kythera, selling his share of the business, but not the freehold, to his Koumbaras, Basil Minas Glitsos. He was trapped by the war and didn’t make it back until 1948, with by then Helen, Donna and Jim as new additions to the family. He resettled in Sydney where he died in 1977, aged 89.
Phillip Feros also docked in 1912, aged 25, another rare exception to the teenage rule, but 6wks later (yep) returned to play in the match against the Turks. He restarted his Australian tour in 1914 and after a year or so in Melbourne and Sydney joined Jack Venardos in a café at Leeton, from where they both attempted to enlist in the AIF but were denied a place in the team because of ineligibility for naturalization. So around late 1915 Phil marched to Manilla, subsequently acquiring the Haniotis shares and joining cousin Jack in a long partnership, which sometime post WW1 saw them with a shop each under the umbrella of J. Smiles & Co. And except for a 2yr Kytherian sabbatical from 1921, leaving brother Peter minding the shop, he diligently served Manilla through to 1939.
Bill Glitsos took in Peter Comino as a new partner around 1940 and was still trading at Manilla as Glitsos & Comino in 1950, although Peter and his wife Maria are believed to have moved on to Temora by then. Bill’s brother, Andrew, who landed from Dokana in 1924, aged 23, seems to have had a separate café from the late 1930s through to sometime post war.
It’s a fair bet that the Panaretos of either Moree or Inverell had a branch here by 1902 when the 18yr old Potamonian, Leonidas George Gengos, turned up on the first train out of Circular Quay. He remained for 3yrs, followed by another 3yrs trespassing in the Spyro Panaretos possessions of Tingha and Glen Innes prior to infiltrating Vic Panaretto’s Moree stronghold. His brothers, Angelo and Vasilios, spent about 6mths here in 1908 before descending on Walgett for a short period. By 1909 they were all partners in the expanding firm of Peters & Co at Inverell, which at that time had branches at Tingha, Moree, Walgett and Wagga.
In 1904 Kypriotianika farewelled 12yr old Peter Zacharis Kepreotes who brought the village colours to Quirindi about 5yrs later. In 1914/15 he passed the standards to the Venardos and returned to Kythera to impress Eustratia Samios, but got caught by the war and upon eventual return in 1921 decided to detour to join his brother Spiro, who had in the meantime remounted the family crest in front of the Strand café at Werris Creek.
Mick Venardos and family remained through to the end of the war, leaving the shop to their employees, Angelo and Andrew Peter Christiano, who then dug in for many years. Another Christiano, Sotirios Peter, turned up post war and, after sampling the cooking, decided to open his own boot-making business.
The Katsoulis Bros, Jim and Spiro, the sons of Nick James of Lockhart, arrived a couple of years after the Christianos to spice up the catering competition.
Sometime in the late 1930s the Christianos moved on to Tamworth, apparently leaving the welcome mat for the return of the Kepreotes of Werris Creek. And also by the late 1930s Theofanis and Cosmas Megaloconomos of Agia Peliga had arrived in town to lecture the locals on the health benefits of consuming vast amounts of fruit and veggies.
Nick and Andy Damianos Andronicus of Mylopotamos brought a wagonload of supplies from Sydney in early 1900 to provision a shop with a stake from Comino Bros. In 1901 they were joined by brother Minas (Mick) who, shortly afterwards, went off to establish a Comino Bros branch at West Maitland. The next brother, 16yr old Emmanuel, came straight to town upon landing in late 1903 and a year or so later is believed to have opened a second Tamworth outlet. He stayed about 3yrs before waltzing off to Walcha to visit relocated Andy, thence West Maitland to see Mick, prior to settling in Sydney for his great adventure with brother Charles, who had landed in mid 1903 and alternated between Tamworth and West Maitland.
The next brother, 18yr old George, came straight from the docks in early 1907, by which time Andronicus Bros were trading in their own right, presumably having returned the pot of gold, weighing a few extra carats, to the Cominos. John, the youngest brother, was 14yrs old when he arrived in late 1908, initially joining Mick at West Maitland but coming here in 1910 after Mick sold up and moved to Sydney. The Tamworth shops were sold to Comino & Panaretto in about 1912 and the remaining brothers moved to Sydney to join Emmanuel, Charles and Mick. George however, couldn’t handle city living and went to Walcha in 1913 to relieve brother Andy in his partnership with cousin George Potiri. Andy was also a country boy, eventually spending many years in outback Queensland. Ditto Nick who managed to thrive in Sydney for many years but died in Queensland in 1928.
Dionysios Con Panaretos was the bloke initially managing one of the Comino & Panaretto shops and could have taken on the second shop after Tomaras & Trifillis, the earlier partners, disappeared around 1915. But by this time the place had Panaretos running around everywhere. Theo Panaretos was here as a partner in the ancient and august firm by at least 1915 when he did a vanishing act. His brother Archie, 18yrs old when he landed in 1911, came here in late 1913 after time in Sydney and Walgett and remained for a year or so until marching on to Mullumbimby and attempting to enlist. Fifteen year old Tony Basil Panaretos came to town in 1914 directly off the boat and stayed for ~2yrs before shuffling off to Macksville, thence Moree. Gregory George Panaretos, believed to have been 17yrs old when he left Potamos in 1906, and spending his early years around Temora, Wyalong and Cobar, stuck his head in sometime during the war. He landed with his older brother Peter who elected to be christened a Victorian after experiencing the eating habits of the Crookwellians and Goulburnites. Downstream in the late 1920s it all came full circle when Dionysios (Denny), the son of Jack Dimitri Panaretos of Moree, turned up and remained for the funeral of 60yr old Dionysios Con in 1935.
In the meantime many other Kytherian opportunists came and went. Café proprietors bearing names such as Aroney, Castrisos, Christianos, Coroneos, Crethar, Feros, Kalokerinos (Summers), Samios, Tambakis, Vangis, Varipati (Patty), Venardos, … appeared over the tears. By the mid 1950s Tamworth had grown to match Lismore, sharing the pedestal as the two largest Greek enclaves in northern NSW, discounting the 200 or so banana idolaters scattered through the hills around Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah. Tragically, their descendants have descended to Boot Scootin’ down Peel Street to the accompaniment of that country and western classic, Achy Breaky Heart. There’s no hope.
Kypriotianika established a sister village relationship with the railway town of Werris Creek in 1910 through their elusive ambassador George Peter Kepreotis, who was reinforced by junior consuls, 14yr old Emmanuel Theo Kepreotes and 18yr old Spiro Zacharias Kepreotes, in 1914. Spiro became a roving emissary 6mths later, presenting his credentials around various Tableland and Hunter towns until returning to take over the head office in 1918 after the others were reassigned. Emmanuel eventually opened a consulate at Gunnedah while George was sent on a secret mission.
Spiro, who landed in 1912, flew the flag alone until 1921/22 when he was joined by his brother Peter who, refreshed after a workout with the Greek army, immediately began to beget the next generation of Werrispriotians with his bride Eustratia Samios. It was getting a bit crowded by the late 1920s prompting Spiro to move back to Quirindi, one of his old short duration haunts.
Contributing to the overcrowding was George Con Fardouly and family who had turned up from Molong around the same time as Peter returned to the kitchen and established one of the ubiquitous White Rose Cafes. They were still there when
Peter died during WW2 and Eustratia and the children carried on the business into the late 1940s, at which time it’s believed Spiro returned to carry on the family association with the place, another rare island of True Believers in the surrounding sea of the Country Party.
For some obscure reason Werris Creek was chosen as the venue for the first meeting to form AHEPA. The get-together was initiated by Nick Harry Andronicos of Scone and Jim George Zantiotis of Warialda who rounded up the usual suspects. In August 1934 the 32 attending Greeks elected the following committee: Nick Andronicos (President), Lambros Megaloconomos and Phillip Feros (Vice Presidents), Chris Souris (Secretary), Jim Zantiotis (Asst Sec) and Lambros Souris (Treasurer), with Emmanuel Kypriotis, Harry Fardouly, Angelo Christianos, John Moulos, Nick Feros, Peter Kypriotis, Sarantos Souris, Dimitrios Catsoulis, Emmanuel Aroney and Anthony Barboutis, as non executive members. (Thank you Denis Conomos)
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