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General History

History > General History > The Kytherian presence in the town of Gilgandra, NSW.

History > General History

submitted by George Poulos on 22.08.2005

The Kytherian presence in the town of Gilgandra, NSW.

Gilgandra's Kytherian business history.


The Seven Ages of Man

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

William Shakespeare As You Like It.

One line of the Kytherian "presence" in Gilgandra, ran through the ABC Cafe. This was located at 48 Miller Street, Gilgandra. [A photograph of how this shop looked in 2004, had been submitted to kythera-family. It is now a Five Stars Supermarket.]

Stavros Con Baveas, left Potamos, Kythera as a 20 year old in 1908. He spent a few years as a cook for the Cordatos' in Dubbo, prior to establishing the ABC Cafe in Gilgandra in 1910.

The ABC was a very large cafe, by Australian standards. Other than purpose built cafes that cater for functions, it was probably the largest cafe that I have ever seen in Australia. It was based on three shop frontages, and extended back to virtually the back boundary. The rear contained a large kitchen, storage area, and accomodation spaces.

Stavros Baveas ran the ABC for the next 17 years, with assistance from his brothers and his nephew Con Coroneos. In the 1916 census, he is listed as a resteraunter, and his brother, Sotiros Baveas, aged 31, is listed as a cook, in Gligandra. The ABC then passed to a H. Baveas, who ran it for two years. Stavros may have moved to neighbouring Gulargambone 1928 to join brother George. Research by Peter McCarthy of Inverell, indicates that Stavros is likely to have returned to Greece shortly after selling the shop at Gilgandra, and then returned to Australia in the early 1930's. "I have not been able to track his movements after his return."

Emmanuel Theo Peter Georgopoulos, pronounced "Yeoryopoulos" - Manuel Georgopoulos, known as Manuel Poulos, arrived in Australia in 1921. He spent 18 months in West Maitland, 3 years in Kempsey, 1 year in Casino, with brother Peter, before returning to West Maitland, in early 1927. He then moved to Kempsey for about 12-18 months, were he worked for the Motte Bros, and then returned for a short time to Casino. In 1928, he aquired the ABC cafe, at Gilgandra.

When Manuel took over the cafe he began trading as Peters & Co - The ABC Cafe. As we know from other entries to kythera-family, numerous Kytherian businesses in NSW grouped under the banner Peter & Co, or Peters & Co. Many shops throughout NSW still bear the name on their frontages. See Peter McCarthy's entries in History, subsection, Documents for early history.

The Georgopoulos family derived from the town of Potamos, in Kythera. By a strange coincidence their "parachoukli" was Hlihlis, the same nickname as the Tzortzopouli from Karavas, one member of whom, Con, would later come to establish a business in Gilgandra. That such a unique nickname should be shared by two different families is very unusual on Kythera. The family also had property in Galini where their mother lived. The family consisted of Manuel, Peter, Stamatia, Metaxia (Peroy), Vretoula (Lorandos), Chressanthe (Chryssanthe), later Kelly. Chryssanthe was always known as "Chris".

In 1934 Manuel wrote to Chris, in Potamos, Kythera, asking her to join him in Gilgandra, Australia, to come and help run the ABC Cafe. She acceded to his request.

In 1939, in a trip to Bombala, Chris met, fell in love with, and soon married Paul Koumekelly - abbreviated to Kelly. Paul was from the Greek island of Myteline, also known as Lesbos, which lies in the eastern Aegean Sea, near Turkey. The wedding of Paul and Chris was one of Australia's "celebrity" weddings of the 1930's, and was covered intensively and extensively by Movietone News. CD copies of the original Movietone coverage have survived.

In the meantime, Manuel Poulos's brother Peter, after selling up in Casino in 1936 spent at least a year with him at Gilgandra before returning to Kythera. Peter Poulos had stated that in one year during the Depression, the family had netted £ 3000 from the ABC. This indicates how large and lucrative a business it was. Upon returning to Kythera, Peter quickly re-integrated into Kytherian life; insisting for example, on riding his donkey everywhere in his village.

Tragically Manuel suicided in 1940.

My unverified guess is that ownership of the ABC Cafe passed automatically to the Kelly family at this time. Like fellow-entrepreneurs, compulsive socializers, sports fanatics and bookmakers, Peter Poulos in Warren, and "Jack" Vanges in Nyngan, Paul was an enthusiastic, likeable, impulsive, "larger-than-life" character. He had one of the most endearing smiles. He always seemed happy. Ebullient is the best single word to sum up his character. I felt that a lot of Gilgandra's "energy"" centred on Paul, and Chris, and the family, and the ABC Cafe.

Paul Kelly died suddenly and unexpectedly on the 3rd of May 1961. A significant part of the town of Gilgandra died with him.

Paul and Chris had 3 children, Stella, George, and Theo.

For a photograph of Kelly family 1954

For a photograph of the Kelly family in the mid-1990's

Stella lives in Dubbo, George in England, and Theo in Sydney (2005).

The essential psychological style by which Paul and Chris ran the ABC cafe has been well captured in Robyn Walton's article on the ABC cafe in Coo-ee Calls.

Robyn Walton on Paul and Chris Kelly and the ABC Cafe's influence on the town of Gilgandra

John Sklavos, adopted his Kytherian parachoukli (nickname) - "Pentes" - as his Australian surname. Supposedly it was easier for the Australians to pronounce. John Pentes - always known as "Jack" - had either a familial or business connection with each of the other 3 families that arrived subsequently in Gilgandra.

Jack was born in the town of Mitata, Kythera. He had arrived in Gilgandra in 1929, and purchased the Carlton Cafe - previously known as the Gilgandra Tea Rooms, from an English lady. This was located at 33 Miller Street, Gilgandra. He married Stavroula Flaskas, from the town of Kythera, Kythera. Jack and Stavroula worked the Cafe for 10 years. Catherine Pentes recalls that "...the crockery from the Carlton was a heavily glazed white, adorned with a crest - green with white background, with the name Carlton Cafe, Gilgandra written in pink". They had 5 children, Catherine, Helen, Marina, George and Elizabeth. Marina was born with a disability. Helen died far too young in 1995. The rest of the children now (2005) live in Sydney.

In 1939 - Jack sold the Carlton to George Peter Psaltis, who was from Potamos, Kythera. George's father, Panayoti, had moved from Mitata to Potamos as a teenager. Panyoti's second wife was Eleni Paspalas, who was the sister of Fiorendia Kapsanis; who was Archie Kapsanis' mum - hence the familial relationship with the Kapsanis family from nearby Warren.
The original family parachoukli, or nickname, of George's uncle, was "Tsakaroyannis"- "Bootmaker John". When Peter moved from Mitata to Potamos there was no longer any great need to differentiate one of the many Protopsalti of Mitata from the others - so he was known simply as "O Protopsaltis".

George came to Australia in 1928, as a young man, along with his second cousin George Protopsaltis, from Mitata - and a number of other 12 and 13 year olds, the story of which pilgrimage has been well chronicled at kythera-family.

The Protopsaltis pilgrimage, 1928

[A large 50th anniversay reunion to celebrate the original pilgrimage of this "famous" group, was held in Sydney in 1978. Does anyone have a video, or photo's of this event?]

When George Peter Psaltis landed in Australia, he went to stay with his relatives in Warren. It was from there that George learned of a business for sale in Gilgandra. [This pattern would recur 12 years later for Con Poulos. Move to Warren with close relatives - learn of business in Gilgandra - purchase business, and move to Gilgandra from Warren.] George renamed the cafe the Monterey, perhaps because his cousin's cafe in Warren was called the Monterey.

From 1939 until 1955 - the time of the great flood in Gilgandra, the Monterey provided full meal service. Subsequent to re-opening after the flood, it converted to a Milk Bar.

In January 1949, George married Alexandra Theothorou Feros, Ballis - from Mitata, and in the 1950's they had three children, Helen, Peter and Arnie. George and Alexandra left Gilgandra in 1973, and moved to Earlwood in Sydney. The children had already left to attend Universities in Sydney, Newcastle, and Canberra. George died on 15th Nov 1984, aged 70. Alexandra on 27th June, 1994. Helen and Arnie live in Sydney. Peter in Newcastle. (2005).

After selling the Carlton Cafe, Jack Pentes moved to Sydney, with a view to remaining there permanently. He tried to find a business, but WWII had started, and Sydney was in a state of chaos. He was advised to return to Gilgandra, where he opened a fruit shop at 41 Miller Street, Gilgandra, in the main street, next to the then Imperial Hotel, later the Golden West Hotel. Before he returned to Gilgandra, he was astute enough to purchase a family house in Sydney.

In the late 1930's Jack's second cousin, Peter Sklavos, family nickname, also Pentes, arrived in Gilgandra. Peters father and Jacks grandfather were brothers. To avoid having two Pentes's in Gilgandra, Peter maintained his surname - Sklavos - as his surname. Many Gilgandrians still knew him however - as Peter Pentes.

Peter was helped by Jack to establish a fruit shop at 41 Miller Gilgandra. The premises was leased from Jack. Peter lived for some time in the adjoining hotel, the Imperial, then owned by the Curran's. During WWII Jack bought two shops at 65-69 Miller Street, Gilgandra from the Hitchen family, of Cooee March fame. He subdivided 65 and 67; 67 becoming the Bank of New South Wales.

After the War, Peter Pentes opened the Victory Cafe; so-named to celebrate the Allies victory in WWII, at 65 Miller Street, Gilgandra. He maintained the Victory Cafe until the family left Gilgandra.

On 16 Oct 1948, Theothora Sophios, from Logothetiankia arrived in Gilgandra, and 2 weeks later, she and Peter Sklavos were married. Nick Sophios, from nearby Gulagambone was her nephew. Theothora worked for many years in the shop. Eventually she took up her trade as a seamstress, establishing a vibrant business of her own in the town. In between she managed to have 6 children; George, Toula, Maria, Gloria, Greg, and Claire. Theothora and the family, left Gilgandra in 1968. They went to live on the Gold Coast in Queensland. Peter stayed on to terminate his business affairs, and the following year, he too left Gilgandra. He retired on the Gold Coast. Peter Sklavos died on died on 6th May 1993. The youngest child, Claire, died far too young. All the rest of the family live on the Gold Coast of Queensland.

In the meantime Jack rented the corner store, 69 Miller Street, Gilgandra to the Naudine family. Mr Naudine went off to serve in the War. After the war the arrival of what would become by 2005 the Coles-Myer corporation's Western Stores made continuing in business as a corner store increasingly untenable, and the Naudine's were forced to cease operations. After Peter Pentes opened the Victory Cafe, Jack continued to run the Fruit Shop, at 41 Miller Street. He turned it into a mixed business.

In 1950, Con George Poulos - nickname - Hlihhlis, who had been in partnership with brother Peter, in Warren, NSW, arrived in Gilgandra looking for a business. He was from the town of Karavas in the northern part of Kythera. Jack decided to sell him the Fruit shop business, at 41 Miller Street, Gilgandra, and to lease him the premises. The lease was for ten years.

Con married, Evangalia (Angie) Coroneos, nickname Belos, also from Karavas, Kythera, in 1951. She had been brought to Australia by her aunty, Crisanthe, and uncle Peter Katsoolis, of Gosford in NSW. They had 5 children, 4 of whom survived, George, Peter, Phillip and Eric. The lease for 41 Miller Street was not renewed in 1959, and so Con Poulos bought one of two freehold butcheries across the road, at 42 Miller Street, Gilgandra. He converted this to a fruit-shop, milk-bar, mixed business, which was very successful.

Meanwhile Angela Belos Coroneos's younger brother Nickola (Nick), who had been sponsored to Australia by his Uncle Nick Coroneos, (Blacktown), arrived to work in the two Poulos Fruit Shop's. He married a young woman he met, whilst she was working at the ABC Cafe Beryl Palmer, on 12th June 1960. Soon, Beryl too, came to work in the Fruit Shop. She was one of the stalwarts of the shop.

Beryl's command of Greek language and culture gradually surpassed those of the second generation Kytherians. She repeatedly topped Greek School - which was conducted weekly in Gilgandra by the Greek Priest from Dubbo, Father George Kokkinos. Father George remained a friend to all the second-generation Gilgandra Kytherians all his life. Nick Coroneos died at the tender age of 44 on the 26th May, 1979. George, Peter, Phillip and Eric all live in Sydney. (2005). Beryl (now, Cassimatis) also lives in Sydney. Beryl re-married Paul Cassimatis, another Kytherian from Karavas, who had owned a business in nearby Gulargumbone for many years.

After selling the fruit business at 41 Miller Street to Con George Poulos, Jack, opened a mixed business at 69 Miller Street, Gilgandra - the former Naudine business - on the corner of the main street opposite the Royal Hotel, which he maintained for two decades. [A photograph of how this shop looked in 2004, had been submitted to kythera-family. It is now a middle-market Gift and Homewares Store.]

Jack Pentes spent 45 years in various business ventures in Gilgandra. He eventually left Gilgandra in 1975. Jack died in Sydney, on the 15th March 1985, aged 84.

Of course there were various years from 1910 - throughout the 20th century, when Kytherians had a need for employees in their businesses. Many Kytherians came to Gilgandra, to act as employees.

The Cassimatis (- Cassims) - seem to be the most numerous early Baveas employees, during their tenure at the ABC Cafe. Cosma Nick Cassimaty, always known as "Cyril", came from Potamos in 1910, aged 15, and subsequently worked in kitchens in Gilgandra, Dubbo, Coonamble and Narrandera prior to settling in Barraba, possibly with Harry John Cassim in the early period, but definitely with Kerry N. Cassim later. Kyriacos N Cassimatis, who married Nellie Phacheas in 1929, worked in Gilgandra and Barraba until acquiring a shop in Bundarra, in 1933. Theo John Cassimaty spent 6 months in Gilgandra around 1926, before later settling in Lake Cargelligo.

Harry James Flaskas, spent a year in Gilgandra, before settling in Denman in 1921, He married Stamatia Kasimati, in 1922, in Sydney. I have been unable to determine whether Harry James Flaskas was a sibling of, or otherwise related to, Stavroula Flaskas, Jack Pentes's wife.

In the early 1920's George Nick Coroneos spent 2 years in Gilgandra before moving to nearby Coonamble, where his two brothers owned 2 refreshment rooms.

Petro Stavros Zorzopoolo, spent 2.5 years in Inverell, then 2 years in Gilgandra, before arriving in Cobar to take over management of uncle Peter K. Zorzopooolo’s café, trading as Peter & Co.

Peter Tsicalas makes reference to, the fact that Jack Pentes traded as Pentes & Gleeson initially, at least through to 1931. Peter couldn't determine who Gleeson was, but coincidentally Stan Gleeson (Stefanos/Efstathios/Efstratios Emmanuel Glytsos) spent about 9 months at 'nearby' Binnaway after landing in 1924. He moved on to settle permanently at Kyogle - and married Katina Coroneo in 1932. Andrew Mina Glitsos also landed in 1924 and spent 9 months in Gilgandra, amongst other places, before settling at Manilla.

An S. Corones was in Gilgandra about 1929, during Manual Poulos's ownership of the ABC Cafe.

I recall Petros Faganas Coroneos, from Karavas, later of Crows Nest Milk Bar fame, telling me that when he first emigrated to Australia, during the Depression, he came to work in Gilgandra, at the ABC for a short time.

Anthony Emmanuel Antonios Travassaros spent a few months in 1931 working at the Peters & Co ABC Café in Miller St, Gilgandra.

No doubt numerous other Kytherians worked in the ABC cafe from 1928-1940.

Peter Tsicalas also makes the case that Eileen Smith should be considered part of the Gilgandra Greek community. She was the widow of Greg George Panaretos/Panarets, and remarried Francis Smith in 1937 in Gilgandra, apparently settling there. [Gregory Panarets m. Eileen Robinson 1918 Sydney. Gregory Panaretos d. 1936 Newtown, son of George and Cleopatra. George Panarets b. 12 Dec 1920 Sydney, enlisted Bulldog, Papua New Guinea, NOK Eileen Smith].

One of the more colourful Kytherian employees in the post WWII era, was George Lorandos, son of Vretoula; sister of Chris Kelly, of the ABC. George would later marry Elessa Fatseas. Because he was born in Alexandria in Egypt, he was nicknamed Farouk. He worked in the ABC from 1952, until 1962. Farouk's accomodation was in the live-in quarters at the rear of the ABC cafe.
He subsequently went on to work at his brother-in-laws; the Fatseas's Monterey Cafe in Gunnedah for 5 years, before settling in Hornsby, in Sydney.

Theo Fatseas, Gunnedah

In Robyn Walton's supplement on the ABC Cafe in Coo-ee Calls, there is a photograph of a Mr Theo Cominos, an employee, standing next to the newly installed tables and chairs, after the 1955 flood in Gilgandra.

George Peter Psaltis of the Monterey Cafe told me in discussions during my youth, that in the Cafes hey-day, 1939-1955, he employed a number of cooks. It is highly likely that many of them were of Kytherian origin. Can you advise us of their names?

If you conceive of Gilgandra's Kytherian business community as a stage, and the 6 longest standing Kytherian players and their spouses as the main actors and actresses, in an Australian-Kytherian drama, the Kytherians who came and went (mostly) fairly rapidly, can be conceived of as the supplementary cast. I am not certain that we will ever be able to determine the names of all of the supplementary actors and actresses. Did you grandfather, great-uncle or auntie, father, or other relative spend any time in Gilgandra during the 20th century? Are you old enough to remember one of your family or acquaintenaces who did so?

As the children of the "main cast" reached school-leaving and working age - all the original 5 Kytherian families, of long standing - with the exception of Chris Kelly, and daughter, Stella, and family, decided to leave Gilgandra.

After Paul Kellys death in 1961, the ABC continued to be operated by widow, Chris Kelly. Chris Kelly, with the assistance of daughter Stella, and son-in-law David, later converted the ABC Cafe to a Supermaket which they maintained for many years. It is still operated as the Five Star Supermarket in 2005.

In the 1970's, and through to the 1980's, a Kytherian presence was also maintained by the fact that the Gilgandra Fruit Shop was sold to Harry Logus (Logothetis, Logothetianika) and Voula, known as "Stella" (nee, Coroneos), Belos, from Karavas, Kythera, youngest sister of Angie Poulos. Harry and Stella, took on the roles of the last two major Kytherian actors and actresses on the Gilgandra community main stage. They moved from nearby Dubbo to run the business. They had four children, Maria, John, Phillip and Georgia, all of whom were schooled in Gilgandra. Maria, John and Phillip live in Canberra. Georgia in Melbourne.

42 Miller Street is still operating as the Gilgandra Fruit Mart in 2005, 45 years after it was opened by Con George Poulos. This fact pleased 88 year old Con Poulos, immeasurably, when he visited the shop in 2004. It is the only one of the "Kytherian" shops to retain its identity.

By the end of the 20th century however, there was not a single Kytherian Greek living or working in Gilgandra. All the descendants of the goddess Aphrodite, had strutted their stuff on the stage for the last time, had taken their final bows, and had heard the final round of applause, from an appreciative audience. The stage emptied. The curtain slowly came down. The audience went home. Gilgandra's Kytherian play, and Kythera's Gilgandra play - the same play - was over.

"That ends this strange eventful history,
(in)...................... mere oblivion;
....................... sans everything"

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