submitted by George C Comino on 23.03.2013
George Christie Comino
The Greek Café
As a first generation Greek Australian (Kytherian decent) I spent my childhood in the beautiful country city of Armidale in the State of NSW.
My father (Christie Peter Comino) had been in partnership with his elder brother (George Peter Comino - my godfather ‘Nono’) since 1910 when they bought the then Central Oyster Saloon (later known as the IXL Café) from the Cordato Brothers in Armidale.
The Greek Café was the social centre and meeting place of young people and indeed the local community as a whole. Many farmers, as I recall, would meet and dine at the IXL on Saturdays when they came to town to do their weekly shopping.
The Roxy at Bingara
On the 23rd of February 2013 a group of Greek Australians (most members of the AHEPA Organisation including myself) traveled from Sydney to Bingara to view the Roxy complex which has been restored to its former art deco glory with unbelievable attention to detail.
This restoration, literally took my breath away, as I gazed into a world I knew so well from a time long ago.
Walking into Peter’s (Roxy) Café and seeing the mirrored glass, the restored neon sign, the milk shakers, the glasses, the cubicles and the general cafe atmosphere made the hair stand up on the back of my neck as I so comfortably fell into a nostalgic trance and reminisced about so many happy moments I had as a young lad at the IXL.
Then there was the Roxy Theatre itself, once again a dominant feature of the Bingara CBD standing proud as the legacy of three brave, perhaps a little foolhardy, but adventurous young Kytherian entrepreneurs.
The restoration of the Roxy Theatre can best be summed up in one word “magnificent”.
To me the complex is a living symbol of the unique contribution Greek Australians made to this country. The Shire Councils, The Federal and State Governments, the Kytherian Association, Sandy McNaughton (Manager of the Roxy), Peter Prineas (Curator) and Peter McCarthy and the Roxy Museum Committee need to be congratulated for supporting and developing this mammoth project.
The opening of the Roxy Museum this year will, in time and with the support of all those Greek Australians who have memorabilia from their parents and grandparents etc., become a most significant component of Australia’s cultural heritage. I have no hesitation, and in fact feel obligated to donate all documents and photos I have to the Museum for safe keeping and to be part of the historical record of this by gone era.
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
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