The following article appeared in the Dubbo Liberal Newspaper in October, 2003.
[Dubbo is situated in the geographic centre of the state of New South Wales.
Dubbo ia one of the fastest growing inland cities in Australia.
The increasing importance of Dubbo is reflected in its population growth over the past 30 years from 12,000 in 1954 to its current estimate of 38,000. The City has a strong reputation for its successful and innovative approach to the development of its economy.
As its many residents and visitors will testify, Dubbo is one of the State's most vibrant and progressive regional centres.
[Note: The above photograph is not the one that appeared in the original article.]
Helen Proud of her Heritage.
When Helen Calligeros came to Australia she may have been poor in terms of possessions, but she was rich in hoipe and determination to succeed.
Rachel Whitely reports.
An afternoon in the garden reminiscing with Helen Cakkigeros could almost make you believe you were sitting on the island of Kythera, in Greece, which she was born.
And while she is very proud of her Greek heritage she loves Australia.
Helen Calligeros arrived in Dubbo 50 years ago this year, and celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary on October 5; her husband George having passed away 15 years ago.
Arriving in the country in 1948 as a 15-year-old, her 14-year old brother Nick in tow, she brought with her many stories of the beautiful island where she was born, the people, the culture and, of course, the food.
"I was born on Kythera Island in Greece in 1933, as one of seven children," Helen reminisced. [In birth order, their anglicised names were Theo, Toula, Angie, Helen, Nick, Manuel, and Voula. Theo, Toula, Nick and Manuel are deceased.(G.C.P.) ]
Helen remembers World War II, and the invasion by Germans and Italians of her island. She recalls the hardships experienced, although she was young at the time.
In 1946, Helen's mother [Georgia (nee, Mentis)] died from complications during the birth of her eighth child, leaving her father to raise the brood.
"We came to Australia, sponsored by my uncle (Nick), who owned a cake shop in Blacktown," Helen said. "We came because we were poor, and my uncle could see a future for us in Australia."
"We arrived in Blacktown in the night time, about seven or eight. The next morning my uncle said to us 'go behind the counter and say yes please?'
The people would come in and we would say 'yes please', and they would point to what they would want."
The family remained in Blacktown for four years, and after three months, had learned the cake business.
"In 1952, I came to Dubbo for a Greek wedding," Helen said. THe wedding was between a local girl Audrey Dumbrell and John Calligeros, no relation to Helen, but also from Kythera Island. (However, another John Calligeros, also in Dubbo, was George's brother.)
"It was at that wedding that I met my husband George, who was a bootmaker here in Dubbo," Helen said.
The young couple were married three months later on the long weekend in October in the Church of England, by a Greek Orthodox priest, brought up from Sydney.
George had first worked at the California Cafe, now the site of Carrington Firearms in Talbragar Street, which was owned by George's brother-in-law, John Comino.
"We had the boot shop for six or seven years before we sold it and bought Fred Cunningham's fruit shop, also in Talbragar Street, in 1958," Helen said.
This was the time before supermarkets, and the pair worked very long hours.
"Dad would get up at 6am, and work until 9pm, seven days a week. The only day they had off was Christmas Day," explained Angela Calligeros, Helen's oldest child.
"They worked very hard like all the migrants had to in those days."
During this time their two chiuldren were born, Angela, and son Micheal, who both still live in Dubbo. [In 2004, Micheal moved to Canberra.]
Micheal..and wife Tracey (nee, Neeve - heritage English), have three teenage boys, who simply love their Yiayia (Greek for Grandma), while Angela, who is a legal secretary with Nelson, Keane and Hemingway, lives with her mother.
On June 6, 1961, Helen became a naturalised citizen, after being advised to do so in the lead-up to a visit to Greece.
"They suggested we be naturalised before returning to Greece for our trip, to avoid problems in returning to Australia," Helen said.
George died 15 years ago, and although Helen has toyed with the idea of leaving Dubbo, she is now adamant that this country - and city - is her home.
"I love my cooking, gardening, watching tennis,..I love to play bingo..and I love Australia," Helen said.
Helen's older sister, Envangalia - Angela or Angie; mentioned in the course of the article, is my mother.