Dear Friends of Kythera,
I received the sad news this week that a great Australian-Kytherian, Professor Manuel Aroney, has died in Sydney. As many of you already surely know, Manuel was not only a major force for the good of the island, but was recognised internationally in academic and human rights advocacy fields which earned him international fellowships, and was honoured with an Order of the British Empire for services to the University and to the community as well as the Member of the Order of Australia given for services to multiculturalism and the Greek community. I've known Manuel personally for over 20 years, and his support for Kytherian projects, both personally and through his role as member of the Nicholas Aroney Trust, had a huge and positive effect on the the island and its Diaspora community. Indeed, Kythera-Family.net might never had seen the light of day without his support. We will miss him very much.
Great Walls Book Project
l'd like again to thank the scores of you who have submitted pictures to the Great Walls Book project. The next step if for all submitters to send me (at firstname.lastname@example.org) full-sized versions of the pictures they uploaded to the Great Walls section of the site. Even if you uploaded your largest versions of the pictures to the site, the site reduced them for display purposes and did not retain the full-resolution versions. My email account can handle mails up to 20MB, so you can attach your pictures individually or in groups of pictures, and send them to me. In one mail or more - whichever you prefer. We won't start to layout the book until we've received your pictures (deadline: end of March) so we know what resolution and quality we have to work with. Once the trial layout is complete, we'll be submitting the proposal for funding (to all of you who are members of the Kytherian Association of Australia or other Kytherian associations, put in a good word for us!).
After various delays beyond the control of the core trails team, we will finally begin the implementation of the Trails System on the island (see www.kythera-hiking.com or download the trails map here.) this European summer. If will be on the island in July or August we could use your help painting the trail post and/or distributing them around the island. Last year our trial trail team ("The Magic Green Pool trail at Linminonas - pictures here) had a hot but fun time planting the posts and the drinking and dancing (led by megagreek George Poulos) was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (which we'll try to repeat...)
Best regards from a cold grey Berlin,
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Commander Frederick Rand
Manolis Fatseas: A unit of Royal Navy marines is welcomed at the entrance to Leivadi, 5 February 1945. In the centre, Commander Frederick Rand, the ranking Royal Navy officer on the island at the time. Digital positive image from original glass negative. Ref. No. MF 0004 (detail). Kythera Photographic Archive.
16.03.2007 Spyro Calocerinos
The Germans left Kythera on the 27th of January 1945 and Commander Frederick Rand was in charge of a number of ships that anchored at Kapsali on the 4th of February 1945. Among the ships, there was a cargo ship, loaded with rice, wheat,flour and sugar. Captain Frederick Rand was appointed by the liberated Greek Government as a caretaker, to oversee the peaceful existence of all political parties in Kythera. Captain Rand ordered that the cargo ship should be unloaded in Kapsali for the Kytherian public. This was the first free food assistance on the island of Kythera after the Second World War.
It was decided by Hora's Council, that a street should be named in Honour of Captain Rand.
The street leading to Hora's Kastro, was chosen. A sign was made and after speeches in Greek and English, a Doxologia, and ribbon cutting ceremony, Captain Rand was a happy and proud man.
Some years later,the painted sign deteriorated and it was impossible to read anything on it. It was decided that the sign should be repainted and replaced.My late brother in law "Nikos Petroheilos" was responsible to repaint the sign which had on it The Councilors weren't under any pressure to replace the sign. They had all the time in the world to do that.
One day, a massage from Kapsali arrived, that Captain Frederick Rand was in Kapsali with his family and friends, where he had anchored his yacht and all were excited and eager to see Captain Rand's Street.
The councilors, knowing that they wouldn't be able to repaint the sign in time, sent two cars to Kapsali to pick up Mr.Rand's party and advised the drivers to delay them as long as possible and most important,"DO NOT STOP AT ESTAVROMENOS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES" They had to tell them that the drivers would take them to the interpreter first.( At this point I must explain that those days, there was only one street in and out of Hora). The locals ensured that there were no other cars going down towards Estavromenos Church, thus leaving the road open for Mr.Rand's cars to go through.
As the cars with Mr. Rand approached the point where he remembered "HIS" street sign, the drivers kept driving and there was no way that Mr. Rand could see the sign.
They drove the party to Hora's plateia where the interpreter advised them that they should see our Monastery at Myrtidia first as there was still plenty of daylight.
This would give Nikos Petroheilos enough time to paint the sign.
It was arranged,that on their return trip from Myrtidia, the party would slow down at Livadi and Hora would be notified.
The sign was painted in time and the Councilors, placed it on the EASTERN wall of the street.
When they arrived at Estavromenos Church, there was a welcoming party in position,including the priest, Councilors, and young girls with flowers.
Mr. Rand, looked at the WESTERN wall where he remembered the sign was placed, but everyone pointed at the EASTERN wall where the sign was on the wall.
Finally, Captain Rand could show his family and friends, with pride, "FREDERICK RAND STREET"
The party was driven back to Kapsali where they boarded Mr. Rand's yacht and he left Kythera a very happy and proud man.
It is sad, that after numerous trips to Kythera, I tried to find out what happened to that sign, but I have never been able to get an answer.
15.01.2011 Laura Rand
Not lying or anything. I am being perfectly serious. But... THIS IS MY GRANDFATHER! Yes! So glad I found this, thank you Spyro and all contributors to these articles and pictures, my father has been trying to find this for ages and tonight we found it here!
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Seizing the Day
submitted by Anna Cominos on 29.01.2011
More than 120 workers from Kythera’s building sector including architects, civil engineers, master builders, electricians, plumbers, tilers, iron-workers, carpenters, transporters and labourers created a peaceful picket-line on the steps of Kythera’s Local Council closing down the council’s operations on Friday 28 January 2010.
Seeking to draw urgent attention to the lack of operations of the Town Planning Department, which is not even accepting building submissions let alone applications, unwittingly drawing a halt building on the island and leaving hundreds of families with no income.
The huge economic and social repercussions of a sluggish building industry are widespread. Kythera basically has three industries not reliant on public service: tourism, farming and building and cannot afford to lose such a vital industry.
Since the last local elections every local council in Greece has been undergoing a transition between the Kapodistria model of Governance to the new model of Kallikratis Governance. The Town-Planning Office that, until the last day of 2010, had jurisdiction over Kythera is the based in the Prefecture of Piraeus. The other islands in the same situation have created a local town-planning branch within their local council.
While both right and left-wing representatives have attempted to draw attention to this spiraling situation, the move to unite as an industry and have their issues heard is unprecedented on the island. The changes in the already understaffed Office of Piraeus branch of Town-Planning, has seen their staff of 60 slashed to 30. The dysfunction of the department includes the non-existence of the Architectural Committee, which approved all Kytherian building applications. This inaction is heightened by the absence of Town Planning Department support staff and managers.
“To put it bluntly it’s a shit-fight and the black hole is getting deeper,” explains Theodori Kominos, a fitter & turner. “It’s as if they have closed shop, they say they have delegated public servants for each region but when we attempt to contact them direct they won’t even take our calls,” adds architect Domna Kontaratou.
Local businessman Vassilis (Kaloulas) Cassimatis of Karvounades is a second generation merchant specialising in paints and wood supplies as well as building materials. In 2010 he saw his business transactions slashed by 50%. Thoughtful and articulate Vassilis explained the situation clearly: the transition from Kapodistria to Kallikratis will obviously have its hiccups but we need the local council to take a pro-active role on this issue. In the short-term we need the local council to represent this issue and in the longer term to commit to opening an office in the local council. This issue affects all the island and there is no household that is not touched by this situation.”
As Kythera’s building industry drags to a snails-pace, several builders currently still have work as builder Vassili Kalligeros from Chora explains “If the house next-door to you is burning down, odds are your house will burn down too”
Outcome from Friday 28 Jan 2010
The local Council called an extraordinary Council meeting and decided without dissent, to support the building movement.
1) 5 days closure of the Local Council in show of support. This will include a picket line of the Chora’s main council office and picket-line of the Potamos branch.
2. Kythera’s local council has agreed to create and release a media campaign to all Greek media highlighting the burgeoning problem.
3. A delegation of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and the Opposition Leader to travel to Athens to represent this cause, to higher offices.
On Saturday night 29 January 2011, it was agreed by all in the Potamos Cultural Centre, that a pan-kytherian demonstration will go ahead during the week and that legal advice is being sought as the uselessness of a public body such the office of Town Planning, overrides the Constitution.
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THE TRUE LIFE OF A KYTHERIAN
by Maria of Lourandianika
Many times in recent months, I have searched deep within myself, searching for answers to questions which have eluded me.
A piece of paper, coming through the mail, something which if placed on a scale would not register any weight, but the words I read, caused me to look back, to my days as a young Kytherian, living in an environment where there were so many non-spoken matters, for the use of a polite phrase to express my feelings.
This piece of paper gave me information which now answers many questions, all so difficult to come to terms with, as I turn to a close friend, asking if a priest from our church visits where I live, as I feel the need for spiritual guidance, the guidance I search for similar to that which I received from my grandfather, then, as a young woman, our family priest, Father John at Agia Triatha.
Agia Triatha held so much meaning for me, and many times, when I could not understand why my life was to be lived not as my few Australian friends, but the continuing close family way of life which had been expected of me all my life, becoming too much for me, causing me to speak in rebellion, with no resolution, causing me to seek solace and advice from our family priest, always leaving him, after receiving a gentle and sympathetic ear, kind words to guide me, then a blessing, and the lighting of a candle, causing me to find inner peace.
Many hours had been spent in our church, standing on hot days, shuffling my feet, moving from foot to foot, as the service took place, with me not understanding the ancient words spoken, but thinking only of when the service would finish, to speak to many friends and family, then the welcome chauffeur driven car, waiting to take us home to a wonderful Sunday lunch.
Being a godmother to a beautiful baby boy, when I was just 18 years old, was a time in my life with such meaning. Attending many baptisms, and weddings, so many times as a bridesmaid, dreaming of the day when I would be a bride, walking down the aisle on my fathers arm, being married in the church which had been such an important part of my life.
Life is unpredictable, and my dream of a Greek wedding was not to be, finding myself later in life marrying an Australian. My dreams of a wedding in Ayia Triatha gone, when a priest, not our Father John, informed my husband that he would be expected to change his religion to Greek Orthodox. This young Australian was not a man with religious beliefs, but, to be told he must change his religion was not acceptable. Recalling my grandfather, living in his son-in-law's house, yet never expecting him to change his religion and his beliefs, had left me with definite ideas of what I considered to be proper, realizing that my dreams would never be fulfilled, I stood firm also, and sacrificed my greatest wish, marrying soon after in the tiny Wayside Chapel where I had visited daily, sitting in a pew, finding peace, then returning to my place of employment. How often with much hand shaking, smiles, and congratulations, it was impossible not to notice a certain amount of disapproval. Words did not need to be spoken, as the demeanor shown, was all too clear.
Acceptance of mixed marriages over the years is still marred by a certain amount of what we cannot ignore. The words are not spoken, but they are not necessary, as the stigma seems still to be present, as I myself experienced directly. Today's parents are wise, as they allow their children to live a "normal" life.
One such beautiful friend comes to mind as I sit on a quiet Sunday evening, writing, a softly spoken gentle woman, never a harsh word did I hear come from her, yet, after asking after her, loving her dearly, having spent so much of my life in her company, I was crushed to hear that she had been called into Gods care. For me, she was the perfect mother, if this is possible. She had the rebellion of her daughter, yet she supported her when her wise words become fact, tragically, claiming her life as she chose to support her child before caring for herself. Many times, when my husband questions our parenting, I speak of this very special lady, who will live forever in my heart. Her flawless skin, and her gentle voice, forever with me, but, with a large family support group, still, she was faced with the rebellion of today's youth, which happens when we attempt to introduce our ways to our children.
I look back, as the memories, which for some reason, stay alive within myself, come to me, with clarity coming in strange ways. Surrounding myself with loved items, pebbles sent to me from such a wonderful friend, from the beaches of Kythera, along with driftwood, which I find myself holding often, as I do also with the single stone with the white wash from the family home at Louradianika, transporting me back to Kythera.
My much loved uncle Nick hid the family silver well, bless his heart, but he also left a bag of strange blue stones on a shelf over the door which we would enter the home through. There were cans of paint also, which he obviously would have had to paint the louvres shutters on the windows, yet, what are these mysterious blue stones? Taking them for analysis to Brisbane brought no answers, except there is copper like the thickness of sand running through the stones. For me, they are part of this gentle giant, and are safely kept with his discarded glasses, small notebook which survived the lighting of the wall oven, giving forth the most precious gift of all, the dates of my grandparents passing. A few telephone numbers which I believe would no longer exist, yet, so precious to me, with no monitory value on them, but for me, priceless.
Seeing a photo in The Kytherian: cars piled up in what would be classed as a car cemetery, causes me to remember of a time when there was but one lonely truck on all of Kythera. The roads being dug up, to make way for technology, taking our beloved island into the new technology which Kythera will enjoy, while, I selfishly wish for time to stand still.
This piece of paper, I have spoken of, with the depth of the weight it carries, would cause me to look at Louradianika and Kato Livadi differently now. My wish for answers to many questions which I know are buried within the deserted ruins of homes which once were filled with the sounds of laughter, and sounds of normal life, including quarrels, which many feel we cannot speak openly about, but are part of life, and which I speak openly of, may hold answers to my many questions, brought to light as I look at the words on the paper which becomes a little heavier each time I read it.
Life will never be the same again, now that I read words with such a heavy heart, with pain which is causing me to question my feelings which I never expected to feel, resentment, anger, and emotions I cannot put a name to. How I beg parents to be open with their families, their children, as there is no shame to admit we are not perfect, but to put their own feelings aside, considering the greatest gift of all, the gift of honesty, speaking openly of medical conditions which are handed down to their children, their grandchildren, and to allow them to be aware, as this information can possibly spare such heartbreak and as I feel, emotional pain, anger, and frustration, knowing how easily a few words could have changed my life.
Fortunately, with my own family, I have advised them to be medically tested, their children also, as I pray the curse may have been broken with the bringing in of new blood from a non Greek. My burden will be carried, and I pray that I will eventually find it in my heart to forgive. For this reason, I turn to my Church and my priest as I am so troubled, not knowing how not to forgive, yet now, I am experiencing such emotions.
Maria (Marcellos) Whyte
4 Trinity Crescent.,
Sippy Downs 4556
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"Expectations and Achievements" Part 7
This is an excerpt of the autobiography of Peter Haniotis, who died in 2006. Many thanks to his daughters who have allowed us to reprint his life story here. You can read previous episodes in our last newsletter which is in our Newsletter Archive.
CHILDREN’S AMUSEMENTS AND GAMES
In every nation in the world now and then there is a craze among children. Greece was no exception. At the time I was about twelve there was a craze for cigarette packets. The packets were very colourful with nice pictures. We used to cut the top of the packets and use the card with the picture as imaginary money. The scarce and prettier ones were the high denominations. The picture on the Carmen cigarettes of a young lady lying on a sofa with a yellow flaming dress, was worth 1,000 drachmas. Wilson, the President of the USA, with the American flag, was 500 drachmas.
One Sunday my father decided to go with his friends on a picnic. The weather was cloudy so they chose a place with cover which they called the ‘chain’. Next to the kiosk was a large covered area with tables and benches that could accommodate several hundred people.
Mother prepared the basket as usual and we left at about 9 am. Soon after it started raining and we ate our lunch wondering how long the rain would last. After lunch I left my seat and looked around. I was very excited to discover several empty cigarette packets under the tables and all over the place. I was wearing my school uniform blouse with an elastic waist and stuffed all the packets I could in my blouse until I looked like a barrel. During the week it was impossible to find any empty packets on the street; as soon as they were discarded they were picked up by some boy quicker than me.
I went back to my seat feeling as happy as the hunter or the fisherman returning with a big haul. When I went home I went straight to my bedroom to empty my blouse. Feeling dead tired I went to bed and slept like a log, dreaming about how rich I was with cigarette cards, as amongst my find were Carmens and Wilsons.
The next morning I discovered my cards were missing. I thought I had been robbed and rushed to the kitchen to my mother. I asked her where my cigarette cards had gone and she said, “That rubbish you had in the corner? I put them in the garbage bin and the garbo took them away. What did you want them for?” I tried to explain to her that we played games with them, but she couldn’t understand.
I felt downhearted and bankrupt. I knew mother had made an honest mistake and it was too late to do anything about it. But again I wondered how God made dumb people.
At that time there was another craze. Nestles Chocolates, the Swiss firm, started a competition giving as the prize a Swiss watch. They put cards in the smallest chocolate they made and issued albums free to collectors. There were six pages in the albums with different colourful pictures of birds, animals, butterflies, cars, costumes etc. Anyone who completed all the pages received a Swiss watch. The children went all for it and bought those little Nestles chocolates with the red wrappers like mad. I remember pestering my mother for money and looking around the house for small change. I even raided my money box – and my sisters’ (as compensation I gave them chocolates).
Needless to say I filled my album, except for the bird’s nest. (Actually, I never heard of anyone finding or even seeing the bird’s nest.) Once I realised it was an impossible task I gave up collecting chocolate cards and gave my stomach a rest.
Our house in Piraeus consisted of two large buildings. Between these buildings was a good-sized courtyard. The roof of the front building was flat, fenced with bricks and used for several purposes. There was a laundry, the storeroom and the clothes line. Having a majestic view over Faliron Bay and the whole city, we spent lots of time upstairs. Occasionally, we had picnics up there.
On Mondays after the carnivals, we used to celebrate the fasting which started that day and lasted forty-eight days until Easter. On those occasions all the family went upstairs to the taratsa (that’s what we called the flat-roof area), and had a lunch – a feast of seafood, lobster, prawns, oysters and calamari. Meat, ordinary fish, eggs and milk were not allowed. Some of the older orthodox people kept the fasting for the whole forty-eight days, but in our family we only kept it for the first and last week before Easter. My grandmother kept the same routine as the rest of us. When friends asked her why she didn’t fast, she answered, “Fasting is a ticket to Paradise. My children don’t fast and they will go to Hell. I love them too much to separate from them, so I do what they are doing.”
Next door to our house there was one with a tiled roof. One day when I was on the taratsa, I noticed on this roof a small wallet. I was excited about my find and tried to find a way to get it. I got a long stick to push it onto the road. When I rushed down to recover it I saw there was no money in it, only a few postage stamps. Actually I recognised them as some of those Uncle Minas gave me when he came from Russia.
Very excited, I showed the wallet to my family. At that time a cousin of ours, Peter Psaltis, was staying with us from Kythera. He was preparing to go to Australia where his father lived. I remember I gave him some stamps and I reached the conclusion that the wallet was his. He pretended he had no idea. Everyone in my family thought it was a scheme of mine that I put the wallet there and claimed it. As I didn’t have money to buy it I pinched it and as the wicked boy I was I accused my cousin. Brother James was adamant that I was guilty in spite of my denying it. I was furious and very disappointed about the accusation. The more I denied it the worse it became. Now I realised how many people in the world were accused for crimes they had not committed.
Many years had passed since that incident when I arrived in Sydney and brother James, (who by then owned a fish shop in Sydney with my sister Despoina), welcomed my sister Mina and myself. My cousin Peter was holidaying in Sydney at the time and came to James’ place to welcome us. Peter had come to Australia long before immigration opened because his father had been in Australia for a long time and was naturalised.
Though a long time had passed since the wallet incident I always felt uneasy about it and thought now would be the opportunity to resolve it. I didn’t wish to embarrass my cousin, but in the end I asked him in front of James, “That wallet of yours…?” he tried to avoid the issue, but finally admitted that the wallet was his. Even so, James remained skeptical, thinking Peter’s admission was fake. I left it at that.
(Read the following episode of Peter's family history in the next newsletter, and previous ones in our newsletter archive.)
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Churches and Wildflowers of Kythera
by Anita and Albert of "Fos ke Xoros"
Click here to see more than 250 Wildflowers of Kythira
"In the next months we will continue our search for new flowers and add them to the collection. "
Click here to see more than 70 Churches of Kythira
"We will not stop until we have photographed every single one of the approximately 400 to 500 churches of Kythira."