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Kristen Oates

An Aussie recalls the Kytherian history of Gilgandra, NSW.

I have vague recollections of Jack Pentes shop, and going in to buy lollies when I was a very young child. The Monterey Cafe also holds some memories but vague, and the premises is now owned by a good friend of my mothers. It is the ABC Cafe, and the Kelly family, that invoke the clearest recollections.

I played my first pinball machine in the ABC, and played my first game of pool in the room out the back. The milkshakes and Bodgy Bloods (Coke, icecream and raspberry cordial), the compressed flat ham and tomato sandwiches, the 50/50s Orange juice and lemon juice, they were lifes great pleasures for a "PreTeen" Lad in a country town.
It all seemed so cool and so grown up, as often I was taken to the Cafe by 1 or more of my 4 older cousins, who I thought were the "coolest kids in town". I remember the large cement goldfish pond that you had to walk past out the back of the cafe to get to the toilets.

"Old" Mrs Kelly is still alive and lives in Dubbo. She must be a grand age by now. [Born in Potamos, Kythera, on the 17th January 1910].
To see an entry about her 90th birthday party go to:

Her Daughter Stella married David Aird and they ran the Cafe as a family business for many years. At some stage maybe late 70's or early 1980's, Stella and David turned the cafe into a small supermarket, and since then I think the business has changed hands a couple of times.

Their eldest daughter, Kristi, is the same age as me - 39 - and as such our families were, and remain close friends.
My recollections are scattered, but clear. My mother has spend more than 60 years in Gilgandra, and remains close friends with Stella, who now lives and works in Dubbo. [Township 40 miles to the south-west]. As with all good friendships they are a part of what combines to make you the person you are. My mother Helen, still lives in Gilgandra. I am sure that she would be willing and interested to share some of her memories...

PS.. While as a kid I hardly knew what an olive was over time my tastes have developed to adore a good olive, Green, Black, or??? .. A few years ago on Holidays in Gilgandra I noticed a heavy crop of olives on a tree in a backyard/Footpath of a house I think was owned by Jack Pentes. I returned with a 10 litre bucket and filled it, pickled the harvest and enjoyed the result. Thanks Kytherians.

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George Poulos
on 04.08.2005

It is amazing how much you forget. Kristen is so right. The fish tank was one of the most stunning features of the ABC Cafe in Gilgandra. I also now recall the large pool table that was situated at the back of the store, in a separate section. On certain nights, many of the towns gamblers would be hosted by town bookmaker Paul Kelly, to what seemed to a young boy, a card game played for a fairly large stake. I seem to recall that the pool table then doubled as a gambling table. Paul Kelly's larger than life boisterous character, and Mrs Chris Kelly's compassionate and humble style were central to the character, not only of the Kytherian/Mytillinian/Greek's in Gilgandra, but to the town as a whole. For all of her life in Gilgandra, Chris Kelly played the role of the grande matriarchë of the town.

Stella Aird (nee, Kelly)
on 29.08.2005

My first memories of the shop were growing up with lots of people around all the time – the watchdogs we had ( which would jump the back fence every time there was a storm) and of course sitting on top of the woodheap to watch the movies (for free) as we got older. The other thing was that we shared a common lane with the Western Stores and there were stables at the back on the riverbank where the country folk used to bring their horse and sulkies into town and leave them out the back in the days before everyone had a car or ute – I don’t remember ever seeing any horses there but the stables stood until I was in my teens. The fish pond at the back of the shop was always full of fish and Mum had a beautiful garden when they first married in 1939 but when we were growing up my Dad developed a love of birds and the flower garden became an aviary in which Dad bred and kept beautiful canaries. The main thing I remember was that he had a gift for breeding great whistlers and I used to watch and listen to them for hours as a child. – It is interesting that my eldest daughter Kristi has the same love of bird but she breeds Budgies !!