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James Prineas

October/November 2010

Dear Friends of Kythera,

sorry for the silence over the last month. We've been travelling and were otherwise busy with family and work. I'm writing this during a lightning visit to Kythera with my baby brother who hasn't been to the island for 23 years (so he's not much of a baby any more...). The weather has been cool and we experienced a couple of deluges which turned dirt roads into creeks and Pelagia into the red sea as in the picture below.
October/November 2010 - churchwalls

Pelagia goes red after torrents of rain erode the red soil of the hills behind the village and send it rushing into the ocean.

Kythera in almost-Winter is very different to the island in summer as most of us know it. The streets are generally empty, smoke twirls up from chimneys, you can easily find a lounge chair at the Astikon café on a Sunday, you can't find many restaurant serving outside any more (or any restaurant open at all in Hora!), and even though the temperatures are mild - at least compared to northern Europe - many locals have donned thick jackets and woolly hats. The weather was only grey for two days, and since then we've had glorious days full of sunshine - sometimes cool but perfect for long walks in the now-green countryside.

Deborah Parsons kindly sent me a great link to a film at the Department of Immigration youtube channel. It's great footage of Kythera in the early 1970s in which David Page recounts his time as a department officer developing a successful short film that was widely used throughout Greece to encourage Greek nationals to travel to Australia in the early 1970s. It follows one of the Frilingos clan returning to Kythera after years away. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddaoPqu_77g

Mr Frilingos sees the shores of Kythera (Pelagia?) again after a lifetime spent in Australia. See the video.

Best regards from a chilly Kytherian morning,

James Prineas
[email protected]
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From our cousins in the US:

Hi everyone,

I just updated the KSOC website and thought you might want to check it out. To visit, just click on the links below or paste the URLs into your browser.

KSOC http://web.me.com/vikvf

Kytherian Society of California- 2010 Scholarship Recipient - Tommy Fraioli

Kytherian Society of California -2010 Kytherian Luncheon

Kytherian Society of California - Artoklasia 2010

Take a look and let me know what you think!

Vikki Fraioli

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Rediscovering Kythera’s Ancient Laconian-Controlled Capital
By John Fardoulis

Kythera (also spelt Cythera in ancient times) is an island approximately 30km long, by 20km wide and is known as the place where the worship of Aphrodite originated for the Hellenic world. What’s not commonly understood is how significant the Laconian influence has been.

Located off the Southern tip of Peloponissos, Kythera’s location was strategic as both a military and trading outpost. In a way the gateway to Greece from the Middle East and Africa – plus a vantage point for attacking Laconia (Sparta).

Ancient text tells us that from sometime in the fifth or sixth century BC,  Sparta sent out officials called ‘Kytherodikai’ to oversee the running of the island, as it functioned as a Lakedaimonian Perioikoi or outpost, guarded by a garrison of Spartan hoplites. Control of the island changed a number of times between the Laconians and Athenians during the Peloponessian War but generally remained under Laconian influence for approximately 500 years during the Classical period. More than double the modern age of Australia!

Archaeologist, Aris Tsaravopoulos from Greece’s 26th Ephorate of Classical and Prehistoric Antiquities and a handful of Greek colleagues planned to survey a path along the side of a mountain where Kythera’s ancient capital is currently buried; an arduous task considering how overgrown the area was with dense, inhospitable scrub. 

Members of the Kytherian-Australian community and a team of twenty full-time volunteers were assembled to assist archaeologists, resulting in approximately 3780 man hours of volunteer labour. Accommodation for the team was provided by Bishop Seraphim, Kythera’s Metropoliti at a picturesque 170 year-old, mountain-top monastery, plus help from Kythera’s Dimos (council) and local businesses.

Hundreds of members of the public also visited the site on tours, many being Greek-Australian children on holidays in Kythera at the time. So the end result was an active, unifying, adventurous and intellectually stimulating project involving youth, parents and grandparents.

Sections of the mostly forgotten 2500+ year-old Laconian-controlled capital were found, helping discover new evidence from ancient times. The team found walls, columns, coins, thousands of roof tile fragments, ancient ceramics and dozens of other different kinds of artefacts.

Kythera’s ancient capital was located on the Paleokastro mountain from approximately 600BC – 100AD.  Even though the mountain-side city was likely to have been populated by over 1000 people during this period, little has been done to explore what is now an overgrown, inhospitable part of the island - where the ancient capital is now buried.

Hardly any evidence is present above-ground, apart from approximately 2600 year old Doric columns inside the church of Agios Kosmas, which is located where a strategic part of the city functioned. Plus part of a fortification wall along the Northern side of the mountain.

Walls and moveable objects discovered during July, 2010 dig suggest that excavations had uncovered items from approximately 100BC – 100AD, the final phase of Laconian rule and a changeover time between Classical and Roman periods. Objects from several hundreds of years earlier will be buried deeper, requiring further excavations to tell us more about the city during its prime.

Opening a path up the mountain through thick scrub also cleared access to the Agios Kosmas church, which was an added bonus. This church is unique as it was constructed using Doric columns from approximately 600BC, from a temple to the Dioskouroi, Castor and Pollux, which is believed to have been located inside the Laconian-controlled capital from the sixth century BC. The Byzantines reused columns from the Dioskouroi temple carved around 1900 years prior - in parts of walls and to hold up the roof when building the Agios Kosmas church in 1290AD. In a way, this has preserved and sheltered a number of such Doric columns from the ancient Laconian city, keeping them in good condition until today.

Other Laconian sites discovered in Kythera over the last few decades include a Sanctuary to Asclepius (actually Aiglapios according to an inscription in Laconian dialect) and Sanctuary of Poseidon Gaieochos, where over 250 coins and other objects have been found as offerings from 54 different cities of the ancient Mediterranean. In a way tolls left for good luck before or after sailors made the treacherous journey around Cape Malea during antiquity.

A presentation of what was discovered while excavating parts of Kythera’s ancient Laconian-controlled capital and an outline of how “Community Supported Archaeology” might work in other parts of Greece will be held at Sydney University on the evening of Wednesday November 10th. 7pm for a 7.30pm start.
It’s an interesting story, about more than just 2000 year-old artefacts but a way of unifying the community on many levels, engaging youth and providing an inspiring connection with ancient Greek heritage.

Come along to the free talk and find out more.

To RSVP, call Kathy Samios on 02 9349 1849


email [email protected]

to reserve your place at the free lecture.

This project would not have been possible without the generous support of the Nicholas Anthony Aroney Trust and Kytherian Association of Australia.

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Sent to us by Gary Conomos

University of Wroclaw PhD Scholarships in Classical/Ancient Mediterranean Studies, UK

This project aims at introducing doctoral students to independent research work in the field of classical/ancient Mediterranean studies sensu largo, conducted under supervision of senior faculty members representing different research expertise and educational traditions. During first three years of their program students will be offered a broad range of post-graduate level classes in Liverpool and Wroclaw with the assumption that study load for each individual will be decided case by case by their supervisors working in conjunction with the project coordinator. The fourth year is devoted exclusively to writing a dissertation which is a major publishable-quality research paper. All students, however, will have to prove their ability to read Greek texts by sitting a Greek exam prior to opening the doctoral procedure. This normally should happen no later than by the end of the fourth semester. Students are also expected to pass an exam of a modern language other than English or their native tongue. Normally student’s supervisor determine what language they are supposed to select. Prospective students should note that all post-doctoral education in this program as well as dissertations are in English.

Research Themes :

This project proposes eight major research themes and within them some thirty-four possible dissertation topics, as shown in the chart below with a tentative division of topics among supervisors/ academic advisors.

Achaemenid empire, Alexander the Great and aftermath
War and the Greeks
Eastern Mediterranean and the coming of Rome
Economy in the Hellenistic and Roman East
Politics, literature and imaging in Hellenistic and Roman period
Family and society in Sparta
Meals, luxury and society
Scholarship Application Deadline: 14 November 2010

Further Scholarship Information and Application

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by Maria of Lourandianika

Memories of a young Kytherian girl growing up in a world, so sheltered from a life which was enjoyed by other young girls not of Kytherian heritage caused me much pain and many tears.

Parents who were loving, but strict in their ideas of how a young girl should behave. How often I cried myself to sleep when I was the only girl from my school not permitted to attend the school dance, thinking of my friends having such a wonderful time, but this was not permitted. My school was an all girls school, and I, the only Greek girl. I would never speak out when called a name by a fellow student, but kept my feelings to myself when I was called the dreaded word "Wog". To this day, no one is safe from my temper if they use this word in my presence. I recall the day in school when a school girl whom I was arguing with called me this name, I unleashed a tirade of temper which almost frightened me myself. My husband physically cringed one day when a tradesman used this word. How often have I heard it, used in comedy shows by young Greeks, but for me, bitter memories do not allow me to accept it as so many do.
I see how excited fellow Kytherians recently became as they spoke of the soccer, staying up all night, following the game, yet I was never exposed to this, and I find it difficult to understand. My only exposure to sport was tennis, yet the excitement I witnessed left me thinking maybe I had lived too sheltered a life. How different my life was as even now, I look back. My father was kind but strict, with definite ideas of what was permissible, giving me all  the material goods, but not preparing me for life away from the sheltered one I lived.
Sundays were reserved for visiting family, going to the Botanical Gardens, or sitting in the Sydney Town Hall, listening for hours to the orchestra, not a singer to be heard, just endless hours of classical music. How I dreaded these days, a young girl, so bored as I had to sit quietly, listening to beautiful music, but wishing that I was living my life as were my school friends.

Our home was one where many visitors came. I was the dutiful daughter, preparing the delicacies for our guests, and making the Turkish coffee I was so well known for. Everyone would say I made the best coffee, with just the correct of foam forming on top. I was not permitted to learn to cook though, but watched carefully and learned that way, so, when I married, I cooked many Greek dishes for my family. One day, when my father and I were alone, he asked me if I would like to prepare him lunch. I was  excited, as I cooked him fresh fish and made a salad. He was surprised, sitting down at the head of the table as he always did, saying how pleased he was that I had managed what I felt was such a simple meal, but his pride made me feel as if I had cooked a banquet.
I was not permitted to associate with any Australians, and when I left my private girls school of an afternoon that is when my Australian lifestyle ended. For the first few years I attended Greek school after a full day at my girls college, but this became too much for me, having a heavy homework load from both schools, and taking piano lessons, requiring hours of practice, caused my parents to agree to my pleas and allow me to stop my Greek school lessons. I learned little at Greek school as I was intent on being badly behaved. I spent more time standing at the back of the classroom than sitting at my desk. Poor Mr. Fatseas. His putting up with my antics came to a head when I locked him out of the classroom, much to the delight of my fellow students. I feel this may have had much to do with the decision to allow me to stop attending a second school.
As the years passed, I began to rebel. The strict ways of my parents were difficult to accept as I listened to friends speak of their lives. My greatest test came when the time arrived to celebrate my 21st birthday. My mother made me a new dress. When my parents sent me to the hairdresser to have my hair done for my big night, I returned with a fashionable hairstyle. My father did not approve and became annoyed. But I stood firm, refusing to comb it out. All day my mother kept telling me to comb my hair out as it upset my father, but I was 21 years old and I wanted to be fashionable, and I continued to stand firm, refusing to do as she wished. Right up to the point of hearing the doorbell with the first guests arriving, my mother attempted to persuade me to brush out my new look. I refused still, and my parents handed me the large wooden key which symbolised the key to my freedom (I was told it was symbolic and not to expect the real key).
My father had put the coloured lights around the large garden, making for such a festive atmosphere. The guests kept arriving. The parents who accompanied their children went to sit in the double lounge room, allowing the young to dance and enjoy themselves.

My wooden key was signed by the many young people who had come to celebrate with me, and this meant more to me than any real key. I knew my father would not stay upset with me, as such was his nature. I always say I am my fathers daughter, and for good reason. The following years were filled with many issues needing addressing, but my father was always there for me to turn to.

My mother was a stern woman, always wearing dark clothing, much to my fathers despair, as she was an attractive woman, and finally, he took me with him to choose a pretty pink fabric for her to make herself a new dress. Such was his wish for her to discard the dark clothes not suited to one rather young still. She, however did not choose to make this fabric into the dress my father had hoped for, and it was never seen again.

My father enjoyed seeing my hair flow well below my waist when I was still young. How often did I cry when it was washed and painfully brushed, and I stood on the grass in the sunshine, as my mother battled with the knots and tangles, but I did not mind, as my hair was my pride and joy, as it was my fathers also.
One day my mother met me as I alighted from the tram returning from school, to be taken to the hairdresser, where 2 elastic bands were placed on my braids. They were cut with a single cut of the large scissors. How my heart broke as I walked home with my mother, holding a brown paper bag, within it were my long braids, destined to be made into a hair-piece for my sister which she wore on her wedding day. My father looked at me, when I returned home, my eyes red from crying, then at my mother, and emotions overcame him as he turned away, and from that day, our relationship was never the same. I would ask him if I could go with him as he often went into the city, but things had changed, and he would refuse me.
My life was sheltered, and obedience was expected. Never would I consider speaking rudely — especially to my mother. I would always apologise for any indiscretion I was told I had committed, regardless or not of whether it was real or not, as this meant that the subject would be sooner laid to rest. It was easier this way, and it became a way of life for me.

My mother had a strange reaction to anyone who upset her. She would wear her sunglasses for days at times. It depended on how she felt the behaviour she did not approve of affected her. Never was a word spoken which was not respectful. The word "Gosh" was not permitted. This stood for "God" I was told. Never did I utter the word "Gee" as it stood for "Jesus". How I dreaded the days when I would see my mother wear her dark glasses, sunglasses really, but they signified a time of having to be very careful of what I said or did.

Friends would come to collect me when I was older, to go for a picnic. How careful I was not to be seen wearing my jeans slightly low around the waist and the cropped top. One day, having spent a wonderful day with friends, I became ill with food poisoning. My friends did not know how to smuggle me past my mother so she wouldn't see the clothes which I was not permitted to wear. With great care, two took her aside, pretending to explain what had happened to make me ill, while others, with a blanket thrown over me, smuggled me into my bedroom, where I was safely placed in my bed, and my secret kept.

Every day was one when I had to be careful, as my mother would take a key she kept and would look through my clothing to see if there were any offensive items in my wardrobe. Being aware though, I was careful, and many times my bag bulged as I took the offending pieces with me to my place of employment. I preferred the long hours I worked, as it was easier this way. I had some freedom to speak and to laugh with people and not be subjected to a lecture. I learned my lesson well, as a girl of 22, I requested permission of my parents to have a cup of coffee with a young non-Greek man who had visited the Greek doctor I worked for. This was greeted with anger, and the dreaded dark glasses. Of course in the end I did not go.

I preferred to work through my holidays, as the doctor who employed me was concerned as to who could replace me as our main patient stream was Greek and did not speak English. This did not bother me at all, and it meant extra money. Every Friday, when it was time to receive my wages, I would go to a toy store and buy gifts for my nephew and niece. Seeing our youth of today, makes me so proud, as they live a life of privilege compared to the hard days when a Kytherian girl had many limitations placed upon her. Parents now, so proud of their children, still cling to many old ways, but are very correct when they allow their children the freedom to integrate with people from all walks of life.
Many fellow Kytherians have told me they can associate to what I write. I hope to continue writing, and to receive the wonderful responses from the many who contact me.
Maria (Marcellos) Whyte
[email protected]
4 Trinity Crescent.,
Sippy Downs 4556

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"Expectations and Achievements" Part 5
This is an excerpt of the autobiography of Peter Haniotis, who died in 2005. 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.


In those days in Piraeus there were very few motor cars. We had trams, horses, taxi cabs, long horse trucks with four wheels and sliding sides so that they could take bulky objects. The traffic was very light. People on their way to work used to call at the central market for their fresh fish, meat and vegetables. If they had young teenage boys they took them before school to take the shopping home. People without children taught dogs (mostly bulldogs) to do this job. You would see in the street several bulldogs carrying the shopping home. They had special baskets for this purpose.

One day walking downtown I saw a circle of people watching something. It looked like two men or dogs fighting. Naturally I went to have a look and there was one of these dogs that carried shopping. The poor thing was in trouble. His boss had put in his basket small live crabs. They had broken the wet paper wrapping and climbed to the dog’s nose. As the dog put the basket to the ground, the crabs, a couple of dozen of them, started crawling all over. It went around in circles, taking them in his mouth and putting them back in the basket. The people were shouting encouragement. The crabs were getting out of the basket again and then I saw something that made me realise that dogs have equal common sense to man – if not more.

The dog saw he was getting nowhere. He started crushing the crabs with his teeth before putting them back. In no time all the crushed crabs were in the basket. He took the basket in his teeth and continued on his way home while all the bystanders cheered wildly.

During the summer in Piraeus there operated open-air shadow theatres. One of these was not far away from us. At the edge of the sea was a space big enough to accommodate about two to three hundred people, where a man behind a white screen showed shadows on a stage. There were lights to reflect on the white screen and you could see the carbon figures clearly as you sat in the dark. The shadow theatres were very popular with the children. My father took me there occasionally. While I was enjoying myself he had a nap for the duration.

I was about twelve when I thought I could make a business from this. On top of our house, as I mentioned previously, was an open space called ‘taratcha’ where a laundry had been built. I thought I could use this space for shadow theatre. The laundry door was all right to stick on its frame the material for the screen and I used one of mother’s bed sheets. I used a large wooden case for the platform and a couple of large candles (left over from Easter). For seats I could use the boards we used for family picnics. I had a small book with various figures and instructions on how to do it yourself. I found some carbon and got busy producing some figures suitable for a plain show. I thought about six would be plenty for a start. I did not worry about doing a lot of decorations on them like the professionals. There they were paying five drachmas admission and I only charged twenty "lepta".

While I was preparing everything, I started advertising by word of mouth among the boys and girls in the neighbourhood. The only thing I did not have was a chisel or something to cut the fancy holes on the figures. An older boy advised me to get two or three big nails, go to the main street and wait for the tram to run over them. I did that and it worked like a charm. Then I had to straighten the edges with a hammer. I got busy with the figures and in a few days I was ready to open the show. The following Sunday was the opening night and the show was a big success. I was very proud of myself, especially when I realised my takings were 120 drachmas, twice as much as my allowance. I gave my sister Despoina two drachmas for helping me with the customers. I carried the show for more Sundays, improving it as I went along, adding extra figures and scripts. Business was booming. Every time we had a full house and a couple of times we had to turn people away.

One Sunday, during the show, a candle fell on one of the figures and it caught fire, taking with it the screen material and the top of the platform. The children rushed downstairs and a couple of them fell and hurt themselves. Thank God it was nothing too serious. I was busy in the laundry trying to put out the fire and when I did, all the figures were destroyed, plus part of the door. I was devastated. I went outside to help the children and at the end they asked me for their money back. Even though they had already seen most of the show I gave them their money. There was nothing left for me and I even had to pay my sister from the reserves.

My mother put her foot down and Haniotis Enterprises closed down. Anyway, I had started to get sick of it and in a way didn’t mind.

At that time I enrolled in high school at a private school called Zisis. My brother James was there years before as a live-in student. My sister Froso enrolled at the only private girls’ school called Pappacosta. I didn’t have to help her to and from school as I had all the previous years we had attended the same school. My job was taken over by a girlfriend who was attending the same school as Froso and lived next door to our house. Her name was Angela Moraitis. I had mixed feelings about having to go to school by myself, but when I walked there with the other boys, playing, talking and laughing, I soon forgot about being sentimental.

At high school I found things were different from the primary, where I always topped the class. Here I found out the system was different and I could not do my homework at school. I had to do homework at home if I wanted to progress. Eventually I dropped to the middle of the class with an average of seven out of ten.

Coming back from our holidays, I picked up another bad habits which interfered with my school work. One of my school-mates asked me one day to go with him to the Cinema Ilisa, where they showed cowboy and mystery pictures. There were lots of young boys there – some looked like delinquents. The cinema showed mostly serials which continued every second day. I hooked into this and every second day I went, even by myself, to see what happened next. The admission fee was not a problem because they charged only about three drachmas. At the cinema I saw ‘Tarzan and the Apes’, ‘The Black Hand’ and Tom Mix etc. Sometimes I used my luncheon money and arrived home very hungry. I felt excited about my new venture and at night I dreamt about the heroes and sometimes participated in the action. I wondered what happened to the men who fell over cliffs. If saved from a burning house they always managed to come out on top.

One day the teacher asked me to wait after school as he wanted to ask me something. I stayed and he told me he was disappointed with my performance. He knew something was going wrong, and gave me a month to improve or else he would contact my parents. I knew what was wrong of course and had to make a hard decision. Somehow I found the strength and willpower to stop going to the movies. I started improving my lessons and nearly reached the top by scoring eight or nine out of ten within a few months.

At this time there was a “stone war” going on in my neighbourhood. Not far away from us at Vouno, where my grandmother gathered grass, were several mounds of small stones left over from stone masons, who worked the large stones for commerce. We tried to conquer those small hills by sticking a flag on top made from pieces of our mothers' old dresses and a stick. There were ten or twelve boys on each side and we threw stones at each other. The strongest overran the others and each time we could conquer three or four hills. These stone battles were known to the police and were prohibited. Occasionally a couple of policemen interfered, giving us a couple of hard slaps on our faces and telling us that if they caught us again it would be worse.

After the hostilities most of us went home with bumps on our heads and bruises on our bodies, but we felt we had done our duty in honour of our neighbourhood and were justified. I was lucky most of the time, probably because I avoided going to the front line, but once my friends took me home with a gash on my head where blood was pouring out. Mother was very upset and worried, but soon attended the wound, putting a bandage around my head. She took her slipper and gave me a couple of shots on the backside and said that was to complete the stone wall. Actually, soon after I decided to stop going to the stone war and my friends told me I was yellow.

There was huge excitement in the city of Piraeus. Everybody, young and old, was talking about the Russian Circus coming to town. Those days, advertising consisted of parades in the main street, with animals, clowns and everything. People watched them and cheered. I was very excited, as any other boy of my age who had not seen a circus before. At school, all the boys spoke of nothing else but the circus. Most of my mates were from wealthy families and some of them said they were going to see every performance. That made me green with envy. I asked my father to take me. I pestered my mother every day to give me the money, to no avail. I even begged my grandfather, Cosmas, who was staying with us a few days. His answer was that if I did not stop asking, I would get a cut with his cane on my backside. I was really desperate and willing to do anything to go to the circus. At night I dreamt of the wild animals, elephants trying to pull me up with their trunks, tigers and lions opening their large mouths to eat me up, monkeys climbing on the trees and clowns laughing at my misfortune. Every day, on my way to school, I passed the scouts’ ground where the circus was performing and I spent a lot of time after school watching everything going on there. Several other boys were doing exactly the same thing. I didn’t know about the others, but I often received a couple of hits with mother’s slipper for being home so late. Then I realised I could stand it no longer. I had to find some way to go to the circus.

Whenever my grandfather visited us from Kythera for a few days he gave his money to my mother, getting some as he wanted it. I knew where the money was – I always did – but never dreamed of touching it. This time, however, my eagerness was beyond my conscience and my willpower. I thought that if I didn’t go I would die and also I knew that if I did go I would get killed. I stopped thinking and went to the place where the money was all in one roll in big notes. Something inside me was pushing me to put the money back and run. I opened the roll and inside was a small note, enough for a ticket to the circus. I put the other money back as it was. After tea, pretending I was going outside to play, I ran to the ground where the circus was performing. I was a bit early. They were not starting until eight o’clock. At about seven thirty the ticket window opened and I was the first to buy one. I went inside. It was empty. I went to my seat and started looking around. My excitement was so high I felt I could burst. The crowd started pouring in and in a short time all the seats were occupied.

They started performing. I thought I was dreaming of what I saw. How was it possible for men to stand on the backs of horses while they were galloping? And the clowns, the elephants, the tigers, the lions, the monkeys and the flying trapeze! All these were beyond my wildest fantasies. I thought I was losing my mind.

As I was facing the entrance I suddenly noticed my father looking for me. I felt like lightening hit me and crept behind a lady with a big hat. She was sitting in front of me and I had been cursing her for she was interrupting my view – now she was saving my life. I was hardly moving. Father could not see me as he had already paid, found an empty seat and started enjoying the show.

I felt bewildered and could not follow the show any more. I realised what I had done and should not have even dreamt of doing anything like that. Now I had to cope with the consequences. I wondered if this was worth it and my answer was – certainly not! I rushed outside and ran home. It was only a quarter of a mile. When I arrived home my mother answered the door.

“Where were you?” she asked.
“At the circus,” I said.
“Where did you get the money?”
“From grandfather’s roll.”

My mother rushed to the place where the money was then came out to me.

“How much did you take?”
“The small note that was there,” I said.

She was quite calm and told me to go to bed before my father came home. I rushed to my bed and fell asleep. All night I had nightmares, but in the morning I could not remember what they were about. However, more trouble was to come. My mother and sister Helene decided my punishment had not been severe enough. Helene was going to my school to talk to my schoolmaster about my behaviour. I really thought she would do it. She started getting dressed and I was desperate. I begged her not to, but she was determined. I fell to my knees and told her I would be her slave and do anything for her. She looked a bit hesitant and said "All right! But that will be your very last chance!” Those words came like music to my ears. I don’t think I ever heard nicer words.

I read a couple of weeks ago that a policeman confiscated a football from a young boy who was playing with it in a prohibited area. If this boy stole a car or was caught shoplifting he probably could get off as a first offender, after a good talk. This brought back memories of when I was a boy of eleven, more than seventy years ago.

My father bought me a rubber ball for a New Year’s present. In Greece the children get presents not from Santa Claus on Christmas Day, but from Saint Basil on New Year’s Day (probably because Santa could not run his ice sulky in Greece without snow and also the North Pole is too far. Saint Basil only has to come from Kessaria, a town in Turkey only a few hundred miles away). I cherished this blue rubber ball and I thought it was the best present I ever had. After school I’d go outside the house to play soccer with my friends. We used two large stones for goal posts and one of us kept it from getting through.

One afternoon while we were playing happily, disaster struck. A policeman who was passing by stopped and said: “Don’t you know you are not allowed to play football in the streets?” Our street was only small. Horse cabs probably passed through once a week, but the law is law.
“Who owns the ball?” he asked, and I said: “I do.” He took a penknife from his pocket and ripped the ball to pieces. Giving the destroyed ball back to me, he slapped my face.
“Next time,” he said, “If I catch you, I will take you to gaol.”

A few weeks later it was late August and we were on holidays until mid-September. Usually during this period, strong winds blow quite constantly from the south-east. Children took this opportunity to make and fly kites.

I was making my own, designed like a star, with earrings and a tail. This was all right, but nothing like those I had been admiring in the corner shop window. They were beautiful, I thought. The only catch was they were selling them in two sizes for ten and twenty drachmas. That was beyond my capacity, as I had only two drachmas per day pocket money. A relative from Australia, who was visiting us, gave me twenty drachmas to buy lollies. I thanked him and, as soon as he left, I was at the corner shop to buy the kite with four colours. I loved it.

I had to do some work on the kite to get it ready to fly. I had to make earrings and a tail with coloured crepe paper and string. I bought a roll of crepe paper and got the string from my father’s shop. There was always a large roll of string used for sewing the bags of almonds. It took me half a day to make the kite ready to fly and, proud of my new possession, I went outside to fly it. None of my friends were there and I wanted badly to show off. Meanwhile, the wind had dropped. My kite was caught on the electric wires crossing the street outside my house. I thought it would help if I threw the ball of string over the wire and pull the kite up to help it fly. I was too busy doing it and I did not see a tall sergeant had stopped and was looking at me. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“I am trying to fly the kite,” I said.
“Do you know what those wires up there are doing?”
“Bringing the electricity to the lights,” I said.
“Now you know by doing this you can break the wires and get killed.”
He took the kite, broke it into two pieces, gave it back to me, plus a big slap on my face. It was daytime, but I really saw the stars.
“If I catch you again, God help you!” he said, and left.

I don’t remember much after that. I think I was in a state. I took my pieces of kite home, shut the door behind me and burst out crying and sobbing. Even my mother, who under any circumstances would go against me and give me a few good smacks for good measure, this time seeing the desperate state I was in, hugged me and said, “Never mind, but never interfere with those wires. You can easily have an accident.”

Those two events in my youth made me compare the two similar situations now and seventy years ago. For the same small things, punishment is approximately the same by taking away or destroying the object of the crime – and we got the slaps for good measure. I was always taught to respect the law and its organs. I knew they would protect me when I needed them, but some take their authority a bit overboard. I still in my heart know that the sergeant was right.

During this period I had an experience I think most thirteen-year old boys have. The housework was getting too much for my mother. She had two women helpers on a casual basis, but this was not enough. My father decided to get full-time help and found Squi (funny name, is it not?). Squi had a daughter, Anna, who was about fifteen years old. She was a beautiful girl, whom everyone turned to look at when she walked into a place – the women with envy, the men with lust, and the boys open-mouthed. She wore short skirts and seemed to enjoy being the centre of attention.

One day at my house I happened to be alone with her and she came to me and hugged me and kissed me on the mouth. She looked quite experienced in this sort of thing, and me, while I was a bit green, enjoyed it thoroughly. I thought she wanted something else. I had heard about the birds and the bees and how babies came to the world, and I knew it was beyond my capacity to digest. Suddenly I realised the consequences and panicked. I abruptly pushed her away and told her she had better arrange her dress as mother would be back any moment. She left looking hurt and disbelieving. When she had gone I remained in a dilemma. I could not make up my mind if I was sorry I did not go all the way, or glad. After some long, hard thinking, I settled for the second option.

Peter Haniotis
Thanks again to his lovely daughters who have allowed us to serialise his autobiography.
(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."


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Hello James,
perhaps you and other "family members" may be interested in attached article.

For Those Near, the Miserable Hum of Clean Energy

Best wishes, Michael Breet

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Church and house walls are "Great Walls" too!
October/November 2010 - waterred

Side view of one of the many churches in the Castle of Milopotamos. Picture by Barbara Zantiotis

If you received previous newsletters you'll know that we've announced a new book/exhibition project entitled "The Great Walls of Kythera". Dozens of pictures have already been uploaded to the Great Walls category of the site, and with another 30 or so to choose from we'll have enough to consider the layout for the book. It's not too late to send in your pictures - in fact, you have until the end of the year. If you can't find the time to put them on the site, just send them to this email address and we'll upload them for you in your name. In February next year we'll chose the best of the pictures and in addition to publishing a book of them, we will also try to organise a travelling exhibition of them.

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About Kythera-Family.net
Kythera-Family.net aims to preserve and reflect the rich heritage of a wonderful island. Members of the community are invited to submit their family collection of Kytherian stories, photographs, recipes, maps, oral histories, biographies, historical documents, songs and poems, home remedies , etc., to the site. Uploading directly to the site is easy, but if you wish you can also send your collections to us by email or post and we will submit them for you. Thus we can help make available valuable and interesting material for current and future generations, and inspire young Kytherians to learn more about their fascinating heritage.

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