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submitted by George Poulos on 10.11.2004

Olive Trees. Living memorials to the Kytherian presence in Gilgandra.

Olive Trees. Living memorials to the Kytherian presence in Gilgandra.
Copyright (0000) George Poulos

In another entry about the Monterey Cafe in Gilgandra, I revealed that "...I was born in Gilgandra, in 1952, and left after completing my schooling in 1969.

From about the end of WWII, until mid-1975 - Gilgandra, population, 2,900 - was a very Kytherian town.

5 families - the Pentes, Sklavos, Kelly (Koumokellie), Psaltis (Protopsaltis), and Poulos (Tzortzopoulos) - lived in close proximity to each other - culturally, residentially, and commercially.

In the main, Kytherians embraced Kytherians - Gilgandra embraced Kytherians - and Kytherians embraced Gilgandra".

During the middle of the year 2004, I took my father, now 88 years old, on a nostalgia tour, back to Gilgandra, and through other towns in the Central and North West of New South Wales.

Not a single person of Kytherian origin now lives in Gilgandra.

I found of course, all the buildings, where the Kytherians had conducted their businesses; but all of these - with the exception of the Gilgandra Fruit Shop (my father's old shop), had substantially changed their usage.

I also found a series of what I came to call living memorials to the Kytherians who had lived, worked, and died in the town.

These were the olive trees that almost invariably every Kytherian family planted.
Elsewhere I have also spoken about the olive-ization of Australia. This is part of that same phenomenon.

Jack Pentes, who ran a store on the intersection of the main street, opposite the Royal Hotel, and lived one street further back, had planted a number of olive trees.
2 in the back yard of his house; and many in an empty block that ran on the opposite side of the street to the side of his shop.

Only two of the "empty block" olive trees survive. Others, have been removed over the years, to make way for a boundary fence.

The tree depicted is one that survives on that empty block. It never gets pruned - and is massive. Using the house behind it as a guide - about 3 storeys high.

At the time we visited it was laden with fruit. (Gilgandra locals tell me that it hadn't fruited for 2 years; and that it did not fruit annually - but fruited sporadically.)

I took about an hour out of my life, and picked a banana box full of olives - and left masses on the tree. When I got back to Sydney, I pickled many large jars of olives.

Some of the locals pick the fruit and pickle the olives. One of them, seeing that it was my father at the tree, came over and asked him why he didn't seem to get a very good result from the pickling process.

My father soon determined that he was not putting enough salt in the olives; and told him the "boiled egg" method of determining the correct amount of salt that had to be in the water.

Jack Pentes and his corner store have long since gone. But in this massive olive tree, which could live for thousands of years, we have a living memorial to Jack's, and the Kytherian presence, in the town of Gilgandra, NSW.

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submitted by
Kristen Oates
on 04.08.2005

I grew up in Gilgandra..... .. 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.

submitted by
George Poulos
on 04.08.2005

I wonder how many other Gilgandrians, Kytherians, and others, have benefited, over the years, from "Jack" Pentes' posthumous generosity??