Villages- Paleokipos

Migrant Profile: Ermolaos Sentas

Migrant Profile: Sophia Hatziralli

Ermolaos Sentas (1914- 1984)

Sophia Hatziralli (1916- 2003)
Based on an interview with Myrto Vasiliou (nee: Sentas)
By Vasilios Vasilas
My paternal grandfather, Efstratios, owned many olive groves- including one very large field, which was later subdivided among his offspring. He came from a line of very strong and well built men- whose strength has been highlighted in Themistocles Karavasilis’, Paleokipos. My maternal grandfather, Demosthenes was merchant, who traveled as far as Asia Minor coast and nearby islands for trade. As a child, I remember my grandmother, Androniki’s fine dresses- a result of Demosthenes’ travels.
Before her marriage to Ermolaos Sentas, my mother, Sophia, was a dressmaker; her brother, Panagiotis, was a chanter at Agios Ermolaos in Paleokipos. My father, Ermolaos, was in the gendarme and was recalled to fight in the Greek- Italian War (1940- 41). Ermolaos and Sophia married in 1943: while my sister, Mary (1949), and I (1944) were born in Greece, Efstratios was born in Australia (1953). 
Once the War was over, Ermolaos wanted to follow his brothers, Georgios and Nikolaos, who had migrated to Australia prior the War. Having been sponsored by his brother, Nikolaos, he left his young family behind, to seek for better opportunities. He initially settled in the outskirts of Sydney, Penrith, where he leased a farm from Mr Blakey. On the farm, he grew practically everything! Tomatoes, pumpkins, cauliflowers, peas….! Even at this early stage, he hired seasonal workers to help him with harvesting.
Above: Picnic with relatives and friends. L-R: Millie (their niece), Ermolaos himself, Efstratios (their son), Joyce, Nikolaos Sentas (his brother), child unknown, and, Maria and Dimitrios Rallis. 
My mother, sister and I traveled with the S.S. Cyrenia to Australia (1951); we looked forward to our family reunion. For sister, Mary, she was too young to even remember our father! Ermolaos was waiting for us in the port of Melbourne; after staying the night with relatives, we all boarded a train for Sydney.
The farm was reasonably large- nine-ten acres, with a very samml farmhouse. After a couple of years, Nikos and Ermolaos, decided to go up to Queensland (Aird) and join their brother, Georgios, on his sugarcane farm. All the families went up there too; my mother, with Mary, Efstratios and me, and aunt Joyce, with Myrto, Charlie (Efstratios) and Steven. We lasted up there only months. Ermolaos could not stand the hot, tropical weather, and the hard work of cutting sugarcane.
We returned to Penrith and, shortly after, our family its own farm. Farming is a difficult lifestyle; when he was sending produce down to his agent, Ermolaos would have to get up in the early hours of the morning to get everything ready. In the summertime, we had pumpkins, lettuce, tomatos and peas, while in winter, we had cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli. When ploughing needed to be done, Ermolaos would hire another farmer –with a tractor- to come and plough our farm.
Above: Ermolaos (second from left) with his son-in-law, Apostolos Vasiliou,and Paul Lagis (fourth and fifth from left respectively).
Farm life is very family-orientated; we all helped out with whatever was needed to be done, especially around picking times. Having plenty of chickens, we had our fresh eggs, and Sophia would make yoghurt and cheese from our cow’s milk. Whenever we were very busy, Ermolaos would hire workers.  
It was in 1956, Ermolaos and Sophia decided to go into business, buying a busy Milk Bar in Castle Hill- opposite the picture show. We served light meals- Sophia helped out with the sandwich bar, while Ermolaos continued to shift between the farm and the milk bar. We were at Castle Hill for a couple of years, before the family bought the Satellite Milk Bar in St Marys- on the highway.  
It was in 1965 when our parents retired from business and returned to the farm; they rebuilt their home and settled there.  
Our social circle revolved around family and relatives: there was our father’s brother, Nikos, and his family; the three Rougos brothers- who all had shops around Penrith’s surrounding areas. We would often go on picnics and have parties at homes. During Easter or on special occasions, we would travel down to the city to Agia Sophia or Agia Triada to attend church services.
Both Ermolaos and Sophia were devoted to their family; they migrated her and toiled their fields for a better life. They were hard workers whether it was on the farm or in their shop. Nothing came easy but they were able to make the most of their opportunities in Australia. 
I would like to thank both Myrto (Mili) and Paul Vasiliou for all their time and support in writing this feature.