Life Stories- Agia Paraskevi and Australia

 Life Stories: Maria Angeli Con't

 The voyage across the Indian Ocean was terrible. The liner lost a propeller in a big storm as we were tossed this way and that. All passengers were confined to their cabins. We were sick and frightened and hardly eaten for a week. I felt lucky to have survived the journey.

At last we reached Fremantle which looked uninviting. Finally, we reached Woolomooloo on 24thMay 1953. My brothers, Peter and George, and, my aunt Anna Dervos and her family, met me at the port. My aunt took me into her Botany house initially before I moved into a flat with my brothers. I got a job in the rag trade.

My brothers now bought a small business where I helped, but also sewed clothes privately. I also made many wedding dresses for other Greek ladies.

Con had stayed in touch and we married in 1955, moving to Rae Street, Randwick, where my only child Arthur was born. We moved to Revesby to enter a partnership with my brothers in a dry cleaning shop. Dry cleaning became a family business for many years. My dressmaking skills also came in handy as I did the alterations and mending. I even learned invisible mending.

In 1964 we built our first new house. It was built by Con’s brother, Zafiri, and my father Strati who had come out in 1961 with my sister, Elvira, and my mother, Sappho, did some labouring.  I suppose building a new house was the first occasion that Con and I felt that we had achieved something in coming to the new country. With a son and a new house we had really planted roots now. There was no going back to the horio to settle now.

I visited Agia Paraskevi in 1978 with Arthur and again by myself in 1994. After Strati passed away in 1986, Sappho did cme to Australia (her second of three trips) where my sister and I shared the job of looking after her.

Con passed away in 2004.

I love my garden. It reminds me of my childhood in the bahche. I have mangos, oranges, lemons, mandarins, pomegranates, figs and olives. I have a coffee tree as well. I like growing my fresh vegetables such as beans, snake beans, tomatoes, okra, egg plant, cucumbers, horta such as rathikia, spinach, parsley and shallots. I have various plants such as succulents and ornamentals. Most of all I believe herbs help with many health problems and I grow chamomile, rats tail, wormwood, borage, fennel, rosemary, elderberry, lemon grass and aloe vera.

Sometimes I think we made a mistake coming here. Maybe life would have been easier in Greece even without all the modern things we have now. I made a lot of Australian friends. At first many didn’t like working with or living near ‘Greeks’, but with time we became good friends. The Australians we got to know were good people. They were good tempered and wanted to help us.

What’s done is done, the years have passed and we now have created new foundations for my son and his family. For that I feel blessed.


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