kythera family kythera family

Oral History

History > Oral History > Nicholas Careedy (Nicholas Peter Karydis)

History > Oral History

submitted by Gaye Hegeman on 14.08.2008

Nicholas Careedy (Nicholas Peter Karydis)

Longevity runs in his family - Nick's great-grandfather Manoli Karydis from the village of Mylopotamos lived until he was 107. At the grand age of 96 Nick Careedy enjoys robust health, tends his garden, loves to travel and regularly plays lawn bowls. He and his wife Nina live in the suburb of Wavell Heights on the north side of Brisbane. They have recently returned from a ten day cruise and tour of Hong Kong and China, and are excited about their next trip to Greece in August 2008.

Nick was born on the 1st March 1912 in his family village of Mylopotamos the only son of Panayiotis (Peter) and Marietta *Karydis (formerly Malanos), who were married in 1907. Three sisters preceded him, Efrosine born in 1907, Antigone 1909, Stamatoula 1910 with his fourth sister Maria born in 1913. As the only son Nick was very much loved and cared for throughout his childhood by his mother and sisters especially in the absence of their father who left for Australia in 1914 and did not return until 1922.

When Nick recalled his school days he spoke about the imposing brick school building he attended in his village, which he said had separate classrooms for boys and girls. In his spare time he enjoyed playing soccer and often fished in the sea from his small dinghy, an interest which he has maintained all his life. Back then fishing was the main source of income for his village. In 1924 at age twelve he entered high school at Chora the principal town at the southern end of the Island. Because there was no regular transport available to take them to and from school each day, he and twenty five other pupils from his village had to board. When they went home for the weekend it was either by donkey or in the back of a closed in truck which had planks for seating. Throughout his growing years Nick enjoyed good health except for the time he became ill following a school excursion to the mainland. When his condition worsened it was found that he had developed pleurisy. It took months of convalescing at home, treated with a multitude of home remedies before he recovered enough to return to school. At the completion of seven years at high school Nick successfully gained his leaving certificate. Looking back Nick considers that he was an average scholar nevertheless he is proud of his achievements and has kept every one of the certificates he gained throughout his school life and in subsequent years.

The Karydis and *Andronicos families lived next door to one another at Mylopotamos. In 1929 Harry Andronicos, who migrated to Australia in 1904 returned to Kythera to marry Antigone, one of Nick’s sisters. In 1930 the newly wed couple returned to Australia to live in Toowoomba approximately 130 kilometers west of Brisbane, where Harry had an established business. Nick did not know at the time, but seven years later his sister Antigone, father, and uncle, Bill Karydis would be waiting to meet him at the wharf when his ship berthed at Brisbane.

Before entering the Greek Army in 1933 at 21 to do his compulsory national service, Nick worked for about eighteen months in his olive groves and tended his beehives. When his eighteen months Army service was up, an opportunity existed to do civilian training so Nick enrolled at a Beekeeping School in Athens where he gained a Diploma in Beekeeping. It was his intention to go into honey production after he returned home, but he soon discovered just how costly it was to set up new hives and had second thoughts. At the time one box cost approximately 250 drachmas to make when the average wage on the Island was only about 50 drachmas a day. He had to work five days in order to purchase one box. Nick recalled the years of 1935 to 1936 when the deadly tuberculosis virus spread through the Island with devastating effects. Seemingly strong, healthy people were struck down and died within the space of several months. He knew of at least 18 young people who died this way.

Panayotis (Peter) Nicholas Karydis 1877-1973

Nick’s decision to migrate to Australia did not occur as random whim. A pattern had already been established by family members in the previous generation such as his father Peter and uncles, Theo and Bill Karydis. Two years after Nick was born, his father Peter Karydis set off for Australia arriving here in 1914, the first of three trips he would make to Queensland. In the beginning he worked in Brisbane but then left to join his brother Theo at Roma in Western Queensland where they ran the “Roma Café” in partnership. After they sold that business Peter moved to Toowoomba and in 1922 he returned to Kythera.

Among Nick’s many documents is a letter of appreciation written to his father by the general secretary of Brisbane’s Helenic Association, Mr. J.G. Fragoulis on 2nd August 1921. It begins:

To Panayiotis Karydis,

Dear Sir,

The Executive Council for the Community of Queensland and all its’ members, wish to thank you immensely for your generous donation towards our community. Your name will be written in gold letters in the records of our community, so that you will always be remembered and you will remain as an example to the oncoming generations. On the occasion of your departure, we wish you a very good trip and happy re-establishment in the bosom of our mother country. Please accept my re-assurance of my high respect for you.

Signed J.G. Fragoulis

Peter was a carpenter by trade and wherever he went on the Island he was greeted as “Peter Maragos” (Peter the carpenter). Here comes Peter Maragos they would say! In 1936 by now a seasoned traveler, Peter Karydis once again voyaged to Australia with the intention of arranging a permit to bring over his son Nick. He remained here for twelve years returning to Kythera in 1948. Nine years later in 1957 accompanied by his wife Marietta, who by then was over 80 years of age, he left his village for the last time returning to Queensland. Marietta passed away in 1965 at the age of 86 while Peter passed away in 1973 aged 96. Peter and Marietta Karydis are buried at Toowong Cemetery in Brisbane.

Life in Australia

In 1936 Nick boarded a ship at Piraeus which took him to Port Said and from there traveled on board a vessel called the “Mongolia” which he remembers took 30 days to reach Australia. The “Mongolia” stopped at all of the major Australian ports before it reached Brisbane on the 10th January 1937. Waiting on the wharf to meet him was his father, sister Antigone, and his uncle. His uncle, Bill Karydis who resided in Toowoomba, was a taxi driver there for fifty years.

Nick’s first job was at the “Club Café” in Toowoomba, where he worked sixteen hours a day seven days a week. Then after eighteen months he was given one day off! After two years he had one week off! He left Greece at a time when populations around the world were still experiencing the consequences of a world wide depression. He did not expect to find the same level of poverty in Australia and was deeply moved at the sight of women with barefoot children dressed in rags who came into the café in Toowoomba to beg for food. He realized then that many Australians were no better off than people overseas.

During his fourteen years in Toowoomba Nick became involved with several organizations. When he was secretary for the Greek Community committee he took a keen interest in raising money for the Greek war relief fund. Encouraged by the success of the Greek army who was fighting against the Italians in Albania, dressed in a foustanella, he and George Londy went from shop to shop seeking donations. They were well received wherever they went and raised a sizable sum of money.

On the second day of Japan’s attack on Australia Nick applied to join the Australian Air Force. Because he was not an Australian citizen, his application took longer than normal to process and eventually he enlisted as a Greek national. As a new recruit Nick signed up to take part in a commando course in the Darwin area. The Australian government at the time was looking for volunteers to go behind enemy lines. He found the course very hard and challenging and although many dropped out, he is proud that he made it through to the end. Nick chose to remain in Australia for most of the war and specialized in security, looking after stores, buildings, camps and Air force installations. He served for 20 months straight in different parts of the Northern Territory, for 7 months at Toowoomba then finally spent 7 months in New-Guinea. When he was discharged from the Air force at the end of the war he received a letter recommending him for naturalization, as a “present from the King,” he said.

Following the war Nick joined two of his cousins, Con Andronicos and James Mananelesos as a third partner in the “Olympia Café and Wine Saloon” at Goondiwindi. Twelve months later they sold the Café and Nick moved to Toowoomba where he started a drapery business in partnership with his brother-in-law Harry Andronicos. He remained in this business for four years. In 1951 Nick relocated to Brisbane where he opened a frock shop in the basement of Ascot Chambers in the City, which he named after his mother “Marietta.” Some time later he moved his shop to the Tattersall’s Arcade in Edward Street and remained there until 1963.

After his marriage in 1963 to Nina Kalaf, whose family had migrated here from the Greek island of Castellorizo, he and Nina established a wholesale gift business which they continued to run for nineteen years until Nick’s retirement in 1983. They have one much loved daughter, Marietta who is a primary school teacher at Nundah State School. Marietta, her husband Paul Rayner and their two children live next door to Nick and Nina at Wavell Heights.

Membership in various organizations over the years opened up many opportunities for Nick to meet people, make new friends and to become involved in fund raising for worthy causes. Before the Second World War, he joined the Toowoomba branch of TOC H and the Kytherian Association. He served on the committee of the Kytherian Association for 8 years and still remains a member. In 1954 he joined A.H.E.P.A, (Australia Hellenic Education Philanthropic Association) where he was Chairman for 20 years and served as Supreme President. Nick was honoured with life membership of this organization in 2004. In 1965 he became a Justice of the Peace. He has been a member of the R.S.L. since 1946 and was honoured with the certificate of merit and also life membership. Together with Alex Freeleagus, they formed the Hellenic Branch of the R.S.L. in 1987 and Nick was foundation president. In 1990 Nick helped build the Hellenic memorial outside the Church of St. George at West End through fund raising. In 1997 he received the Multicultural Service Award from the Premier of Queensland and in 2000 was honoured with an O.A.M. (Order of Australia Medal) for philanthropic work.

In 2007 with the assistance of Dr. Marendy, they raised $20,000 to build an impressive war memorial outside St. Paraskavi Greek Orthodox Church at Taigum which was unveiled on Remembrance Day. The memorial bears the image of an ancient Greek warrior along with a quote from an ancient Greek historian and author. The following extract comes from an article written in the Northside Chronicle dated November 21st 2007. “Nicholas Careedy said the memorial was erected not to honour the memory of any battle or war in particular, but all sacrifice made in wartime. It commemorates all the men and women who died and gave their lives to defend ours, in any of the wars.”

Looking back over his long life, Nick considers that his proudest moments were his marriage and the birth of his daughter Marietta. Nick did not hesitate when asked about the worst job he had experienced, recalling the long hours of café work in his younger years. By contrast the years when he owned his own business brought him the most satisfaction and sense of achievement. Some of the saddest moments in his life were the tragic death of his nephew, Charlie Andronicos of Coolangatta who died in a car accident, and the loss of his sister in 1954 to leukemia.

Cautious by nature, Nick has always endeavoured to make wise choices and decisions. He believes in the benefits of study as a way to improve oneself and has always felt strongly about the importance of helping those in need. Nick is a member of the Wavell Heights Bowling Club where he used to play two to three times a week but now only plays once a week. He has been a keen fisherman all of his life and when he and his wife had a holiday house at Bribie Island they regularly fished in Bribie Passage from their dinghy. Another of his favourite fishing haunts was at Scarborough on the Redcliffe Peninsular. Nick is proud of his vegetable garden where he grows very healthy looking tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, egg fruit, rathiki and a selection of herbs. As well as his vegetable patch, fruit trees adorn his back yard. They never have to buy eggs because the hens kept by their daughter next door lay enough to provide them all with an ample and regular supply.

A final testimonial came from Nina, who described her husband as a very patient man, very kind, and a man of integrity.

*The Karydis family nickname is “Kaloheretis.”
*The Harry Andronicos family nickname is “Vlandis.”

Leave a comment

1 Comment

submitted by
Cristall Short
on 10.03.2018

It is very uncommon to hear about anyone named Karidi. My great-grandmother's name was Maria Karidi. She was born probably around 1870-1880 on Kythera. Her parents were Panayotis Karidi (born 1827) who was married to Maria Argyre. They married in 1867 and had 3 other children in addition to Maria who were named Kosta, Theodore, and Alexandra. Thank you for your story here.