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Newsletter Archive > April 2013

21502: Newsletter Archive

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 28.06.2013

April 2013

View a colour version of this newsletter with pictures here:
www.kythera-family.net/download/NLApril2013.pdf

Dear Friends of Kythera,

"I found Vikki Vrettos Fraioli on Kythera-Family.net and emailed her regarding her Hlentzos connection, and since the first email a couple of days ago, I have had many many emails from her with a huge amount of information regarding my relatives. If this website was not available to us, all this information would never have been shared.
Heather De Marco, April 2013

In July it will have been ten years since we first launched Kythera-Family.net (KFN). If you don't already know how it came to be, here's a short recap of the story:

The seed was actually sown back in 1996 when I put on a photographic exhibition called "A Village on Kythera" in the Bondi Pavillion. There I met literally hundreds of lovely Kytherians (and others – like a group of Sicilian grandmothers who cried when they saw my pictures because it reminded them of home…) who were proud of Kythera and their heritage. Many of them told me of their collections of vintage pictures from Kythera. I would have loved to help them collate and scan and publish their pictures but it wasn't until about 2001 that I found an affordable and practical solution: to use the internet.

Back then, "community sites" were almost unheard of and the founder of Facebook was probably just out of nappies. So I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that my idea to create an online heritage repository to which members of the Kytherian community could upload their family material to the site for the rest of the world to share and enjoy, fell on deaf ears in the beginning.

Then a man who, up until that time, had never used the internet himself, saved the day: Angelo Notaras. It didn't take long for Angelo to recognize the potential benefits to the Kytherian community and he put his considerable reputation behind the project. He and his equally generous brothers, John and the late Mitch Notaras, put their money where there mouths were and helped convince others to financially support the endeavour.

Next came the ebullient George C. Poulos to the party and, when he wasn't fervently preaching to the less internet-savvy members of the Kytherian Association of Australia (KAA) that the internet wasn't just a fad, he was motivating community members to entrust copies of their heritage material to him to upload to the young site. He and Angelo managed to twist enough arms to get the KAA on board and the latter have been loyal supporters ever since..

The initial problem was that the people with the most knowledge and material on Kythera were of a generation who were still fazed by mobile telephones, never mind by "websites", "uploading" and "urls". Ten years on, even if that generation doesn't use the internet or emails regularly themselves, they generally know what it is about and allow their children and grandchildren to upload their family stories and picture to our site. Over the past ten years the 3 000 registered uses have submitted over 18 000 entries to KFN: life stories, maps, recipes, and other documents to the site, which are viewed by around 20 000 visitors each month!

The extensive Message Board on the site gives evidence of the hundreds of connections made by the site between Kytherians separated by thousands of kilometres, or far less. Two of our most avid contributors live only a few kilometers from each other in California, but discovered their family link through our site.

The possible significance of one group photo from Kythera from 1920 with a dozen people in it is exponential: a fifty-year-old in that picture might have had five children and twenty grandchildren and forty great-grandchildren. That makes sixty-five descendents per person in the picture and a total of 780 for all the subjects. Now, how many of those 780 will have ever seen that picture? Not many if it is stored under someone's bed. But online all of them have access if they care to look. And the nice thing about a website as opposed to a publication is that there is virtually no limit to the amount which can be presented on it. So it's not too late to post your grandmother's Greek passport or your great-great-grandfather's birth certificate and life story. It's the best way to make sure that your own great-grandchildren will be able to find it one day.

To celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the site the founders are organising a party on Kythera in the second half of July and in Sydney later in the year. All those interested in attending should keep an eye out for the next newsletter or subscribe to the free KFN newsletter for details of exactly when it will take place and of its venue.

Best regards,

James Prineas (james@kythera-family.net)

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My Beloved Lourandianika

Recently, one of the Kythera-Family.net staff posted several videos of Louradianika, taken when he visited Kythera, or, as I wish to think of it, Cerigo. The videos took me back to a time in my life which was I believe, the happiest time of my life, as I look back on the wonderful weeks I spent there. A small and humble house, owned by my grandparents, the Reverend Emmanuel Lourantos and my grandmother, Maria Lourantos Nee Calligeros.

How could such a tiny village, steeped in history, mean so much to me?

The bed I slept on in the living room, was a wooden couch, with rugs made on looms rolled up to soften the hard timber. The first night there, I took a running jump onto my bed, and nearly broke both knee caps, not realizing that I did not have the luxury of a soft mattress. How could I love such a life, one which was devoid of all luxuries, such as running water, and the simplest items, such as a toilet? But I did. The small tin container over the sink in the kitchen would need filling with water from the well, the tap turned to give little water, yet, I felt no hardship. The need to walk to an old abandoned stone building, to dig a trench along the inside wall when nature called. This also did not cause me to wish for the simplest of what would have been a luxury on our island.

Hunting with my rifle, competing with my father and winning, and returning with more pheasants than him for the family meal caused me such joy. Ayio Georyi, my grandfathers church, small, but so beautiful, just a short walk from the family home, steeped in such history as it is over 1000 years old, with the walls and ceilings painted with murals, my love for this church will never subside. To wake each morning to the sound of my grandfathers gentle voice as he sat at the simple table and sparse chairs, reading from his bible, turning each page as he would quietly finish each page, turning it, but, he could not see the writing, this incredible man knew every word by heart.



Standing at the open doors, next to my grandfather, looking over the fields, the church, as he would speak to me in his gentle voice, teaching me the right path in life, a lesson which I will always remember, respecting others, being non judgemental, not imposing my beliefs on others if they varied from mine, as everyone was entitled to believe as they should, not answerable to anyone but themselves and a higher being. This was the man who stood tall and proud, his long hair tied in a knot at the nape of his neck, always dressed in his priestly clothes, clothes which I found when I returned to Louradianika, hanging over a piece of wood, like a branch of a tree, the buttons still on his vest, buttons which I carefully removed with a small piece of fabric, to bring back with me to Australia, to have a part of him with me forever.

My love of country towns is well known, but, this was not a country town, it was a small village not known by many, a village where the Lourantos family lived.

The videos I saw showed me the sealed road which I have spoken of before, but, on one, I saw to the right of the screen, a dirt road veering off, knowing this dirt road would lead to the family home, now sitting empty and lonely, but holding within it such memories of love, understanding, and a warmth that I have not found anywhere to match it.

I found over the years whenever I would visit a country town, love and warmth that was somehow missing from city life.

My uncle Nicholas Lourantos had returned to Louradianika to care for his aging parents, such a wonderful man, my heart still aches as I think of him taking a walk one day after having the need to live in an aged facility, no longer able to care for himself, never having learned to drive a car, and to my knowledge, not having learned to write in English, not an educated man as such, but, the quality of a good education was his greatest wish for me, as he gave me a gift when I was a young girl, a leather bound book, the works of William Shakespeare, this man with a heart as large as his large frame, was taken into Gods care that day he walked alone, passing alone, but, my Uncle Nick was such a man, this would have been his choice if he had been asked if he wished to be surrounded by others, or alone beneath a blue sky with the sun shining on him.

I myself was blessed with being told by doctors that I had been with the angels when one evening, I choked on a piece of food, as my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. For three glorious minutes, I was declared dead. My experience however was a beautiful one. I became a child once more, a young girl, with the hair I loved so much, hair which reached below my waist, flowing, as I drifted over lush green slowly undulating hills, the sky so blue, the sun shining, free of all pain, singing and so happy, as with outstretched arms, I laughed, in heaven, truly heaven, dressed in a pure white simple dress, my feet with small satin slippers, seeing a magnificent garden, flowers reminding me of my fathers beautiful garden, overjoyed that I would find myself within these beautiful flowers, but then, I was brought back, my anger unimaginable, as I was taken from such a beautiful place which I can only call Heaven, being returned to a life of pain, as I think of my Uncle Nick, passing under a blue sky, with the sun shining, so was I, as I have no fear, knowing that one day, I will once again have this experience.

Readers know of my love of Cerigo, and most of all, my love of Louradianika. For me, it is heaven also. As strange as it may seem, the simple life was the happiest life for me. The love of my grandparents is with me every day of my life, and my love of Nicholas Lourantos also.

Readers have gone in search of this tiny village, no longer does the laughter and sounds of the family ring out within the village, as the family has long ago passed, but, with the warmth and love I have been shown by so many, visiting Louradianika, sending me photos via the internet, posting videos on youtube, the wonders of technology, Louradianika will live on forever. The videos show the green fields, and the fields which have my beloved red poppies blooming, the red poppies which I speak of so often.

I have spoken of naming my new house in my fathers honour, Livadi, but now, it will carry the name "Louradianika" on a plaque I will have made, knowing that I have my fathers blessing, after all, his bride was from this tiny but beautiful village. I call myself Maria of Louradianika, and I do this with pride, and with love and respect for my family who founded this village. It is no longer an unknown village, due to the kindness shown me by so many who have chosen to visit what was an unknown village, deserted by people and time, and for this, I humbly say "thank you" from the bottom of my heart.

My uncle Nick is now buried behind Ayio Georyi, his parents, my grandparents, and great-grandparents, and a great-great grandfather also, having been laid to rest there.

For me, the sky will always be blue, the sun shining bright, and I will never forget the day when 12 white doves appeared in a clear sky, leading me to where my Uncle Nick was buried.


Maria of Louradianika
Maria-Marcellos- Whyte
51 Silkyoak Drive
Morayfield
Qweensland 4056
maria.whyte@bigpond.com


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World Council of Churches work on Kythera

Here is a request from Jean Bingen for possible still existing information/documentation/pictures on the wonderful work of the former WCC Team did on Kythera between 1960 and 1971..

The late bishop Meletios Galanopoulou in 1958 issued a request to the World Council of Churches in Geneva for any assistance to improve living conditions in his diocese.
In 1959 Mr. J.M. Koksma, civil and architectural engineer, arrived from Holland to Kythera for an investigation for a "community development" of the island and, together with Bishop Meletios, a program for the team's activities was developed.

Kythera was still more or less a self dependent agricultural island with only a weekly boat connection from Piraeus when George Koksma (1907-2004) and his wife Anna Lagendijk (1911-1993) arrived at the end of April 1960 at Kapsali. Disembarkation was to jump into small rowing boats, and being rowed ashore; there did not yet exist any large enough landing jetty on Kythera.

The actual Team's activities were from May 1960 through September 1971.
Over these years they regularly sent work reports to those concerned with the progress of the Team’s various projects. Throughout the years many persons and supervising boards and/or committees in Switzerland (Geneva), Greece (Athens) and Holland (Utrecht) were involved with the team’s activities. In 1972 Mr. Koksma was pensioned but they both decided to stay at Kythera and to live in Agia Anastasia, near Agia Pelagia. Mr. Koksma kept on working as an architect and land surveyor. They are both buried at the cemetery of Agia Anastasia on the road from Potamos to Karavas. At Kythera a commemoration on the work of Anna and George is planned for summer 2013.

Why am I involved and what is my request?
In 1962 for 6 months I joined the team as a student of civil engineering from the Technical College Arnhem, Holland. The next year in August I came to Kythera on holiday. After having finished my commission in the Dutch army, I came back and acted as civil engineer from July 1965 until mid August 1966. In July 1966 I met my future wife Ina van de Water who was a volunteer in the Dutch summer camp digging trenches for the community water supply in Livadi. Together we came back many times for vacation and when I was retired in 2006 we designed and built our own house in Fatsadika, overlooking the place we met in Kato Livadi. You will find us from June until October in Fatsadika in our house “Ti Les Kale”.

After the death of Mr. George Koksma in 2004 I took it upon myself to collect all possible information, pictures, documents, technical drawings and correspondence of the 12 year period of the WCC Team Kythera. Eventually all gathered information will be digitalized and handed to the Historic Office in Chora. From various people until today I have received the daily work reports, May 1960 thru June 1962, and the monthly work reports June 1965 thru September 1971.

My request: does anyone still in an old lost file of the (monthly) work reports of the period July 1962 thru May 1965? Or perhaps correspondence and or pictures from the years 1960 to 1971?
I have already checked with Utrecht and Geneva if they still had something in their archive, but alas, nothing was found.

Please e-mail anything you have to Jean Bingen: bingen@kabelfoon.nl

Thank You

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A few new pictures of Kythera from the indispensable Stephan Trifyllis who is just visiting our island …

click on the pictures to go to the entries














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From Catherine Lambre in France (yes, we all have cousins there too!)

I have a request regarding my grandmother's Maria Souris born between 1871 and 1885 at Kythira, family. My grandmother was known on the island as a very good weaver. She had a sister named Erofili Souris who died, murdered by a thug in Piraeus, on or after 1920. She also had two brothers, named Panayiotis and Minas. Panayiotis had a traded in spirits in Egypt in the town of Alexandria where my grand-mother had met my grandfather Eleftherios Chiletis/Hiletis from the village Karavas of Kythera. Their father, my great-grandfather, was named Dimitrios Souris and he had the nickname Tsitsilodimitrakis. He was a lighthouse keeper following my grandmother Maria. They lived in Karavas or they were from Karavas and they were parents (in-law?) of the family Tzortzopoulos. Some members of the Tzortzopoulos family from Kythera came to my cousin's Ourania Exarhopoulos marriage in Piraeus in the years 1960-61 while my grandmother was still alive. However, according to information I found on your site, the lighthouse keeper at the village of Karavas was a certain Kritharis who died around 1907 by a dynamite explosion at a fishing party. Ssecondly, the flagship of Antikythera was guarded by a Russian named Filosophoff from 1925, it did not exist before I believe. Can anyone help to find a list of all lighthouse keepers to Kythera between 1880 and 1925?

Thank you in advance.

Cheers, Katerina Labrinidou.
cathylamb2002@yahoo.fr

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The Island of Adventures Map

In preparation for the tourism season on Kythera I'm preparing to reprint our free Kythera map which was so popular last year that all 2000 of them were snapped up within 3 weeks last year. There's room on the back to promote your business, association or project - this year we'll be advertising the new Kythera from the Air book - so it you need to reach a Diaspora-Kytherian audience a few hundred Euros will get you a prime spot on the 5000 maps we'll be printing this year.

We still have a few left from last year, so you can already order our map and donate to the Kythera-Aphrodite-Museum project at the same time: follow the links at www.kythera-museum.org

If you have a suitable printer you can also just click on the maps to enlarge them and print them out directly.

Click here to enlarge
Left: front cover of the folded map. Right: Unfolded the map is 50 x 70cm


Click here to enlarge

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