submitted by Peter Makarthis on 19.08.2018
‘Andrew’ Anargyros Vretos Fatseas
Andrew Victor Fatseas (Andy)
1907 – 1998
“Whether in bliss or in distress, I never forget the land of my birth. After all, it was mother Greece who instilled into me those moral virtues, without which I would not have appreciated as fully as I do now what Australia has given to me.”
‘Andrew’ Fatseas, Australia Day 1974
Anargyros Vretos Fatseas, son of Vretos and Smaragda Fatseas was born at Potamos, Cerigo, Greece on 29th November 1907. He received a sound education on the island before departing at the age of seven for Australia in April 1924.
His brother, ‘Jack’ Fatseas migrated to Australia in October 1920 with wife ‘Jean’ nee Fardouly. He was employed at Con Peters & Co. Tingha NSW, conducted by his Fardouly in-laws until taking up a partnership in S. Peter & Co Inverell in 1921. In 1922 he was a partner with his brother in-law, Harry Fardouly at the Alhambra Café in Byron Street.
With a position as a kitchen-man available at the Alhambra Café in Inverell, Anargyros departed Port Said, Egypt, aboard S.S. Hobson’s Bay, 4th April 1924 bound for Australian ports.
The S.S. Hobson’s Bay, of the Aberdeen and Commonwealth Line (ACL) a steamer 530 feet long with a gross tonnage of 14,198 tons was built in 1922 as a one of the famous fleet of “Bay” steamers. The passenger/Cargo ship accommodated up to 750 passengers (12 1stclass: 738 3rd class) and crew and travelled at an average speed of 15 knots. The Hobson’s Bay and sister ships maintained a regular monthly service from Southampton, England to the Australian ports of Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, calling at Malta, Port Said and Colombo en route. The fare for the full single voyage, 3rd class, cost £45.
The Hobson’s Bay arrived at Fremantle on 25th April with 737 passengers for Australian ports, including 30 Greek migrants.
“Ship of all nations”
On the Hobson’s Bay
“The steamer, Hobson’s Bay which arrived here yesterday, was aptly called the boat of all nations, as its passengers hailed from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Russia, Greece, Germany, Poland, Italy, Palestine, Cyrus and Holland. The newcomers totalled 737. The quotes for the various States are:- Fremantle, 179 of which 154 are assisted by the Government: Adelaide, 29 including 13 assisted: Melbourne, 178 including 3 assisted: Sydney, 278 including 76 assisted: Brisbane, 72 including 23 assisted. Included in the passenger list is the crew of the Australmead numbering 42. They were returned to Australia from Port Said, as the ship was sold to Greece.”
Evening News, Sydney, Sat Apr 1924.
Anargyros disembarked from the Hobson’s Bay at No 5 Walsh Bay, Sydney on 5th May 1924 with 14 fellow Greek passengers. Within a few days he was aboard a train to Glen Innes and then motor coach to Inverell.
The position at the Alhambra Café was not to his liking and his shortcomings with the English language prompted him to seek a different position of employment in Sydney. Alas after a period of disappointment he reluctantly took a position as kitchen-man in a café at Kempsey in 1925. In the limited time of the long hours in the kitchen he found time to commence teaching himself English. In 1926 he moved to the quiet of Bundarra, working for Jim Aroney in the IXL Café. Here he continued teaching himself English, however the lack of Greeks of his own age and language difficulties with the local community, loneliness and isolation, he returned to Sydney in hope of better prospects outside the café scene.
Once again after depleting his meagre financial resources he returned to the café scene in the Bon Ton Sundae Shop (George Comino) at Goulburn in 1927. In 1931 after working at various cafes in NSW country towns he was able to secure temporary accommodation above a sundae shop in Newtown.
With improved language skills and experience, he found employment as caretaker of a mini-golf establishment and embarked on what can only be called a remarkable journey in life due to his perseverance and diligence in mastering the English language.
The new found confidence working outside café scene brought changes in his life as he continued to master English to the point where he began teaching English to Greek children and adults in order that they would gain from his own experiences. During this period he met and courted Vera Radnidge and they married in 1935..
Anargyros, now better known as Andrew and ‘Andy,’ secured the position of news editor of Ethnikon Vema (Greek National Tribune, Sydney) in 1938, whilst continuing to conduct his tuition classes and raise a family. His writing was taken up as a respected voice of the Greek community in leading Sydney metropolitan newspapers, including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph and Sun during the pre WW2 and WW2 years.
Anargyros Fatseas held the position of secretary of The Kytherian Association in 1938.
During the Second World War his services were called upon in the recruitment of Greek enlistments to determine their language skills.
“I was 23 when I was drafted into the army. They would try to find out how educated we were and how much we had picked up the language. A man by the name of Andrew Fatseas was sent to test us on our English literacy. He asked me how capable I was of speaking English to which I answered confidently, “Mr Fatseas you read the Herald and I’ll translate.” He was astonished and he then got me to teach the smaller classes.” - Emanuel Casimatis /Kythera Family Net: History > Oral History of Emanuel Casimatis /submitted by Joshua Kepreotis on 31.01.2015
Anargyros Vr (known as Andrew Victor) was naturalized on 24th October, 1944, residing at 4 Malley Ave. Earlwood NSW. (Commonwealth Government Gazette 20 Dec 1944)
Post WW2 he established the Greek Orthodox Community School, in Paddington and was often called upon as Official Court interpreter.
In 1954 the first school text prepared especially for Greek children in Australia was published in Sydney. Entitled Didaktika anagnosmata kai digimata [Educational Readings and Short Stories] it was written by Anargyros Fatseas, and contained poems and prose pieces written by him on historical, geographical, social and other subjects about Greece and Australia.
The Australian Women’s Weekly printed a frank account by Anargyros of his migrant experience in January 1974, titled ‘Man who found luck in the Lucky Country’
Andrew V. Fatseas tells his story.
This story for Australia Day (1974) – the day marking European settlement in this country – tells what happened to a Greek migrant who arrived in 1924, 136 years after the first settler stepped ashore at Sydney ….. a story of joys and sorrows that are part of building a nation.
Australian Women’s Weekly, 30 Jan 1974)
Vera Fatseas (nee Radnidge) d 19 Sep 1981
Anargyros Vretos Fatseas died, 23 July 1998 and is buried in the Greek Orthodox portion of Rookwood Cemetery. He was survived by his children Victor, Thalia, Alexandra and their families.
Literary Works of Andrew Victor Fatseas
The Hymn to Liberty, ©1941
Readings and Short Stories (in Greek), ©1955
The Foreign-born, ©1959
The Blue Letter, ©1960
Grammar of Modern Greek, ©1960
Pride and Torture, ©1964
Reppas and the Matchmaker, ©1969
Research Assistance –
Victor A. Fatseas, Bathurst NSW
Con Fardouly, Inverell NSW
Researched and written by Peter C. McCarthy, aka ‘Skoulandris’ Panagiotis Makarthis
21 August 2018. ©
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