IN SEARCH OF MY CASSIE HERITAGE

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AFTER THE WAR YEARS

When Stacey was born your dad gave your Aunty Joan some money to put a notice in the paper about the birth. I wrote down on a piece of paper her name, Stacey Ann, we had reversed her name in Greek, Anastasia. Unbeknown to me Joan showed Mona the note and Mona said, “You are not putting Stacey Ann in the paper, it sounds like Daisy the cow, you are not putting it in the paper. So Joan put it in the paper but left out the name. Dad said to his sister, Joan, “Did you put that notice in the paper?”. She said “yes”, then started to cry. She then told him that their mother wouldn’t let the baby’s name go in the paper. He didn’t say anything but took the receipt down to the phone box and rang the newspaper. They agreed to add the babies name to the notice as there was no additional cost.

The next day it was in the paper and it had Stacey Ann listed. Nana gets the paper whilst Joan is asleep and she notices the name is in. She went berserk, she woke Joan at around 6.00am and abused her for disobeying the instructions. Joan was denying it all when your dad speaks up, “That was me. I told them to put it in. It’s our baby and it’s our name”. Well, Mona called your sister Daisy for a long time, she wouldn’t call her Stacey.

Later on Mona’s niece, Laurie, came around. She was just married but didn’t have any children at that stage. “Oh, I love the name”, she exclaimed. “What a beautiful name. Don’t you like it Aunty Mona?” Mona did not reply. She then had a cheek a few years later to say, “I always loved that name, Stacey. The Ann part is mine, you know. My name is Lemona Ann.”

Your grandfather was more bitter than Mona, though. He wasn’t for his son to marry a Greek. But he wasn’t Australian, he was a “Pom”.

I used to visit “mum-mee” a lot when you children were young, at least twice a week. I used to visit all my Greek friends, and go to the Greek Church at Easter, christenings and weddings.

I remember one instance, when you were only little, you were about six months old, and I was visiting my mum. Mum said, “Katie Vracknos was here looking for you. I told her when you would be coming, she didn’t say what she wanted”. The next thing she came up to the house. She had married an Australian boy. “I want to know what your son, Allan, name is in Greek? My husband’s name is Allan and I want to give him a Name Day.” I said, “Agapitos”. So she had her husband baptised in the Greek Church as Agapitos. She then held the ritual they have every year for a Name Day.

I always vowed that I would not marry a Greek man. This was because I knew what a lot of the Greek men were like. By working I was able to see the other side of Australian life. Mind you there was no one nicer or better to his wife than your Aunty Mary’s husband, Paul. All these different friends of mine had good husbands, caring and all. I wouldn’t say they washed up and things like that, but Uncle Paul did, he was simply a marvellous husband. He did a lot of cooking also, being an excellent cook by profession.

 At your christening there were over 400 people at the Greek Orthodox Church Hall for the party afterwards.

When you were growing up we always brought you up as an Australian. One day you came home from school and you were crying. I asked what the matter was and you told me that there was an aboriginal child at school, who had only stayed there for about one week, and that you had befriended him. All the other kids were being horrible to him. You came home crying your eyes out, saying, “Jan Arnold told me that the reason I was playing with him was because I am black too.” She came to our house one day and I said to her, “What’s this I hear about you saying or telling Allan that he is black?” She looked at me and didn’t reply.

You didn’t have any other problems at school nor did I around Cottesloe, except from your father’s parents. We spoke perfect English, without any accent, that’s why we were not treated differently.

Cynthia with Stacey and Allan 1948

Photograph courtesy Allan Cresswell

One time your father’s mother asked me to cook some fish for a anniversary party for Mrs Brindley. I wasn’t even invited to the party although all your aunties were. I declined to do so because of the cost involved for the oil, eggs for the batter and the gas involved, and of cause my time involved. They would pay for the fish but that was all. I said, “No way, much of the expense is in the batter.” “You make beautiful fish,” my mother-in- law replied. “All of you black people can cook fish properly.” Your dad started laughing. “Black! I’m whiter than you,” I exclaimed. “Don’t you call me black! Where do you get the black from?” “You know what I mean,” she replied. I said, “No I don’t know what you mean!” Then I said to your dad, “What are you laughing for, Ron, what’s funny about it?” “Well everybody knows that you are not black,” your dad replied. Later on he told me not to get upset about it as she was ignorant and illiterate. But fancy calling me black! She must have thought it, otherwise she wouldn’t have said it.

Wedding Spiro Karasavas to Angela Theodorou 12th December 1946 in Western Australia

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Photograph courtesy Angela Karasavas

Your Uncle Spiro married your Aunty Angela who was from Sydney, by proxy, more or less. They had met there during the war when Spiro called into Sydney. They were married in Perth as the boy pays for the wedding and all the expenses, and you usually have the wedding where the boy lives.

They lived for quite a few years with your grandmother in Lake Street. They later moved to Sydney when Kathy was a few months old. Spiro took them over, then returned to Perth and stayed with us, here in Cottesloe, whilst he sold his business. Spiro and Angela had their first child, Stacey, followed by Peter two years later. The same year Kathy was born the family moved across to Sydney.

Engagement Zafiris (Geoff) Karasavas to Kaloipe (Kopie) Panegyres

The last to marry was Geoff who married Kaloipe Panegyres in 1947. Which was sort of arranged also. They bought a house and went to live in Leederville, that corner house you would remember, in Blencowe Street. Angela always intended to go some day back to Sydney so they never brought a house. Angela always said that if they bought a house they would end up staying here

Wedding Zafiris Karasavas to Kaloipe Panegyres 4th May 1947 Perth Western Australia

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Photograph courtesy Allan Cresswell

Geoff and Kopie lost their first child, a boy, who was stillborn. It was full term, a very big baby. Five years afterwards Ann was born and three years later they had Allan. So Spiro, Geoff and I all named our first children Agapitos (Allan or Peter) and Anastasia (Stacey or Ann). Aunty Mary named her second son Agapitos (Jack).

Presis and Report on Application by Anastasia Karasavas for Naturalization in 1947/48

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In 1950 my mother came to stay with us for a while, she had been living in Lake Street with Spiro and his family. I had a gall bladder attack and mum, with Stacey and you, went to your Aunty Kopie’s while I went into hospital. Mum had been coming to live with us for short stays. When Angela had her children mum would come and stay with us in Cottesloe but just before Kathy was born she came to live with us for good. When Angela became pregnant with Kathy she said she was going to Sydney to live, so mum came here. This was in 1954, you would have been 10 years old at the time. Spiro and Angela stayed on a bit longer than expected waiting for summer so they could get a better price for the shop.

Anastasia Karasavas (nee Xanthis) with Stacey Karasavas 1949

Photograph courtesy Angela Karasavas

In 1955 we went to Carnarvon to live for some months and mum went to live with your Aunty Mary. When we returned mum came back to live with us in Cottesloe.

I never left mum alone at all, someone was always with her. Dad had rigged up an overhead wire between the house and the outside toilet so she was independent although she was blind. But we never left her alone in the house, ever. Your father used to go to the Lodge on Friday nights and you would always go to the Swanbourne pictures with Stacey and your friends. I always stayed home with mum on Friday nights. Mrs Reynolds next door called out over the fence one Friday evening that it was her birthday and invited me to come with them to a restaurant in Cottesloe for tea. I thanked her but explained that I had already eaten and that there was no-one else to stop with mum. Your dad was preparing to leave for Lodge and suggested that I go. He said it would only be for a few hours and that night and day meant no difference to mum and that it was just like me going up to the shops in the day time. So your dad talked me into going whilst he went off to the Buffalo Lodge.

Whilst I was away mum decided to burn some personal items. She lit a fire outside in a bin that was near the wire to the toilet but her petticoat caught fire and burnt her. A woman heard my mother’s screams and went to our house and called the ambulance. Mrs Rowe, across the road, told the attending police that your dad was at the Lodge, she didn’t know where I was, but she knew I never normally left mum. Dad and the police then came and got me from the restaurant. That was on Friday night and she died early hours on the Monday morning. Her kidneys gave in with the shock.

Mum was always very independent but I still blamed myself. Your dad said that if anyone was to blame it was him as he talked me into going. She thought it was a good idea that I went out. She never knew that I always stayed home because of her.

No-one blamed me except one of the people at the funeral who said to me, “One little mother and you couldn’t even look after her”. Geoff went mad at her. Fancy saying that to me. I stopped Spiro from coming over to Perth for the funeral. He had booked his seat but I told him not to come and to remember her as she was.

And from me........I remember mum often screaming out at night in her sleep for her mother, "Mum, Mum, Mum!", she would cry in anguish. She did so for the rest of her life and I know she always blamed herself for what happened, and I also suspected some of the family did so too. Mum was always loving and close towards her mother and this tragedy effected her so much.

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