ID portrait of Dorothea ‘Rose’ Sarantides, attached to her Alien Registration papers, 1939. National Archives of Australia

From little things big things grow

 
Fragments of a 1946 Greek-American Tribune newspaper discovered beneath a worn layer of linoleum in the front bedroom, olive seeds recovered from the kitchen hearth and names and dates listed in Rate Assessment books were the only clues to the existence of a Greek family that lived at 60 Gloucester Street, The Rocks.


Interviews with former neighbours recalled the ‘little frail thin old lady’, who couldn’t speak much English, and her two grown-up sons. Emmanuel Sarantides, 23, and his brother Athas (Arthur) 18, migrated to Australia from Crete in 1914. Family tradition says that Emmanuel chose Australia because, unlike America, he was allowed to bring his bicycle. Initially, the brothers went their separate ways; Arthur worked as a hairdresser in Brisbane for the next 7 years and Emmanuel settled in Sydney. 

Graphic that says Insites - published in insites magazine
This article was originally published in the Spring 2008 issue of Insites.
 
Fragment of Greek American Tribune newspaper, dated 12 July 1946, found under lino in kitchen of terrace number 60, Susannah Place.
Fragment of Greek American Tribune newspaper, dated 12 July 1946, found under lino in kitchen of terrace number 60, Susannah Place. Photo © Chris Shain for Sydney Living Museums

'I’ve got a son in Australia ...
Dorothea 'Rose' Sarantides
 

In 1923 the rest of Emmanuel and Arthur’s immediate family; their mother Dorothea (Rose), sister lrini and two younger brothers, Andrew and Stelios (Stan) arrived in Sydney.  They were among thousands of Greek families who were forced to flee their home in Smyrna (now Izmir) in Asia Minor when the Turkish Army forcibly drove out all foreign residents from the country. Over the course of two weeks in September 1922 the city was burned to the ground, thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands of refugees were caught up in what historian Giles Milton described as ‘a humanitarian disaster on a scale that the world had never before seen’. The Sarantides family was evacuated to Crete and when asked by the Red Cross if they had any relatives Dorothea replied, ‘I’ve got a son in Australia’. 

In Sydney the Sarantides family lived together upstairs above a restaurant that Emmanuel had been running from 1922 (and co-proprietor from 1917). On his Application for Admission of Relatives or Friends to Australia Emmanuel listed his occupation as a ‘restaurant keeper’ at 139 George Street, The Rocks. In reality the whole family was involved in ‘keeping’ the restaurant; Emmanuel was the cook, Dorothea collected the money from their customers and Irini was a waitress. The Colonial Café as it was known sold English style meals such as roast meat and vegetables and blancmange for dessert.

 


In Sydney the Sarantides family lived together upstairs above a restaurant that Emmanuel had been running from 1922 ...

 
Group of people standing outside restaurant in the Rocks Sydney. On the awning above the group there is a sign that reads DINING ROOMS.
Emmanuel Sarantides (far right) and staff outside the Colonial Café at 139 George Street, The Rocks, c1920. Photo courtesy Kay Kallas and George Adaley.

 


In 1925 Stan Sarantides moved to 47 Argyle Street and set up a fish shop and in that same year Irini’s first child Rose was born at the Colonial Cafe. By 1932, despite the rent being reduced during the hard years of the Great Depression Emmanuel continued to struggle financially and he closed the café.  According to family stories Dorothea used to hide Emmanuel in a large tea chest when the rent collector came round.   In 1933 Emmanuel, Arthur and Dorothea moved to Harrington Street staying only a few years before moving again in 1935 to 60 Gloucester Street, where they lived until 1946. 

By the late 1930s Emmanuel was working as a cook at the popular dance and music club the Trocadero and Arthur had a small hairdressing shop near the Hellenic Club on Elizabeth Street. It was during these years that Irini’s children, Rose, Kay and George Adaley, visited their grandmother and uncles at No 60. Their memories, recorded in an interview in 1993 and 2009, brought to life the bare facts known about the Sarantides family and were used to re-create their late 1930s kitchen and bedroom in the museum. 

 
 
colour photograph of roughly furnished kitchen with green painted furniture, packing case cupboards besides a large fireplace with black stove inset and mantle shelf with fabric valance and containers. There's a gas bracket on the wall with a glass lamp.
Kitchen, ground floor rear, terrace number 60, Susannah Place Museum. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums SPM13_0459

 

Although only young, the three children would catch the tram from their home in Riley Street, Darlinghurst, to Circular Quay and walk up to their nan’s house where she ‘would pop her head out the window and toss the key down’. It was their duty to do the chores for their infirm grandmother, such as ‘ ... emptying the chamber pot ... a little bit of scrubbing of the floors ... mop under the bed ... iron the shirts. George remembered the views from his Uncle Arthur’s bedroom and watching the Manly ferries on Sydney Harbour through his binoculars.

As most family historians experience tracing family members can be a slow and frustrating search. One of the problems in tracing the Sarantides family is that their name has been spelt in various ways on official documents: Sarandides, Sarandedes, Sarandithis and Sarandidis. One of the brothers (Stan) had also shortened his surname to Saran. After yet another guessing game of how Sarantides could be spelt (or misspelt) the naturalisation papers of Andrew Sarandidis came to light. Andrew’s application, lodged in 1947, proved more problematic than those of his two older brothers due to difficulties in tracing the boat on which he arrived in Australia. Andrew had left Greece under the assumed name of Voulgarides ‘to evade Greek Military service prior to leaving Greece’. His file includes supporting letters from two fellow passengers who travelled to Australia with him in 1923 on the SS Ville De Verdun, as well as letters certifying his good character from Emanuel Andronicus, a former Consul General for Greece (and founder of Andronicus coffee). The £5 application fee for naturalisation was waived because of Andrew’s military service during World War II.

The Sarantides are just one of over 100 families who lived at Susannah Place between 1844 and 1990.

George remembered the views from his Uncle Arthur’s bedroom and watching the Manly ferries on Sydney Harbour through his binoculars ...

About the Author

Sydney Living Museums Image
Anna Cossu
Curator
Susannah Place Museum, Museum of Sydney, Justice and Police Museum
Inspired by wonderful and slightly eccentric history teachers and after her own foray as a teacher, Anna found herself drawn to the world of museums.
More From This Author

More stories from Susannah Place Museum