'KATSEHAMOS AND THE GREAT IDEA
A true story of Greeks and Australians in the early 20th century'
by Peter Prineas
When Peter Prineas learned in 2004 that his grandfather, Peter Feros, nicknamed ‘Katsehamos’, had built a picture theatre in the small town of Bingara in the 1930s, he wanted to know more about it. The result is ‘Katsehamos and the Great Idea’ a book that digs deeply into the shared history of Greeks and Australians in the turbulent years during and after the First World War. It is a story with a different take on Gallipoli and other aspects of Australian history.
Prineas follows Peter Feros’s journey to America as a sixteen year-old boy in 1907, his return to Greece with much patriotic fanfare in 1912 in the company of thousands of other young Greeks to fight in the Balkan Wars, and his journey to Australia in 1921. The book recounts how Peter Feros, with his brothers Phillip and Manolis, between them fought four wars for the ‘Great Idea,’ Greece’s bid to reclaim Constantinople and her former Byzantine glory. The dream was shattered on the plains of Anatolia in 1922.
In Australia, Peter Feros prospered and in the 1930s he became caught up in another ‘Great Idea’. This time it was in the small town of Bingara in north-western NSW where the commercial ambitions of one of his business partners, George Psaltis ‘Katsavias’, entangled him in the building of the ‘Roxy’, an art deco picture theatre impressive enough to grace a city. The book’s account of Bingara’s ‘cinema wars’ is a fascinating addition to Australian picture theatre history. Although success in the cinema business eluded him, Peter Feros endured and went on to build a new life. In the end, ‘Katsehamos’ is about the journey of a man and his family towards accepting, and being accepted by, Australia.
Peter Prineas has worked as a lawyer, environmental consultant, political adviser, and writer. He has written or contributed to books on Australian landscape and environment but ‘Katsehamos’ is his first book of historical writing. He lives in Sydney.
Some comments on the book
'I found the book fascinating because it contains the the dreams and aspirations of all Greek immigrants of my father's generation, a world that has faded from the collective Greek consciousness as much as the Great Idea. Most of all, however, I was struck by the literary quality of the book which is far superior to almost all works of this type that I have read.' – Nicholas Gage
'The mass migrations that followed the early twentieth century turmoil in the Balkans laid the foundations for that great Australian institution the Greek country cafe ... Peter Prineas' spirited account of migrants building small empires of cafes and cinemas is also tinged with the loneliness and isolation they experienced in xenophobic bush towns.' – Tony Maniaty 'Weekend Australian'
'A poignant celebration of early Greek immigrants' – 'Odyssey Magazine'
'A tale of stoicism, doggedness and pride that is profoundly recognisable to the children of the Greek diaspora' – Kiriaki Orfanos 'Kythera-Family. Net'
'There are two in-depth chapters, 'Cinema Wars' and 'The Finest Show in Bingara', dealing with the building of the Roxy Theatre at Bingara in 1936. This was also a turbulent time there for the Greeks, which resulted in a cinema war with their opposition, the Regent Theatre and its owner (Victor Peacocke), who was also an Alderman on the local council (get the picture?). He was hell-bent on stopping the Greeks from moving in on his territory. It's a fascinating read and one that will delight any cinema afficionado and historian' – John Adey, 'Kino Cinema Quarterly'
'KATSEHAMOS AND THE GREAT IDEA'
Published by Plateia, April 2006.
Soft cover, 241pp., Bibliog., Notes, Index, Illustrations.
Plateia 32 Calder Road, Darlington, NSW 2008, Australia
Available in Bingara NSW from the Tourist Information Centre in Maitland Street.
You can also buy this title as an E-Book from Amazon.com