Life Stories- Meglaohori

Maria Vounatsos' Life Story Con't

Going home, Peter often ran over rabbits with the car.  Maria cooked them mainly with saltsa.  Once Peter found a piglet by the side of the road.  It was so young that it did not have hair on its tiny body. It was taken home where Maria, not knowing where to keep it, put it in the washing copper which was naturally very cold. Next morning she found the poor thing dead!

In 1953 Maria received word her mother had cancer.  She took Jim with her leaving by Flying Boat and was away for six months. Going back to Greece was a big thing in those days. 

Her trip to Greece was not a happy one.  She saw her parents, a younger brother and other relatives and friends. Amersoutha died on 22nd September 1953.  Soon after, Maria and Jim returned to New Zealand.

Above: Maria and her daughter, Mercina. 

The following year Peter went to Greece.  Maria ran the business making so much money the accountant was astounded.  He advised Maria not to bank all the money.  From then on, she took hold of the purse strings.

Maria loved going to the beach.  The family fished for flounders with nets.  She would take an old fry pan and cook the flounders on the beach. Maria loved watching her family of children and grandchildren enjoying the outdoors.  She also accompanied Peter whitebaiting. 

Maria’s English was not the best.  She preferred to speak Greek at home to encourage her children to keep the language. She wanted to buy some sheets.  Taking Mercina with her to a local department store, she asked for some “shits”.  Fortunately Mercina explained to the assistant much to their amusement.

Above: Maria- at an older age. 

With no Greek School in Palmerston North, Maria engaged an Egyptian lady who knew several languages, to teach her children to read and write in Greek.  This proved very beneficial as when Maria was overseas she regularly received letters from her daughter thus enabling her to keep in touch.

Maria enjoyed receiving the Πλωμαριτικο Αντιλαλοι, sent to her from Mytilene.  Both Obituaries can be found in copies of the magazine.

Maria was a religious person often referring to her religious books.  Every Saturday she lit her Κανδιλη and with the Θημιατω blessed the whole house with incense.  She and Peter offered a room in one of their properties as the first Greek Orthodox Church in Palmerston North.  They were also founding members of St John The Baptist Greek Orthodox Church and were honoured by Archbishop Dionisios Psiahas who made them Elders.

Maria brought with her an Icon of the Virgin Mary. The Icon is from Zagorsk Russia, verified years later when it needed restoring.  Maria’s father bought the Icon from a prisoner originally early 1900.  It is said Maria placed Mercina’s cot under the Icon.  Mrs Giasimi Aspros remembers the Icon when she arrived and came to visit Maria whom she always claimed of being her cousin. 

Although not fond of children in general, she loved her grandchildren. Woe betide if you spanked one. She had to be reminded of the spanking her own children got from her!

She was generous to her family but also to the people of her village corresponding regularly and sending money for she knew only too well the hardship of village life.

The family was present when Maria passed away on July 8th 1995.

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