Life Stories: Paleohotites and Australia

  Migrant Profile: Paul "Apostolos" Markou

Paul (Apostolos) Markou (1922- 1977)

By Mary Markou

Paul “Apostolos” Markou was born the youngest of five sons to Georgios and Maria Markou (nee: Loupos). His father, Georgios, had his own shoemaker/ cobbler’s workshop in Paleohori, he would not only repair shoes but make them from scratch; the family also had several olive groves which they attended to.


At one point during the early 1910’s, Georgios and his son, Konstantinos, were captured by the Ottoman Turks, and they were reunited with their family after many years. A culmination of lacking work opportunities, the ongoing tension between Greece and Turkey and his personal experiences of being held by the Turks lead to Konstantinos to find work in the Greek merchant navy. He eventually found his way to Sydney in 1926.



Above: A portrait of his mother, Maria (left) and of Paul in the Australian Citizen Military Forces (CMF), during the Second World War (right).


For several years, Konstantinos worked hard to establish himself, and by the mid 1930’s had acquired his own fruit shop on Botany Rd, Redfern (then part of the suburb, Waterloo). In 1937, he sponsored his younger brothers, Nikolaos and my father, Paul, and in the following year, he also sponsored, Dimitrios, leaving Panagiotis to stay with his parents in the village. Paul celebrated his fifteenth birthday on the S.S. Viminale.


Having a twenty-one year age difference with Konstantinos, Paul looked upon him as a father-figure; after all, Paul was only a teenager when he arrived here.


Paul later recounted how difficult his early years were in Australia. There was a social expectation for migrants to quickly assimilate in the Australian community. For instance, he remembered how he could not speak Greek in public. As a teenager, Paul looked towards sport as a social outlet; boxing was a popular activity among young men at the time, and he dabbled in it for a short time.


He was also introduced to horse-racing, the ‘trots’ (i.e. harness racing) and greyhound racing- something which would have been unimaginable back in Paleohori! He always loved sport, watching most sports and he would attend football matches at Wentworth Park- to watch Pan-Hellenic play. He also was a big fan of a T.V. program, World Championship of Wrestling (in the 1960’s) the name Killer Kowalski comes to mind.


Above: The Viminale, on which Paul traveled to Australia.


After the War, and being discharged, it was time to return to the everyday reality of work. The likely plan in the immediate post-War years was for the brothers to buy businesses and each manage one themselves; as a result, they would pool from each business and then share the profits equally among themselves. It was also a time for Paul to ‘settle down’; after the customary swap of photographs, he was engaged to Eleni, who was flown out to Sydney in November, 1949, and they were married.


The 1950’s were great years; there was a lot of hard work to be done but, unlike today, it was mandatory that all businesses shut after midday on Saturdays and all day Sunday, from department stores, small businesses to petrol stations, too bad if you were lucky enough to own a car and had not fill up the tank before the weekend; these work hours not only allowed people much more family time together, but also provided an array of social opportunities for families. On fine Sundays, our family would meet up with my uncles and their families, as well as other Paleohoritans. As a child, I have fond memories of picnics in the Royal Botanical Gardens with my family, relatives and friends- which was a regular occurrence. There were also the walks around Lady Macquarie’s Chair and I cannot forget the launch with its mahogany paneling that would take us for rides around Farm Cove- which was the highlight of the day.


Life Story: Part 2