Mudgee is one of many country towns that was once home to Greek cafés established in the late 1930s.
The cafés were fascinating, they were totally American in style, featured Australian food, and were operated by Greek migrants.
Their luxurious designs featured chrome curves, etched glass and comfortable booth seating. It was cutting-edge America in Mudgee.
There was the Royal Café, The Hollywood Café and the Mudgee Café. They're no longer around, but memories of them still linger.
Con Matis (Mavromatis) was the owner of the Mudgee Café, and at the end of his life he was referred to as a "hero" in a lengthy Sydney Morning Herald obituary.
Ian Marsh was just seven years old when Con Matis saved his life, and he has carried the weight of that moment with him for over 60 years.
It was New Year's Day, 1959, and Ian had been at the pool with his sister and her friend.
The three children were standing in front of the Catholic Church on the corner of Market and Church Street, just near the clock. They had been chatting, and waiting for a huge cloud to burst over the town.
Eventually, it started pouring and while the girls kept talking, Ian stood impatiently in the rain holding his towel.
"Before I left to go swimming, my mum had told me, 'you've got a new towel, so don't lose it,' because I had a habit of leaving it behind," Mr Marsh said.
Ian eventually grew tired of waiting for them and thought he would start heading home.
The rain was pelting down and torrents of water began to build momentum through the street gutters, Mudgee experienced an inch of rain in less than 20 minutes.
"I decided to cross the road... I didn't see the gutter, and the rain had come so quickly that when I stepped off I was sucked down under the road," Mr Nelson said.
Across the street, Con Matis saw the moment the surging storm water swept young Ian underground.
Con knew the boy would soon drown. But the water level had become so high it was impossible to see where the gutter was, and time was running out.
Con sprinted down Church Street towards the old picture theatre to catch Ian where the gutter opened up again.
As Ian had fallen down into the depths of the gutter, he remembered his mother's stern words, to not lose the new towel.
"After what seemed an eternity a towel slapped against my arms, and then the unconscious boy struck them," Mr Matis told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Con knelt on the footpath in the rain and applied artificial respiration until Ian recovered.
You want to have that memory and just have a silent prayer to someone that has done that selfless act.- Ian Marsh
"Later Dr Carter took a look at me and told my mum, 'Get him to bed, and as soon as you can, take him down to the pool so he doesn't get scared of swimming,' which she did," Mr Marsh said.
The film showing at the theatre that day was 'Don't Go Near the Water'.
"How relevant is that? I wish I was a movie buff back then and I mightn't have gone swimming."
Six weeks later, Mr Matis was bringing a car back from Sydney to sell. He was at the end of a long drive on wet roads, coming into Mudgee when a truck came around on the wrong side of the road.
His son, Geoff Mavromatis said his father moved his car to get around the truck, but the truck had corrected, and they collided head-on. Mr Matis was killed.
Dr Ann Coward (nee Matis) said her father's death left the town in shock, particularly deeply religious residents who could not reconcile why their god had taken away such a good Samaritan.
"People in those days were churchgoing and so they believed in a loving God. So to have this fellow, this young man who saved a boy's life and then to be killed so soon after, just didn't make sense to people, didn't make sense to anybody. So it had a big effect on the whole town."
Ian Marsh has carried the moment and memory of Con Matis with him ever since.
"My mum always told me, 'While you were saved, another one went,' and I think about that all the time," he said.
Ian Marsh, who lives in Goulburn and Geoff Mavromatis, in New Zealand, recently met over Zoom.
"I'm trying to piece together you know, all the various bits and pieces because as a 10-year-old your memory is not that great," Geoff said.
Ian has wanted to speak to someone from Con's family, who could understand the gravity of the event, for over 60 years.
"I still thank your father every day when I have a shave," Ian said.
"I'm just so much indebted to Geoff and the family, and you can never repay that."
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