To leave the only place you have ever called home and saying goodbye to all your family and friends must have been so heartbreaking for Mum and Dad and their first huge challenge.
The next would be getting to their ports of departure in Napoli and stepping onto these huge passenger ships that would take them away from all that they knew. They made some friends on the ships and talked about their new adventure, but still unsure inside as their hearts were still back home. They would be arriving in a foreign country with not knowing the language or the people and their cultures.
Trying to get a job with not speaking much English and trying to make new friends along the way. Another big challenge was to learn how to catch buses and trains so that you could get to work. Making sure when you had to get on and off them. Making sure that you would leave home in time as to not miss them. There were no alarm clocks back then and your mind was your only clock as not everyone could afford a watch. People just helped each other out.
It must have been a huge challenge for both my amazing parents, but they both found work not long after arriving in Melbourne. They both made great friends and learnt about living in Australia and their cultures. They learned to speak English and become a part of their new home. They also both became Australian Citizens on 19th June 1979 at the Dandenong Town Hall.
Before Dad had met Mum he went to learn English at the Dandenong West Primary School as in the evenings they would have English classes. He did learn a lot and he even had this book that I now have that would help him practice what he had learnt. He loved going as it was also a chance to meet new people. They would give each other advice too as everyone's experiences, although similar, were very different.
Not a lot of migrants had their licences back then and especially not the women so getting your licence was a challenge, but it probably was a lot easier than now in some ways. Dad wasn't very happy with Mum when she had surprised him one day after work with a driving lesson. Mum had thought to ask for a lady instructor as Dad might not get upset with her and he didn't. He was really happy when he had come back home from the lesson. They eventually bought their first car, but it was after 4 years of marriage and after Dad had to walk over an hour each way just to get to work and back. These days most young people don't even like to walk. If only they knew.
Even though there were many challenges and a few hard times, Mum and Dad would always make sure that we had everything that we needed. They would do anything for us and always tried to make us feel extra special. They would give us amazing parties for our Communions and Confirmations and did all they could for all our Weddings to make them even more memorable. Our Birthdays felt special growing up and there would always be a cake or two. There would always be a special bottle of alcohol placed on the table for the photos too. Sometimes they would even put an add in the paper to announce the occasion. Many years ago the photo albums of the past would be self adhesive and you would stick down your photos or paper clippings, but sadly after many years the plastic would destroy them a little. Luckily I saved some just in time.
When we lived in Gloria Avenue, we had this awesome leather couch that would fold out into a double bed. Mum and Dad loved it so much that they had just put it in for repair as you could not find another one the same. It came back and it was so nice and all brand new. We loved it too and Mum would let us sleep on it sometimes. Well, in 1977 I was play fighting with my brother Frank and as he was about to sit down on the couch, I put a sharp pencil where he would be sitting. I didn't want to hurt him too much so I put the pencil the other way around with the sharp end facing down towards the couch. Well, I pocked a hole in the newly upholstered couch didn't I. Dad was not very happy with me although he knew I didn't do it on purpose. It went back in for repair and Mum still has it in Dad's special room with all his things in there. Many happy memories happened on that couch and I can still remember as a kid looking out from our lounge room window for Dad to arrive back from work with such excitement on my face.
Dad and Mum had wanted me to go to the Dandenong Business College in Dandenong, as High School and I didn't quite agree with each other. They knew how much I loved to talk to people so we thought I could maybe become a Secretary. So in November 1985, I received my Secretarial Diploma at the Pitrone's Ballroom in Springvale. On that special night, I wore my beautiful Mum's breathtaking Wedding dress and I was so proud to be wearing it. I'm just a little upset with myself now as Mum really wanted me to do my hair professionally, but I was so nervous and I didn't want to. Mum fixed my hair the best she could and considering I was having a minor tantrum, it turned out pretty good. I'm so glad that I have this memorable photo above as Mum said that her dress is now gone. Sadly one day when she went to look at it, she noticed that it had become brittle and was crumbling in her hands. So sad as it was so beautiful. Mum must have had a hoop under the dress on her special day as she looked like a Princess.