In the early 70's a lot of people struggled financially and needed money even to go to the doctors. There was no medicare and no bulk billing clinics. As Dad worked a lot, the car would be with him so Mum would have to walk a long way to get to the doctors. It was located on the Princes Highway in Dandenong and she would have more than one of us in the pusher or in her arms or both, but she never ever complained.
There were not a lot of the big supermarkets that there are now, but they did have this awesome Coles Variety Store in Lonsdale Street, Dandenong. It had everything that you could think of in there. I can remember at the back of the store you would go down this wooden ramp which was slanted down to get to the cafeteria section. We would always try to run down it when Mum and Dad would take us there as a treat. They had this amazing fried flake in the cafeteria that she would get for us sometimes. It had such a crunch and was so delicious.
Dad would get his haircut in the Vanity Arcade which was only a few doors up from Coles. There, they had a photo booth and even though times were a little tough, we did manage to persuade them to let us have a photo in there. It was not cheap, but they always tried to keep us happy. Dad had also been in the same booth with his friends when he had first arrived in Dandenong in 1962 so that was pretty special.
There was also an actual photo studio in the Vanity Arcade, Dandenong that Dad and Mum had their memorable wedding photo's in. They had also taken us kids there for our special occasions.
The Dandenong Market was another place that most migrants would go to as things were quite cheap. You could buy boxes of fruit and vegetables in bulk to feed the whole family. They also had these amazing hot jam donuts that they would buy for us if we were good. Although a lot of things have changed in Dandenong, this hasn't and the purple donut van is still there. I'm so thankful that it is as my boys can experience and enjoy them too just like I did as a kid.
Mum tells me that there was a big bacon factory in Dandenong and that her brother had worked there. I do remember going to my Nonno and Nonna's every Saturday night and seeing this lit up pig on top of the factory. He would take off his hat three times and I knew we were nearly there when I would see it. Unfortunately when the factory closed piggy went into storage, but thankfully someone found it years later. They cleaned him all up and have placed him high on top of the Dandenong Market for all to see him. I'm so happy they did as it was a big part of the Dandenong history and now my boys can see him too.
My brother Frank, my sister Linda and I were all born at the Dandenong District Hospital in David Street, Dandenong. It first opened its doors in 1942 which is also the same year my beautiful Dad was born.
Only Dad worked, but that's how he wanted it as he wanted to make sure that Mum was home for us whenever we needed her. He had lots of different shift work and would rotate from day, afternoon and night shifts. He would be exhausted when he would come home so to come home to a freshly cooked meal was awesome for him. Mum and Dad grew lots of fruit and vegetables in our garden that gave us many amazing meals.
Mum was great at making clothes for us and would always make sure that we looked great when we went out somewhere. I loved some of the clothes she had made for us. She would also fix our hair and make sure we looked extra special. I loved how she used to put my hair up in an onion or so I called it. One of the photos' above shows how perfect she could do it.
Mum and Dad married us all off and saw that we had our own homes and have our own children. Not everyone gets a chance to see that. They saw us happy and they were happy too. They had done an amazing job at raising us and making sure that we always had whatever we needed and more.
They celebrated their '25'th wedding anniversary in December 1990 and we had a little function for them. It didn't go exactly to plan, but as the photo's show they were so happy as if no-one else was watching and it was just the two of them. They also made it to the year of their '50'th Wedding Anniversary which was in 2015.
Dad loved to travel and Mum loved making him happy. They had been to the Gold Coast a few times, but when they went in 1992, Dad wanted to go to explore more. Mum said that they had booked a plantation tour from their Hotel. They had a great time and went to the big pineapple, the cane fields and the ginger factory.
Dad and Mum had made lots of sacrifices for us and experienced many challenges to give us a better life and more opportunities than they had had. Even though there were some tough times, there was also a lot of amazing moments too. Lots of road trips with Nellie our car as Dad would take us on little adventures to experience Melbourne. We had so many memorable holidays away at Cowes, Phillip Island. Mum and Dad would also try and give us a Sunday Funday and take us on an outing. Sometimes we would know where we were going and sometimes it would just be a surprise. Mum would always have packed a huge picnic lunch for us. We used to have fun and play games in the car, mainly eye spy. I can remember Dad would get a little mad at me sometime as I used to sit behind him and accidentally I would kick the back of his chair. I didn't mean to, I think I was just so excited. I didn't realise how annoying it was until my boys did it to me. They gave us so many precious memories that even though it was so many years ago, it feels like that they only just happened yesterday.