• Dad's original passport dated March, 1962.
  • Dad lived at 14 George Street, Dandenong when he first arrived in Australia.
  • A life buoy picture I discovered from Dad's ship 'Roma'.
  • This amazing postcard is of the school my Dad went to. It was sent to him with lots of love by his Zia Elisabetta and Zio Luigi who Dad was close to growing up. They adored Dad.
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Dad recalls how when he did something wrong, Nonno would chase after him saying "come back, I love you", Dad while still running would yell back, "if you love me, why are you chasing me". Nonno wasn't mad at Dad, he was upset for other reasons. Dad went to school for a short time, but then as a teenager he found work. His boss loved him. He tells me how he would run home for lunch, eat and then run back as he didn't want to to be late or let anyone down. When he got back to work the other workers would still be eating. Food was scarce in those days, so when you saw it, you ate and fast or someone else would.

He had lots of friends, but his best friend was Luigi Rotundo who he has never forgotten and still talks about. They loved climbing the olive trees and going to the beach and getting up to a little mischief. Unfortunately after my Nonno passed away, things were more difficult at home and a few years later, Dad would have to leave for Australia. He was only '19'. So on the 5th May, 1962, he said goodbye to Nonna at his family home and then left for the Naples dock with a family friend. It was heartbreaking for both of them. He boarded the ship 'Roma' and left for his new life. Surrounded by strangers who were all feeling the same, they comforted each other, ate together and talked about their future new life. There was a photographer on board who took pictures and a day or two later they could be purchased and Dad did, thankfully.

The voyage was long and tiring, but the ship finally arrived on 31st May, 1962 at Port Melbourne after first passing through Freemantle. Dad remembers it being around dusk. He was met by friends from his hometown from Bitritto, Bari. Not only did they come to Station Pier, but Dad said that they also came on board to greet him with open arms. 

He was first welcomed into the home of an amazing lady named Giustina who even though had her own family, took care of Italian migrants. This was at 14 George Street in Dandenong. She helped them to settle in and find work for them which Dad did only after a few weeks. When I talk to Dad about this adventure, his eyes swell up with tears, as the memory is so fresh as if it was yesterday.

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