My Mum was a bright and very adventurous little girl. She tells me that when she was 8 years old she put her name down to go to summer camp at Cetraro. I'm not sure how she convinced my Nonna to let her go, but she told her that there was a convent and nuns and that made it ok. Mum was so happy when she came back as she had learnt many new things so the following year she went to Praia a Mare. Nonna was also happy for her as she had come back all grown up. Mind you, I was never allowed to go to camp.
On 31st January, 1958, the papers were put in for them to start their journey to come and join my Nonno Aurelio in Australia. In 1956 when Nonno left, Mum told me that it snowed so much that people couldn't leave their homes and that food had to be dropped in by planes. It was Christmas Eve, 1958 that they boarded the ship 'La Flaminia' from Naples. It was a very cold and eerie night and their were many tears as they were all sad to be leaving their home in Cosenza to an unknown Country.
Nonna Ermelinda was heartbroken to be leaving her Mum Filomena as she was her only daughter. My Mum and all her siblings loved their Nonna so much. Mum always talks about her and she has a photo of her nearby holding a bunch of camomile flowers which she looks at often. Nonno Emilio had past away years earlier, but Mum remembers him sitting, staring out the window with his walking stick.
Mum tells me of lots of stories from the ship. She tells me about Mimmo Corelli who's Mum was not well so he had asked my Nonna if his Mum could stay with them. It was too noisy on the lower deck and she couldn't rest. Nonna said yes and he was very grateful. The ship first stopped off in Fremantle, Perth before then heading onto Station Pier, Port Melbourne.
They finally arrived on 23rd January, 1959. Mum remembers it being a very hot summers day. It took a few hours for all the medical checks to be done, but eventually they all got off. Dressed up in their finest clothes and so excited to see my Nonno who was waiting there with open arms and couldn't wait to hug them all. Even though over 50 years have past, talking to Mum about her journey, the feelings and tears are as raw as if it only happened yesterday.