When they first arrived in Melbourne in 1959, Mum and her family lived in North Essendon for a short time and she worked in Brunswick. They then moved to Station Street, Fairfield where they lived for about 2 years and Mum would have to catch the bus to get to work. She worked at a cardigan factory in Clifton Hill which was opposite Darling Gardens. Mum remembers her bosses being two Jewish brothers and they were really good to her. They were very impressed that she always gave 101% and never said no to learning new things that they moved her up in the company.
She also remembers a lovely lady named Agnes who looked out for her. Mum was happy here and had lots of friends. They used to go across the road to Darling Gardens on their lunch breaks and one of the photos above is from a Christmas get together in the park. You can see they have tinsel in their hair. She had a special friend named Joyce Lenn who she still talks about.
On a beautiful sunny day this year, I decided to take Mum on a little adventure back to Clifton Hill. We walked around Darling Gardens while we talked about the past. We found a park bench, but probably not the one she had sat on all those years ago. We ate fresh ham and tomato rolls that we had made there together. The park had changed a little and the factory was no longer there, but she was just happy to be there with me.
Mum tells me that when she was about 17yrs old that they were going to move her up to cutting and design, but my Nonno wanted her to leave. He had already saved the money for a deposit for the house in Dandenong South so getting to work was a challenge. Mum and her siblings would have to get up very early to get ready to walk to the Dandenong Station and be there by 6am. She would then have to get off alone at Flinders Street Station and then have to go underground. She tells me that it was a little scary, but that she had to catch the train to get to Clifton Hill. Coming home was also difficult as she couldn't speak much English and didn't know her way around just yet. Mum was clever and remembers counting every station so that she would know when to get off. Then walking back from the station to their home would be around 7pm. Whoever got home first would start dinner as my Nonna was also working. She worked at Heinz in Dandenong. Mum did eventually have to leave and was very sad and missing all her friends.
She tells me after a little while Centrelink would help her get a job in a factory in Huntingdale doing shirt collars. Mum would get off at the Huntingdale Station and there would be lots of Italian migrants there and at work to talk to, but it was not the same.
Mum had talked to me about Fairfield Park and how her and her siblings would go there as it was close to their home in Fairfield. They would go for a swim in the pool that they had in the park and they would have lots of fun together. I took Mum a few months ago and she was right as the park is beautiful. I tired her out a little while walking around the grounds as I wanted to be where she was and where she had been all those years ago. We sat down on a park bench and ate mortadella rolls that we had made together. We just looked out towards the Yarra and talked and remembered times gone by with a few tears. Unfortunately the pool is no longer there, but the memories of those days will always be with her and now with me too.