|Country of Origin||Italy|
|Date of Birth||20/07/20|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1959|
|Submitted by||Tony Cosentino|
My father was one of nine children born in Melissa Italy in 1920. He was forced to leave school after his first grade due to the need to work and help the family who were poor. He worked for the family until the Second World War where he served as an Italian soldier and then assisted the Americans as a Truck driver when the war was at an end. It was during his time as a soldier that he learned to read and write from the battalion priest. His friends would go out drinking and chasing women but he would stay back to learn so that he could write back to his future bride.
He returned home and continued working and wed his childhood sweetheart my mother Maria Pettinato. My brother Salvatore was born in 1953. It was around this time that my father realised that he had no future in Italy and went to Brazil for a number of years to try and create a home base for his family to come to. After a few years of work for one reason and another he found that Brazil was not a stable environment and returned to Italy.
After a short period he made contact with a friend in Australia who sponsored him to come here. My father arrived at Port Melbourne in 1959 via ship and moved into a boarding house in Dandenong. All he had was a suitcase and no English language but he had a desire to work and advance himself. My father quickly gained work in a market garden during the day and then would hop on his bike and work at Frigidaire & International Harvester for the evening shift up until 11pm. He would then go home and prepare himself for the next day, The company boss at Frigidaire was so impressed with dad’s work ethic that they wanted him to move to New Zealand when the company relocated, however my father’s loyalty to his friends and family was too strong and he stayed in Australia. It was a life of hard work and sending money back to Italy to help the family.
My mother and brother came to Australia once my father had established himself. I, Antonio was born in 1961. Eventually all my father’s brothers and sisters apart from Palma came from Italy and settled here with their families. Dad continued to work hard and long hours for his family. He worked as a concretor with his brother Antonio, then as a painter, tile layer and builder. Throughout this period he has kept the old traditions from the home country alive. He makes his own wine and salamis and tends to his vegetable garden.
My father is now in his 90th year. He has had a hard life of early poverty, suffering from world war, searching for a new future in another land, and working day and night to build a future for his family, but I am sure he would not change any of it.
To our father, we thank you for all your sacrifices and struggles to help build a future for us and your brothers and sisters.
Tony & Sam