In the years that followed the end of The Second World War many people immigrated in Australia, and between them were Italians.
They worked hard to create a future and wealth for their family that integrated in the new adopted country.
This is the story of one of those families.
“I’ll see you soon, son.” His father told Sergio, a short time before the ship blew the last long warning whistle, ready to depart from the port of Genoa.
“You and your mother will join me in Australia, within the year. I promise you that. You are the man of the house now, so look after your mother and your younger sisters.”
But things happened in a different way. The Second World War erupted soon after and lasted for the next six years, and when the war was over, Sergio was a teenager.
Time passed and he was now a mature man, and those were memories from the past. Fifty-five years earlier he departed from the port of Genoa following in his father’s steps. He never meet him again, his father had died at the migrant holding camp in Cowra.
Soon it would be fifty years since he had become a restaurant owner, but in all those years, life had not been easy. It had been long hard tenacious work, demanding his complete dedication.
It was on a Tuesday, the usual day the restaurant was close to the public, and the day Sergio’s family used to unite to discuss their business. As usual they had dinner, sitting around the largest restaurant’s table, interjecting in loud and animated conversation.
When dinner was over Sergio asked his older daughter, “Maria, would you please serve coffee, to all of us?”
Then he called everybody to attention, interrupting the animated conversation between the others, and he said, “Tonight we have a lengthy agenda to discuss. There are important matters to further expand our business. All of you are involved in this large project, so please listen carefully and suggest better proposals if you have any.”
That had been Sergio opening speech to his family, the two daughters from his first marriage and the two boys, a few years younger, from his second wife.
Suddenly the family was silent listening to Sergio.
“You well know that our business had started a long time ago. It will be exactly fifty years in six months time. A long way back in the past and we certainly have created history. We are now well known in the city and have many interstate visitors. This is a reason to make me proud of you of and more reason to celebrate the event.
“During the years we have moved from the smoky, greasy and smelly fish and chip shop, that I originally bought fifty years ago, into the most popular and prestigious seafood restaurant in the city.
“I owe thanks to all of you. You have been wonderful, and helped along the way with work and suggestions. But you well know to succeed you must be ambitious and my ambition have no limits. The time is ready to create a more appealing place for our affectionate customers. We will completely renovate and refurbish the building transforming it into the most luxurious restaurant in the state.”
“Come on Papa, spill the beans. I have noticed secrecy when mysterious people have visited you over the past few months.” Carlo, the elder son said, voicing for all of them.
“You are right, Carlo. The consulting engineers have come and gone, and finally they presented an innovative proposal transforming our restaurant into the best in the district. So tonight, we will consider and discuss the project and if necessary add new ideas. The most important extensions will face the Brisbane River. Pergolas and a new bar would be built in the free land fronting the river. We will also have an appealing garden, dining area and a stage for the orchestra playing melodious tunes.
”What we are going to do will be something very classy, that our usual customers will appreciate, and more, this will create an attraction, inviting new customers to visit our restaurant. Expanding the business will require a much larger and more efficient kitchen and we will go for the best the market can offer, a new Zanussi’s design equipment in sparkling stainless steel.”
“Brilliant Papa, bravo!” the four of them exclaimed in chorus. They were excited and clapped their hands enthusiastically.
Sergio continued “Everything will be new and refurbished. Only this restaurant room, where we sit now, will remain unchanged. This room is part of our history and a memento of the time gone by. The mural on the far wall, represent Santa Margherita Ligure, the village on the Italian Riviera where our family originated. That is part of our heritage and where our roots had begun. The fishermen’s nets, hung on the ceiling are also part of our life and traditions. The nets are there to remember my humble life in past days, when I was still living in Italy. Proudly, in those days of war and miseries, I was the youngest fisherman in the village, and I provided enough to live, for my family.”
“Really Papa? Why don’t you tell us again the story of those days?” Maria asked, while murmurs of approval rose from the others.
The end Part 1