God things have changed since I was a young girl. I was convinced that I had the worst parents in the world.
While friends were doing the "normal"things like going out, and meeting boys, I was at home. Naturally this was all for my own good. These discussions would end with me hurling a " You always do this!" and sent to wallow in my own shit.
My dad arrived in Australia from Messina in southern Italy as a 16 year old in the early 1950's.
From a young age, my father knew what laborious work was. His family owned a butcher shop. My father would help with deliveries then go out to sea with his dad.
My grandfather was a professional fisherman. Back in those days work was laborious. Everybody had their bit to do.
My father's uncle was the first to migrate to Australia, like many before him, he left to find a better quality of life. My father soon followed. Like most kids, I went through my up's and downs.
I stood out - not because I had three heads, but because I wasn't Anglo. Despite my parent's best efforts to console me, nothing worked.
My childhood wasn't camping, or sleepovers at friends places. My childhood was big gatherings, sleep overs at the nonni's house (grandparents) and Sundays with family.
Yes, while my Anglo peers were camping, our family was making sauce, and enjoying the banquet my nonna (grandmother) had prepared.
My grandparents were real treasures. They were a source of wisdom and love.
I battled to understand these differences at the time. For instance, Dad never came to pick me and my brother up from school, nor did he help out like the other dads.Then there were other differences, which I laugh about now. While peers had sliced bread, vegemite and cheese, I had gourmet panini with leftovers from Sunday lunch!
Getting back to daddy........
When my dad arrived in Australia, he began to work with his uncle. It was this introduction to manufacturing where it began for my dad. He learnt the trade, and after six years in this field he, ventured out on his own.
In the 60's, my dad purchased a small property in Moorabbin and started trading operations in the repair, polishing and electroplating of automotive bumper bars for the smash repair industry.
With the desire to expand his business enterprise, my father began to negotiate a contract with General Motors Holden, and continued to expand, gaining contracts with Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi.
Throughout the years, my dad's business grew. F&T Industries PTY Ltd was diversifying due to the changes, and opportunities being experienced within the automotive industry the change, being plastic components which replaced metal assemblies and in particular, chrome plated bumper bars. This change came about in the early 80's.
My dad was a leader. Over the years, he was respected by those who worked for him. Every year my dad would have break up parties, where he would personally thank his employees, and acknowledge their efforts. I remember those times, I was so proud.
Throughout the years his ability to diversify and expand his range of products, and by expanding his profile and entering into agreements with Italian companies, he was awarded by the Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the prestigious order of Cavaliere del Lavoro, which is higher than an Order of Australia in Industry.
I witnessed my dad receive this award in a ceremony in Rome in October 1999, another moment I was blown away by his achievements.
Not bad for a wog boy who came out here looking for a better life!