Anita Clara Lazzaretto was born in Montegrotto, in the Province of Padua in the Vento Region on 27 May 1921. Clara worked in her grandparents’ spa hotel from the age of 11 years until she emigrated when she was 29 years. She arrived in Australia per ‘Napoli’ on 10 March 1950 to meet her future husband, Giglio Sbrissa who had come from a neighbouring village. Born in 1912, he had arrived per ‘Esquilino’ in 1938. He had a market garden on the western side of River (now Findon) Road, next door to Albert and Mary Tonellato.
From the time Clara arrived, she was touched by the kindness of the Veneto community who worked market gardens in the area. She remembers fondly the friendship of Narcisio and Maria Ballestrin who lived at the time on a market garden on the corner of River Road and Valetta Road.
The Sbrissas had four glass houses and Giglio also hosted bocce on Sundays on four courts at the back of the house and Clara prepared food that they sold at the afternoon social events. Their daughter, Carmen, was born at the end of 1950.
Giglio died unexpectedly in 1953 when Clara and Carmen were en route travelling to Italy. They returned to Adelaide and the local veneti assisted with funeral arrangements. Clara’s father came to Adelaide and helped with the glasshouses for a time. Other Veneti also assisted by taking vegetables to market.
About a year after the death of Giglio, Clara married a widower from Istria, Giuseppe (Beppi) Stepan. Their son, Davide, was born in 1955. They sold the market garden, and with a loan from Isidoro Ballestrin, they were able to buy land on the eastern side of Findon Road and set up a garage next door to their house. Beppi was a mechanic.
Clara and Beppi moved to Fulham Gardens in 1980. Beppi died 18 December 1983.
Interview – Clara Stepan