Lives in photos – Part 2

In the second of the blogs about photos in the lives of the Veneto market gardener families, I look at some images that were taken around in Adelaide after the arrival of the men and women who established market gardens in the Kidman Park and Flinders Park area. Families have kindly given me permission to use the photos on the website and they have become an archive.

The oldest photo taken in Adelaide that I have seen is the portrait of Lina nee Bordin and Gelindo Rossetto with their eldest son Romeo who died when he was seven years old. It was taken around 1931 at Lockleys on the southern side of the River Torrens where Gelindo and Lina had a market garden.

Gelindo seems to be feeding something to Romeo while Lina stands behind them, eyes fixed at the photographer, a strong gaze. We, the viewers, see the context of the land, the old gums, the bamboo growing along the river. The photo communicates an image of a pioneer family. It is a portrait but not the formal kind taken in a studio. It is as if Gelindo has taken a break from his work on the market garden to join Lina and Romeo for the photograph. Perhaps the photo was processed for the families back in the province of Treviso to show life on the land in Adelaide. Who took the family portrait in the open air? Who had a camera at that time?

Family reunion
Members of the Tonellato family were reunited in June 1935, eight years after Secondo Tonellato had migrated to Adelaide. Elisabetta arrived in Port Pirie with the five children, Lui, aged 13, Rosina, aged 12, Alberto, aged 10, Lino, 9 years and Nino, 8 years who was born the same year as his father departed from Caselle di Altivole.

Tonellato family, Frogmore Road, 1935.
L-R: Nano, Elisabetta, Albert, Lui, Rosina, Secondo, Lino. Courtesy, Tonellato family.

The photo here captures the family gathered the day after the reunion in Adelaide. The family is photographed outside the vagon or train wagon that Secondo had purchased to house Elisabetta and the children in the middle of the market garden. The family look straight at the camera with an intensity that suggests that they are not familiar with ‘sitting’ for a photo shoot.

Tonellato family & vagone, Frogmore Road, 1935
Tonellato family & vagon, Frogmore Road, 1935. Courtesy, Tonellato family.

The second photo of the reunited Tonellato family is taken at a distance from the family group in the borrowed trap. Rosina is wearing the same apron as in the other photo which indicates that it was taken on the same day. The full view of the vagon suggests a kind of permanent presence with trees planted in front and steps up to the carriage on the right hand side. The  camera equipment is in the foreground on the left – the lasting mark of the photographer.

The power of the Box Brownie camera
In her interviews recorded in 2010 and 2011, Lina Rismondo nee Marchioro recalled that her father gave her a Brownie Box camera for her 12th birthday in 1939. “I think my Dad spoilt me, really. He used to love buying me things.” The ‘Brownie’ had been marketed for some time as a simple camera for the use of children and adolescents and fortunately for us, Lina used her camera to capture the lives of the Veneto market gardener families in what they called the ‘Lockleys’ area in the 1940s.

Lina was born in 1927, a year after her parents, Francesco and Margherita Marchioro, arrived in Adelaide with their daughter Mary. The third daughter, Connie, was born later, before the war. The family had lived in the city before moving to Frogmore Road where Margherita worked a market garden with her brother-in-law, Vittorio. Lina’s family transferred their home and farm to Pierson Street Lockleys where they were living during the war years.

Angelina Marchioro & Margherita Marchioro picking onions, Frogmore Road, c 1940s

Lina began taking photos of her world and documented the lives of her family, relatives and other Veneto families in her large collection. One photo shows her mother and aunt, Angelina Marchioro, picking onions on Frogmore Road, a reminder that women also worked the land. The trees in the background form a border between market gardens.

The range of the photos taken by Lina  provide an insight into the lives of the market gardener families, relationships in families and the community.

Links between families

Maria and Jimmy Ballestrin, Angelina and Johnny Marchioro, Frogmroe Road, c 1941.

Lina took this photo of Maria & Egidio Ballestrin, Angelina & Johnny Marchioro on Frogmore Road sometime in 1941. Jimmy and his mother had arrived in Fremantle in June 1940 expecting to join Narcisio, Maria’s husband and Jimmy’s father who had been in Adelaide with his brothers since 1938. Jimmy explains in his interview that when they arrived the passengers on the ‘Remo’ were considered ‘prisoners-of-war’ because Italy had entered the war against the Allies. The passengers were not able to continue their journey for about three weeks while the Australian Government decided what to do.

In the photo, Maria and Angelina are standing in front of a chook run and behind them in the background is the Marchioro market garden and the corrugated iron house is in the top right. The two women holding their first-born children look content and proud standing in the context of a fairly harsh environment.

The Ballestrins and the Marchioros did not know each other in Italy and became friends through being part of the Veneto market gardener community. Jimmy and Johnny have maintained a life-long friendship.

The early photos of the ‘pioneer’ Veneto market gardener families provide a record of beginnings of life in Adelaide. We are fortunate to have access to photos taken in the first years of settlement of families.

Two future blogs will focus on photos taken of families and the community after World War II.

Madeleine Regan
14 November 2021


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected, please contact site owner for access