Emma Rose Betti (Born Tuia) 1922 - 2003 and Giuseppe Betti 1905 - 1973

Emma always celebrated her birthday on 30 th August but her birth certificate said the 31 st . Emma was one of 10 children born to Angelo and Maria Tuia in Castello dell’Acqua, Italy. Emma remembered from her childhood that they had a bonfire in January to chase away the old year, no Christmas tree, they had a wooden bowl instead of a stocking and you might get an orange or a lolly. She remembered that one year her brother received a cow horn and he was not impressed.

At Easter they would have chook eggs as a treat, the rest of the year the eggs would be sold. Emma said that while the bells were ringing on Easter Sunday, they would tie ribbons around the trees to make them have a good crop that year. Emma can remember picking mushrooms early in the morning and her parents would sell all of them. She went to school only to grade 5 and she was a slave at home. They had church every Sunday, they walked everywhere, no buses or cars. No doctor in their village and she could remember her father carrying her younger brother in a wicker basket on his back to the nearest doctor. The baskets were normally used for collecting hay, grapes, potatoes etc. Their village had a small shop, school and church but no police. They did buy coffee, sugar, salt, flour, rice and had their own honey and vegetables but not very much meat in their diet. Emma remembered that because Castello was on the southern side of the mountains, they would only have 6 months of sun a year.

Emma spoke of her uncle Cesare Tuia and how mobile he was with only one leg, he could climb a ladder and chase them if they were being naughty. Cesare had lost his leg in WW1. She also mentioned her mother’s brother and how he had been killed by a falling tree.

The only photo of Emma in Castello is the family group photo taken on the day that they left their village for Australia. Emma along with her parents Angelo and Maria, her sister Pierina and brother Agostino departed Genoa aboard the M.V Remo 5 th April 1939, arriving in Fremantle 10 th May. Emma remembers that her sister was always being sick and cried a lot but she wasn’t sea sick, she had been pregnant. In Australia they first went to stay with her bother Enrico in Balingup and later she stayed with her brother Luigi in Donnybrook.
On 18th May 1943 Emma married Giuseppe Betti in Donnybrook. Giuseppe had arrived from Italy in 1926, he came from the village of Tresivo, very close the village of Castello dell’Acqua, Tresivo was in the valley so they had much more sun. Giuseppe always worked in the timber industry around the south west of WA as a tree faller. He had become an Australian citizen in 1936 so when he married Emma, the law at that time made her also a citizen.

Emma had it pretty tough as newly wed and pregnant wife, they lived in a tent at a bush camp site out of Willow springs. Emma was left alone for most of the day while Giuseppe was out in the bush felling trees. She had not much to do and no English language. She often talked about how when she had to visit the doctors in Nannup she had to ride on log train with the driver and fireman, that was okay but it was the sparks that would burn holes in her only dress she didn’t like. Unfortunately her first child was stillborn and sadly Emma never got to see the baby boy, the baby was whisked away and Giuseppe dealt with all the details. Later Emma and Giuseppe moved into a house in Willow Springs but following a fire at the Willow Springs timber mill their whole house and family were moved to Northcliffe in1947.
In Northcliffe, Giuseppe moved into the Northcliffe mill where he worked on The Big Bench until he suffered a stroke in1962. The family had to vacate their mill house and in 1965 they moved to 57, South Western Hwy, Donnybrook.  The house had been a deceased estate and came fully furnished.
Giuseppe was never able to work again but he did manage to walk again. He lived in Donnybrook until his death in 1973 and is buried in the Donnybrook cemetery.
Emma worked at the Donnybrook Snack Bar, now site of the Donnybrook dentists, she had several house cleaning jobs around town and she worked 8 years in the Donnybrook hospital kitchen and laundry. Emma was also a great volunteer, for many years she worked with the Catholic Ladies catering team and worked even longer as a volunteer in the Red Cross shop.
In 1988 Emma returned to Italy for the first time since 1939, it was the first time she had ever flown, been to England and visited Rome and the Vatican. In Castello you could see that she had aged much better and was far more colourful than her cousins (all in black) whom had grown up in Italy and amazingly she got to see to Rome before many of them. In Italy Emma chatted away in Italian then English then Italian and sometimes she was chatting in the wrong language to us or her cousins, quite funny.

Emma was a mother of 4, Nonna of 8 and great grand Nonna of 17 and 2 X Gt Nonna of 1. Emma passed away 2 nd September 2003 and is buried with Giuseppe in the Donnybrook cemetery.
Composed David & Ev Rowe 2020

Emma and   Children

  • Andy (Joe)
  • Mary Rose
  • Peter Lidio

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