On 4 March 2005 an Objects Workshop featuring the MHP’s Rina Montgomery was held at the It-So-Wel, Stewart Street Wollongong.
Rina Montgomery came to Australia from Italy in 1929 with her mother and brother to join her father who had settled in Wollongong 3 years earlier. Her parents ran a boarding house in Steeltown (Cringila) where many immigrants found a home. Their parents brought with them some appliances, but more often than not, everyday items were homemade as they could not be found in Australia . At the workshop Rina described her early life in Wollongong as she spoke about the objects she has kept that were used in her childhood home such as the spaghetti maker and coffee bean roaster. An example of one such item is shown below. The workshop provided the attendees the opportunity to learn how they too can preserve and document objects that may be in their possession that are important to the Migrant History of Wollongong. A booklet containing information on how to go about documenting objects was also provided.
For most migrants, the opportunity to bring their possessions to Australia was limited to only the most useful and meaningful. Some people have kept objects they, or their parents, brought with them, not only for their usefulness but also as links or symbols of their family before coming to Australia. In this way ordinary objects have become important as a way of remembering their family and connections to their homeland. In turn, these items have become of historical significance to the history of migrant settlement in the Illawarra.
The workshop was convened to encourage all people who have settled in Wollongong and Illawarra Region from other parts of the world to record their items and to provide them with the guidelines on how to go about it. It is hoped that as people begin to record their objects and history that they will share this information with the Migration Heritage Project to begin building a central database of collections in Wollongong, that is sadly lacking today. These records will be housed in the Migration Heritage Project Office, the Wollongong Library and Wollongong University.
As the Project continues to grow more workshops on different themes will be held. If you wish to contribute in any way, even join the Migration Heritage Project you are more than welcome. The MHP committee is a group of volunteers who recognise that in Wollongong the history of migrants is not being preserved or recorded and together we hope to rectify this shortcoming for future generations before all our stories are lost forever.
Example of Object Description Form Object Title: Kitchen Equipment Object Name: Spaghetti Maker Description Brass spaghetti maker with attachments; borer holes in wooden handle Size (in mm) Handle 430 mm L Screw mechanism 325 mm L Pasta cylinder 290 mm L Parts Handle, cylinder, screw, screw fitting (table attachment), 5 dyes Collection No (item in personal custody of owner) Colour Brass (yellow), with green discolouration Materials Brass Maker Unknown, commercial Inscriptions Nil Method of manufacture Not Known Contents Nil Use Raw pasta dough put into the cylinder, the handle is rotated and pasta comes out the bottom into a bowl on the floor History Brought to Australia by Mistica Rosa Scapin (Rina’s mother) in 1929 Date Made: Not Known Donated: No Recorded (for register): 18 January 2004 Associated information You had to have flour (in the bowl) and throw it onto the pasta, and then lower the pasta into the bowl. You cut the pasta to whatever length you wanted – 2 ft 6” long (roughly). Pasta was always made fresh. Could make it and dry it on a sheet, on a bed or table and store it. Flour and eggs, salt in the water when cooking. Might do six eggs at a time. After breakfast mum did the dough and I turned the handle, while mum did cutting and flour from the bottom. Bowl at the bottom had flour in it. Every time one pressing was finished – each length taken and put on an unfloored surface. There are different shapes – most common one was spaghetti. Made it once a week for use during the week. Also made pasta in forno (pasta in the oven – lasagne). Didn’t use it much after I started work – when I was about 20 years old. She used if for about 20 years. Used the pasta maker once a fortnight and made other type every couple of days (i.e. rolled pastry). Rina’s job was to clean it out. Never cleaned the inside – had flour inside and just left it. Item number N/A Current location Private collection Photographs of item and/or item in use, or owner holding item