Concetta Benn reflects on going to school in the 1930s
27 March 2009
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Iím Concetta Benn, my name used to be Concetta Bennia (sp?) because my parents were Italian and I grew up in a lot of different places in Victoria, around Melbourne. My father had a way of developing fruit shops, heíd buy very poor fruit shops, build them up and make enormous big fruit shops out of them and then sell them for a fortune. And he did that quite often. Which meant that we had to move all the time, so as a child I went to 10 different state schools, which was quite an experience because at that time, I would have been the only migrant child in sight, in most of those places. So I got used to being called ďthat little dago.Ē Which Iím sure most people knew that would happen in those days.
Because I was very different, I looked different, my mother used to dress me up to go to school, which is quite common amongst Italian families and they didnít understand any of that. So I spent a lot of my life in those early days, standing in corners, being ignored and I also had to learn to fight and I became a very good fighter actually, I could just about fight everybody in the school room in the end. But it was like that all the time I was growing up really until I got to high school when things began to change a bit and I went to MacRob High, and most people will know that there were Ė at that time, there was beginning to be people coming in because of the fact that we were approaching the Second World War and there were - there were people emerging from Europe, running away from Nazism really, so that there began to be other people who were a bit strange and new. And that was quite comforting in a way.
So, I got to know quite a lot of Jewish children who were escaping Germany thatís what it was really all about.