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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Immigration »

Emilio Russo's proxy marriage and the arrival of his wife

Mara Moustafine and Emilio Russo.

Emilio Russo describes his proxy marriage and the arrival of his wife at Station Pier



Date Added:

13 February 2009


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When we migrate to Australia, you had to be single, otherwise they wouldn’t take you, they won’t take us. We were everybody single. So I used to – I meet a couple of girls – see I couldn't decide what can I do now? I never had money to go back to Italy so, I mentioned that to my father, my father find out my future wife and we got married by proxy. What happen is, when you meet through the family, they meet in Italy and you see the photo nothing else, not like now, if you get the phone or ring up again, can I please talk with her? But at that time, there was no phone to do that.


I had to go to the immigration office and tell them what I was going to do. They said, “Yes, but before we accept application that you bring a woman here, we need a letter from her, that she will come here and marry you.” Said, “Oh no.” What can you do? I said, that’s it. So I got a friend of mine, she living across the road, she passed away a while ago. I said, “You’ve got to write me the letter.” So we wrote the letter, we went to the immigration office, [laughs] and everything we done, was done. Now the problem come when you had to marry, she had to marry because they have to make the proxy here to the church, they send a proxy there, they marry there normal, like that – any – the ceremony and everything. But here, I didn’t even know when they – when I got married.


I went to the priest and the priest first of all to the St Anthony's stand under the shrine and whatever they called it, the old missionary. And he started to see so many – looking for so many trouble that priest. He said, “Ah well here you go.” Said, “Well you give me the papers and then I do it.” So with those papers so I went to the other church, in Carlton, Saint George, they used to call it – I don’t know what they call now, they changed the name. I went there, there was a priest, I said – he said, “What can I do for you?” I said, this and that. He said, “Yeah.” I said, “I’ve been told ten dollars” He said, “I’ll marry you, it cost you ten dollar – ten pound. Put the ten pound here, that’s it.” Her brother had to do the sponsor [spouse], or whatever was it.


They did everything like if I was there, different that the brother and my proxy is them that’s all. So when she come here, after – and she couldn’t marry before she was through sure, but she be allowed to come to Australia.


Well I went to the ship, had a look. That’s the one, coming down. There wasn’t only one, there were hundreds of them, not me only, Port Melbourne. Station Pier. And the photograph, had the party or something, but I never went. They supposed to have a church event, get bloody lost. Why should I make fuss that’s all? I went to the immigration office, yes. Had to give notice that she was here and so on, but that’s it. We had a party which I got even the photos and everything. Not the church, no. What for?


We had four kids, that’s it. You know. But can you be excited, don’t know who you going to meet. But that’s worth the while, can’t do any – no money to go there, here there was - I mean there was plenty but you know, we come back with the – come here with the same stupid idea from Italy that Australian people, oh the girls no good, all this. Blah blah. You know?


End transcript