We arrived in Hong Kong and stayed at the Peninsula Hotel on the top floor in the ballroom for 2 days, men on one side and women and children on the other. The Duntroon never arrived.
After waiting a long time the man in charge started shipping people without children on very small boats. Those with children were waiting for a better, bigger boat. But after waiting six months we finally came by a 2,500 ton boat. It was a terrible voyage. I was sick the whole 21 days and hardly ate a thing.
Staying in Hong Kong was quite interesting. First of all Hong Kong was beautiful and we both enjoyed it. You learned to swim for the first time, you were allowed to come to the English Officers Club, where there was a swimming pool, and they taught you how to swim, and also we went to the beaches very often, which are beautiful in Kowloon. And I must say I enjoyed popularity with men in those times. A few of them wanted to marry me, but I did not want to.
One of them, you probably remember him, because he tried to father you and influence me through you, wanted to divorce for me. I enjoyed his company for a while, but after we arrived in Australia I did not want to see him any more, I think the real reason was that he was ten years younger than me, but of course he did not know that. His wife was twelve years younger than me but he was very unhappy with her, but as far as I know he is still with her. I had quite a few admirers then, but none of them was as insistent as he.
I did not feel anything for him, it was just nice to go out with a good-looking and still young man, however cruel it was to his wife, but I think she was used to his flirtation. But this was more serious and if I had wanted it he would have divorced her and married me. I did not want to break the marriage, it would have been on my conscience all the time, I never could. In my life I had quite a few proposals from married men, who wanted to divorce for me, even before I got married, and I never could.
When we arrived in Sydney, a young man, a nephew of the people who sponsored our permit, was waiting for us at the docks. He took us to his flat, his parents were in Melbourne at the time. He took very good care of us and showed us around Sydney.
After a few days we went back to the boat and a few days later we arrived in Melbourne. We stayed for two weeks with the people who had sponsored our permits, Mr. & Mrs B. and their son, and after 2 weeks I got us a small room in a boarding house and started to look for a job.
I knew office work but my English was not very good, but I know now that in those years I could easily have got some bookkeeping job with even my knowledge of English, but Mrs. B. did not think so, and she took me to the factory to work, finishing some frocks.
At the beginning I was ashamed to work at the factory. Never before in my life had I been inside a factory. So I managed to take my work home. I carried suitcases with frocks home to that small room in the boarding house that I shared with you, finishing them at home and then carrying the suitcases back.
At that time I did not realize that outside workers were only temporary, employed only in season, and as soon as the season finished I was sacked, just one day they told me that they don’t need me any more from the next day, I could come and ask for some work next season.
This made me wiser, and I had to decide not to be ashamed of working in the factory, and take a permanent job. It did not take long to get a job in the factory finishing coats and making more money, but even so after 2 years when they were slack they sacked me again, after all I was not a professional finisher and they had some who had worked there for 10-12 years, so those stayed always.
As soon as I lost that job I met a friend in the street and told him about that, and he took me to another factory where I got a job straight away and stayed there for 8 years working piece work, which meant that I had to work very hard but it gave me a possibility to make plenty money, but in out of season time I worked only 2 or 3 days a week and made very little money, but when they had little work I was the only one finisher left and I knew that it was my job as long as I wanted it.
But at that time I got very sick, my blood pressure was very high and I could hardly walk or work. I spent plenty of money on doctors, but they could not help me much until one day one of the doctors decided to give me a blood test and they found out that I had a dangerous anemia. I got a blood transfusion and got on a special diet and after a time I felt a bit better, but I did not go back to the factory, I started to work in an office…
But to go back to the time when we lived in that room in the boarding house. You went to school just from the beginning of the term, you enrolled yourself, you told me that you can manage by yourself (at the age of 10) and you were from the beginning an excellent pupil, at the end of the school year you won a scholarship for the cost of books and they wrote about it in the local St. Kilda newspaper. After school, when you finished your homework, you used to go swimming till late April and you won some prizes in the school competition. During the winter you insisted on helping me by selling newspapers. You insisted that all the boys were doing it, and you wanted to help me, you were wonderful, you used to bring me all the money you made and it really helped. After some time I got sick of that boarding house, the food there, you did not want to eat it, so I started to look for a room with the use of a kitchen. It was very difficult in those times to get a room, I did not dare dream about having a flat some day, so one day we got a small bedroom in the place of some old kosher Jew, there was only one double bed, so we slept in one bed, but I could cook something for you, just to be careful to be kosher…