Sabatino 'Sam' Masci as a young man.
Sabatino 'Sam' Masci as a young man. Contributed

MEMORY LANE: Sam revisits Lismore to remember

IT WAS very emotional for Sabatino 'Sam' Masci when he, his second wife Carmen and daughter Luciana made their own trip down memory lane back to the Lismore area.

Born in 1932 in Ripa Teatina in the Abruzzo region of Italy, Sam's sense of adventure drove him to jump on the migrant ship Florentia in 1952 as a 19-year-old to Australia.

After landing in Melbourne he finally made his way to Lismore where his first job in his new life was milking cows.

"I'd never milked a cow in my life,” Sam said.

"But I learned not to pull the teet and squeeze it properly.”

He later leased land, cut lantana and cleared bush at Bentley Creek so he could plant bananas and beans.

The Lions of Bentley - Sabatino, Peter Mazzini, Jim Da Fre' (both from Goonellabah) and Ronnie Fiore from North Lismore
The Lions of Bentley - Sabatino, Peter Mazzini, Jim Da Fre' (both from Goonellabah) and Ronnie Fiore from North Lismore Contributed

He and his friends became known as the "Lions of Bentley Creek” for the courage they showed, cultivating the land so far from everywhere.

He learnt English, to drive a car and socialised with his new Australian friends, but he hadn't found love.

He began writing to a young lady from his village named Rosa Pizzica and asked for her hand in marriage.

Sabatino with his beloved Rosa. They were married by proxy.
Sabatino with his beloved Rosa. They were married by proxy. Contributed

"Her father wouldn't let her go to Australia as a single woman, so they got married by proxy,” Sam's daughter Luciana said.

"Dad's dad stood in but she wasn't able to go to Australia for another 12 months.”

When Rosa finally arrived she got quite a culture shock at this new strange land and husband she found herself with.

"(Rosa) wanted to go back home as she didn't like the work, the house or me,” Sam said.

"I said, 'you don't like me, bad luck' and somehow we fell in love.”

Sam Masci working hard doing farm work.
Sam Masci working hard doing farm work. Contributed

Four children later Rosa sadly died in 1978.

Sam now lives in Brisbane and is in his mid-80s and is amazed at the changes that he has discovered on his visit to Lismore.

"When I was living here we'd go to the Italian milk bar called Uneedo,” he said.

"There were so many fruit and vegetable shops that are no longer here.

"The Starcourt Theatre is still here though and I remember we could go and watch two movies.”



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