Their 60 year part­ner­ship

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - LOOKING BACK -

Cel­e­brat­ing their 60th wed­ding an­niver­sary re­cently, Gino and Dora San­tarossa are very much an in­te­gral part of this Shire’s com­mu­nity, as


Sixty years mar­ried is quite an achieve­ment but to Gino and Dora San­tarossa, as nice as it was, they took it in their stride but it was a good ex­cuse for a party.

Gino San­tarossa and Dora Noli went to St Au­gus­tine’s school in Moss­man to­gether, although Gino was in a year ahead of Dora.

“I didn’t like him at all when we were at school,” Dora said.

It ap­pears Gino had a dif­fer­ent view as he ad­mit­ted that at 13 years of age he de­cided that Dora was the one he would even­tu­ally marry.

“When I was to do my debu­tant, Gino was the only boy who had a suit, so I asked him to part­ner me,” Dora said. Gino calls it his “en­trap­ment suit”.

They were cer­tainly dif­fer­ent days for court­ing and Dora de­scribed how they had to have a chap­er­one just to go to the beach.

This debu­tant ball was held in the Moss­man Shire Hall in 1955. Two years later Gino and Dora got mar­ried in St Au­gus­tine’s Church and had their re­cep­tion for about 200 peo­ple in the Buffs Hall on Junc­tion Road.

“All the young cousins had to get to­gether to pluck dozens of chooks for the wed­ding break­fast,” Dora ex­plained.

Later that year, a daugh­ter ar­rived and she would be the first of 14 chil­dren – Rose Marie, Steven, Ber­nadette, Peter, Chris­tine, John, Michael, Donna, Gregory, Zita, Ni­cholas, Ter­ence, He­len and Kim.

And yes, Gino did of­fer the ex­cuse that “there was no tele­vi­sion back then”.

Gino and Dora were cane farm­ers like their fam­i­lies be­fore them and they lived in a small, tim­ber house on their 125 acre prop­erty just north of Moss­man. As a new fam­ily mem­ber ar­rived, which hap­pened ev­ery 13 to 17 months, Gino would get busy ei­ther build­ing on or mod­i­fy­ing the house to ac­com­mo­date the grow­ing brood. The house, where they still live, has large rooms which were like dor­mi­to­ries for the boys and girls.

It is ‘com­mon knowl­edge’ that Dora is a great cook and with so many mouths to feed, her cook­ing skills were al­ways be­ing utilised.

“We al­ways had enough food and plenty of hands to help with meals,” Dora said, “and when it came to bath time, the older ones would grab a younger one to take into the bath or the shower with them.”

In 1983 Gino and Dora left Rose Marie in charge of the house­hold and went to Italy to see their rel­a­tives. Gino’s fam­ily came from the Venice area and Dora’s from near the Swiss bor­der and the Isle of Elba.

“Rose Marie was a good sergeant and or­gan­ised the kids re­ally well whilst we were away,” Dora said, “and although it seemed that any­time we went away one of them would have a trip to the hospi­tal, ev­ery­one was fine when we re­turned.”

Gino worked their cane fields and looks back on those years, cat­e­gorised as “good prices and bad prices”. The house was how­ever al­ways filled with laugh­ter and mu­sic.

“We have a room off the back of the house we call the mu­sic room and most of the kids can play an in­stru­ment,” Dora said.

“Some of them formed bands, Rose Marie teaches mu­sic and Jov (John) is a very good lead guitarist.”

Be­ing a large Ital­ian fam­ily, gath­er­ing to­gether at meal times is a val­ued part of their cul­ture. The San­tarossa fam­ily has a Sun­day lunch each week with pasta and chicken and up to 30 mem­bers of the ex­tended fam­ily as­sem­ble at the house for a cou­ple of hours of good fam­ily time. They have 46 grand­chil­dren and 23 great grand­chil­dren.

“Ev­ery al­ter­nate year we have Christ­mas din­ner here and we end up with about 100 peo­ple sit­ting out un­der the stars,” Dora said, “and ev­ery­one brings some­thing and I make veg­etable soup and bake the ham.

“Santa vis­its, ar­riv­ing on the back of a ute, a mower or trac­tor and Rose Marie plays Christ­mas car­ols and we gather around the pi­ano for a sin­ga­long,” she said.

“And ev­ery year, Dora and I have to sit on Santa’s lap,” Gino laughs.

The San­tarossa fam­ily is one built on love and Chris­tian gen­eros­ity. Moss­man res­i­dents know Gino and Dora to be al­ways ready to help out when needed and noth­ing is too much trou­ble. “They are the sort of peo­ple who make you feel they are fam­ily to us all,” says one res­i­dent who knows the fam­ily well.

Noth­ing got wasted in the fam­ily and some of the chil­dren could some­times be seen wear­ing some very ‘cre­ative’ clothes, made from left over cur­tain ma­te­rial or what­ever was avail­able.

When asked the se­cret to a happy mar­riage, they both laughed and shrugged their shoul­ders in uni­son, as if prac­ticed.

Then, in a hushed voice, Gino leant over, smiled and said, “mu­tual re­spect – and learn­ing to say yes.”

Main pic­ture: MOYA STEVENS

Gino and Dora to­day. In­set above: With their 14 chil­dren. Right: their wed­ding in 1957

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