Fond camp mem­o­ries

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page - By Si­mon Rup­pert

The Be­nalla Mi­grant Camp Ex­hi­bi­tion and the pre­miere of the Be­nalla Mi­grant Camp Short Sto­ries were part of the Be­nalla Fes­ti­val open­ing week­end.

Lo­cal busi­ness owner Lawrence Stolz re­mem­bers the Mi­grant Camp very well as his fa­ther Henry and grand­fa­ther Chris em­ployed a num­ber of its res­i­dents.

‘‘My grand­fa­ther Chris em­ployed mi­grants to help him af­ter his wife died,’’ Mr Stolz said.

‘‘Grand­dad lived across from the Be­nalla Aero­drome, from there it was an easy walk for the mi­grants be­cause the camp was just across the road.’’

Mrs Ponkra­chitch is one Mi­grant Camp res­i­dent who helped Chris Stolz with his clean­ing and cook­ing.

‘‘She brought her young son to play at the house while she worked,’’ Mr Stolz said.

‘‘One day he ar­rived with a beau­ti­ful teddy bear that she had made for him. I was two or three at the time and liked the teddy so much, that she made me one, too.’’

This teddy, af­fec­tion­ately called Ponkra­chitch, has been trea­sured by Mr Stolz since then and spent a few months on ex­hi­bi­tion at the Cos­tume and Pi­o­neer Mu­seum dur­ing last year’s fes­ti­val ex­hi­bi­tion Mi­grant Trea­sures.

‘‘At our Stolz busi­ness we also em­ployed Tilda Ki­raly to make cur­tains and fab­ric fur­ni­ture cov­ers, He­len Ste­fa­niak who helped in the of­fice and Ibby Kerekes who worked in the shop,’’ Mr Stolz said.

‘‘I re­mem­ber think­ing from when I was a child that the mi­grants were all won­der­ful peo­ple and that they had many skills.

‘‘Dad was friendly with one of the camp res­i­dents, a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher. I re­mem­ber he learnt a lot from him and they shared an in­ter­est.’’

The Be­nalla Mi­grant Camp ex­hi­bi­tion is also open out­side of the Be­nalla Fes­ti­val.

For more in­for­ma­tion and open­ing times, visit be­nal­lami­grant­cam­pex­hi­bi­tion.

Trea­sured gift: Lawrence Stolz and his child­hood teddy bear Ponkra­chitch.

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