THE STORYTELLERS

ROSS AND ROY MILANO

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Ross and Roy Milano

Ross and Roy Milano

 

ROY MILANO: We were born in the area. Our parents were immigrants from Italy, from Sicily. My dad came here pre-war and started a life and my mum came here after the war and they were from the same town in Italy and married.

I'd be the oldest brother, Roy. I was born in 1955 and my father at that time had a house in … Shipley Avenue at Concord and his brother Tony rented the shop at North Strathfield on the corner of Claremont Avenue and Concord Road, which was a fruit shop. My father Giuseppe took over the business then eventually bought the property which was on the corner there, which is 187 Concord Road and he also purchased the property next door, which is 189. The shop next door was a haberdashery-type shop that sold a lot of buttons and baby clothes and things like that. The fruit shop in that day was there.

We eventually moved - once he bought the property - moved to the residence directly above the fruit shop and we started our life there and we're part of the fruit shop and the community and grew up in the community, but we have a fantastic memory of the times because it was all pre- colour TV, pre- internet and all that, but we grew up there and we had a lot of fun

In those days the fruit game was different because … it was an art. Every apple stand or pear or orange stand was individually hand-stacked and the shop was very well presented. These days, if you go into Coles, everything comes in a bin, the bin is put on the stack and you just go out of the bin. Now its all self-serve. Everyone's putting their hands all over the fruit - you're getting bruised fruit and veggies, whereas in the old days it was all hand-picked for you and it was picked properly and wrapped properly.

ROSS MILANO: We can remember on a Saturday morning, we couldn't get out that front door of the shop. People would be waiting when the doors came open. And that was every fruit shop …

ROY: The old fruit shop would have peas, beans, pumpkins, potatoes, spinach, lettuce, apples, oranges … tomatoes. That was pretty much it. Then the Italians and the Greeks … started growing their own types of greens and things like that. Dad would introduce them into the shop and, because we lived at the back, sometimes mum would be cooking and they would be saying, oh, Mrs Milano, "What's that smell - what are you cooking?" and she'd go over and she'd grab a bunch of greens - she said, "We do this greens here and we do it with a bit of garlic and a bit of flour and we …". "Oh, that's interesting!" - like it was totally something that they'd never come across so it was good, in a way, that we educated people, but now you go to most of the big fruit markets, you have Asian vegetables like fruits - your tropical exotic fruits …

OLEV MUSKA: But still, nobody has radicchio!

ROY: (Laughs) Very limited.

I've got to say, one of the best experiences - and I was only telling someone this the other day - was living in the fruit shop around Christmas time when you had all the stone fruit and, at night, you'd close the shop and, in the morning, you'd come out of your bed and walk downstairs and you'd smell the ripeness of all the different apricots and mangoes and …

ROSS: Topped off with the pine trees as well.

ROY: And we used to have the pine Christmas trees as well. The smell was something that I'll never forget - you can't find these days, you know.

Vincenzo and Giuseppe Milano

Vincenzo and Giuseppe Milano

 

BACKGROUND

In response to community consultation, a number of local residents were interviewed and recorded. The sessions took place in December 2012 and February 2013 at Concord Library.

A short excerpt from each resident appears on this website. Together, they form a cross-section of insights into the wonderful community that is of and around the North Strathfield area.

The full interviews will be archived and available for borrowing at the City of Canada Bay Council Library Services.


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