Fond memories flood back at visit to childhood home

Carmela and Joe Sinagra with old family photos of Mr Sinagra’s childhood home.
Carmela and Joe Sinagra with old family photos of Mr Sinagra’s childhood home.

The Wanneroo couple revisited Mr Sinagra�s childhood home in Pinjar recently after hearing it had been burnt in the Bullsbrook-Pinjar bushfire in January.

Mr Sinagra lived in the Perry Road house from when he was a baby until his early 20s, with his parents and 10 siblings.

�I was up there before Dad bought the house; he had built another two little corrugated iron houses on the garden block,� he said.

�He bought that one in 1931. It would have been at least five years (spent) in the corrugated home.

�Where the brick house is � I call it the stone house � a bit further on is where the other houses were.

�We were one of the luckiest families because we had everything.

�We had chooks, we had pigs, we had cows, we had horses.

�We were a bit isolated, but we made our own fun.

�We spent a couple of years of our married life there too.�

The couple, who married on June 11, 1949, returned to see the remains of the house with some of their children in March.

�It was great going back, it brought back a lot of memories,� Mrs Sinagra said.

�We could see all those people standing in the front there, like the photos.

�My kids loved it; I had always wanted to do that to show them where Dad lived.

�I can visualise what it was like: three bedrooms and the big room where they used to do all the dancing.

�Then they had a big long kitchen and bathroom.

�It was sad to see it go after all those years; we went up and said goodbye.�

Mr Sinagra said it was the first time his children had seen his childhood home, where structures like the old water tank and �trough where mum used to do her washing� remain.

�It was great to be able to see the remains of the rainwater tanks and there was an oven,� he said.

�The olive trees are still growing and making fruit.�

Mr Sinagra said there were not many people in the area when he was growing up and all the family was involved in the market garden.

�We worked in the garden, looked after our younger kids, helped Mum bake bread and stuff like that,� he said.

�We used to milk three or four cows, (getting) two or three gallons of milk per day.�

His mother used the milk to make cheeses, and in the later years, they got a butter churn.

�We used to make our own sausages because we used to have our own pigs,� he said.

�We used to plough the ground with our horses.�

Mr Sinagra said the family would grow tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower and �a lot of pumpkin�.

�As kids, we used to put one or two pumpkins into a bag and drag it out to where it could be picked out by truck; we couldn�t carry them,� he said.

Mr Sinagra said their day usually started by walking a mile to work on the garden block before going back to the house and getting dressed.

Then they would walk another mile to catch the school bus, or six to school if they missed it.

�We used to see the sun come up and we used to see the sun go down,� he said.

�The south Wanneroo school bus was horse and buggy; I used to come to school in a horse-drawn vehicle.�

Mrs Sinagra said she was picked up by the school bus in Yanchep about 7am, and arrived at school about 9am because it detoured via Pinjar.

The couple knew each other when they went to school, but did not get to know each other until later.

Mrs Sinagra said she felt quite isolated at the Pinjar property and did not like living there just after they married.

�Because he was carrying the vegies into the markets, he was never there in the night time,� she said.

�They were really self-supportive because they had the cows, the eggs and the vegies.

�If they really wanted something different, they would go out and get a kangaroo; my people would go out fishing.�

They moved a few times, and eventually settled farther south in Wanneroo, raising five children and adopting another three.

Sinagra House, also known as Albert Thomas House and Iopollo House, is on the City of Wanneroo�s list of municipal heritage sites.