Film: The Savoy Ladies Group
The Savoy Ladies Group, Wind & Sky Productions, production company. Directed by Jary Nemo. Produced by Samantha Dinning, Lucinda Horrocks and Jary Nemo. Written by Samantha Dinning and Lucinda Horrocks. 10.20 minute short documentary film. Produced 2014.Contributors
This film is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 international license. You are free to adapt, copy and share for any purpose so long as you attribute Samantha Dinning, Lucinda Horrocks and Jary Nemo as creators.Copyright
Copyright with Samantha Dinning, Lucinda Horrocks and Jary Nemo (2014).
This short documentary follows Rosa, President of the Savoy Ladies Group, as she tells the story of Italians in the North-East, tobacco farming, women, family and friendship.
Every fortnight for thirty years members of the Myrtleford Savoy Ladies Group have met to play tombola, create plays, go on excursions and maintain their Italian heritage. The group was founded in 1983 to combat the social isolation of Italian women tobacco farmers in the Ovens Valley.
The film takes an observational look at the group’s modern day activities, through the eyes of Rosa, the group president. In the process the film sheds light on the difficulties faced by post-war Italian women migrants in North-East Victoria, their part in the local agricultural industry and on a distinctive and unique culture.
The Savoy Ladies Group documentary film was supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Your Community Heritage Program.
[SINGING IN ITALIAN] [SPEAKING ITALIAN]
ROSA: Every fortnight not from 1:30 to 3 o'clock, every second Thursday, the ladies really look forward to go out on that day to play tumbler.
ROSA: Here we had a lot of families that were lonely on the farm. But most of all, now, when the tobacco finished, that was the worst part of it. That was such a-- sort of destroyed the families. And the families that grew up in that firm, they can't stay there anymore. They haven't got anything to do.
ROSA: This nun used to around the farms and got these elderly ladies and said to come around. And the first day, we had a dinner dance and invited all these families to come along at the club. And then after that, it was formed-- the group, our group.
ROSA: And I thought, really, wonderful for the Italian community to get together and play this tumbler.
-Hello, hello. Hello. Hello. Nice to see you.
[SINGING IN ITALIAN]
-Is it too much?
-No, no, no.
-Everything is delicious. The frittata is beautiful, Silvana.
-I think once you eat, then the alcohol will go away.
ROSA: The tobacco was really hard work, and growing up, the kids-- we came out to Australia and my father was already here. And I came out to Australia in 1937. And me, my mother, and my three brothers came out here, and we started the farm in Wallace Line.
At once, they were a lot of them Italians, Spanish people that were here on the tobacco, and Yugoslav people. Used to employ them on the tobacco. There were a whole lot of people around Myrtleford.
The third time, there was the only thing that Italians could do to stay on the farm. There wasn't any other work around to-- my father used to work on the railways before we come out. Then he ended up here in Myrtleford on the farm, and got onto the tobacco.
Our father used to drive these horses with the tobacco planter and the two men planting the tobacco. It was some interesting months. Used to look after these draft horses at the farm. And then the tractors came out, so we used to use the tractor.
Well, I'm there with the big hat. There's my husband. There's my cousin. She's a first cousin of mine. And that's her son. Women used to do all kinds of work on the tobacco. Hoeing with the hoe. We used to have a hoe and hoe it and heal the tobacco up.
And my father, he loved it out here. But my mother got a bit-- she was a bit upset about it. But then she took it on because all the families were together here. And then my father's been around, and he travelled around, so he could speak English. But my mother, she never learned. She never learned it because she didn't go out anywhere. She was always at the farm. That's why we sort of organized this group.
-And one other thing.
ROSA: I was there when the nuns started going-- started this Savoy Ladies. I was in it nearly in the beginning. I was there all the time. And it was really good fun with the ladies. We had really played tumbler and we celebrated-- every year we celebrated our birthdays.
It was really important for the elderly ladies that came out from the farm. We used to go and pick them up with the community bus. And the daughters used to bring their mothers in. Now the mothers have passed away, but the daughters still come to the group.
Every year, we used to organize a play. We did the tobacco play.
-Here, this lady did tie up tobacco.
ROSA: And so I will have to get going and organize some more plays for the future years.
-And I know some boss was very bossy.
-Very rich, too, because they had a rich life.
-Yes, my wife was very rich. Very spoiled.
-You spoil me.
-Yes. Anyway, our play--
ROSA: The Savoy club ladies-- it's a sort of a get together. And we're looking forward to go that day there to play tumbler. And once the ladies get there, there's so much noise that you can't hear each other.
---the women in the room, we never keep silent.
-We never keep silent.
-That's for sure.
-Because every time somebody say, I go tumbler, everybody say, I went for this number. I went for this number. I need this number. I need this number. I just--
-And yet when Anna and I are playing cards and we say one little word, everyone's sh!
-And then we're trying to concentrate, and they're yapping and carrying on in between games. We don't say taht.
-You've got to go far away from us.
ROSA: So that's the life of the Savoy ladies.
[SINGING IN ITALIAN]