Eunice De Piazza – Some Memories of a Lifetime in Chiltern

Janey Runci

From an interview with Eunice by Janey Runci on 4th January, 2021

A Childhood in the Findlay family Eunice De Piazza has spent the whole of her 91 years in Chiltern, apart from a couple of trips. She was born Eunice Findlay on September 11, 1929 at home in a timber house on her parents’ dairy farm on the Beechworth road, just past the railway line – the corner of Wills and Main Street. She was the eighth of nine children, born ten years after the previous child when her mother was 45. A number of her seven older siblings had already left home and married. Her brother Kevin was born the year after Eunice.

Eunice’s parents began the milking together each morning, and then her father left for his other work – clearing saplings and mistletoe to protect the forest – while her mother finished the milking. As soon as they were old enough Eunice and Kevin delivered the milk in billies on their bicycles around the town before they went to school. In the afternoons a young man helped her mother with the milking. Each day cows had to be herded back and forth along the Beechworth road from the paddocks to the dairy and back.

When Eunice was born her older sister Phil had to leave school to care for the new baby while her mother did the milking. Even though her mother had seven children before Eunice it was only when she was born that a pram was obtained, a wonderful wicker pram that came by train from Melbourne. Phil and Ita enjoyed wheeling the baby everywhere in this new vehicle.

A particular treat on hot summer evenings were the flavoured milk ice blocks collected by Kevin on his bicycle from Mrs Pringle. Mrs Pringle put the ice blocks in Kevin’s billy and the wafers in a paper bag. The family sat on the front porch enjoying the ice blocks with cow manure burning in a bucket to ward off the mosquitos.

Along with her brothers and sisters Eunice attended St Joseph’s Catholic School, which was then primary and secondary and co-educational and run by the Presentation sisters. It was also a boarding school. Eunice remembers when Elsie, one of the boarders whose mother had died could not go home for the Easter Holidays one of the girls from the town would go up and sleep in the dormitory with her. Eunice found it quite scary with the sound of the wind in the pines.

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