17 April, 2024

Happy 100th, Elvira

Elvira Vidoni celebrated her 100th birthday on April 3, revealing the secret to chalking up 100 years is “hard work and a simple life”.

Elvira with her birthday card from Charles King and Queen Camilla.
Elvira with her birthday card from Charles King and Queen Camilla.

Born in Magredio, Italy in 1924, Elvira was the youngest of four children and was raised by her father, aunt and grandmother after her mother died when she was three.

Following the outbreak of World War II, Elvira faced a series of traumatic events, including being captured and interrogated by German soldiers. “Life was difficult,” Elvira’s daughter Luciana, said.

“Her home burnt down, food was in short supply, and then she was captured by the Germans.

“Fortunately, she was released and not sent to the camps in Germany, as many people were.”

After the war, Elvira worked as a housekeeper then at Moretti, a brewery which is still active today.

On May 24, 1952, Elvira married her childhood friend, Giuseppe (or “Bepi”).

Bepi’s family were less than welcoming of Elvira. With work hard to find in Italy and seeking a new start in life, Bepi left for Australia in January 1953, followed by Elvira a year later.

Bepi’s first job in Australia was working on his uncle John’s farm at Vidoni Road, Delaneys Creek.

Elvira struggled to find her feet initially in rural Queensland and isolated from her culture.

“She was in the middle of nowhere in a totally foreign landscape, not a person or house in sight,” Luciana said.

Communication problems were also a lasting issue for the couple.

Elvira gave birth to her first born, Marco, in October 1954, and moved to a neighbouring property soon after, where Elvira still resides in the house Bepi built.

As the couple began to “feel more at home”, they decided to start a banana-growing business.

At first, they had to walk everywhere and carry everything as they didn’t own a vehicle, but, “slowly and with a lot of hard work and determination, things improved”.

In December 1959, Luciana was born, and Elvira continued to work everyday alongside Bepi.

They persevered through a period of yearly cyclones, which destroyed their crop, and continued their limited communication with her and Bepi’s families.

“The only communication with family was via mail, which took months to arrive as it was via sea,” Luciana said.

Marco, Luciana, Bepi and Elvira worked together until the married couple retired in 1998, though they continued to help their children.

When Bepi became ill, Elvira cared for him until he passed away in 2019.

“Loving him took its toll as they had grown up together, then worked side-by-side for many years, having only been separated for maybe two months.

“Overcoming many barriers in her life, she was and still is a happy, unassuming and determined person.”

Elvira celebrated her “milestone” birthday with all her friends and family at the Woodford Gardens.

Elvira with son Marco and daughter Luciana.
Elvira with son Marco and daughter Luciana.

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