“When they were locked up in the cell, things used to get a bit rowdy at times. And the cell was almost part of the house.”
We chatted to Bill Keefe, the local cop of Cabramurra during the Snowy Mountains scheme. Listen to his experiences with rowdy migrant Snowy workers!
Margaret, Bill’s wife and the Snowy scheme’s unofficial social worker, features too. Margaret is a proud member of the community cast of Ghosts in the Scheme!
MARG: When somebody was locked up in the cell, things used to get a bit rowdy at times. And the cell was almost part of the house, just adjacent to it. Our sons… The eldest one came into me one day and said, “Mummy, why does that man want to kill my daddy?” He was a very, very small boy. They wouldn’t take a son of ours on anymore anyway. But he heard all the ruckus, and they would be quite wild, and violent. And loud.
BILL: With the new Australians when they were coming, when they came out, a lot of them came from war torn countries, and that… and they took quite a while, you know, to accept the respect of the police. It took them a while because they’d been through a tough time.
MARG: It’s mostly European people who came out, migrants that came out mostly from Europe. They were still fairly traumatised and used to fighting, and it took a while for them to realise that the system here was a little bit different to what they’d been used to. To adjust to the laws of Australia.
BILL: The older ones were quite good. They were quite good. Yeah, it was mainly the younger ones who’d come out in the very early sixties, and they, they took a little bit of, a little – how could you put it? They took a while to sort of, you know… well they couldn’t believe the police were as good as… to them as what they… because they had a, used to get a pretty rough time by the police from where they’d come from. You can go through the nationalities. Like the Italians never caused any trouble, and just want the work and send the money home to poppa and momma. And the Germans, they weren’t too bad. But they… well Germans, they’re pretty bombastic in ways, at times. The Serbs and the Croatians, they were a bit hard at times. And the Hungarians, they were mainly all in the kitchens. They used to be mainly Hungarian cooks.