X was born in a small Italian town where she and her family lived in one room. Her mother died when she was 2. Her father had already left for Australia looking for work. X and her brother – 16 years older than she – lived with an aunt and their step-grandmother. They lived in poverty.
At the age of 4 she went to kindergarten. She has a vivid memory of, at 5 years of age, watching an Easter procession and commenting to a friend “I am going to be a teacher”.
Not long after, X came to South Australia with her mother’s sister, who became her step-mother. She went to Lockley’s Primary School with teaching still on her mind as a career. She progressed to St Mary’s College in Franklin St. Here her best friend wanted to be a secretary and X decided she wanted to work in a bank. In their final year, Sister Philippa taught them all subjects – and they all got A’s. X still wanted to work in a bank, but after the holiday period changed her mind. It was too late to enrol in teaching.