St. Giusto Alabarda Club

About twice a week I go to the St. Giusto Alabarda Club to meet friends and to play billiards. This Club was formed  in the sixties  to give the opportunity to migrants from the region of Trieste to meet together occasionally, organize parties, dances etc.
The region of Trieste, just after World War II, was torn apart by political unrest. Both Yugoslavia and Italy wanted Trieste which have an important and well equipped sea port situated at the extreme north of the Adriatic Sea, an ideal position to deliver goods to Central Europe. Because of this unrest the economy suffered enormously. Industries moved away to other parts of Italy.  It was extremely difficult to find jobs. Goods, food, clothing, practically everything was very expensive.

 The region was divided in two sections, "Zone A", governed by an English and American Military Government and "Zone B" controlled by Yugoslav Authorities. A Commission of American, English, Russian,Yugoslav and Italian diplomats where not be able to set borders as Yugoslavia want more and more land including the city of Trieste. 

That situation went on for ten long years without success. Finally the Americans fed up with demands from Yugoslavia , decided to draw a straight line which resulted in many properties being cut in two with one part in Italy and the other in  Yugoslavia . Even today families have a kitchen in one country and a bedroom in another. During those ten years in Trieste, "Zone A," life was wonderful, as the presence of American and English military personell with their families created a lot of work while people in the industries even without work, were getting paid.   

On November 1954 the two Zones ceased and the official borders were established, so Zone A became part of Italy while Zone B, part of Yugoslavia. The economy collapsed, no work, no pay, no money. That was the time when people started to look to migrate to other countries, first time in the history of Trieste. It was estimated that in the following years nearly 30.000 people left the region and  migrated to North America and other places, but the majority came to Australia. When people arrived in this country without knowledge of the language, in a strange environment without friends or relatives, it became obvious that everybody felt the need to come together and spend time during evening hours and weekends.
In the beginning, coffee lounges and pubs were meeting places But as time passed many felt the need to have a place for their own to be able to organise parties, dances, or simply meet together.

 Often, an outing was organised-bus trips to various places like Warburton, Philip Island, snow fields etc. to discover the wonderful countryside of Victoria. Barbecues and games kept everybody busy while the children had a lot of fun. During the winter months occasionally trips to the snow were common as the majority of members and friends originated from Trieste which is located in the north part of Italy not far from the Alps. From Trieste frequent trips used to be conducted by the local clubs to the winter resorts. The majority of people having recently arrived, saved money to buy a block of land or a house as the rent on those days was quite expensive. Therefore everybody wore modest clothes. But that did not stop us to have a lot of fun. 

Some members got together, contacted a bank andmanaged to obtain a loan to buy a property suitable to establish a club.  The property had been a old factory and required a lot of work and money to bring it up to a stage suitable for a club. The enthusiasm and the willingness to have a club for their own contributed to the successful achievement and in the late sixties it was completed to  the  satisfaction of everyone. Since then, the club has been open nearly every day of the week for different functions while every Saturday is open for dinner and sometimes dinner  dances  not counting all the festivities and other  occasions. Every Wednesday, bingo is organized by the women's committee, including a lunch, while twice a week staff from the kitchen offer lunch for the numerous pensioners. A billiard table is available, which is used continually by some members.

The club has been used successfully for many years, but the sad thing is that not many young people have used it, maybe in time when the present elderly members are no longer here, the club will disappear.    Clubs with the same name have been established in other major cities all over Australia. Occasionally  competitions of card games, billiards and other sporting activities are held through the year, while  meals are provided by the women's committee. Once a year the Adelaide St.Giusto Alabarda club organises a trip to Melbourne where various competitions are organized in a friendly atmosphere. Weeks later, our club organize a trip to Adelaide to return  the visit and the same thing is held at their clubs.

Membership and prices for meals are very modest, affordable by all members. We have lotteries and there are various contributions, which are used to improve and maintain the condition of the club.  
The club has two ample rooms - one on the ground floor, capable of accommodating about one hundred people, while the other is situated on the first floor. The one on the first floor is used for big occasions, festivities etc. and is capable of seating more than three hundred people.

Both rooms are equipped with well furnished bars. On the ground  floor is the kitchen which is normally  busy,especially  during festivities. Several people work in the kitchen provide excellent food, while a large variety of drinks are available at the bars.
Often relatives and friends from overseas, (the majority from Trieste), come to visit people in Australia and are invited to the club and welcomed officially. They are offered presents and made  temporary members.

The club is connected to the original club in Trieste, "Giuliani nel Mondo" which shows how far people of the region of Trieste and surrounding areas migrated around the world. News from different clubs globally are exchanged,  while contact with Trieste keeps the various club informed daily. The Trieste daily newspaper, " Il  Piccolo " is sent every week to the clubs to keep the members up to date with the latest news. The majority of members came to  Australia in the fifties, and are now  very advanced in their age. Every couple of weeks somebody is missing , subsequently after the funeral members usually meet in the club for a meal and remember the friend gone.

It is a desire of all members to attract young  people to the club by introducing sporting activities and games to suit them in order to save  the club. A further  problem arose recently when the majority of the committee expressed the desire to resign from their duties as they felt there is to much work involved. This event created some difficulties as some members of the committee now have to absorb double the amount of work to be able to satisfy the need of the various functions.  A further consultation encouraged members of the committee to resume their duties and lately a fresh committee has been elected.

In the many years that I have been associated with the club I have experienced many good times and will continue to do so until .................