Christina and Wilf

social enterprise history vic pk

Wilf: My moeder, Christina, was born in 1931 in Holland and married in 1954 in Australia.  ‘Moeder’ means mother in Dutch.

Christina: I came to Australia after the war, in the early 1950s, at the time when many, many people were leaving Europe for Australia and Africa. We heard it was a better place to bring up your family.  My husband worked in a drug store in Holland. It had two parts, a drug section and a photography section.  When he got here he didn’t have the right qualifications to do the drug part so he continued with the photography instead.  He started photography by renting a space in my father’s cake shop in Leederville. 

Wilf: The business grew, and dad found a shop in Albany Highway in 1954.  The shop had one bedroom.  We had no car at that stage so if dad had to do weddings he used a push bike, or else mum’s father would drive him to the wedding. In 1960 we built a bigger shop, with two stories. In those days we used to take the football team photos and wedding photos in the studio because of the camera technology at the time.  When the Perth football club won premierships in 1966, 1967 and 1968, their team photos were taken in the studio.  Brides all came to the studio with their wedding dresses on so we had to make the steps up to the studio smaller, so that brides could get up ok in their dresses.  Eventually weddings and team photos were done on site.  

I’m not very good at English and never have been.  The reason for that is most likely that when I was young mum and dad only used to speak Dutch to me in the house.  At Kindergarten the teachers told my parents that my lack of progress was because we did not speak English in the household.  Once we started speaking English in the house all the time my English got a lot better.

Christina: I think personally you got mixed up between the two languages.  The teacher asked what language we speak at home.  I said Dutch.  She said don’t do that anymore, it’s not good for the children.  I found it difficult – I had to learn more English in order to be able to speak it at home.

Wilf: Because I failed English I couldn’t do civil engineering, which I wanted to do.  So at that stage I asked dad if I could work for him in the photography business.  So I worked in photography for nearly 40 years, initially for my dad and then with my brother.  Then my brother wanted to go on his own so I kept the business running until 2011. Photography was a seven day a week job for me, photos in the day then the processing and printing in the evening during the week followed by weddings and team photos on the weekends.  It was a job that took the greater part of my time.  Photography was never a passion.  Just a job.  As a child I never wanted to become a photographer because dad was never there for us so I didn’t want to end up the same, always working on the weekends.  

Once I sold the business it was like ‘now what?’.  It has taken me a few years to work out what I wanted to do next but I am very happy with my decision to do naturopathy.