by Barb Mullen, Australia
A story is told of Vene that when he had to stay in Melbourne for a short while, he didn’t want to stay with family in Clifton Hill, a suburb of Melbourne, because it was near the slums of Collingwood. That was Vene, a man persuaded of his self worth. Another story tells of him stopping a tram in between stops, because as he explained, he had an important meeting to attend in the city.
Vene Monighetti did indeed become a very wealthy man.
He married Janet McKay Robertson in a ‘quiet’ ceremony at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on Thursday, 1 September 1938. Janet had met Vene when she was 17, in Wonthaggi , where her parents lived. After the service, they celebrated at 9 Darling St Toorak, the wealthiest Melbourne suburb.
During the war years, Vene and Janet continued operating the Commercial Hotel in Hay, NSW. The large residential hotel dominates a corner in the centre of the town. The war years proved challenging for Vene and Janet, finding good staff was always difficult and in the war years, most able bodied men enlisted for war.
His mother Kit, was an ever present support to her son; they had a very close relationship. In May 1941, Kit stayed at the genteel Victoria Palace in Little Collins St., Melbourne for two weeks trying to find staff for the hotel in Hay.
In 1942 Vene enlisted in the Volunteer Defence Corps in Hay. At his enlistment he gave his age as 40, but he was actually 38. After the war, Vene and Janet moved to Deniliquin, another country town but still in NSW, where they operated the smaller Court House Hotel.
By 1949, still living in Deniliquin at the Court House Hotel, Vene describes himself as having no occupation. By this stage, at 46 years of age, he no longer needed to occupy himself with work.
Finally the couple returned to Melbourne, Vene and Janet lived for many years in the wealthy suburb of Kew, where they kept a magnificent home filled with art. Here the couple enjoyed their wealth until Vene’s tragic death.
Crippled with gout and riddled with pain, Vene took his own life in 1982.
At 30 years of age, the attractive and confident Kathleen set sail with her mother on a ‘round the world tour’.
Why Kath hadn’t married at this stage of her life is not known. She was not a businesswoman as her mother was, although she was not averse to earning her living, it seems Kath was raised to be a woman of leisure and home duties.
An older Kath with her mother Kit in the garden at St Kilda.
The war years which were liberating for so many woman, had a limited effect on Kath. While many young women were working for the war effort, in 1941 Kath was serving in a high class cake shop in Collins St., Melbourne, while living with her aunt Taresa Dare (nee Mattei). It was at this time that she was engaged to a young man who was fighting overseas, Jack Gordon who came from Toolangi, a very small community in the region of Gippsland, Victoria, where the extended family had earlier settled.
While young Kath spent much time travelling, she didn’t seem to stay put for long, until she had her house built in Valentine Grove, Malvern, a salubrious suburb of Melbourne. Kath was very proud of the house in whose design she had a hand.
Kath died aged 92, her final years spent in a nursing home.
Kit Monighetti was a grand 82 years when she died in 1957. The extended family, which was large in number, had gathered for her funeral. She would have felt a sense of pride in her legacy, but also she would have felt a tinge of regret. She had no grandchildren to continue the family line.
Her own family however had been close, although she would have been keenly aware that when Vene married Janet, discord amongst the siblings was introduced.
Her plan had been that her children were financially successful and that they supported each other to assist in their mutual success, but it didn’t quite happen that way. Nonetheless, she would have been comforted to know that all her children had financial security.
For many years Kit lived in her beautiful house in Alma Rd, St Kilda, a seaside suburb of Melbourne, and while many of her siblings and their children struggled, she lived in luxury and comfort.