Story Contributor: Rosina Errichetti
I met my husband, American Chief Petty Officer Don Errichetti in my mother’s delicatessen in Northbridge in April 1942, it was love at first sight. We married at St Brigids Church Northbridge in 1944. He was then stationed in New Guinea and discharged in October 1946.
We had planned to move back to his hometown of Bridgeport Connecticut in America, however Don fell in love with Perth and we stayed here all his life.
We worked together in my mother’s delicatessen and had a successful business.
In 1953 we purchased a run down tea room on the corner of Manning St and The Esplanade on the Scarborough beachfront. Our intention was to operate an alfresco cafe we called “La Spiaggia” (The beachfront). We built a large wall to prevent the beach sand, installed a timber floor, purchased furniture, umbrellas and of course a record player and speakers.
Originally we played Italian and Latin music on records I had imported from Argentina but as Rock and Roll music and culture swept in we were literally playing “Rock Around The Clock” all day long. Teenagers then brought in the latest Rock n Roll records to listen and dance to. That was the beginning of the “Snake Pit”, named after the snakey style of dancing.
Don had imported a jukebox from Amercia, the first ever in Perth. We were amazed at the huge crowds of teenagers that came to dance the jive and to watch the dancers. There were up to 300 people on a given day or night, even on the hottest days in summer. Many young singers and dancers were discovered at the Snake Pit including Johnny Young. There were jivers and rock n rollers, “bodgies and widgies”, all dressed in the latest fashions.
We made all our own ice-cream from fresh fruit and lemon granita drinks were very popular. We sold hamburgers and American style hot dogs. Drinks were 6 pence and a hamburger was 2 shillings.
We were open every day till late and had a young man living on site in a caravan as a caretaker. Don worked there all weekend. Young people and families came from all over Perth to watch the dancers at night during the hot Perth summers. It was a very exciting time and we met so many interesting people during the “La Spiaggia Snake Pit” years.
In 1958 I had my second child and by then we were running a large contintental grocery and goods business in Northbridge. Don made the difficult decision to sublease La Spiaggia. The property was eventually sold in 1977.
Don passed away in October 2008 at the age of 91. We were married for 64 wonderful years.
I will be 94 in December and live in Perth with my precious family.