35. Saverio Pensabene (1914-1989), fisherman
Saverio Pensabene was born in Capo d’Orlando, Sicily. He arrived in Fremantle in 1927 at the age of 13 to join his father, Antonio. Together they built up a thriving crayfishing operation, storing their abundant catches in holding crates submerged under Dagoe’s Jetty.
Eventually Saverio bought his own boat, the Lady Luck. He would leave his home in Suffolk Street at two o’clock in the morning and sail out on the wind, returning later with the day’s hardwon catch. Back then a chaff bag of 120 lobsters would earn him 10 shillings.
In 1941 Saverio married Stella Vinci, but with World War II in progress, his life took an unexpected turn. The government seized a number of boats owned by Italians, and the Lady Luck was one of them. Saverio was taken to Harvey, where he dug potatoes for five shillings a day.
After the war, the US market discovered crayfish, and prices went sky-high. Saverio was soon skippering a boat with an engine, and earning a handsome return for his efforts.