Rocco was born in Molinara 1925 to Antonio and Filomena Baldino.
Following elementary primary school education, at the age eight years, he left Molinara to start work as a child labourer in the adjoining towns of Foiano di Val Fortore and Pago Veiano. He worked as a farm hand until at the age of 13 on the estate of his future father-in-law Guiseppe Ranaldo, in Paduli. In 1942 at the age of 17 he married Anna Maria Ranaldo and they returned to reside in Molinara where he raised his family and he worked as a *roustabout with road gangs.
In 1952 he decided to migrate to Australia to find a better way of life and to provide for his large young family. He left behind his wife and five children (aged between 10 and 2 years) and arrived in Adelaide where he worked as a labourer in various capacities sourcing money to enable him to pay for his family to join him.
In 1954 his wife and his five children arrived in Adelaide. He and his wife worked hard to raise and provide for their six children in Adelaide.
Both were and still are very devoted to the Patron Saint of San Rocco which they patronised both in Molinara and Paduli. In Adelaide they remained devotees of San Rocco and they became amongst the first involved with the celebration of the mass and the feast of San Rocco in Adelaide from the mid 1950s.
They both became involved in the organising committee of the Festa di San Rocco and have passed on their roles to their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Rocco is best remembered as the ‘Watermelon Man’ selling watermelon at the feasts of San Rocco for in excess of 45 years.
*roustabout – a labourer typically performing temporary unskilled work. These positions were used greatly to combat unemployment during the war years.