Sprightly Pearl nears cen­tury

Broome Advertiser - - Front Page - Glenn Cord­ing­ley

Broome’s Pearl Fong (Tack) is the toast of the Kimberley town as she pre­pares to join the cen­te­nar­ian club with a colour­ful life span­ning 10 decades.

Mrs Fong joined her fam­ily and friends for a party in her hon­our in Broome last week be­fore she of­fi­cially cel­e­brates her 100th birth­day on Saturday.

Her mile­stone has been ac­knowl­edged in let­ters from the Queen, Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and Gover­nor-Gen­eral Sir Peter Cos­grove.

The daugh­ter of Chi­nese par­ents, Mrs Fong first ar­rived in Broome in 1935.

In that time she was in­volved in the tra­di­tional hard-hat pearling in­dus­try through her late hus­band Arthur, who was a lug­ger owner.

She has lived through World War II and was evac­u­ated from Broome 10 days be­fore Ja­panese fighter planes at­tacked fly­ing boats in Roe­buck Bay and the air­port in 1942.

The mother of two sons and a daugh­ter has seven grand­chil­dren and 11 great-grand­chil­dren.

Mrs Fong helped run the LLTack gen­eral store in Carnar­von Street from 1947 and she still lives in the same build­ing to­day.

While the pearling in­dus­try was re­cov­er­ing from the ef­fects of WWII in the late 1940s, Mrs Fong wit­nessed the lo­cal in­dus­try re­build it­self and formed many friend­ships with the multi-cul­tural pop­u­la­tion of Broome at the time.

One of her sons, Doug Fong, 78, who lives in Broome, said the fam­ily store was quite of­ten open un­til af­ter 9pm.

“Back then, the busi­ness was busy dur­ing the wet sea­son when the lug­gers were laid-up on the shore for main­te­nance and to avoid cy­clonic weather,” he said.

“There were bench seats on the ve­ran­das where lo­cal peo­ple would meet and con­verse with each other.

“Mum en­joyed her as­so­ci­a­tion with many dif­fer­ent peo­ple from many dif­fer­ent coun­tries, as well as lo­cal indige­nous peo­ple, who were fre­quent cus­tomers.”

Ms Fong said she was happy to have so many of her im­me­di­ate fam­ily around her in Broome for her birth­day.

Pic­ture: Glenn Cord­ing­ley

Four gen­er­a­tions of the Fong fam­ily out­side the L.L Tack store in Chi­na­town: (from back left) Vic, Doug and Joy Fong with Max Coe, 3, Ja­cynta and Pearl Fong.

Pic­ture: The Fong fam­ily

Pearl Fong, right, vis­its Mel­bourne with her brother Al­lan Chong Fong and mother Mary Chong Fong in 1964.

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