Elsie’s life a vi­brant tale

Central and North Burnett Times - - YOUR COMMUNITY -

ELSIE May McCracken (nee Crooks) was born on Septem­ber 18, 1913, to Bertha Louise (nee Mohr) and Stephen Ge­orge Crooks at Nurse May’s Nurs­ing Home, Fort St, Mary­bor­ough.

Elsie had two older sis­ters, Ma­bel, born in 1909, and Ethel, born in 1911, and younger brother Hec­tor, born in 1917.

Elsie’s life was in­flu­enced from an early age by her Ger­man grand­mother, Christina Pohlman, who im­mi­grated to Mary­bor­ough in 1870. They shared in­ter­ests in re­li­gion, cook­ing, craft and gar­den­ing.

In May 1917, Elsie’s fa­ther, who was em­ployed by the rail­way, was trans­ferred to the Bund­aberg rail­way of­fice and the fam­ily re­lo­cated to North Bund­aberg.

Elsie started her school­ing at Bund­aberg North State School in 1919, with 11 other pupils in her class.

In 1925, Elsie moved to Bund­aberg-West State School and was one of its first pupils.

She helped clear land for the school to be built.

Aca­dem­i­cally she ex­celled, gain­ing the high­est marks for the school in the high school en­trance exam in 1927.

From 1928 to 1930, Elsie at­tended Bund­aberg State High School, her stud­ies in­clud­ing French and Latin.

Her am­bi­tion was to be a school teacher, but she was 13 days too old for school teach­ing from ju­nior stan­dard.

In the sport­ing arena, Elsie played ten­nis and was a foun­da­tion mem­ber of the 16ft Skiff Sail­ing Club that was formed on June 3, 1931.

From 1932 to 1938 she was three times de­clared cham­pion lady skip­per and five times hand­i­cap win­ner.

In her mem­oirs, Elsie writes: “Mu­sic takes first pref­er­ence in my life, then sewing, gar­den­ing, cook­ing, cars and house de­sign­ing.

“I was in­volved in the foun­da­tion of Bund­aberg’s first ra­dio sta­tion.

“Jim Jordan, Jack Jones and Bill Kelly were the tech­ni­cians.

“The boys played mouth or­gans, ukule­les and our sail­ing club girls sang.

“Ev­ery Sun­day morn­ing we were on air in about 1935.”

On De­cem­ber 21, 1938, Elsie mar­ried Arnold John McCracken, an en­gi­neer at Fairymead.

Elsie and Arnold knew each other at school.

Years later they were paired for mixed dou­bles on the ten­nis court and ro­mance be­gan.

Like most men in 1938, Arnold didn’t be­lieve in women work­ing so her busi­ness closed, but she con­tin­ued to sew for her fam­ily.

Elsie lived in Bund­aberg from 1917 to 1941, when Arnold was trans­ferred to Walk­ers Foundry in Mary­bor­ough.

The cou­ple had four daugh­ters: Lynette (Bauer), Gilda (Ed­wards), Delma (Mur­ray) and Alice Beth (John­son).

In 1982, Elsie moved to Mun­dub­bera and in the 30 years she lived in the town she was in­volved with the kinder­garten, Red Cross, Blue Nurses Respite, Angli­can Church and his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety.

She would of­ten sit in the main street sell­ing raf­fle tick­ets for any or­gan­i­sa­tion that asked.

Her love and talent for sewing in­flu­enced her daugh­ters and grand­daugh­ters.

At 100 she was still cro­chet­ing for fam­ily and friends, could thread a nee­dle with­out glasses and loved to read.

On Elsie’s 100th birth­day, her fam­ily spanned five gen­er­a­tions and in­cluded 16 grand­chil­dren, 43 great-grand­chil­dren and three great-great­grand­chil­dren.

In the last months of her life, her health de­clined.

Elsie passed away in her sleep on May 7, 2014.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

MUCH LOVED: Elsie May McCracken.

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