GERTIE BOOTH

THIS PINT-SIZED YORKSHIREWOMAN HAS JUST TURNED 107 AND THE STAFF AT HER ELANORA NURS­ING HOME SAY THEY’RE YET TO HEAR HER COM­PLAIN

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - PEOPLE - AS TOLD TO DENISE RAWARD

Iwas born in 1911. I had four sis­ters and three broth­ers and we lived in Hun­slet, an area of Leeds in Eng­land. My first mem­ory is go­ing to school and play­ing on the cob­bles in the street. There wasn’t much grass or trees around where we lived.

Our fa­ther left us to go prospect­ing in Aus­tralia. My youngest sis­ter never knew him be­cause he left be­fore she was born. Our mother died sud­denly when I was a teenager, leav­ing the old­est girls to bring up the fam­ily. I was the third of them.

Women worked hard. We had a fire and Fri­day was bath night. We ran up and down the stairs with the wa­ter pail, heat­ing the wa­ter, fill­ing the bath then emp­ty­ing it then re­fill­ing it again. Oh, up and down those stairs, I still re­mem­ber it.

I left school at 14 and went into tai­lor­ing. I be­came a cloth­ing fin­isher and I’ve been sew­ing ever since. My fin­ger’s all bent from push­ing the nee­dle through.

We lost one of our broth­ers at 18 in a mo­tor­bike ac­ci­dent when he was com­ing home from work. It was a sad time.

I met my hus­band Sa­muel in the dance halls. We mar­ried in 1938.

A year later the war broke out and I didn’t see him for four years. He was in the Med­i­cal Corps and sent overseas.

I was a night war­den dur­ing the war. I had an area and I had to make sure ev­ery­thing was blacked out and that peo­ple found their way to the bomb shel­ters. Parts of Leeds were badly bombed. I could hear the planes com­ing over when I was work­ing but there were no di­rect hits in my zone. In the morn­ing, I would col­lect the shrap­nel.

In the 1950s, Sa­muel and I de­cided to come to Aus­tralia for 10 pounds like a lot of English peo­ple did at the time. Aus­tralia was very dif­fer­ent. It was spread out and had a lot of flat build­ings.

There was no TV in Aus­tralia yet. We lived in Pen­rith and I worked in St Mary’s in western Syd­ney. I saw my fa­ther again. He helped us get our house. Sa­muel worked in the of­fice for a fi­bro com­pany and I worked sew­ing the silk fac­ing on men’s jack­ets.

We even­tu­ally moved to Mel­bourne and I was sew­ing there too. Sa­muel and I be­came sup­port­ers of the Gee­long Cats. I was prob­a­bly a big­ger fan than he was. I don’t know why. I wasn’t re­ally into sport be­fore. I still love them and watch their games. I like my shawls to be blue and white. I like Queens­land in the State of Ori­gin though.

Sa­muel passed away in his 70s. We never had chil­dren and I was lonely so I moved to Queens­land to be nearer my two nieces who lived on the Gold Coast. They’re the daugh­ters of my youngest sis­ter.

When I ar­rived, I lived in a flat at Kirra over­look­ing the beach. Oh, it was beau­ti­ful. I could see all around the beaches. I liked the weather and the peo­ple in Queens­land.

I came to the aged care home at Elanora and it’s beau­ti­ful here too. I like to go on the out­ings. I see some­thing dif­fer­ent ev­ery time I go. I love to sit in the sun with the sun on my back and I like a lit­tle bot­tle of cham­pagne ev­ery now and again on spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

I still do my sew­ing and em­broi­dery. I can’t get the ta­pes­tries I like any more but I like do­ing those as well. I wear my brooches ev­ery day. I’ve got dozens of them. I started off with just one and then peo­ple kept giv­ing them to me as presents so I put them on ev­ery day. I usu­ally wear two or three to­gether.

I have no idea how I’ve reached 107. Don’t ask me. I just don’t know. No one else in my fam­ily is left apart from my nieces and neph­ews. I’ve al­ways had good health apart from ton­sil­li­tis that just seemed to go away by it­self. The peo­ple who work at the home say I never com­plain and don’t say a bad word. That’s be­cause there’s noth­ing bad here. I don’t see any­thing bad. If I do think those things, I keep it to my­self. That’s just how we were brought up. Noth­ing was easy and we al­ways had to work for ev­ery­thing but God has been good to me.

“I HAVE NO IDEA HOW I’VE REACHED 107. DON’T ASK ME. I JUST DON’T KNOW.”

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