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