Charles Wall laughed his way to his 101st birth­day

Cape Breton Post - - OUR COMMUNITY - BY CHRIS SHAN­NON cshan­non@cb­post.com

SYD­NEY — A smile and a good sense of hu­mour go a long way for 101-year-old Charles Wall.

He’s still spry, show­cas­ing his agility last Au­gust when on the Bras d’Or Lake he went for a ride on a Sea-doo wa­ter­craft with one of his grand­sons.

“I reached the 100 mark. So? I’m in pretty good shape,” Wall said, al­though that warm sum­mer day in East Bay had es­caped his mem­ory.

“If your mus­cles are in good shape, then what the hell, that’s all you need.”

Wall rem­i­nisced re­cently about his child­hood days play­ing on the school grounds and a makeshift base­ball di­a­mond in his back­yard.

He marked his 101st birth­day on Dec. 18.

Sit­ting in a rock­ing chair next to his el­dest, 78-year-old Cyril Wall, and across the kitchen from his youngest of 10 chil­dren, daugh­ter Bonita Calder, the se­nior Wall said he’s had no re­grets about his life. “I’ve been very lucky,” he said. “(I) just work like any­body else. I didn’t get sick or noth­ing. When I re­tired, I de­cided to float around.”

A trans­plant from Bos­ton, Wall moved to Syd­ney as a two-year-old when his fa­ther was work­ing at the Syd­ney and Louis­bourg Rail­way near the Syd­ney steel plant.

As a young man Wall worked as ca­reer labourer and union rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the steel plant for more than 46 years. He re­tired in 1974.

In the three decades since his re­tire­ment, Wall has worked in the com­mu­nity vol­un­teer­ing for the Knights of Colum­bus, March of Dimes, Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion and other lo­cal agen­cies.

He was also ac­tive in pol­i­tics with the fore­run­ner to the NDP, the Co-op­er­a­tive Com­mon­wealth Fed­er­a­tion, and even­tu­ally the Lib­eral party.

Nowa­days, Wall spends five days a week at the VON day pro­gram for se­niors. De­spite hear­ing loss, his eyes are keen and his aim is deadly when play­ing darts. He loves his 45s card game and he said he’s an OK poker player.

He doesn’t take life too se­ri­ously, say­ing that it’s, “Easy come, easy go.”

“He has a great at­ti­tude,” said Calder, who noted that her fa­ther had two can­cer scares that were de­tected and treated in its early stages.

“There’s no way he’ll stay in one spot for too long. He’s will­ing to do any­thing, and we’re will­ing to let him do any­thing at all, within rea­son.”

She said he eats three hearty meals a day and typ­i­cally ends the day with a drink of rum or brandy.

His son, Cyril, said his fa­ther has a his­tory of quit­ting bad habits cold turkey.

A smoker for more than 25 years, he said his fa­ther just de­cided to give it up one day.

“He’d smoke three packs a day up un­til he was 44 or 45,” Cyril Wall said. “And just one day he de­cided he wasn’t go­ing to smoke any­more.”

At 89, one day he walked in the door to his Suther­land Street home and never picked up his car keys again, Calder said.

“I get along all right,” Wall said of his cur­rent home and so­cial life.

With 29 grand­chil­dren, 38 great-grand­chil­dren and three great-great-grand­chil­dren, he has a lot of fam­ily mem­bers keep­ing him mo­ti­vated.

“They’re af­ter me to keep busy. They watch that,” he said with a laugh.

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