Charles Wall laughed his way to his 101st birthday
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.