Phyllis marks 100th birthday milestone
It’s a small miracle Titahi Bay woman Phyllis Mccurdy saw her 100th birthday out in New Zealand – she was so unimpressed with Kiwis when she immigrated in 1948 that she nearly sailed straight back to England.
Mrs Mccurdy celebrated the milestone on March 20 with friends and family who had provided a sumptuous feast for the occasion and spoke highly of her generosity and kindness over the years.
Despite 10 decades of robust health, the birthday girl was convinced she wouldn’t see out a century.
‘‘I get up in the morning and I think ‘ Good God, I’m still around’,’’ she jokes.
Mrs Mccurdy is a true Cockney, born within the sound of East London’s Bow Bells in 1912.
After school she worked as a sewing machinist making fancy lingerie, but was transferred to a factory when World War II began. ‘‘ They put me on gasmasks. All my fingers were blistered,’’ she says.
Dancing was always Mrs Mccurdy’s real passion.
She once had a summer job at a dance palace on England’s south coast and caused a surprise upset at a competition one night.
‘‘Some guy came up to me, he thought I might have a chance. We won the bloody dance!’’
Still, post-war England was no fun for a young woman, so Mrs Mccurdy decided to move to New Zealand for two years as a ‘‘10 pound Pom’’.
Those two years turned into 64, but Mrs Mccurdy nearly got back on the ship after getting rough treatment from her colleagues at Wellington’s Waterloo Hotel.
‘‘I thought, ‘ If this is the way they’re going to treat me, bugger that, I’m going to go back home’,’’ she says. ‘‘They thought we came over purposely to come after their men, and I ended up marrying a Scotsman anyway.’’
She met Allan Mccurdy ballroom dancing, just a couple of weeks after arriving in the country. ‘‘ We just took to each other, that’s all.’’
When her allotted two years in New Zealand were up, she was married with a son, Robert.
There were other reasons to stay in New Zealand, like the food.
‘‘Rationing was still going on in England. When I got here I bought a whole lot of things that I couldn’t buy easily in England, a whole big bag, and I went to a cinema. In those days I smoked, and I ate all these things I liked and lit up in the cinema.
‘‘I got a real telling off for smoking in the non-smoking section, though.’’
There’s no secret to a long life, Mrs Mccurdy says, but she believes a positive attitude helps. ‘‘I don’t think of the bad things, I only think of the good things.’’
Scoring a century: Titahi Bay’s Phyllis Mccurdy celebrates her 100th birthday on March 20.