Phyl­lis marks 100th birth­day mile­stone

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.