Alice races into next century
Edna Mahony has seen a lot during her 101 years in Wellington.
She has lived through two world wars and the Depression, has seen high-rises spring up around her, and witnessed the invention of computers and washing machines. But she still has more left in her.
On Monday, Edna turned 101. She wasn’t too surprised – her sister lived to the same age.
‘‘I don’t know why. Except we lived on basic good food that we grew and it was definitely a lot to do with the food. It kept us fit.
‘‘ And my sister and I both worked hard. If you keep working, you keep yourself alive and on top of it,’’ she said.
‘‘In my early days you grew most of your food in the garden and you lived on good wholesome food.’’
Born on February 23, 1914, Edna lived in Mount Cook with her parents and only sister before moving to Brooklyn when she was 9.
‘‘Life was very different. There was nothing very much then. There were no washing machines, and very, very few cars.
‘‘My father owned a taxi service and used to drive all over the country taking people. There was only gravel roads and no maps, no nothing then.’’
She said she would be slightly mortified when she was about 11 or 12 and her father drove through town.
‘‘I didn’t think it was quite a cool thing then.’’
After being dux of St Mark’s Church School in 1927, she did more study and worked as a shorthand typist and bookkeeper until she retired at 75.
Edna moved to Longview Home last year, having lived in her own home until she was 100.
She said that though computers and technology made life a lot easier these days, some things weren’t better.
‘‘We were a lot more independent and in a lot of ways cleverer because we used our brains.
‘‘If you didn’t use your brains you got nowhere.
‘‘It was a tremendously different world, but it was a happy one. We made our own games, you didn’t buy them.
‘‘ We were all very content I think. A lot more content than they are now.’’
The avid sports fan played tennis and bowels most of her life, and it was on a tennis court that she met her husband, whom she married in 1939.
‘‘When I was a bit smaller all the washing was put in the copper and boiled.
‘‘There was a hand-turner you turned yourself.
‘‘People don’t know they’re alive these days.’’
When World War II came, life changed.
‘‘That was pretty primitive. You learnt a lot because you learnt to use everything you could lay your hands on.’’
Her own husband was not sent to war because of their young daughter, but her sister’s husband enlisted.
‘‘When the troops went away it was a momentous occasion.
‘‘It was the first for all of my generation and it was sad seeing all the troops go.
‘‘However, most of them came back.’’
The celebration when they did return was one Edna has never forgotten.
‘‘Wellington went mad really. It was pretty short because we were rationed and everything else, but you made do with what you had.’’
Edna moved to Tawa in 1990 after her husband died in 1981.
Apart from a few broken hips and arthritis, she has been healthy.
But living in New Zealand’s capital city for all that time had brought with it its own changes.
She said it seemed like highrises had shot up everywhere.
‘‘ I’m absolutely amazed with Wellington I can’t get over it. ‘‘It’s fascinating. ‘‘All the tall buildings and complexes and all the glass.’’
Happy birthday: Alice Warren turns 104 next month.
Good life: Edna Mahony turned 101 on Monday.