Birthday makes Mary 100 club member
Mary Powell has dressed up to celebrate her 100th birthday. She’s wearing a long navy blue skirt with a white, lace blouse.
A string of pearls sits around her neck and she’s pinned a pink camellia to her chest with a pretty silver brooch.
Powell said joining the 100 club was a ‘‘good excuse to buy new clothes’’, and the flower – found on her breakfast tray – was the perfect addition to her celebratory outfit.
She was the fifth to join the over 100s club at Ernest Rutherford Retirement Village on Monday. Her fellow centenarians met Powell in the dining area of the village and chorused ‘‘happy birthday’’ to her.
Ben Oakes, 101, Lorna Jarrett, 100, Lorna Moffitt, 101, and Max Sladen, 100, shared some advice for living to over 100.
‘‘Make the most of it,’’ Sladen said. ‘‘Spend as much time as you can with family,’’ Moffitt said. ‘‘Have a whisky,’’ Oakes said.
Powell looked forward to lunch with her children. She said her family already hosted a party at the weekend with about 60 guests, and cake. ‘‘It was wonderful,’’ she said.
Powell was born in Rahui on the West Coast in 1917.
She was the youngest of seven siblings and grew up in Charleston where her parents ran the Welcome Inn Hotel.
‘‘Our playground was the beach and we did a lot of rock climbing. We used to scale around the rocks like goats.’’
Her future husband, Alex, was a close friend of one of her brothers. They grew up together, she said.
‘‘We loved the dances. We did them like they were going out of fashion.’’
Powell left Charleston for Westport at 17 years old. She picked up work as a ‘‘home helper’’ and married her childhood sweetheart on September 2, 1939.
‘‘It was the day before World War II started,’’ Powell said.
Luckily Alex didn’t leave for war, she said. He was a farmer and a coal miner, ‘‘a real labourer’’.
The first time Alex was called up he was battling pneumonia, but the second time he stayed to continue his work in the mines.
Powell said the war was tough. ‘‘They were very hard times.’’
She remembered cooking tins of biscuits and making clothes for her four children. Powell said the most memorable Prime Minister for her was Walter Nash, and the completion of the road from Greymouth to Westport changed everything.
‘‘It was a great day when the buses could go through.’’
Lorna Jarrett congratulates Mary Powell on turning 100-years-old.