106 years old but still likes to turn heads

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - JACK MORPHET

SHE may have hit the grand old age of 106 yes­ter­day but Agnes Wil­son still wanted to “keep the boys ex­cited” on her birth­day.

“I’d like a nice new frock so some good-look­ing man asks me out,” she said.

Mrs Wil­son, who is be­lieved to be NSW’s old­est wo­man, puts her long life down to laugh­ing a great deal, eat­ing small por­tions and en­joy­ing a whisky every night.

“I en­joy life, I en­joy every minute of it,” she said. “I still laugh be­cause hav­ing fun keeps you young and I’ve al­ways been a source of trou­ble and fun.”

Born in an era known for its style and man­ners, Mrs Wil­son reg­u­larly caught the bus from her Mos­man home to Maroubra to get her hair cut un­til she was 99.

She lived in Mel­bourne un­til 1963 and once took a day off work to snap up a dress from de­part­ment store Buck­ley & Nunn the minute it was re­moved from the win­dow dis­play.

Her mem­ory is start­ing to fail her but she re­mem­bers hav­ing Aus­tralia’s first perm hair­style.

“When they put the rollers in, I thought I was the Queen,” she said.

Of course Queen El­iz­a­beth wasn’t born un­til 1926, by which time Mrs Wil­son was a teenager and had mi­grated to Aus­tralia aboard the SS Mil­ti­ades.

“My mother sang for the pas­sen­gers in the ball­room, while I went and played down in the en­gine room where the men shov­elled coal,” she said.

When she was born in 1912, George V was on the throne and also known as the Em­peror of In­dia, World War I was yet to be­gin and Aus­tralia was only 11 years old.

Her hus­band first ap­proached her un­der Mel­bourne’s fa­mous Flin­ders Street sta­tion clocks.

“I was wait­ing for friends to go ice skat­ing when a gor­geous crea­ture came up to me, took off his hat,

and asked: ‘Are you wait­ing for me’?” she said. “I said: ‘No, un­for­tu­nately’.” She met RAAF fly­ing of­fi­cer Wil­liam Wil­son for cof­fee the next day, be­fore go­ing on to marry him and have two daugh­ters, six grand­chil­dren. She met her sev­enth great­grand­child, one-week old Genevieve Langley, for the first time yes­ter­day.

Fly­ing was a fam­ily pas­sion, as Mrs Wil­son’s good friend, pi­o­neer­ing avi­a­trix Gertrude “Mac” McKen­zie, would reg­u­larly take her on joy flights over Mel­bourne.

Ac­cord­ing to her 70-year-old daugh­ter Nola Bul­li­vant, a sure sign her mum had come to visit was half a ba­nana in the fruit bowl be­cause she never ate an en­tire piece of fruit in one sit­ting.

She also had a swift way to deal with her chil­dren’s com­plaints.

“In the days be­fore fridges she went up to the cor­ner store to get my sis­ter and I an ice cream but when I com­plained about the flavour, she gave it away to the first kid that walked past our house,” Mrs Bul­li­vant said.

Her daugh­ter de­scribed Mrs Wil- son as a “bril­liant” mother, al­beit not a very good cook, who is al­ways pos­i­tive and has never lost her sense of hu­mour.

Tes­ta­ment to her fit­ness and sharp mind, Mrs Wil­son trav­elled to Aus­tria, France and the Czech Re­pub­lic when she was 97 and didn’t move into St Paul’s North­bridge res­i­den­tial aged care un­til she was 101. “I still feel like I’m 21 in­side,” she said.

Agnes’s dresser of mem­o­ries in her room in the aged care.

Her hus­band Wil­liam Wil­son and (right) with two of her chil­dren. Agnes Wil­son says she still feels 21 on the in­side Agnes Wil­son is be­lieved to be NSW’sold­est wo­man. Pic­tures: Sam Rut­tyn

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