THIS Friday will be a day filled with extra love for Gawler’s Marjorie Waite.
Marjorie will be surrounded by her family and friends as she celebrates turning 100 years old on Valentine’s Day.
It’s a milestone she attributes to good genes – her father George lived to 89 – while her family jokes she’s been well-preserved because of the copious amounts of salt she has added to her meals over the years.
There’s also a love for English breakfast tea, Arnott’s Gaiety biscuits, watching ‘real’ English football, and reading; books are piled high in her room at Grande Views.
Marjorie was born in difficult post war times on February 14, 1920, to parents George and Louisa Jane ‘Jenny’ Johnston, in Durham County, England.
She said even though money was always scarce, she grew up in a happy, loving home.
“My father didn’t have any work for eight years and was on what they call the dole,” Marjorie said.
“He grew our own vegetables so there was always something to eat, even if we didn’t have meat.
“And my mother was a wonderful manager and he really loved her; it didn’t matter what she did, it was alright with him.”
Marjorie recalls having to run out into the street during the bombings of London in WWII to help extinguish spot fires, until her mother moved her family north for the remainder of the war.
Marjorie was married to her late husband Allen in 1945, wearing a smart buttoned-up blue suit and picture hat to their wedding ceremony.
They had two children – Marie, who was born in a residence during a snowstorm, and John, who was born under much calmer circumstances at a nursing home.
In 1953, when the children were six and four, the family became ‘Ten Pound Poms’ and immigrated to Australia.
Leaving an English winter, they arrived to an Australian summer and settled first at Loxton, until 1958.
“I wrote home and said ‘I knew it was going to be warm here but I think we’ve come to hell, it’s so hot’,” Marjorie said.
From Loxton, the family spent time in Mount Gambier where Allen was the local sewing machine repairer and Marjorie worked at a boys’ clothing store.
Once the children were grown, they moved to Birdwood and operated the Gumeracha Garage with son John, up until Allen’s retirement in 1983.
They moved to the Gawler area about 20 years ago, and following Allen’s passing in 2003, Marjorie lived at Elimatta, before her most recent move to Grande Views on Duffield Street.
Marjorie said her husband always had a desire to return to England, but she has long felt that Australia is where she is meant to be.
“I went back with him once and I didn’t enjoy it at all,” she said.
“We lived at Birdwood at the time and I got into bed that night when we got home and I could hear that old bullfrog in the pond across the road and thought ‘oh it’s lovely to be home again’.
“So Australia is home.”
She said she is looking forward to her birthday lunch, at Gawler Palace, this Friday, where special guests will include John’s family, down from Queensland, and her cricket-loving great-grandson Cody, who will also be turning 13.
Marjorie has a total of three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.