Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A good wicket Charlie

from w
One of our senior gentlemen in our East Geelong Uniting church, actually the oldest, is Charlie, a man with a smile and a chat during morning tea.  Congratulations on reaching 100 years next week. Elderly people often have great stories to tell of incidents and attitudes. And here is what Margaret Linley wrote about him in today's Geelong Advertiser.

Charlie still has drive as he approaches 100

"Don't buy second-hand; you're only buying trouble," is one pearler.
And the best road trip he's had in all these years?
"Down the coast to Lorne."
His favourite car, when he's "just about had them all", is his current one, a mid-'90s Ford Laser.
And he's pretty clear on "don't give into the chair". He's referring to the nursing home chair plonked in front of daytime television.
Fat chance of that.
Mr Chaffey is way too busy to sit around. And he expects to be busy for a few more years to come.
"I think I've got another five years for sure," he said.
And his lady friend, Joyce Nash, 85, is similarly optimistic about her own longevity.
Her father, after all, had lived to 105. What got him in the end was the gangrene.
"It was the dry gangrene," Mrs Nash said. "He got it in his foot because a horse had stood on him when he was young."
Mr Chaffey was one of 12 children born into a farming family on Tasmania's northwest coast.
"They had to populate the country back then," he said. There's only he and "baby" Jean still going. He remembers his older brothers, Basil and Claude, coming home from Gallipoli. His dad drove the horse-drawn cart into Hobart, the seats filled with excited family members while Charlie, then 7, sat on the floor.
"They brought the injured ones off the ship first," he said. "One of my brothers came off on a bed and one walked off."
Mr Chaffey remembers getting his licence. He was, he said, "a little bit under the age" but he had a lady friend whose husband was in charge of giving out the licences. He said he didn't have to do anything to become licensed; "they just gave me one" although his "age jumped a bit in the car" on the way to collect it. It was that easy again when, a bit over a decade ago, he was called in to renew his licence.
"He asked me how long I had been driving and I told him and he said, "all right", and signed the form and I got my licence back," Mr Chaffey said.
He's a cheerful kind of chap with an easy kind of laugh and a devilish grin. "You can call me anything but just don't call me late for dinner," he quipped.
And dinner? Well, he cooks his own. Last night it was chops and vegies.
So what is life like for a bloke one week shy of his 100th birthday, a bloke who lives by himself?
Each morning he rises early and gets the day under way in much the same way. "I have my breakfast, I might run the mower over my joint and then I'll slip over to Jean." Then it's a cup of coffee on Mrs Nash's veranda, especially if the sun is shining, and he'll watch the kids arriving at the nearby school. After Mrs Nash has taken care of her chores, the pair might go out somewhere, "anywhere and everywhere, I go where she wants to go".
Sometimes they'll mow her lawn, sharing mower time. While one mows the other takes a breather on Mrs Nash's walker until it's time to swap again. He's grateful to his friend for taking care of his mail. "Some of the letters I get I wouldn't have a clue about but I bring them to Jean and she sorts them out."
Mr Chaffey reckons he only had a couple of years at school, walking about "six or seven miles" each way there from the family farm in Sandfly in Tasmania. He remembers making his teacher faint one day when he came in from playing outside with his nose all mangled from a playground accident. Made his brother faint one time as well.
The pair of them were young men working at the Burnie paper mills. He was a shift foreman when his arm was caught in a machine, burned and mangled, the pain intense, the wound ugly. Someone bandaged it and the brothers walked home.
"Halfway up the hill he said, 'let's see your arm', and he had a look and was on the ground," Mr Chaffey said. "So I had a good look at it and then I'm on the ground." And the medical treatment for a burned and mangled arm? "The lady we were boarding with fixed it up," he said.
Mr Chaffey has enjoyed good health; one trip to hospital in almost 100 years, for appendicitis.
His secret to a long and healthy life? Well there's country air, his dad's berries and fruit from the orchard. And the right attitude. "Take life as it comes," he says. "Have a smile for everyone and you'll get by. What's the use of walking around with a long face? Life's a bowl of cherries."


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