Happy birthday to Resthaven Malvern’s most recent centenarian, Miss Edna Chatfield, who celebrates her 100th birthday on 18 February, with a lifetime of memories and adventures to look back on.
Born and raised in the outskirts of the Adelaide CBD, Miss Chatfield reflects on her childhood in a family of four.
‘My brother and I grew up during the Great Depression, followed by the Polio outbreak that made it all worse. We didn’t have much growing up, but what we did have was a strong sense of family and doing the right thing by one another,’ she says.
After a few short years in Norwood, the family relocated to Hyde Park, where Miss Chatfield began preschool at Hyde Park Montessori, before attending Unley Primary School, and then Unley High School.
‘I particularly enjoyed learning shorthand, and it led me to pursuing employment as a typist.’
Miss Chatfield began working at the Adelaide Railway Station, where she met her friend, Norma, who remains by her side today.
‘We were typists in the office and volunteered in the nursery at Ashford Hospital on Sundays. The hospital was a big bungalow back then, not at all as it stands now.’
During World War II, Miss Chatfield and Norma began serving in the Royal Australian Women’s Army Corps.
In 1954, Miss Chatfield’s service presented the opportunity of a lifetime.
‘We were all lined up in our uniforms on Pirie Street, to see Queen Elizabeth II drive through during her first visit to Australia. I will never forget that, and I had a front row seat!’
She also reflects fondly on her travelling years.
‘Marriage alluded me, and when I reached 27, I told my mum, “If I’m going to be an old maid, I’ll be an old maid who travels the world!”, and that’s what I did.’
Miss Chatfield went on to explore Scotland, Canada, Switzerland, France, Austria, Scandinavia, Finland, and Italy, ‘to name a handful!’.
‘The most common mode of transport then was by boat—I saw much more of the world than I sought out to, because you make stops along the way.’
On travelling alone all those years ago, she reflects, ‘Some things in life will terrify you, but you must do them anyway. It was the best thing I did.’
Wise words indeed from Miss Chatfield, who happily resides at Resthaven Malvern with her friendly companion, Norma, down the corridor!
Many happy returns, Miss Chatfield!