• Happy 100th Birthday, Mary!

    Happy 100th Birthday, Mary!

    Many happy returns to Mrs Ruth (Mary) Garner of Resthaven Marion, who celebrated her 100th birthday on 23 September, 2021.

    Mary’s association with Resthaven began long before she moved in three years ago – her mother, Miriam Harris, was one of Resthaven Marion’s earliest residents, moving in shortly after the home opened in 1974.

    Before this, however, Miriam lived in Peterborough, where Mary was born. Mary was the eldest sister of four younger brothers. She says she had ‘a very happy childhood’.

    Mary’s father worked on the Peterborough railways, while Miriam kept house. Mary says, ‘It was my game to help mum with the boys.’

    A ‘middle of the road’ student, Mary attended the local Peterborough primary and high schools, finishing her education aged 14. She then ‘went to work on the telephone exchange as a telephonist, until the war broke out.’

    ‘Then, all the men went off to war, and I worked at the Post Office desk,’ she explains.

    ‘I’d answer the phones when the desk was quiet. But come Easter or Christmas, we’d be busy on the counter.’

    She remembers Peterborough as an ‘up and down town; people were always just moving through.’

    ‘When the railways moved out, then they had to find something else for the workers. We were lucky enough to get the meatworks.’

    Along with working at the Post Office, Mary had a lovely singing voice, and was an enthusiastic member of her local church choir (then the Peterborough Methodist Church).

    It was through church that she met her husband, Reg, who lived in Gladstone and was a boilermaker for the railways.

    The couple were married when Mary was 25, and had one child together, Deb.

    Deb says, ‘Mum was an excellent cook; her favourite thing to make was oodles of biscuits, and especially cockles [jam-filled shortbread].’

    ‘Mum also enjoyed knitting and crochet, but hated dusting!’

    ‘She was also involved in the CWA [Country Women’s Association]’.

    The family stayed in Peterborough until Deb moved to Adelaide to finish her hairdressing apprenticeship, and Reg and Mary soon followed, buying a house in Blackforest.

    Mary always loved gardening, and was delighted to move to a less arid climate: ‘The garden grows so much easier here than in Peterborough,’ she says.

    ‘It was so arid there. And it’s a men’s town, they didn’t worry about gardens.’

    Deb says, ‘After we moved to Adelaide, mum worked at Ditter’s Nuts until dad retired aged 59, and they went travelling.’

    Together, Mary and Reg travelled all over Australia in their caravan. Mary doesn’t have a favourite destination, saying that ‘Any place is good with a caravan, isn’t it?’

    They also travelled overseas, with a trip to Geneva a highlight.

    Deb recalls that, ‘They never made plans – they just went. And every time they went away, I had to pack up and move in to look after the house!’

    When Reg died in 2003, Mary kept the Blackforest home, where she stayed until 2018, when she moved into Resthaven Marion. Deb, who lived with her ‘off and on’ over the years, still lives at the Blackforest house to this day.

    As for Resthaven Marion, Mary couldn’t be happier, saying, ‘It’s lovely here’.

    ‘There’s such a nice outlook.’

    ‘I’m enjoying going to the church services, especially.’

    ‘I also like the garden clubs and the “Red Hat Ladies” group’.

    As to how she reached her 100 year milestone, she puts it down to ‘Just luck, healthy living, and a wonderful daughter.’

    Mary celebrated her birthday surrounded by family and friends. Happy birthday, Mary, and thank you for sharing your story.

    Established in 1935, Resthaven is a South Australian not-for-profit aged care community service associated with the Uniting Church in Australia.

    Every day, Resthaven shares the lives and wisdom of older people and their carers, opening doors to the full range of aged care service options available.

    Services are provided throughout metropolitan Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills, Murraylands, Riverland, Fleurieu Peninsula, lower Barossa region and the Limestone Coast of South Australia.

    Interested in residential respite? Call (08) 8373 9113 today!