Resthaven Bellevue Heights resident, Mr Eric Johnson, was born 100 years ago, on 2 February 1923.
Alongside his sister and brother, Mr Johnson was raised in Birmingham, England. Growing up, Mr Johnson’s father was a motorcycle engineer, while his mother tended to the home.
Mr Johnson remembers, ‘It was a tough place to be during the Great Depression. My parents wanted a better life for us, so my father found employment at Holden’s in Adelaide, South Australia.’
‘I finished my schooling years there, at Unley Primary School. I would have been around 14 years old
then, and I started working as the local grocery store delivery boy.’
When Mr Johnson wasn’t working, he was busy collecting, and learning an invaluable skill.
‘When I was 12 years old, I started collecting stamps. In later life, I collected beach shells, postcards and telephone cards—I had a room full at my house to prove it! Now, it is for my family to enjoy.’
‘A hobby that really came in handy was learning Morse code with my childhood friend. When we were supposed to be sleeping, we would communicate by flashing torches through our windows. We always had great fun with it.’
At the age of 18, Mr Johnson’s Morse code skills were put into action.
‘I joined the Australian Army in 1941, as a wireless operator, teaching Morse code, believe it or not! To this day, my mind reads in Morse code, it has always stayed with me.’
In 1945, as the war ended, Mr Johnson met his soon-to-be wife, June.
‘We were celebrating at a service dance, and I saw June across the hall—I was smitten straight away.’
In 1948, the couple married (pictured right) and relocated to Victor Harbor, where they purchased their first grocery store.
The newlyweds spent their days working at the store, before welcoming three children into their family.
‘After a few years there, a Woolworths store opened up down the road, and that was the end of that business venture for us.’
The young family relocated to Colonel Light Gardens, where they settled down, and purchased a deli. A few years later, they purchased a newsagency at Mitcham.
At age 55, Mr Johnson hung up his business hat, and the couple purchased a caravan, travelling across Australia.
‘Exmouth in Western Australia was our favourite fishing spot, and we ended up going back 10 times. Each year, we would travel to be there on ANZAC Day, and we wouldn’t return until Christmas!’
‘June and I had a rich life full of adventure, and together, we watched our three children, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren grow.’
As Mr Johnson, who now resides at Resthaven Bellevue Heights, approaches his centenarian milestone, he reflects, ‘I have only been sick once in my life, and I’ll never forget it—I caught the flu on my daughter’s wedding day!’
‘Family means everything. If you eat well and look after yourself, your family will get you through.’
Many happy returns, Mr Johnson!