Florrie dances into her second century

SURROUNDED by family, friends and a generous afternoon tea, Florence MacLean was a world away from trying to make ends meet during the Great Depression.

The Warrnambool retiree celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday with a scone and cup of tea, reminiscing about her formative years in the 1920s when work was hard to come by.

Mrs MacLean worked two hours a week as a teenager at the Warrnambool Woollen Mill in order to make at least some money in the Depression-era job market.

She later went on to work behind the counter at Chittick’s Bakery for many years and raised two sons, Allan and Robert.

Her surviving sisters — Effie Toogood and Edna Johnson — said Mrs MacLean was a great believer in hard work but still found time for gliding around the dance floor and competing on the netball court.

“She was an excellent dancer. She made quite an impression when it came to ballroom dancing,” said Effie, from Ballarat.

“Florrie was a twin and both sisters were great at dancing.

“There was one time, before World War II, when they were involved in a dancing competition at Mailors Flat and there was a radio announcer from Hamilton emceeing the whole thing. 

   “He said on the wireless the next day about how fantastic they were — and that he couldn’t tell them apart!” 

Born in Ouyen in 1914, Florence was one of eight daughters. The family moved to Warrnambool when she was a child.

Her Warrnambool-based sister Edna said longevity was a family trait with seven of the eight women reaching 90 years or older.

“I’m not sure what the reason is but seven of us have lived past 90 which is pretty good by anyone’s standard,” Mrs Johnson, soon to turn 91, said. 

“It doesn’t surprise me that (Florence) has lived to 100. She’s always been full of life and still has plenty of energy.”

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