Scotch, hard work secret to a long life

Peggy Watson partook in three birthday cakes last week while celebrating her 101st birthday....
Peggy Watson partook in three birthday cakes last week while celebrating her 101st birthday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Strathallan resident Peggy Watson turned 101 last week. Here she shares some memories of her long life.

I was brought up on a dairy farm at Te Awa. I was a twin and the youngest of five children.

I was a delicate child and so was my twin sister.

We grew up during the Depression and the lead-up to World War 2. It was a really hard time — we had to work endlessly from about age 5 because there was no money around to pay for workers.

We all understood that work was a priority and that if we didn’t work hard we would struggle as a family.

Our labour really made a difference. It was more important for children to work than for them to go to school.

Children could leave school from the age of 12 and almost no-one went to high school. We were all needed to work on our farms.

I lived on the farm until I married Keith Watson in 1946. He was a builder and a part-time farmer who grew potatoes and peas on contract.

We had two boys, followed a few years later by two girls. By now I have nine grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Keith and I lived in Pleasant Point for seven years then shifted to Winchester. We moved to Timaru in 1974.

I have been a competitive golfer, playing at the Temuka, Pleasant Point and Gleniti clubs for 43 years. I also played outdoor bowls for 22 years as I enjoyed the challenge of competition.

I lived at Mountainview Village for 23 years and am now living at Strathallan Lifecare.

I have played the piano most of my life, for dance parties and social events after the war, and later I played the piano at happy hour every week at Mountainview Village. I don’t play much any more as my shoulders are stiff, and I donated my piano to Strathallan’s rest-home last year.

I was a confident driver until I was 97 years old.

Other interests I have had throughout my life include dressmaking, floral art, embroidery and needlework.

I still have an active social life and do the code-cracker every day.

I love country music, jazz, old-time singalong and pop music.

Over the course of my life I have seen so many changes. By now I have outlived all my childhood friends and all my siblings. One of my sisters lived into her 90s, but the rest of my family hasn’t been particularly long-lived.

When I was a child it was very much that children were to be seen but not heard. We didn’t have much say in our lives and I think we lacked confidence as a result. However, we were very resilient and just got on with life.

One hundred years ago there was no money around. No-one had money. We all had to provide for ourselves. We went through the Depression and World War 1; we had no electricity at home. We all had to accept that you can’t have what’s not there and we just had to put up with going without.

I have lived on my own for 18 years since Keith died and have become more gentle and able to move on from the things I resented about my childhood.

Every generation has their own good points and their own challenges. Today, people have more options, but I feel that people are also less resilient.

Technology is wonderful. Nowadays information is very accessible.

What is the secret to a long life? A little Scotch on the rocks and hard work.

I have had a very good life. I had a wonderful husband for 60 years. My children are good to me and I believe I am important to them.

When I turned 100 I had just moved to Strathallan and didn’t know many people. I have loved celebrating my birthday this year as I know everyone now. After a morning tea with the Strathallan residents and staff I went out with my children for lunch then had afternoon tea at my daughter’s place, before returning to Strathallan for dinner and a third birthday cake.