Meet 5 inspirational men in their 90s who live healthy, fulfilling lives as members of the Over Sixties Bowlers Association at Westport Bowling Club. They speak to us about life and the world today – their compelling comments contain gems of collective wisdom..
> What is the secret to keeping fit and living until your mid-nineties?
Brett Avery: I have always had ordinary tucker, but made sure I ate a variety of foods. And of course, plenty of exercise.
Keith Dawson: I am very keen on walking, especially along the break-wall, and my aim is to keep well. I have been swimming throughout the year, middle of winter included, down at Towns Beach. And of course, genes are the basis to living a good, long and healthy life.
> You enjoy playing bowls together each week. What else do you like to do?
Keith: We don’t play together as a team; we play against each other. It’s a great sport, and you get a lot of exercise walking up and down the green all day. And there is a great camaraderie between the bowlers, and not to mention it’s a great way to meet people when you get older.
A lot of people go in their huts, sit down and… well, die (all laugh). There is no future in dying!
Bill Ryan: I am a cartoonist and have been so for around 30 years. I began my artwork once I retired. I draw ant characters who have human emotions and feelings, and I love to do it.
Merv O’Hara: I love to eat and sleep! And I do a lot of both! Apart from that, bowls is my social interaction, and I think the Westport is a great club to be a member of.
Dick Bassett: I think as you get older, the secret is to keep busy, and the bowling is good exercise and the key to longevity.
> You have experienced many decades of change and new technologies. What do you think of the world today and the state that it is in?
Bill: I think that we had the best of it!
Keith: I think we certainly did. Life was so much easier when we were younger. Today it is all rush, rush, rush. With the high cost of living, it’s difficult for many people. I did 48 hours of hard work each week and got 10 shillings back in the old days! Today, it’s very different.
Merv: It’s a big mess, and I don’t know how they are going to clean it up either. We are very lucky in this country and in this town, but you just look at the third world countries and it breaks your heart.
Bill: Well I think equality of the sexes has gone too far, because women have lost their femininity. Today, women commit crimes and what not; if you had a female murderer in our days, it was a huge sensation.
Keith: Parents should keep family orientated and make family a deep priority. That’s half the problem with kids today. If they don’t like living at home, they can easily go on the dole and they lose structure. They become influenced by negative things when there isn’t a strong, supportive family behind them.
Bill: It startles me that today, people choose not to even marry!
Brett: I think kids need to be much more disciplined.
Dick: Oh yes. Today you see kids going about pulling out shrubs, painting walls and cussing. In our days they were caned for such behaviour. Kids get away with so much. And you get in strife if you smack your child, so they’re getting off easily. More obedience, I say.
> What do you love about living in Port Macquarie?
Bill: I wouldn’t leave it if I won the lottery tomorrow, and my wife says the same thing.The climate is absolutely beautiful, and I have lived in a lot of places in my time. But here, it’s paradise.
Dick: I think it’s a great place to grow old. Just look outside and look at this winter weather. The ocean path is brilliant.
Merv: There have been some big differences in my 36 years here in Port Macquarie. Yes, it has changed, because when I came here there were only 9,000 people living here.
When I first arrived, I remember it was early afternoon, and some friends and I went to a place called Henny Penny, opposite Coles. Readers might recall that place. I got a quarter of a chicken, a baked potato and some peas with some delicious gravy for 90 cents!
The car was covered in mud from our journey, so we then went to the car wash and got the full treatment for 70 cents.
Keith: I took a room with linen and towels for five shillings a week! Seven or six shillings, and you would be getting something really special. Today, we manage on the pension, but we have to have some tucked away to live the good life. But so what! If you run out of dough, that’s just bad luck! I can just hitchhike or just send my wife out busking down the street! (All laugh).
> If you had any advice for the younger people of today, what would it be?
Keith: Work Hard. Don’t smoke.
Brett: Get a good job. I was brought up on a farm and worked straight after school. And do what you are told!
Dick: Keep active with your sports. Activities keep kids away from the headphones and computers. And don’t get bored, because boredom will tempt you into mischief.
Bill: I think kids should get back into the military service, to keep them out of trouble. If anything is going to give you discipline, it’s the army. It is also a means of taking care of this country.
Merv: Live a happy life!
> Thank you gentlemen.