A Launceston resident who can clearly recall the feeling of paranoia during World War II, the uncertainty during the great depression, as well as the lingering effects of the polio epidemic, celebrated a milestone birthday this weekend.
Hazel James was born on August 27, 1922. A century later - in a function room at the Country Club and Casino on Saturday - surrounded by her friends and family, she blew out the candles of a cake adorned with three figures for the first time.
Ms James remained sharp as a tack despite her old age and was even able to accurately articulate memories from her childhood.
"I remember the floods in Launceston happening, I would have been about eight, and we were luckily on holiday in Melbourne at the time, but my dad came back to help," she said.
"I also recall heading out to an air pageant at Western Junction airport in 1931, where my family and I were taken on a flight excursion by the famous Australian aviation pioneer Sir Charles Edward Kingsford Smith ... I can still picture myself sitting on my mum's lap, looking out the window, and thinking 'wow, the houses look like little match boxes'."
Ms James said a few less enjoyable memories stuck with her too. "I've lived through two epidemics now, the first being polio ... no one in Launceston under the age of 16 was allowed to leave the area for the duration of the outbreak," she said.
"Then there was World War II ... I remember there hardly being any young men around town during that time, and if you saw one they were usually in uniform."
"The windows of most buildings were boarded up, we weren't allowed to show any light at night time through fears there would be air raids, and there were also shelters built down between Cimitiere and Williams Street."
Ms James said she had stayed in Launceston all of her life and watched it expand "out of this world".
"There only used to be a few families in Launceston that had a car when I was a child, and I can remember on that same trip to the airport - where we got to fly for the first time - I was amazed by how many cars there were, they must've come from all over the state," she said.
"There also used to be trams that would run along Brisbane Street and out to Mowbray Heights, which of course is just called Mowbray now."
Ms James said she believed the key to a long life was moderate living.
"You've got to keep off drinking, smoking, and drugs, I've never touched any of them," she said.
Ms James also said despite 100 years going by and a lot of significant events occurring, it still all felt like it went fast.
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