Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Age and Inspiration


World’s oldest person turns 117

Emma Morano, thought to be the world's oldest person and the last to be born in the 1800s, celebrated her 117th birthday on Tuesday, still swearing by her diet of two raw eggs a day. Morano was born in November 1899, four years before the Wright brothers first took to the air. Her life has spanned three centuries, two World Wars and over 90 Italian governments.

- News report

Some inspirational senior cits, past and present . . . 

Folk art is what it says, art produced by folk, that is, art by an indigenous culture or by peasants or other labouring tradespeople, in contrast to fine art. Folk art is usually decorative.

Imagine living in Europe on a small agricultural holding and it’s winter. The snow lies deep outside and there is nothing able to be done until spring. One of the ways to occupy the family was to decorate the walls, the furniture etc.

Or people in other areas simply want to brighten their otherwise drab buildings.

Now you have folk art.

My mother was a folk artist and was very good at it.

Meet Anežka Kašpárková, who is in her eighties. For over 30 years she has been painting the buildings in her village in Poland, using only ultramarine blue, as “The colour looks very expensive and good quality.” Her decorations come from her imagination, ”I create what I think off” she says.


Smoky Dawson (1913 – 2008) was an Australian country music performer, radio star, entertainer, and icon. Australia's first singing cowboy complete with acoustic steel string guitar and yodel, in the style of American Gene Autry, he was part of Australia’s radio, television and entertainment history. Smoky never missed an ANZAC Day march up to his death, which occurred one month before his 95th birthday. He also continued to perform up to then. Smoky Dawson released his last album in 2005, aged 92, making him for a long time the oldest performer to release an album.

Young Smoky

Aged 94 years

The Smoky Dawson memorial seat statue at Tamworth. Unveiled in 2012, it recognises the contribution of Smoky Dawson to the Australian Country Music Industry. 

For country music devotees, there are also statues at Tamworth of Slim Dusty and Joy McKean, two icons of Australian country music.

Slim Dusty (1927 – 2003) was an Australian country music singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer, an Australian cultural icon and the "Father of Country Music". Slim was the first Australian to have a No. 1 international hit song, with his 1957 version of "A Pub with No Beer" and received an unequalled 37 Golden Guitar and two Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards. At the time of his death, at the age of 76, Dusty had been working on his 106th album.

He performed "Waltzing Matilda", Australia's national song, at the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Joy McKean (1930 - ) is an Australian country music singer-songwriter and wife of the late Slim Dusty. Known as the "grand lady" of Australian country music, McKean is recognised as one of Australia's leading songwriters and bush balladeers and wrote several of Slim’s most popular songs. 

Joy McKean and Slim Dusty, 1957


I mentioned above that for a long time, Smokey Dawson was the oldest performer to release an album. He was aged 92 when he did so.

Who knocked him off his perch?

None other than "the Forces' Sweetheart", Dame Vera Margaret Lynn (1917 - ) the English singer, songwriter, and actress whose musical recordings and performances were enormously popular during the Second World War. Apart from well known WW2 hits such as "We'll Meet Again", "The White Cliffs of Dover", "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and "There'll Always Be an England", in 2009, at age 92, she became the oldest living artist to make it to No. 1 on the British album chart.

Dame Vera released an album in 2014, aged 97, making her the world’s oldest recording artist to release an album. Although a compilation album, it also included new and previously unreleased items as well.  It was released on 2 June to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

2014 album

With soldiers in the Far East during World War Two

In 2014

Which brings me to a truly inspirational senior cit, my father in law Noel Wicks, who will be 90 on 3 January.

Noel still lives at home and looks after himself, drives, is a director of a publicly listed company and does his own shopping, cooking etc. He does have someone come in to help with the gardening. Slacker.

What is amazing, however, is that the advanced years have not diminished the twinkle in his eye, his wicked sense of humour and the simple enjoyment of life that radiates from him. He is pursuing courses of study in Chaucer and Middle English literature, reads and watches voraciously on all manner of topics (one favourite: the history of Hitler and the Third Reich), is the most knowledgeable authority on jazz and blues that I know (having his own jazz radio hour at age 17 in Rockhampton) and remains active both physically and mentally.

Noel, 2 weeks ago, at a local cafe in Canberra

Onya Nelly!

As I said, an inspiration, all of them.

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