Words of Wisdom
As told to Melise Coleman
This week we caught up with the beautiful, Hazel Spiller. “I’ve been very fortunate, and I always enjoy life, I think that’s the key.”
Age: 96 and a half, I’m blessed, I have my days but on the whole I’m pretty good.
Where and when were you born? Lismore, 1922
What are the most important lessons you've learned in life? Number one, to believe in God, the other one is take people as they come.
What’s the secret to a happy marriage? Give and take, I was married 65 years.
How did you meet your husband? At a dance, in a little country town in Victoria. It was during the war, all of the fellows would come to the dances, there were 100s of them, it was great fun. They had two orchestras, one modern music, once that one had finished they had an old time band playing, by the end of the night you’d be.. *wipes forehead and laughs*
What big world events were the most memorable while you were growing up? The War, it was dreadful. We had food tickets and clothing tickets, my Dad had 100 acres of farming, my Mother and I looked after that when my brother went to War, he was sent home to work the farm when my Dad was very ill.
Where has been your favourite holiday? My Honeymoon! We went to an Island south of Melbourne. We didn’t have much money to go, it was the first time I holidayed away from my Mother and Father. We always holidayed together, we had a holiday house at a place called Frankston.
What did you love about ‘the good old days?’ I enjoyed everything, when we got married, we didn’t have much. My husband had the farm and we couldn’t afford a car, so we either rode horses everywhere or had them in sulky. Because we were saving for a new house, my Mother brought me a car - it was a beauty too, it was a ‘Riley’ ooh it was a racy car. *laughs* It would sit on 100 miles easy, there was no speed limit in those days. We lived over 100 miles from Melbourne and we could go to Melbourne and back in one day with no trouble at all.
My husband and I were dairy farmers, it was a hard life. We had a friend who lived out where we dairy-ed, he said, why the devil do you stay up here where you are always looking for rain, why don’t you come down our way and dairy.. you’ll never look back if you are prepared to work, so that’s what we did. My husband and I were in our early 40s when we retired because our daughter didn’t want to be a Dairy Farmer.
What is your favourite childhood memory? Going to the Christmas tree in the country. It was a small country town and I remember looking at Santa’s shoes and they were brown, it turned out to be my Father. *laughs*
What was your favourite thing to do for fun when you were younger? Dancing.. we dressed in long gloves, long dresses, silver shoes or whatever you wanted. We used to have what they called cc balls, there would be a gang of you go, the boys would be in dinner suits, there would be a very good orchestra and you’d have dinner there, it was fun.
I was still at school when I travelled with my family for 12 months, I remember we got back and I said.. Good, I’m 14 now I can leave school, Mum said I’m sorry Hazel but you are going to boarding school. I missed a whole year from travel, so I had to really study hard just to pass. I enjoyed boarding school, that’s where I learnt dancing. In the winter on a Friday night you could go and learn it, the Melbourne grammar boys would come over and dance with us, it was a lot of fun.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Well I did dress designing, but I hated drawing, loved sewing.. and my deportment was very poor.. I was stooping. My mother sent me to a deportment school, and from that school (don’t laugh) I was a model for ‘Berlei Bras’. I used to have good legs.. at first, I was so embarrassed that I wouldn’t go on, one of the older models gave me a push, so I had no alternative but to go on *laughs* I did that for about four years. Each garment had a number and I could remember those, if I was asked what number I would always remember.
What was your first job? During the War I went into selling dresses, I hated it, so I didn’t last there six months *laughs*. The particular old ladies would say “Oh I don’t like that”.. My Uncle was in Millinery, he had a very good shop in the best street in Melbourne, one lady came in she was going to the Melbourne Cup. She was looking around and said, “Oh these are dreadful hats!” He said, “Madam! It’s not the hat, it’s the face under it!” *laughs* Wouldn’t it be horrible to have that said to you.
What was your favourite job? Modelling, they were great to work for, and it wasn’t every day. I gave that away because I stayed home to help my Mother with my Dad and work the farm.
What are you most proud of? My daughter, she’s a Christian and she’s a very good daughter.
Who is the person who influenced your life the most? Why? I think my Mother, she was a very good teacher and was very patient and supportive.
What life advice would you pass along to your grandchildren? I have three grandchildren and eight grandchildren - keep off the booze and continue trying to be a good Christian. I look at them and think, my husband and I started that..*laughs* They are good kids and I am very fortunate to have a good daughter and a good son in law - I love him, I love all of them.