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    FORCE OF NATURE: Nhill’s May Craig will celebrate her 101st birthday this Friday, October 22. Mrs Craig grew up in the Otways and spent three and a half years in the air force before moving to the west Wimmera with her late husband, Keith. She is pointing to a photograph of herself in the air force in 1942. The photograph was taken at the University of Melbourne during an address by the governor-general’s wife, Lady Gowrie. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
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    SPECIAL CELEBRATION: Nhill’s May Craig will celebrate her 101st birthday on Friday. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
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    Keith and May Craig.

May Craig at 101 – ‘I do alright’

By Sarah Matthews

Nhill’s May Craig and her late husband Keith visited Kaniva one Christmas, decided to stay in the Wimmera a year and never left.

On Friday, Mrs Craig will celebrate her 101st birthday at home at Nhill, where she has lived for ‘a fair while now’. 

The Craigs have two daughters, Lesley and Donna, who will take their mother out for lunch to celebrate her milestone. 

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“Family is very important to me,” Mrs Craig said. 

“I have five grandchildren – including one girl.

“I grew up on a farm at the Otways and my dad died when I was 10. My mother was the strength, she was an amazing person.”

Mrs Craig said strong family bonds led to the couple relocating to the west Wimmera.

“My husband’s brother had the Kaniva Club Hotel and they invited us up for Christmas,” she said.

“Of course, while we were there the cook walked out, the barman disappeared in the night and we helped them out. 

“They offered us this package and we thought, we could save up enough in a year and go back to Melbourne, but we never went back.

“My husband helped his brother and I did the waitressing in the dining room. We were there for about a year and then got our own house.”

Mrs Craig was born at Colac in 1920, one of six children, and met her future husband on a Melbourne tram before he shipped out to Japan.

Mr Craig was in the Army, while Mrs Craig spent three and a half years in the air force.

“I worked in the officers mess as a stewardess,” she said. 

“Towards the end of the war I studied to be a parachute folder, but then they were too short of stewardesses, so I wasn’t allowed to leave that area.”

Mrs Craig said her family tree contained plenty of interesting stories, stretching back to her great-grandparents, who were at the Eureka Stockade.

“In those days the married ladies wore little caps,” she said. 

“When the shooting started they bobbed up to see what was going on and a bullet went through my great-grandmother’s lace cap.

“When I was younger I remember putting my finger through that bullet hole and thinking how exciting it all was.”

Her grandparents were also gold miners.

“They went to Perth in the early days with the big gold rush,” Mrs Craig said.

“My grandmother was the first white woman to arrive in Coolgardie, the gold-mining settlement there. There’s quite a bit of history in the family.”

Mrs Craig said she and her husband were heavily involved in the Kaniva community and she participated in Country Women’s Association, senior citizens and garden club activities. 

“Since I’ve been in Nhill, I’ve been older and I haven’t been involved in half of those things,” she said.

Despite celebrating her 100th birthday last year, Mrs Craig reckons she has not changed much in the past two decades.

“I’m a bit slower,” she said.

“But I’m quite fit really, for my age. I’ve never smoked and I haven’t got any major health problems or anything. I still manage to cook and look after myself pretty well. I do alright.”

Mrs Craig told The Weekly Advertiser she would love to be able to ride a horse again one last time, although conceded if she fell off it ‘could be the end of her’.

When it was suggested someone might be able to find her a nice docile horse she could sit on quietly, she replied, ‘well what’s the point in that?’

The entire October 20, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!