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Doreen Charter

Born 1921, age 101

“It’s hard to pick one favourite memory – I’ve had a good life.”

Doreen was born on Campbell Street, in Wollongong 17th of June 1921. Her family life was busy growing up with two sisters and three brothers, but she looks back fondly on the time they all spent together.

She had a war-time love story, marrying her husband Neville on New Year’s Day – just three days before he was due to fly out to New Guinea. Doreen met Neville while working at a hotel in Sydney, and Neville would do the cleaning. After they were married, they moved back to Wollongong, where Doreen had grown up.

Living in a time of major technological change, Doreen laughs when recalling, at first, that her mum was very against the idea of telephones and thought she would stick to writing letters. It wasn’t long after when she would find her mum sitting on the phone every afternoon, chatting to her aunties. Doreen joked, “She didn’t want it – but I tell you what, she certainly used it!”

When reflecting on her family life, Doreen laughs fondly about the happy times. One memory that sticks out is when her daughter decided it was time to go shopping, so at two years old, she took off up the street by herself! That gave Doreen quite the fright as she ran off after her.

Doreen had several different jobs, including working at a milk bar, a jeweller, and a trouser factory. Doreen stayed at the trouser factory for ten years so that she could finally earn the very sought-after $15.00 bonus! She also spent a lot of her time volunteering, having been President, Secretary, and Treasurer for a number of associations, such as Civilian Widows.

She decided to stop working one time, but she only lasted about three months before deciding she was bored and miserable and returned to work.

Some special times she recalls are when she, Neville, and their daughter would go camping. They all loved camping and special holiday time together and would take Neville’s army tent almost every year. She would always have the campervan packed with tin food, ready to go at the next opportunity! Doreen’s greatest achievement would be saving up to buy a block of land (for $96) and then building her home with Neville.

Doreen still lives in her own home and uses Warrigal's Home Services network to help with the cleaning. She says she has been very happy with the service, which helped her continue living life independently in her own home.

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