Body, brain, exercise key long life

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Sharp as a tack... Tom McCord of Mataura attributes his longevity to keeping the brain and body active.PHOTO:JENNY DILLNER

Tom McCord, of Mataura, has lived and worked in the area for most of his 96 years.

He was born in Benhar, near Balclutha, one of eight children.

When he was 10, the family moved to Gore where his father built the family home.

“It cost £750, and I still have the blueprint,” Mr McCord said.

Mr McCord helped with the milk run in the mornings before school and delivered The Ensign after school.

“I would also go to the movies at the Regent Theatre to help the projectionist.

“That time was volunteered as I loved the movies and fell in love with Ginger Rogers.”

The Regent Theatre was located where Gore Paper Plus is today.

When he left school, Mr McCord trained as an electrician, and to this day he still is registered.

“When I turned 90 the electrician registration board sent me a letter congratulating me for still being in the registry, but they did admit their records did not go back that far.”

As a young man, working in Mataura, and having his lunch in the car each day, he noticed a certain dark-haired girl, June Ashby.

“Some time later I was playing in a band and saw her, so I asked for a dance and to take her home.

“We eventually married in 1952, and moved to Mataura in 1954.”

Mataura was a very busy town back then.

“There was the paper mill, dairy factory and freezing works and a lot of people had push-bikes.

“There were few cars back then, and a lot of grocery shops and butcheries in town.

“I think that as wages went up, cars came along and the shops died.”

Mr McCord plays the saxophone and clarinet.

“I taught at Gore High School for 63 years. Music is very good for the soul and it keeps you sharp.”

At 96 years old, Mr McCord is still very active.

“I have three children, and five grandchildren, and I drive to Queenstown every few months to catch up with family.

“I also organise the entertainment for the Tin Hat club at the RSA each month.

“I think the secret to longevity is to keep working, and exercise the brain.”