Plenty to do and enjoy at 100

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Nellie McGowan enjoys a piece of dark chocolate just before bed each night.

The Gore woman, who turned 100 yesterday, is not sure if chocolate is the recipe for her longevity, but says it is certainly a pleasant nightcap.

However, there had been a break in her ritual, thanks to her grandson Paul, she said.

“I haven’t had any for two nights – Paul ate it.”

In addition to chocolate, Mrs McGowan also enjoys keeping up with fashion and watching sport.

“I like all sports. That’s all I got my TV for.”

The All Blacks were among her favourite sporting stars.

She was in good health, she said.

“I look after myself.”

Until this year she weeded her garden, and mowed the lawns until recently, but now has a gardener to help.

There are probably not many 100-year-olds who can read the newspaper without glasses, but Mrs McGowan is one of them.

In her younger days she played tennis and hockey, then outdoor and indoor bowls became an enjoyable pastime.

Since giving up bowls, she has taken up cards, five hundred and euchre being favourites.

Mrs McGowan was born in Wyndham and lived in Mataura after she married her husband Chappie in 1936.

“We built our own house there.”

The family did not get a car until 1952.

Her most vivid memories from World War 2 days were of rationing, when half a pound of butter had to last a week and meat was only on the menu three days a week.

Mrs McGowan left school when she was 15.

She worked in part-time jobs, doing things such as housework and making lunches for Mataura Dairy Factory workers, she said.

Mrs McGowan had two brothers who served during World War 2 and both returned home safely.

Mrs McGowan said she was not the first in her family to live to 100. Her sister, the late Isie Ward, lived for a century.

Mrs McGowan’s birthday celebrations included a lunch at the Gore and Districts Senior Citizens yesterday, an afternoon tea at Heartland Hotel Croydon with about 80 guests, and then a family dinner for about 16.