Alice was quite a character. On asking her a question once about family she said "I can't remember e…

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Alice was quite a character. On asking her a question once about family she said "I can't remember everything you know".<p>
Myrtle was in her late 80's when we found her and still working as a tea-lady for Salmon Bros. Electrical Warehouse at Meadowbank, Sydney. She said they would never dismiss her and no wonder - as every weekend she cooked cakes, scones, gramma pies etc. for the staff. At Xmas she cooked about 25 Xmas cakes and puddings for her bosses and workmates. At 86 years of age she won "The Tea Lady of the Year Award". The 1st Prize was a trip overseas and she said "there's no way they'll get me on a plane" so she swapped the runner-up for the silver tea service. She was presented with her Prize by Diana "Bubbles" Fisher on Television.<p>
The doctor told Myrtle's mother when she was a child that she wouldn't live through her teens. Myrtle said " I wish he could see me now".<p>
She used to leave home at 4.30 am and walk to Chatswood Railway Station and catch a train to Meadowbank. One morning a Police car pulled up beside her and asked where she was going. She said to work. They then asked where she lived and she told them. They insisted she get in the car and they'd take her home, she refused and she said "they manhandled me" by pushing her into the back seat, laddering her stockings and bruising her arm. She kept saying she would miss her train. They pulled up outside her house and her brother Cliff ran out and asked what happened. He said to the Police "she'll be late for work now". The Police offered to take her back to the railway but she refused to get in their car as she said it was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to her. Myrtle was 89 years of age and no doubt the Police thought she was wandering.<p>
She wrote a letter compalining to then then Premier Neville Wran but never received a reply. After this incident her bosses started taking her to work. In latter years after Cliff died they advised her on her affairs and kept an eye on her. They and their wives would take her out some weekends and one of them would check if she was alright at home. They were like family to her. Myrtle was deaf so the phone was no use to her. <p>
In April, 1990 when she was 98 years of age, her boss called in to check on her at 6pm one Sunday, but couldn't find her around the house until he gently opened the bathroom door. He said "those eyes looked up and she said I knew you would come". She had fallen in the bath about 8 am that morning, hitting her head and badly bruising herself. She had the sense to pull the plug out. When asked, wasn't she cold she said "how could I be, I struggled all day to get out." <p>
She was very religious and said "The Good Lord looked after me". <p>
Following this accident she couldn't work, but insisted that she wasn't retired - just off work for a while. She still walked to her chemist at Chatswood and he offered to drive her home but she refused. She managed to get to her street corner before falling in the gutter and lay there until a motorist pulled up. She spent some time in a Convalescent Hospital before insisting she go back home. That was her first time in any hospital. <p>
Her bosses made arrangements for her to go into the "Laurels Nursing Home" at Meadowbank so they and her workmates could visit her. She didn't like being there and wanted to go home but another fall and she was confined to bed, bouncing back to a walking stick. She said she had to keep moving or she would end up like the others in there. She loved sitting in the sun and as renovations were being done, she gave orders to the men to hurry up, they were taking too long and wasting money. They thought she was joking !!! She ordered the Staff around, which amused and amazed them as she was so bright compared to some that were years younger.<p>
Myrtle celebrated her 100th birthday there and received her telegram from the Queen. The radio station that ran the Tea Lady Awards interviewed her. Myrtle stood up and gave a speech and thanked the Dear Lord for keeping her alive so long. A nursing sister nearby said with a laugh,"what about us? - we fed and nursed you". There were flowers and cards everwhere.<p>
During her 102nd and 103rd years she had more falls and to her disgust she was bed-ridden and they put a rail along her bed to stop her getting out to kneel and pray. She asked a friend to move the rail and she refused so Myrtle got her stick and ordered her out of her room.<p>
On her 103rd birthday on 16 September 1994, she lay in bed with a smirk on her face, with relatives and friends around her. She loved the attention but she did say she wished the Dear Lord would hurry up and take her and she didn't know why he was taking so long. She died on the 3 December. 1994.<p>
A graveside service was held for Myrtle at Northern Suburbs Cemetery with over 30 attending. The Minister kept stopping and having a laugh at some of the stories about "Blackie". He told a story of a man who was a parishioner, who had been retrenched for four years and was worried sick. He told him not to worry something will turn up. The man said that's what worried him.
l she was 99 years of age. She complained every Xmas when the firm closed down for annual holidays because she still wanted to go to work."<p>
He said he had never seen a burial for a 103 year old with so many people that knew her and especially workmates. Usually there was only himself and the grave diggers. Myrtle was buried with her son Roy Melbourne BLACK and beside her mother Elizabeth Catherine PURNELL nee WARICK and brother Clifton Jack PURNELL.<p>
She was a fantastic lady. Her vivid memory was a great help, whether or not all her stories were correct. We can never thank her enough.<p>
On making mention once of convicts, she replied "don't you believe everything you're told???" In those days it was probably hidden from future generations.<p>
Myrtle and her brother Cliff (bacjelor and High School Teacher) looked after their mother until she died in 1948. They first rented a house in Wyvern Ave, Roseville (now Chatswood) Sydney and later they bought it and the adjoining one. Myrtle never took holidays and put that money into house payments. She mended and darned their clothes to make them last and save money. She said neither of them or their mother ever drew a pension of any kind. She was fiercely independent and did not approve of anyone retiring. After Cliff died she took over mowing her lawns as well as attending the gardens, which were immaculate.
BURI: CEME Northern Suburbs Cemetery

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