The year was 1932. The world was gripped by Depression and in New Zealand we were also reeling from a substantial earthquake that hit the Gisborne area. Our population was just a litter more than 1.5million, George Forbes our Prime Minister and we’d recently been buoyed by the All Blacks' Bledisloe Cup win.
Abroad, the Sydney Harbour bridge opened, and a young woman named Amelia Earhart did the unimaginable, by becoming the first woman to pilot a solo flight actors the transatlantic. Herbert Hoover held office as the President of the United States, while Joseph Stalin was in power as the Soviet General Secretary.
We were in the grips of the Great Depression – yet, this very same year the first copy of The New Zealand Woman’s Weekly rolled off the presses.
This issue, the Weekly celebrate our milestone 85th birthday with a very special, supersized and glossy magazine, on sale until October 22. In it we celebrate the lives of many New Zealand women, including 11 special Kiwis who were born that very same year, 1932.
Each of these women have more than a story or two to tell, as well as the life lessons and pieces of wisdom they’ve picked up along the way that we could all learn something from.
Here is the story of Maureen Booth, aged 85 years.
“I married when I was 23, the year before I came out on the boat from the UK. I met my Gerard through his mother, actually!
She set us up because she wanted him to stay at home for a little longer. On our first date, he turned up three hours late because he was shanghaied by a pregnant lady who’d missed the bus in terrible snow, so he walked her home. By the time he got to me, he had about three inches of snow on his head. Luckily, he had a lot of charm!
I was engaged to him twice – I broke up with him on my 21st birthday. It wasn’t for anyone else, but I’d met his friends’ pregnant wives and that wasn’t for me just then. But later, he came to me and told me he was emigrating to New Zealand, and would I go with him.
‘I thought you might like an adventure,’ he said. ‘Where’s the ring?’ I said. Turns out someone had stolen it. This is how we were, back and forth!
We were married for about 30 years and had four children, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and have another one on the way.
Gerard died at 56, so I was 53 when I was left by myself. He’d had complications with his heart and then discovered he had cancer of the oesophagus. He never really got over that.
I’ve been on my own ever since. I’ve never had a chance to have a bite at the apple again, I don’t know why. How some unattractive women manage to get married two or three times, I don’t know! I miss having someone here but I’m used to it now.
Sometimes I don’t always keep my mouth shut, but I say it as it is! You’ve got to keep a sense of humour.
And you’ve got to accept what comes. I’ve got arthritis and I’ve had to give up tenpin bowling and darts, but there’s always a silver lining because I feel I’m not as bad as others. I’ve learned there are things you can’t change and I’ve learned to be a bit more patient.
Sometimes I thank God I feel as good as I do at 85. Other times – when I’m getting out of bed and I’ve got to sit up and loosen up – I look at my hair, and it’s everywhere, and I’ve got no teeth in and I think, ‘Oh God, why am I here?!’“
For more stories like Maureen’s, be sure to pick up your special issue of the Weekly, on sale now.
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