Encyclopedia Mary shares 100 years of memories
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Mary Schultz is far younger than her 100 years. With a memory many would envy, a quick wit and broad knowledge of local history those who know her agree, “she’s as sharp as a tack – we call her the walking encyclopaedia.”
Mary, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends at Bolton Clarke’s Centaur Memorial community at Caloundra, grew up on farmland in Kenilworth and Landsborough and has spent most of her century living on the Sunshine Coast.
As a young girl, the school she attended in Kenilworth had just one teacher and a simple tennis court where Mary learnt to play the game she still loves.
“You couldn’t see a house from our school. They put up wide netting and levelled off a section of land in a paddock and we all learnt to play tennis. I played until I was in my 70’s,” she said.
In later years, her family moved to a 26-acre property in Landsborough.
Mary worked on the farm and spent her ‘spare time’ arranging church services, dances and concerts for the Australian troops who fought in World War II, which included her three older brothers Stan, Nigel and Charlie Tutt.
“There was no electricity and no running water. I was going to be a nurse, but food was the priority. I had to stay with my father - I fed the chooks and packed eggs and bananas.”
With 10,000 men stationed in the area, there was no shortage of things to do.
“The men were no trouble – I wanted to support our boys,” says Mary.
“Mum used to have the wood stove going and she’d make hot scones and strawberry jam, but it was runny because you weren’t allowed to have much sugar.”
One day the farm received a visit from some senior officers.
“They couldn’t understand why so many of the men volunteered to come and work on our farm or pick up food in the trucks.”
“Afterwards, they understood. As they left, they said to my mother that ‘not only did we have girls here’ – but scones and jam too!”
Mary and her friends still found time to have fun, and with the troops around there were plenty of activities to entertain.
“The picture show used to come up from Maroochydore even though there was no bridge across the creek at Currimundi. The girls and I were never short of an invitation!”
It’s no surprise that in 1946 Mary married military man Percy Reynolds at Landsborough Methodist Church. She was 26-years-old.
“You couldn’t buy material, so we ordered my wedding dress from Melbourne. It took 6 months to arrive.”
“One of my bridesmaids wore a dress made from blue curtain material. My other bridesmaid - all she could get was a white debutante dress, and she was worried about wearing white at my wedding, but we bought some blue netting to dress it up.”
They managed to find a car to take them to the church and got creative with food and decorations.
“Mum gave eggs to a local café and we had sandwiches and homemade cakes for tea, and my brother Charlie and his mate went up the creek and cut down palm trees. They took them to the supper room under the hall and placed them so the palms met at the top. I think now if you had all these palms it would cost you a lot of money!”
Travel was difficult, so the newlyweds took their honeymoon locally.
“We honeymooned in Caloundra because it was so hard to get anywhere in those days!” Mary said.
Mary is blessed with a big family, including a great-grandson in the Air Force, of whom she is exceedingly proud. Her support of servicemen and their families has been recognised by both RSL Queensland and Legacy.
At the 2005 Victory Ball she was honoured by then Governor of Queensland Quentin Bryce for her community service efforts. Over the years these have included work in the local Senior Citizens Centre, Country Women’s Association, Red Cross and gardening club.
She came to be at Centaur Memorial after experiencing a fall shortly after renovations to her house had been completed.
“It’s wonderful here. It’s very nice, everyone is lovely,” she says.
For her birthday, Mary enjoyed a double celebration - a private reception with her extended family and public frivolities put on by the Centaur community complete with dance performances from Sunshine Dance Centre students, a big cake and lots of presents.
Resplendent in not one but two tiaras, the guest of honour sat at the front of the room, her letters from the Queen, Governor-General and Prime Minister proudly on display.