WARNER Beach’s Dot Hope (99) will celebrate her 100th birthday this Sunday, 2 September in the company of all those who adore and celebrate her existence.
Looking back over the years and sharing the area’s growth, the matriarch, who heads five generations, indirectly shared her secret to longevity.
Dot was born and schooled in Linden, Johannesburg. She met and married Tom Hope in 1943 during the Second World War. Ten days after marrying Tom, he left to fight in the war and only returned some three years later. In 1958 Dot moved to the North Coast when her only daughter, Gail was three-years-old. In 1960 she moved to the South Coast where she has lived in the same home, in the heart of Warner Beach, all these years.
Dot had one daughter Gail, who went on to have one daughter, who then had one daughter, who proceeded to have two daughters. The five generation family indeed carries a strong female gene.
“When I first moved into this home in Warner Beach, there were only another five homes in the area,” recalled Dot. “Kingsway was the main road. There was no freeway and Almond Road was the only road leading inland. All the roads and lanes were tyre track dust roads and there was bush as far as the eye could see.”
The soon-to-be centenarian reminisced back to when Kingsway catered for all the small community’s needs. “There was the town hall, the chemist, Periwinkle dress store, the church and post office,” she said.
Dot recalled her past neighbours, whose surnames are now the names of roads in Warners.
“Mrs Murray, Mrs Veary and Mrs Savoury were my neighbours and they lived where the respective roads are now,” she said. “Mr Almond owned a great lot of small holdings along Almond Road.” Gail recalled how she would walk the dogs to the smallholdings and collect cow dung paddies for her mother’s garden. This could be the secret to the enchanted garden in which Dot spent and continues to spend much of her time, nurturing her plants to grow.
Dot explained how meat and milk was delivered to the home, and a grocer that stocked anything you’d need was just down the road.
“Life has completely changed from what it was,” said Dot. Much of what was the norm then, boggles the minds of today’s society.
When in Johannesburg and during the war, Dot was the supervisor of a block of flats. Once living in Warner Beach she worked at clothing boutique, Periwinkle (which later became Milady’s) for some 18 years.
Dot is a member of St Winifreds Methodist Church and after this Sunday’s service, she will celebrate her birthday at the church. The centenarian and her late husband were avid tennis players at Amanzimtoti Tennis Club, which was already established when they moved to the province, and she swears by keeping fit and healthy.
Sewing as avidly, she made Gail beautiful dresses by just having the styles described to her. She was also the Social Concerns of the Women’s Auxiliary (WA) group.
Dot is still an avid gardener and anyone who knows her will regale about the wonders of her garden. Those living nearby speak fondly of having started their own gardens after being inspired by her green fingers. Not being able to get down in the garden anymore still doesn’t stop her from keeping her mystical surrounding as enchanting as always.
After employing someone to do the physical work, she still sits alongside and teaches him how to pot, trim, what to cut back and where things should be placed. In the past Dot won prizes for her garden and flower pots in competitions hosted by the Upper South Coast Gardening Club, which nowadays has less members than what it used to.
“I started my garden from scratch,” said Dot. “When I arrived in Warner Beach I was welcomed to the area by my neighbours. They sent over a basket of tea and small plants to start my garden with. That was the custom then.”
Reflecting back on a life full of happiness, Dot remarked on the extreme changes that the world, or at least Warner Beach, has been through in 100 years. Nowadays there isn’t the safety that there was back then. Children, right from young, would walk to and fro from school, their friends’ homes and the beach and parents wouldn’t be concerned.
Through all her years of watching the world evolve, Dot does believe that much positive change has occurred.
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