Looking back at Bentley

Thomas Hales celebrated his 90th birthday with wife Violet and great-grandson Noah (9).
Thomas Hales celebrated his 90th birthday with wife Violet and great-grandson Noah (9).

The land beyond their Boundary Road house was a maze of sand tracks then, while Technology Park was just a pine plantation.

‘I don’t know how people found their way back home,’ Mr Hales said.

‘There were a lot of Italian immigrants after World War II who lived out there.

‘Population growth has been a big change. The houses used to be spread out and now these new places that go up are so close together.’

Mr Hales said all of their original neighbours had either moved or died.

He said it was hard for them to build the house in 1952 because contractors were hard to come by after the war.

‘Back then, we were paying for the house at one pound a week and I was getting paid six pound three and four pence,’ he said.

Mr Hales met his wife at the Embassy ballroom at a party.

‘Back then you didn’t have nightclubs, you would go to the Anzac house or YMCA to meet people and have fun,’ he said.

‘There was no alcohol but there was a lot of dancing.’

Mr Hales turned 90 this month and said he had no plans to move.

‘The only way I’m leaving here is feet first in a box,’ he said.

When asked his secrets for reaching the milestone age of 90, Mr Hales said exercising and staying active played a part, but there was something more important.

‘A lot of people ask me that, and I tell them I lived to this age because I wake up in the morning, simple as that,’ he said.

Mr Hales joined the Royal Australian Air force from 1943 to 1946 during World War II as a flight mechanic.

‘The war was on and every young man wanted to be a super pilot, myself included,’ he said.

After the war, he worked as a draftsman and a manual arts teacher at Armadale Senior High School for 20 years.

Mr Hales said his party was the perfect excuse to have a big family reunion with relatives from all over Australia.

He turned 90 on November 13.

Mr and Mrs Hales will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary next month.