At 103, Charlton resident Rita Kenny has plenty of memories to reflect on.
And there will soon be one more special highlight for the town’s oldest citizen to add to her already vast collection.
Come Easter Sunday, all being well, Mrs Kenny will take pride of place leading the grand parade celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charlton’s settlement.
As the event beckons, Mrs Kenny walked down memory lane as she looked at a photo of one of her daughters, Mary, pictured in the family business in High Street, Charlton.
“This photo was taken about 40 years ago, when Charlton supported four draperies” said Anne Kenny, who is Mary’s twin sister and her mother’s full-time carer.
Rita and Maurice Kenny bought what was previously Dillon’s Drapery (at the site where the Charlton Pharmacy now operates) in 1950.
They lived with their children – Peter, Paul, Walter, Sarita, Mary and Anne – in the residence above and behind the business, where Mrs Kenny was mainly involved with garment alterations.
Kenny’s Drapery operated until 1974.
As the reminiscing unfolded, Anne brought out a sepia photo of the family pictured standing in water at the shop during the big flood of 1956.
Sadly, more than half a century later, Mrs Kenny again experienced the trauma of floods, only this time her home was damaged beyond repair about two years ago.
The upheaval of losing a home and having to start again from scratch is no mean feat when you’re 101.
But with the support of Anne and her wider family, Mrs Kenny is now comfortably resettled in her new abode.
Charlton 150th anniversary committee president Trevor McGurk suggested the 2013 “Back To” event would have significant meaning, particularly in view of the devastation caused by the 2010-11 floods.
“For many people coming back to Charlton at Easter, this really will be a time of celebration,” Mr McGurk said.
“So many people came to lend a hand immediately after the flood, when the town was in a bad way.
“Now, two years on, there are many positives to be seen.
“Recent news about the hospital rebuilding, the planned development of the Charlton Park sporting complex, the refurbishment of the Rex Theatre, the reopening of the Golden Grains Museum – this is the spirit of endeavour that has sustained Charlton throughout the highs and lows of its 150 years of settlement and these are the qualities we cherish.”
Starting on Thursday, March 28, and continuing until Monday, April 1, the “Back To” begins with an evening book launch.
Registration will be held on the Friday, followed by activities including school bus route tours, reunions, entertainment and tea on the Charlton Park lawns and an ecumenical church service on the Sunday morning.
The grand parade at 3pm on the Sunday will be followed by street performers and alfresco dining, before a screening of The Sapphires at The Rex theatre.
The party continues on the Monday, with the Lions Easter Market and a special harness racing meeting in the afternoon.
For more information about Charlton’s 150th anniversary “Back To”, phone Trevor McGurk on 0419 335 900 or Carolyn Olive on 0418 361 971.
Details are also available online at www.facebook.com/pages/Charlton-150th-Anniversary-Back- To-2013 or the Charlton website www.charlton.vic.au