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Phyllis flies to 90

Wednesday, 9th January, 2019

Phyllis Files with (from left) Jaimon Files-Briffa, Kynan Darby, Ember Files-Briffa and Aurelia Darby. PICTURE: Callum Marshall Phyllis Files with (from left) Jaimon Files-Briffa, Kynan Darby, Ember Files-Briffa and Aurelia Darby. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

Phyllis Files celebrated her 90th birthday with friends and family yesterday as she recalled memories of growing up in Broken Hill, of working on the family property in Hazel Dell as an adult, and a childhood that highlighted plenty of athletic ability and promise.

In her early years, she remembered how the family would wait on individuals in horse and cart who would sell things like ice blocks and rabbits. 

“The grocer would call once a week for an order and would deliver it as well,” she said.

“At Christmas time he always gave his clients a gift of some sort like a kettle or half a dozen glasses.

“I also remember gas lighting being attached to your houses probably one room at a time if you could afford it.”

Recounting her time at Broken Hill High School, Phyllis looked back fondly at a youth dedicated to athletics.

“I was very fond of athletics and have always been very sporty,” she said.

“I was the juvenile, then the junior, then the senior champion girl of the high school in athletics.

“When they changed the distance from yards to metres my one hundred yard record, about 11.9 seconds, still hadn’t been broken. Now it’ll never be broken.

“Also, one time during a school picnic we had a race between the girl champion and the boy champion and I beat him.

“After I’d left school at the age of seventeen I was training with a couple of males. We had the same trainer here in Broken Hill, and I went to Whyalla and won a ladies race there.

“I was also invited to Adelaide for a carnival they had at the end of January but I had prior arrangements and I couldn’t go. After that, that was about the end of it for me.

“When I was at school I felt perhaps I’d missed out because it was the war years and there were no inter-school competitions. 

“I felt that if there had been, perhaps my athletic career might have gone further because other people would have noticed me.

“But in those days there weren’t the opportunities that there are today to go forward in things like that.”

Following the completion of a business course at the local Technical College and several jobs that included mail receiver and dispatcher at the post office, Phyllis moved to a family property in Hazel Dell with her husband.

“I got married and went to live out at Hazel Dell, halfway between Menindee and Ivanhoe,” she said.

“It was a family property and we grazed sheep. My husband was the eighth child of twelve children, hence all the relations that have come to my 90th party.

“We went there to manage the property and we were there for many years. I had two children when I went there, and two girls and two boys while I was there. When we retired we came back to Broken Hill.”

Having been at the Con Crowley Village for almost 20 years, Phyllis maintained an active lifestyle within the community.

The captain of the Demo Ladies Indoor Bowls Team, a player in the ladies and mixed Henselite groups, a volunteer at the Regional Art Gallery, a PROBUS member for over 20 years and part of the Village’s Social Committee, has helped highlight her engagement with the local community.

That was further highlighted during the weekend just past, with son Kym Files mentioning that her birthday function at Thyme was attended by about 160 people.

“She’s known for her honesty and friendliness,” he said, “for everyone, not just for family.”

“It’s been a wonderful occasion,” said Phyllis. “I’ve got a very caring family and I’m very grateful for that.

“I’ve had numerous friends and relations from all over come here, and if everybody feels like I do at ninety that would be great.”

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