At 90, Isobel has seen it all

October 11, 2017

Isobel Atwood, 90, holds a photo from when she was young.

ISOBEL Attwood has a few stories under her belt after chalking up 90 years.

There was the time she drove her family’s cattle 46 km from Bunbartha to Merrigum, perched atop her horse Brownie and with only the dog for company.

Or the time she wore a dress made from mosquito netting to her debutante ball – it was wartime, and there was no more lace.

Despite having countless experiences few of us can come close to, Isobel is not sure her story is one worth noting.

“I did what I had to do in life and that’s all,” she said.

Born in Leongatha in October 1927, Isobel was the only girl in the family, having four brothers.

Leaving school when she was 14, Isobel moved with her family to Bunbartha two years later.

Soon after, her father gifted her with her first horse, setting in motion a lifelong love of the animals.

Throughout the years, Isobel witnessed heartbreaking droughts and years of war.

She picked and packed sweetcorn at Thompson’s farm, milked the family herd day and night and worked at the Shepparton Cannery during the season.

“I remember when I first applied for a job at the cannery, the forelady walked down the line of us girls and stopped at me,” she recalls.

“‘How old are you?’ she asked me. When I answered with 17, she said, ‘No, you’re 18 and you smoke’.

“It was towards the end of the war in those days and cigarette rationing was still enforced.

“So when I told my employer I was 18 and a smoker, they gave me a ticket for 30 cigarettes. Which the forelady consistently took from me each payday.”

In 1948, she met her first husband at a dance.

A baker in Tallygaroopna, Malcolm Barrot was also a fine dancer and quickly swept Isobel off her feet.

Married a year later, the couple had eight years of happy marriage and two children – Pam and John – before Malcolm passed away in 1957.

For several years, Isobel gave driving lessons to locals to support her and her children and continued to work at the cannery for seasons.

It was there she met her second husband Jack Attwood in 1973.

In addition to calling bingo at the seniors club, Isobel is perhaps best known in Kyabram for her tireless service to Uncle Bob’s Club, selling raffle tickets through rain, hail or shine on Kyabram thoroughfares.

With 90 years, two children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, Isobel is well-equipped to share some wisdom.

“If there’s advice I would give to young people, it’d be to keep your body and your brain as active as you can, no matter your age,” she said.

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