What are you working on now? Are you writing letters and doing stuff?
No. I just react to calls for help and I haven’t been out on any blockade or anything lately but I used to be on call. I’ve had a very good run, really. I can’t complain and I’m still here. I’m mentioning to people I’m planning a bash for my hundredth birthday. I’ve got several years to go yet but I plan to have a bash for my hundredth birthday so stick around!
What kind of party is it going to be?
Just a gathering in one of the halls to celebrate the occasion and have some fun with it.
Do you have your harmonica?
I use it for birthdays. It’s a tremendous advantage. They know they’re not going to get cards and flowers but they have to put up with my tinkle over the phone. A while back I phoned across the Atlantic and I ended up speaking onto an answering machine in Britain with my little message. (plays Amazing Grace on the harmonica, followed by applause) I never grant a two hour recital and I can feel the relief in everybody.
If we have a sort of a commemoration thing, I don’t give them the Last Post but I have Taps. You’re Girl Guides, I guess, are you? You’d know Taps. (Plays Taps). I did that for Melda Buchanan’s memorial service and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place. And she always made me explain before I played it that I am a modest musician, because I’ve got so much to be modest about.
Do you play the harmonica or anything? Do you play the piano?
I used to play guitar just a little.
I have my grandfather’s old harmonica. I just keep it as a memory.
Don’t let your music go. In one respect a harmonica is better than a concert organ, because it’s always in my pocket when we go to put somebody’s ashes on the mountain or in the lake – you couldn’t take up a whole orchestra or anything but I give them the final toodle.
What is your vision for the future?
In Canada here? I don’t think any of the people in charge have any concept of living in a finite world. They just have to grab everything and exploit it and everything will be lovely. World overpopulation, of course, it goes up I forget how many thousand a day, and you kids are going to have to face all that.
Do you have any advice for us, for the younger generation?
Well, just put your foot down and stick to your guns because nothing bothers them more than to see people, particularly women, standing there when they want to wreck something.
What is the greatest responsibility of today’s youth?
I always say myself if the whole thing sinks or blows I know I tried. We seem to be on a collision course in many respects and I don’t even like to be heard voicing that opinion, but you can only exploit the world and multiply the population at a certain speed and you’re going to crash.
Is there anything else you wanted to share with us?
No, I wouldn’t initiate anything but the main thing is, just don’t sit and watch. When there’s something wrong, jump in and move.
We’d just like to thank you for taking the time and doing this interview with us.
I’m flattered. I wish I had something really illuminating to tell you. The main thing is not to be intimidated. Nothing that anybody gets from me is very learned, shall we say, but I’ve been very lucky. I’m a tough old broad and I’m still here.
What are you girls headed for? Have you got your careers lined up, what you’re going to be?
After I graduate I’m going to college and I want to become a dental hygienist.
That’s good. Hang onto your own teeth. Like I always tell my dentist, when I go through the pearly gates, I’ve got to be smiling at St. Peter with these teeth. I forget who it was said to me, “well, Ruth, even if you’re old you’ve still got teeth and your tits are firm”. (laughter) Whenever we exchange Christmas cards I always say I’ve still got all my teeth and my tits are hanging in pretty well. Maybe I’m not the ideal interview customer, eh?
What would you say is the importance of a sense of humour?
It’s all important. I can’t imagine not having one. Well, you can imagine, just look around amongst your acquaintances there and who’s the biggest bore you know.
It’s been a pleasure – thank you.
I wasn’t even aware of those great lights and the evidence is preserved for posterity.