101 and counting for Elsie

By Jessica Cole

There’s a lot you can do with 101 people: overflow economy class in a Boeing 717-200, form half a dozen rugby teams, or have one unforgettable party.

Elsie with 61st great grandchild

Elsie with 61st great grandchild

And it was a definite cause for celebration when Dulcie Carol Gold, the 101st member of Elsie Rose McGregor’s extended family was welcomed into the world on Tuesday, June 14.

This came hot on the heels of the birth of the 100th member, Jack Andrew McGregor, just a week earlier.

Elsie and husband Doug started with eight children, four boys and four girls, who went on to produce 31 grandchildren, and then 62 great-grandchildren.

“There are definitely some common family traits and looks between all of us,” grandchild Cassie Streatfeild said.

“Many, but not all of us, have inherited Elsie’s good looks and cheeky disposition.”

Elsie and Doug’s eldest child, Donna, was 13 when the couple’s youngest child, Elizabeth, was born.

“Donna is 68 this year and her 61st great-grandchild was born on May 8, 2016, and her 101st was born on Tuesday,” Cassie said.

The careers of the 101 offspring span professional football, nursing, and many different trades, arguably making Elsie’s family “the jack of all trades”.

Elsie, now 92, was born in May 1924 in West Wyalong as one of 13 children, moving to Yass with husband Doug and her then three children in 1954.

Doug opened Hume Dry Cleaners, which was the family business for over 60 years, now being run by the couple’s daughter and son-in-law, who hope to retire at the end of the year.

“I think the family’s most memorable story was that when Elsie went to Yass hospital for her fifth child, it turned out to be twins,” Cassie said.

“Bringing home two babies instead of one was a huge shock to everyone, but she always remembers how supportive the community was with helping them get two-of-everything. My own twin girls are the only other set of twins among the 101 family members.”

Elsie’s strongest memory of when her children were young, is having to wash and hang out all the cloth nappies, with at least three of them still in nappies at any one time.

“Every Sunday Elsie would dress all eight kids up in their finest clothes and the 10 of them would pile into their six seater car for Sunday Mass,” she said.

“Even though there are so many of us, we still all try to get together for a McGregor family Christmas each year. We are all close and value family as much as Nan and Pa always have!

“She often says ‘I am very blessed to have so many beautiful and healthy children around’.”

While Elsie spent much of her time at home with the children, while Doug ran the family business, she always had time for fun and adventure.

“Nan is loving, gentle, and kind but was always a little bit cheeky,” Cassie said.

“We used to go for walks and steal apples from the side of the road. And she’d tell us stories about the witches that lived in the abandoned house down the street.”

“I also remember her always having cookies and lollies for us after school, which is a tradition she still has with her great-grandchildren today.”

While Elsie has been blessed to have so much life around her, it hasn’t always been fun and games.

Last year Doug passed away from a long term illness, and after 69 years of marriage their love for one another was as strong as they day they met.

“They spent every moment together and even refused to get reclining single armchairs in their old age because it would mean they couldn’t cuddle on the lounge,” Cassie explained.

Despite the loss, Elsie has remained a loving and devoted part of the lives of her extended family.

“With so many of us there’s always a family gathering: birthdays, Christmas, weddings, and many births and christenings,” she said.

“Nan and Pa’s door has always been open to all of us and has always been full of people, love, and laughter.

“She’s truly an amazing woman and not only is she responsible for all of us, but we’re so lucky to have her in our lives.”

(first printed in the Yass Tribune on June 17, 2016)