“He dropped out and I dropped in” – Pioneer reflects on decades...

“He dropped out and I dropped in” – Pioneer reflects on decades spent in Armadale

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George Stevens with photograph of his late wife Irene. Photograph - Richard Polden.

George Stevens has lived a very full life, most of it only a stone’s throw away from the house where he was born in June 1929. 

The 90-year-old was one of 11 children (one died in childbirth) born to his parents William and Helen Stevens, who were married in Bedfordale in 1913 and later moved to Armadale in 1924. 

The Stevens family was one of the first families to move to Armadale where they raised their family on their 20-acre property in Seventh Road. 

Mr Stevens endured a three kilometre walk each day battling the easterly winds to get to Armadale Primary School, where he was taught by various teachers, including Mrs Dowling and Mr Pilbeam. 

His first job saw him work on a farm for 10 cents a week, which back then was known as a shilling, followed by another stint on a local farm for 30 cents a week where he would cut the grass for the cows and chickens. 

Mr Stevens said his next gig saw him work for a poultry farmer by the name of Carl Rodgers, who was a German Jew who saw the writing on the wall early and chose to escape Germany with his family in 1936. 

In 1948, at just 19 years old, Mr Stevens moved to Carnarvon where he worked at a banana plantation. 

“I liked the work but it was hard as it was all manual handling,” he said. 

“We dug all the pits out for the pumps and I made cement bricks for a house.” 

Prior to leaving Carnarvon, Mr Stevens met a woman named Irene Price who he knew he would like to see again, but when he went back she was no longer there. 

“Her father had died so she had moved to Bentley to take care of her mum,” Mr Stevens said. 

George and Irene Stevens on their wedding day in 1955.

“Eventually I did catch up with her and we got married in 1955. 

“When I came back to Perth I saw her ex-boyfriend and he said they couldn’t make a go of it as she is against my religion, so he dropped out and I dropped in.” 

The couple soon had three children, William, Russell and Kathryn who they raised at their Clarence Road property, the same home Mr Stevens lives in to this day. 

In order to provide for his family, Mr Stevens took up a job with Metro Buses, which he did for more than 40 years, only leaving in 1993 due to being diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

The Armadale stalwart also volunteered for a number of organisations including Armadale junior and senior football clubs, Meals on Wheels and the Kelmscott Show, earning him several life memberships and awards. 

Today, Mr Stevens has seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild and still visits the Armadale RSL sub-branch every Friday night for dinner. 

He used to enjoy slaving away in the kitchen, making jars of marmalade until a diagnosis of diabetes put a stop to that, but now he makes a few Christmas cakes a year for family and friends. 

His secret to a long life is simple – don’t smoke and exercise regularly, while his tip for a successful marriage is to always be honest with one another.