A good book is all you need

Reflecting over a life of words and wonder: Bookworm Peg Davey in her Eden home. Photo: Rachel Mounsey
Reflecting over a life of words and wonder: Bookworm Peg Davey in her Eden home. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

Growing up in the depression era, working as a telegram girl during WWII, ballroom dancing through the forties and moving to Eden during the timber industry boom you'd think Eden's Peg Davey should write a book.

However, instead of taking up the plume, Peg says she prefers the stories of others.

"It's always been that way," she says, "Ever since I can remember - which is a long way back," she laughs.

Sitting on her balcony overlooking Lake Curarlo, 89-year -old Peg begins to unravel stories of her childhood in Melbourne's leafy suburb of Malvern.

Amongst her memories of a cheeky childhood spent hiding up trees avoiding collecting the milk for her mother, she recalls a time when children were wild and adventurous and as free as birds.

"There was always heaps of children out on the street. We'd walk on tin can stilts and kick around the paper footy. We invented our own fun, if you had a piece of string and a piece of paper you could do anything."

"Sad," she adds, " You hardly see children out these days."

Although Peg hid up trees when it came to collecting the milk, there was one chore that would bring her out of hiding.

"I used to love going to the butchers."

It wasn't for the love of meat that would have 8-year-old Peg skipping down the street. It was for the love of words.

"They used to wrap the meat in newspaper," says Peg.

"There would be comics and all kinds of stuff written all over those pages. I'd read them all the way home and keep pouring over them until the next meat run."

Sadly for the avid reader, books were scarce in those days and children under fourteen weren't permitted in the library.

Peg had to suffice with the meat wrapping or the one reader she was given at school- which she says had to last the whole year.

The first novel she ever read was the classic 'Gone with the Wind.'

"It was the first book I took from the shelf when I was finally allowed in the library. It was about 1000 pages and I read it over and over again."

The sheer determination of the book's dark haired - green eyed protagonist Scarlett O'Hara is a character that has been an inspiration for Peg through out her life.

"Don't get me wrong," she says, sitting up right in her seat.

"I don't agree with everything about her, but she never gave up. She knew what she wanted and she was her own person."

Peg shifts her gaze to the dusky sky forming over the lake. "And that's who I've always been - my own person. You have to be it's a long life."

And an even better one with books- so it seems.