‘Thora just bubbles over with exuberance’
Thora Johnson cuts her 95th birthday cake with the assistance of Golden Age Senior Bowling League members Harold Barkhouse, left, and Doug Anthony. SUBMITTED
By Lyle Carter
Thora Johnson was “flabbergasted.”
A trip to the Bible Hill Bowlacade recently resulted in her being presented with a large birthday cake from her peers in the 24-team Golden Age Senior Bowling League.
“I was just thrilled,” said Johnson, 95. “I thought, ‘here I am, just one of the bowlers and everyone is being so good to me.’ Other bowlers kept coming over to me and wishing me a happy birthday.
“I was flabbergasted, I appreciated the kindness so very much.”
Johnson took up bowling about 20 years ago after her husband died. Today, she still plays twice a week.
“Bowling allows me to get out and talk to people,” she said. “People are so nice and continuously they offer me encouragement. I hear a lot of the time, ’I hope I’m still bowling when I’m your age.’ My bowling friends are a great group of people.”
Golden Age Bowling League president Harold Barkhouse offered high praise for Johnson, who is the league’s oldest participant.
“She is an amazing lady. She drives her car to bowling and she makes friends with everyone while here,” said Barkhouse. “Thora just bubbles over with exuberance. That’s why people are so attracted to her. She has a smile for everyone and adds so much to our league.”
Johnson is no slouch on the lanes, either
“Out of 120 bowlers Thora is not at the bottom of the heap,” Barkhouse said. “She has a good average for her age. Last year she averaged 75 and this year she is averaging 74.79. Thora continues to maintain her average and is well above bowlers who average around 58.
“I certainly enjoy Thora’s company and I can’t get over her longevity.”
Carl Dash, the captain of the Lilacs team which Johnson bowls for, made note of her attendance record.
“I have never known Thora to miss a day,“ said Dash, of South Branch. “We bowled together three years ago and this year its been the same thing. Thora makes every game.
“She bowled 95 on one occasion this year and in that game she had a strike and two spares. Thora just walks up there and nicely pushes the ball towards the pins.”
Bev Gunderson, of Valley, another teammate, said that she finds Johnson very inspiring.
“She comes all dressed up and looking sharp,” Gunderson said. “Thora is a fun-person to bowl with. There’s no question bowling is a lot more enjoyable with Thora around. She definitely inspires many of us.”
“And what a lovely lady,” added Truro Dora Gardner said. “Thora is such a lovable person. When she does well bowling, everyone cheers and claps, even the opposing team.”
Born in Stellarton, Johnson’s family moved to Truro before she started school.
“My father, Foster Dickson, was originally from Onslow,” she said. “My mother, Nina, was from Pictou.”
After completing grade 11 at Colchester County Academy, Johnson attended Success Business College in Truro where she took secretarial courses.
“I had quite a few different office jobs over the years. I worked at the library, Bob Eden’s Electrical Store on Inglis Street, Scotia Flour and Feed and, at one time, I worked in the office at the Truro Daily News.”
Johnson said she is sometimes asked about the biggest changes she sees these days compared to the 1920s and 1930s.
“We were accustomed to small grocery stores back when I was growing up,” Johnson said. “The big stores have moved in. You can now pretty well purchase anything right at your fingertips.”
Thora married Warren Johnson in 1943 and they raised two sons and one daughter. Warren died in 1990.
She has four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
TAGLINE: Lyle Carter’s column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.