LENA Taranto has come a long way in a long time.
The mother of three, who enjoyed a 100th birthday lunch for family and friends at a Mornington nursing home last week, was born in the town of Waltham, Massachusetts, US, on 7 February 1919.
When she was just four her Italian family pulled up stakes and returned to Italy. Then, in 1927, they again set out “for a better life”, this time migrating by ship to Australia.
Two more children were born in Melbourne with the family of seven running a fruit shop in Glenferrie Road, Malvern. Money was “very tight”.
While working there, Lena met the “love of her life”, Bartolo (Bob). They married in 1942 and had three children: Mary, Lawrence and Shirley.
Daughter Mary last week said her parents “worked very hard” in other friends’ and family members’ shops before taking over a fish shop in Ormond.
“This was a very happy time for Lena as everyone worked together employing many relatives,” Mary said.
After running the shop for some years the couple retired to the Mornington Peninsula where Bartolo enjoyed his favourite pastime of fishing and Lena “enjoyed cooking fish and chips for family and friends”.
Mary said her mother “always kept busy and active and enjoyed her daily walks while she was able” during her years at Australian Unity Retirement Living Services, Booker Avenue.
“She was very independent after Bob passed away in 2001.”