The popular and long-standing member of the Slovenian Catholic community, Mr Kramar said his health had improved over the past three decades, to the point where he now participates in three dancing groups and loves nothing more than doing a polka or waltz.
“All of my life I was not fit,” he told The Southern Cross during an interview at his Fulham Gardens home where he has lived for the past 62 years.
“When I was about 12 years old they took me to the doctor because I was weak. From that time I was never all right until I was about 75 and then I started changing for the better, I had more energy.
“When I was about 80 I was feeling like other people my age. When I was 90 I was better than other people and now I am 100, I am dancing.
“It’s hard to believe!”
Mr Kramar, who turned 100 on September 24, was honoured at three different celebrations during his birthday month, also receiving a number of congratulatory messages including one from the Queen.
At the Church of the Holy Family, West Hindmarsh, Fr David Srumpf OFM celebrated a special Mass for Mr Kramar, acknowledging his deep faith, positive attitude and fun loving ways that have enriched the Slovenian community over many years. Mr Kramar was also a member of the Henley Beach parish when he first arrived in Adelaide.
Other birthday activities included a morning tea at the Slovenian Club, with family and friends gathering for an evening party at the Croatian Club.
On this occasion Mr Kramar was able to indulge one of his favourite hobbies by showing off his moves on the dance floor. Fit and agile for his 100 years, he admitted he is “doing all right for my age”.
Another passion is gardening and he still tends to the grapevines, fruit trees and vegetables on his large block of land, although he has conceded to getting someone in to mow his lawn.
Fiercely independent, he still lives in his home and only started receiving some help with his shopping and cleaning three years ago. He was driving until the age of 95, deciding to voluntarily hand in his licence when he felt he was no longer safe on the roads.
Born in Istria, which was under Italian rule at the time, Mr Kramar said life there was very hard. He served in the Italian army in World War II and described the terrible food shortages and the constant feeling of starvation. After the war he spent a few years in Ljubljana, then Trieste in Italy, before he and wife Milka (who passed away in 1996) decided to start a new life in Australia.
“We arrived in Bonegilla (migrant hostel) in Victoria in January 1954 and it was so hot… I said we will burn here! But after that I was happy because I have got a lot of arthritis and the hot weather is the best medicine.”
Moving to South Australia, Mr Kramar worked at the saw mill in Nangwarry in the South East, before taking up a job at the Onkaparinga mill in Lobethal. He eventually transferred to the company’s mill on South Road, Thebarton.
Reflecting on the many changes in the world during his lifetime, Mr Kramar said one of the most memorable was seeing his first aeroplane at the age of 20, and recalled how they used to wind up the gramophone by hand so they could listen to music.
“Now there are streaming services, we have computers, the internet, Facebook,” he quipped.
There have also been many constants in his life – the Slovenian church, the Slovenian Club, the Croatian Club, his love of gardening and dancing and his Catholic faith – but he said there was no “secret” for his long life.
“It is a gift from God,” he said.
“You don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I have a lots of good friends and I have had a very good life.”
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