May learns you don't always have to say goodbye
By JENI FAULKNER
MAY PLATTS has seen all the sights the Coffs Coast has to offer and she argues our seaside city isn't quite what it used to be.
The spritely 91-year-old loves her city, but feels Coffs Harbour has changed for the worst since the early 1900s.
The growth experienced by Coffs Harbour in the past few decades has resulted in the city losing its 'soul'.
Yet despite these feelings, May is having to come to grips with saying farewell to the city she has lived in and loved her entire life.
After 31 years as a permanent resident at Park Beach Holiday and Caravan Park, May will move to Shell Harbour on Saturday to be closer to family.
"I wanted to spend the rest of my life in Coffs Harbour because this area means so much to me," May said.
"But ill health has meant I have to move and, despite all the changes over the years, I just love it here and I hate to leave."
Coffs Harbour's passion is deep within May and her devilish sense of humour provides the ultimate history lesson for anyone wondering how life used to be.
May was born in Coffs Harbour and married in Taree at the age of 24. She never moved too far away and when it came time for retirement there was only one place to settle.
Known to many for her community involvement, May has become a well known 'character' about town and also at the caravan park.
She has never failed to provide a good joke or two to anyone willing to listen, and back in 1931 May was a member of the world's first fully equipped women's competition surf lifesaving team.
In its 'heyday' May said the Jetty Foreshores was a beautiful place where the beach reached up to where the road was today and was disappointed at all the 'bush' that had been planted.
"There used to be this lovely flat, white sandy beach and now it has been spoilt," May said.
"I hate it now how you look up from the beach and there are high rises, but I am still a big lover of the Jetty. That is just so beautiful."
May's father, Bill Kerr, worked at the quarry near the Jetty as a 'powder monkey' building the breakwall in the early years, and he also worked on constructing the airforce base at Evans Head.
May has four children, eight grandchildren and 18 grandchildren, most of whom live in Sydney.
"I never wanted to leave this area because I love to live beside the ocean and I like to look out to the quarry and remember my father there," May said.
While May is sad at leaving, there are many who will be waving goodbye through tears on Saturday.
Stephen Solomon, from Park Beach Holiday and Caravan Park, said days without May would be quiet indeed.
"I first met May 12 years ago and she is a wonderful woman with thousands of stories about the area and the park," Stephen said.
"She has lived here the longest and I would say she is the only resident to have stayed here for such a long time. It is such a shame she is leaving."
Calling her the 'character' of the community, Stephen said May was the ultimate joker and an 'icon' of Coffs Harbour, although he admits she probably wouldn't like that.
May has made a pact with her friends at the caravan park to visit every year.