Shirley Margolin’s musical memories

Continuing our Moments in Time series, Shirley Margolin of Montefiore Randwick shares some significant memories and treasured mementoes.

Remembering the war

I was born in London in 1934. I was five years old when the war started. I was on a beach with my family, and I remember hearing the air raid siren. I ran off the beach with everyone else, but I left one of my plimsolls (sandshoes). I left it behind and that was it… that was the beginning of the war.

Moving to Australia

When we arrived in Australia in 1948, my older brother Paul was 21 and I was 14, with our 3 other siblings Allen, Jeffrey, and Loretta in between. Paul’s dream was that we would play as a quintet. I played piano and sang, he played the violin. We were all musical and went to the Conservatorium, before long we were playing together as the Shagrin Quintet.

We lived in Vaucluse, and my dad was one of the founders of South Head Synagogue – he was a very clever and careful man. We didn’t splurge. We didn’t waste anything. And, we raised money for charity with our concerts.

From family life to career 

I had no choice but to become financially independent. I had my children young, so they were doing their own thing. I worked for Estée Lauder at Mark Foy’s, which was a wonderful place. Putting on makeup was something we did to present ourselves the way people wanted to see us. You learned to put on your eye make-up and add some blusher –  “a girl’s best friend”.

Today it takes me about 10 minutes to get ready in the morning. I always say to myself no matter what, get up, cleanse properly, tone and moisturise and present yourself as well as you can, because if you look like a slob all day, you’ll behave like one!

Finding love at Montefiore

I had a gentleman friend Leslie, who came here to live at Monte. We had two-and-a-half years together until he passed away last year, and I miss him to this day. It was an old-age love. I met him when he was almost 90, there were 10 years between us, and he was the most beautiful man in my life… I couldn’t have found a nicer person.

We met over a game of bridge, believe it or not! One day at his home, he took me out to show me his pool. We looked at each other, he stood up and put his arms around me and said, “You’re just the girl I’ve been looking for.” I looked at him and thought “You’re just the man I’ve been looking for” and it was unbelievably beautiful.

As told to Lara Ritch.