Saturday, March 1, 2014

Yes I would!

Mr. Joseph Gunterman - Centenarian Extraordinaire

















I like taking notes when talking to my elders because there’s so much to learn from them. 

Insights they provide about life are too important for this middle-aged man student of life to miss. I’m an old-man in training wanting to be trained well.

These opportunities are even more golden when I’m talking to a centenarian. Imagine listening to them talk about their 100 years plus of life experiences. I want to soak up their sage wisdom about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying their best living a good and honest life.

Two weeks ago I had such a golden opportunity.  I interviewed Mr. Joseph Gunterman, a young gentleman who is less than three months shy of his 101st birthday. 

Today I’ll share my interview of Mr. Gunterman with you - the 20 questions I asked him and the answers he gave. Grab a chair along with paper and pen and start taking your notes. This fascinating interview will appear here for the entire month of March 2014.

Below are the 20 questions I asked presented in bold-type.  Mr. Gunterman’s answers are presented in italicized type.

#1 – When and where were you born?  

I was born on May 21, 1913 on a ranch owned by my great uncle just outside the town limits of Calexico, California.

#2 – I have a saying that every man who looks in a mirror sees a 16-year-old kid.  What do you recall when you were one?

I was in high school in Santa Barbara, California and had interests in literature and writing.  I wasn’t very interested in mechanics or science subjects.

I was what can best be described as “on the loose” at this point in my life.  I enjoyed attending high school football games but never played it.

#3 – Do you see a 16-year-old kid now when looking in a mirror?

No I do not see a 16-year old kid when looking in a mirror at this point of my life.

#4 – As the self-appointed ambassador of all middle-aged men around the world, I’ve defined a middle-aged man as someone between the age of 45 and 70 years?  What do you recall about your life when you were 45 years young?

I still had many interests during this point of my life but was still a “loose type” except now I had a family to support. 

I was still looking for that good job to support my family but did whatever work I could find.  I worked as a carpenter, bee-keeper and dairy worker but none of these jobs were what I wanted to do.

I eventually was able to get a part-time job as a newspaper reporter for a local newspaper and this allowed me to apply my interests in writing.  I worked for the Chico Enterprise during this time when we lived in Gridley, California.

#5 – What you recall about your life when you turned age 70?  Did you consider yourself an old man then?

I was a full-time lobbyist for a nonprofit organization and politically active in causes near and dear to me. 

I did not consider myself an old man when I turned age 70.  I was still hunting for a good job that interested me. 

In my late 70’s, I volunteered with other like-minded people digging a new trail in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  I did this for seven summers and enjoyed it very much. 

#6 – When you were a young man, did it ever dawn on you that you’d live to be 100 years young?

No, it never dawned on me nor did I even think or plan for it.  The common expectation then was that people in general lived to be in their 70’s and that’s how long I thought I might live.

#7 – What did you do on your 100th birthday?

I didn’t do anything special.  It was just another normal and quiet day.  I didn’t even have a birthday cake.

#8 – I know you recently lost your wife who lived to a ripe age of 98 years and I extend my sincere condolences to you and your family.  How many years were you married?

We were married 71 years.

Joe and Emma were married for 
71 years!  Emma passed away earlier
 this year.  She was 98 years young!

#9 – What did you and your wife do to solve conflicts between you that periodically arose in married life?

Feelings change over the years so it’s important to constantly adjust for differences between you and your spouse.

#10 – How much time do you spend nowadays reflecting back on the 100 years of life you’ve lived?

I spend very little time reflecting back on my life but I am much occupied with now and today.

#11 – Do you spend much time pondering your death and, if so, what thoughts swarm in your mind?

What’s ahead for me is largely unknown but essentially downhill.  I don’t plan on dying but most likely it will happen.

I don’t spend much time pondering it because my death is inevitable so I just sit and wait. I do sleep a lot.

#12 – Many people spend a tremendous amount of time exercising and eating healthy in their efforts to age gracefully.  In general, what was your exercise program for most of your life?

I really didn’t have a formal exercise program but I did manual labor work to support my family. I enjoy walking and did lots of it.   It’s good exercise and saves on gasoline pollution.


Mr. Gunterman's favorite exercise - simple walking!
#13 – How would you describe the foods you ate most of your life?  How was your appetite?

As a young boy, I was overweight and called fatso by other kids.  I’ve always had a good appetite and eaten good foods.  My mother was a good cook.

For most of my adult life, I tended to avoid meat and ate more like a vegetarian.  I became convinced that vegetables were better for me than meat.  I also felt sympathy towards animals.  Economics also entered into my decision. 

#14 – Did you and/or do you drink alcoholic beverages now?

I enjoy a glass of wine now and then.  I have been more of a now and then drinker of alcoholic beverages of beer and wine.  I never got into anything else.

#15 – What words of wisdom do you have to share with the middle-aged men of the world in their attempts to live a good and honest life?

Keep it up.

#16 – What hobbies and other interests have you had in your long life? 

In the early years of my adulthood I anticipated getting into literature and writing but wasn’t able to do so.  I assumed that I would be writing novels.  The closest I got as an author was writing a children’s book. 

I was and am a pacifist.  When the draft came for World War II, my number was 14.  I became a formal conscientious objector.

#17 – Until what ages did your father and mother live? 

I can’t specifically recall right now but know both my father and mother lived until their 70’s.

#18 – Do you take any prescription medicine?

I do not take any prescription medicine that I’m aware of. 

#19 – You and all the other 100-year young men are breaking our Social Security System.  What do you think about that statement?

Bring me the money.

#20 – If you had to do it all over again, would you want to live to be 100 years young?

Yes I would!

After the interview, this middle-aged man had to test Mr. Gunterman's old man strength in a friendly arm-wrestling match.

A friendly middle-aged man versus old man 
arm-wrestling challenge two seconds into the match.

Thank you - Mr. Gunterman - for being so kind to grant me this interview. Your answers have confirmed I want to be like you and live to be 100-years young.

Yes I would!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

13 comments:

Anonymous said...



Two things that are a little disappointing as you age: 1. Your shoulders strain easier. 2. They take much longer to heal. I strained my right shoulder about a month ago doing 6 rep front chest pulls with a chest expander. I hadn’t expected I could strain my shoulders using bands. After all, they are used for rehab. It’s improving, but I still have some residual soreness. I stopped my shoulder work to hasten the healing. So far so good, but it’s taking a bit of time.

I learned if you are an old man, maybe even a younger man, you can strain your shoulders if you are pulling with low reps (6 or less) and might make a costly mistake with your form. Because of that, my advice to men over 60 working out with bands on shoulder exercises is to avoid using low reps on shoulder work. 8 and above should be fine. 10-15 might be best. That’s just based on my experience. Your experience may differ, but working out safely should be both our goals. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree regarding shoulder injuries. Pullups and dips were easy to do when I was younger. Now at 66 they will really injure the rotator cuffs. I read that the rotator cuffs just seem to deteriorate with age. It makes it difficult to find exercises that do not injure them.

pierini said...

Well I suppose I should have asked Mr. Gunterman if he had any tips on keeping shoulders healthy because his are over 100 years young.

Judging by how he man-handled me during our friendly arm-wrestling match, I judge his shoulders are fine. Besides there were more important questions I wanted to ask him.

Anonymous said...

A persons genes determine how long they will live.I have met many older people who did not do any formal exercise and whose diets by modern standards are attrocious. One thing they have told me is not to retire.

Anonymous said...

Agree with last comment. Do not retire from work. Too often there is nothing left for a person. The decline and inevitable death follow

tommy helms said...

I gotta get me a cowboy hat like that

marilyhn said...

My grandfather was always amazing man. He taught me to build a bird house, a tree house and how to survive camping. Those were the good ole days. Later on in life my two sons and i would love to go and visit with my two grandparents and listen to the adventures they have ventured through their lives. These are the stories as a granddaughter I will never forget. My grandfather is an amazing man!

Anonymous said...

So we can be certain that people reaching the age of 100 have not taken steroids.

Anonymous said...

All diseases are multi-factorial whixh means many factors such as Genes, diet, lifstyle and environment all play a role. This is why some have mild symptoms and others have fatal complications from the same disease.. If you are born with good genes-- with high quality arteries -- you will live longer. Its the same with cars. Arteries do the same job as a high pressure brake system or fuel injection system in a car . Carry high pressure fluid from one part (the heart to the organs ) to where it is needed. Better the quality of the hose the longer it lasts.

Anonymous said...

I don’t think long duration, intensive cardio is worth the risk. I think, as the old saying has it, moderation in all things is best. You may not. You may be like I was once and would prefer to die on the run rather than expire in a rocking chair.

Anonymous said...

You cannot go wrong working out when you reach the seventh decade of your life. It might help you avoid serious health conditions that will sap the strength of many and ruin the quality of their lives. It will give you more vitality and decrease depression. When many of your peers see their lives diminishing, their independence waning, their bodies weakening, you will stand a better chance of still being strong, happy, and independent. Never give up.

Anonymous said...

1. No matter how fit you are when you get older a fall can end your life.

2. Balance training is imperative for older men. It could save their lives or preserve their independence.

Falls that do not kill seniors can debilitate them to the point they require assistance to manage their basic daily needs. A broken hip from a fall can debilitate a senior and kill him shortly after the injury.

“Hip fractures kill. The 30-day mortality rate after hip fracture is about 9 percent. It rises to 17 percent if the patient already has an acute medical problem. If a patient has heart failure while being treated for a hip fracture, the 30-day mortality increases to 65 percent. And if a patient has pneumonia after a hip fracture, the 30-day mortality increases to 43 percent.”

Anonymous said...

The only exercise I take is walking behind the coffins of friends who took exercise.
-----Peter O'toole