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