George and Ira Gershwin, when composing “Porgy and Bess,” gave octogenarians hope when they wrote:

“Methus’lah lived nine hundred years
But who calls dat livin’
When no gal will give in
To no man what’s nine hundred years.”

Well, I wonder how gals feel about 100-year-old dudes?

I just read Teddy Amenabar’s article in the Washington Post that says there’s a lot of centenarians (593,000, in fact) around the world. And by 2050, he says, there will be 3.7 million.

So that’s why they’re building those new apartments down on Temple and Front streets. Smart move.

How does this happen? Genes and diet, he says.


My mother’s people, the Conlons, lived deeply into their 90s. The Conlons came from Ireland, where a diet of lamb, potatoes and whiskey was on the menu.

Amenabar’s article gave us some examples, mostly dead people we can’t verify, like Sister Andre, a French Catholic nun who, at the time, was the oldest living person. She died recently at 118.

I presume the good sister lived most of her life in a convent. I grew up with nuns in a convent just across the street. On occasion, I ate lunch with them.

Mostly the convent nuns ate soup, good soup, chicken noodle, pea soup, and something called gumbo that was made by their southern Black cook.

I learned this when I was in high school, when I asked what gumbo was. The next night, in the middle of one of St. Louis’ famous heat spells, my mother made gumbo for me. Now I know why mom lived to 93.

Amenabar wrote about Maria Branyas Morera, a 115-year-old Spanish woman born in America.


OK, I’m betting that Maria grew up on good Mexican food like tamales, enchiladas, tostadas and tacos, that I lived on in my early career, and look at me.

I speak here about Jose, our L.A. gardener who, on the side ran Levis to Guatemala in the middle of one of their revolutions.

Jose, who was a healthy 85-year-old at that time, bragged about eating 16 tacos a day. I know he was still taking those Levis down to Guatemala in his bullet holed van when we left for Maine, nine years later. There you go.

Amenabar names 115-year-old Fusa Tatsumi, who lives in Osaka, Japan.

Fusa reminds me of the very old monks who, as I’ve written about many times, lived in their garden temple down the street from me.

These very old guys taught me how to cut up vegetables and introduced me to soba noodles and tea. I learned to love Japanese food and still do.


That’s why I had to wait in line with so many Osaka folks in Japanese Soba cafes. I’m just saying.

That was 71 years ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised to know they’re still alive. I know I am.

I’m on my way, dragging my feet all the way, to that number of centenarians, so pass the tamales, guacamole and sushi. Sayonara.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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