Welcome Bloggers to Live to 100 and Beyond

We invite you to celebrate your favorite centenarian by submitting photos and short stories or bios. Please email to adler@ncap100s.org.

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"People have been fascinated by longevity ever since learning of Ponce de Leon’s search in Florida, five centuries ago, for the fountain of youth. In the twentieth century, the search for longevity, and the good health that makes it possible, had been enhanced by discoveries such as antibiotics and other lifesaving drugs, heroic medical interven­tions, which included organ transplants, heart pacemakers and other life-prolonging devices, the emergence of preventive medicine, and a new focus on wellness. On an individual level, people were realizing that, to an ever-increasing extent, they were able to influence life-style factors that could lead to a healthier and longer life—perhaps even a life of 100 years or more." (Opening paragraph from "Centenarians, The Bonus Years," by Lynn Peters Adler, Health Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1995)

Longevity itself is one of the greatest advances of the 20th century, adding approximately 30 years to the average life span. Now, in the 21st century, with the advent of even greater medical advances and the promise shown by stem cell and genetic breakthroughs, the chances for an even greater increase in longevity seems possible.

Active centenarians are our role models. They are helping to redefine aging in new and inspirational ways.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Centenarian Florence Tuckman

Karen Nichols introduces us to her extraordinary grandmother, Florence Tuckman.

Florence Tuckman was born on January 31, 1903. In that year, Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was President and the United States had a population of 80 million people. There were only 45 stars on our flag and federal spending was $520 Million. Today, Barack Obama is President and the United States has grown into a nation of 300 million people with an annual budget of $2.5 trillion! Florence has lived through 19 presidents in her lifetime. Women didn’t even get the opportunity to vote until 1920.

Florence’s parents were Harry and Teresa. They were of Armenian decent; their families immigrated to the United States in 1895. In those days a transatlantic passage in steerage cost $10.00 per person, and immigrants were entering the country at a rate of a million per year. It’s no wonder only 1 in 10 could read and write. Harry and Teresa married in 1900 and settled in Philadelphia, PA. Florence was the second of their four children.

America in 1903, the year Florence was born, was a very different place than it is today. Back then, only 14% of homes had bathtubs. Public bathhouses were the main means of bathing. Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo! Only 8% of households had a telephone. There was no income tax! And there were no movie stars either - movies had not been invented yet.

Here are a few other facts about life in those good old days:

• The first movie with a plot was Thomas Edison’s Great Train Robbery.
• The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
• 8% of homes had telephones and a three minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.
• The first World Series took place in Boston with the Red Sox and Pittsburgh. The Red Sox won.
• The Wright Brothers flew their gasoline powered “flyer I”.
• Porcelain is first used for filing teeth cavities.
• Harley Davidson and Ford Motor Company were incorporated.
• Life expectancy was 47.
• More than 95 % of all births were at home, and Florence was no exception.
• The average wage was 22 cents/hour.
• And financially: The average worker earned between $ 13/week and put in about 60 hours!
A dentist earned $ 2500.00/year.

Homes had no air conditioning back in 1903, so summers were extremely hot. To cool off, the Aramian family spent their time in Atlantic City. It is one of Florence’s most memorable times of her life. Back home, they attended dances at either the Armenian Church or entertained at home, where they boasted one of the first hand-cranked Victrolas on the market.

Florence married Leo Tuckman in 1936 and moved to California where she currently resides. She has a daughter Joyce, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Florence has seen so many changes in her lifetime: electricity, refrigerators, microwaves, radio, television, movies, polio vaccine, penicillin, airplanes, automobiles, six major wars, computers, and the internet. It’s amazing she wasn’t around for bookbinding! Is there anything out there older than Florence? Rest assured. The bristle cone pine trees are the oldest living things at 4000 years and counting. A new challenge for Florence!

Yes, life has dramatically changed in the last 108 years, but to Florence some things remain the same. She is always properly dressed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. She has never worn a pair of pants in her life! Florence still enjoys an active social life. Every Sunday, children visit grandma and play cards!

Photo: Florence and her family celebrating her 106th birthday in 2009.

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ABC Barbara Walters Special - Aging & Longevity

The ABC Barbara Walters Special on longevity aired in April of 2008. I was asked two years ago to participate in this project and it was a wonderful, exhilarating experience. It was both an honor and a privilege to work with Ms. Walters and the talented and caring team of professionals on her staff. I invite you to read the "Behind the Scene" story on our website. Here's the link: http://www.adlercentenarians.org/ABCWalters_special.htm
Posts & comments about the special and the participating centenarians follow. Please scroll down.