From Pork To Onion Sandwiches: Secrets To Supersurvivors' Long Lives
Jeralean Talley is the world's oldest living person. She is 115 years old and inherited the title earlier this week from a 116-year-old Arkansas woman who died of pneumonia. She was preceded by a 117-year-old woman from Japan who died the week before. Death, it seems, is a hazard of being the oldest person in the world.
And in the case of those who outlast the rest and earn the title of most senior human, it is often a life well lived.
Jeralean Talley is a case in point. "I don't feel sick," she told a reporter from Time magazine, "I'm still trying to do the right thing, is all."
No article about a 115-year-old would be complete without revealing the secret to his or her success. For Talley, it's all about eating a lot of pork. She's a fan of hog's head cheese, which is a combination of pig trimmings suspended in gelatin.
Other supersurvivors have credited sushi, onion sandwiches, chocolate, cigars, and of course, clean living.
This reminds me of an interview I did almost a decade ago, when I was a reporter for KPCC, with the man who was, at the time, California's oldest surviving World War I veteran.
It is one of my favorite interviews, ever. He was charming. And hilarious. I had to shout all my questions because he really couldn't hear. I asked him if he had a cell phone and he pointed to the cordless landline phone sitting on its cradle next to his easy chair. I wasn't going to explain.
This was a man who marveled at crank engines on the first motorized cars, who built his three-story home by hand, and who saw an almost unfathomable amount of change in his lifetime. He had no need to know about my fancy-at-the-time flip phone or the iPod I thought was life changing.
So, of course I asked him about the secret to his success. He never suffered for want. Did everything for himself. And ...
He died a few months after our interview. But it was hard to feel sad. The inevitable caught up with George Johnson, but he had lived a full life.
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