Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

August 7, 2013

Grandma

I went to a special birthday party over the weekend.

My grandmother, Eva Reader, turned 103.

It was an interesting party. After all, I’ve never met, yet alone known, a 103-year-old before.

Too often, people my grandmother’s age are not as mentally sharp as they once were, even though their bodies have managed to hang on.

Not so with Grandma.

Grandma is sharp.

She loves to recite poetry, reads constantly and hasn’t voted for a Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. (She didn’t like the New Deal, but thought it was high time to get rid of Prohibition.)

She is also the oldest resident at the Knox County Nursing Home.

Whenever I visit her, I’m struck by the fact that most of her fellow residents are a full generation younger. Before she was admitted to the home, I never considered nursing home to be multigenerational spots. Now I know.

She was born into a nation much different from today’s America:

The American flag had 46 stars — New Mexico, Arizona, Hawaii and Alaska hadn’t been admitted to the Union yet.

Like 95 percent of the babies born in 1910, she was delivered at home.

The average life expectancy in the United States was 47.

There were only 8,000 cars in the United States and only 144 miles of paved roads.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the United States had a bathtub.

That final point was brought home for me when I helped my grandmother clean out her basement a few years ago and came across a small galvanized wash tub.

Grandma explained that she heated the tub filled with water atop a wood stove to bathe my newborn father. Dad turns 82 this year.

She learned to cook on a woodstove, and was still cooking on one well into middle age.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Your new password: sur**nder Have you changed your passwords since the security flaw known as Heartbleed emerged? Have you made sure they're all long, alphanumeric and randomized? Did you use a unique one for every site -- every bank account, every e- mail address, every music-s

    April 17, 2014

  • Hillary leans on Bill, Obama Recently Hillary Clinton gave what appeared at first to be a rambling and unfocused answer when asked to name the proudest achievement of her four years as Secretary of State. The short version is, she doesn't have one. But Clinton's words make a lot

    April 17, 2014

  • If GOP lost culture war, liberals did, too The "culture wars" have been a feature of American politics for almost a century, but recently a number of commentators have declared their end. Conservatives have lost, swept aside by a wave of enthusiasm for marriage equality and sexualized mass cu

    April 17, 2014

  • Cable guys too slow with Internet upgrade Remember the good-old 1990s, when you could make a pot of coffee while waiting for the screeching dial-up modem to connect to the Internet at a leisurely 9.6 kilobits per second? Two decades later, the average American household's connection is 1,000

    April 16, 2014

  • A May Day fable SPRINGFIELD -- Growing up during the Cold War, May Day always was a bit ominous. On the evening news, we'd watch tanks, missiles and soldiers march by the reviewing stands in Moscow, Beijing and Havana where stone-faced Communist leaders would look

    April 16, 2014

  • Display it proudly Editor: Drive past the demolition site of the old Good Samaritan Hospital on North 12th Street in Mt. Vernon and you will see the Stars and Stripes proudly flying from the flag pole. The hospital has been reduced to a pile of debris, but Old Glory st

    April 16, 2014

  • Got raw milk ... and salmonella? A refresher course in the work of Louis Pasteur should be mandatory for advocates of so-called raw milk. For anyone who missed fourth-grade science, Pasteur discovered that heating milk for a very brief time killed E. coli, salmonella, listeria, camp

    April 16, 2014

  • Heartburn Tens of millions of Americans have been affected by the theft of their personal information in the digital age. In a recent major data breach at Target stores, numbers and names were taken from about 40 million customers, and many millions more suffe

    April 15, 2014

  • Hitting home I received an article today with a suggestion to use it in a column. This one really hit home to me because it was about the outrageous price increases in diabetic testing devices and supplies. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes several years ago.

    April 15, 2014

  • The cost of care This was a breakthrough week for health-care transparency. For the first time, the Obama administration released doctor-specific information about Medicare payments, starting with 2012 data on $64 billion worth of billings. Journalists immediately se

    April 15, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks