LONGEVITY RULES! (#2 in a series of fictional essays based in reality)
INTERVIEWER: Hello Mr. Glover and happy 100th birthday! As we discussed, I’m here to interview you for our resident newsletter at Gramercy Manor. So, if you’re ready, let’s get started. Can you share some of your favorite personal experiences from the past century?
MR. GLOVER: Most definitely. And please, call me “Chops,” that’s the nickname Satchmo gave me.
Yes sir. This handkerchief right here, it belonged to my very good friend Mr. Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. He lent it to me after one of our shows and I guess I forgot to give it back. We played together, in the early forties, in New York, subject to the vicissitudes of Tin Pan Alley and the gangster-ridden music business, that is.
INTERVIEWER: Of course, the vicissitudes of Tin Pan Alley …
MR. GLOVER: Did you know his nickname’s short for “satchel mouth?” Seems his mouth was so big, like a suitcase — even as a kid — that he hid coins in it. And, did you know he took much pride in a good dump; me, too.
INTERVIEWER: I did not know that, all very interesting … Mr. Glover, ah, Chops.
MR. GLOVER: “What a Wonderful World,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’” … Like hell we weren’t, ha! That Billie Holiday! She was a frisky one…
But, before jazz, my first love was always baseball. The Negro Baseball Leagues back then. Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Jelly Roll Gardner and the best pitcher of all-time, my very good friend Mr. Leroy “Satchel” Paige. Back then we all thought he should’ve been the first black player in the majors, but it just wouldn’t have been right to start such a great player in the minors, like they did with Jackie.
Satchel — with his control, hard fastball and later that famous “hesitation pitch” that I taught him, by the way — was virtually unhittable. Man, he was cocky, too. He used to have us infielders sit down behind him and then routinely go about striking out the side.
INTERVIEWER: Hmm, I’ve never heard that before.
MR. GLOVER: You know his nickname comes from his childhood, toting bags at the train station.
Satchel once told me, “Never look back, something might be gaining on you.”
He’s right, you know, I’ve always tried to live my life looking forward. Even at 100, it’s today and tomorrow that excite me more than my tens of thousands of yesterdays. It could be as simple as a haircut, a group outing to Costco, Oprah’s next book club pick. Even the revolving door of new roommates in this place keeps it interesting. All I know is the sun keeps rising for me.
Someone, maybe Satchel, once asked me, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” I may be fightin’ gravity more and more, and a good dump may be the highlight of my day, but I honestly don’t think about age in years. I think of age as accumulated experience … and stories.
INTERVIEWER: You are truly an inspiration, Chops. Thank you for sharing your wonderful life and truly unbelievable stories. You’re a walking encyclopedia. … In fact, I notice Wikipedia there on your computer screen?
MR. GLOVER: What are you implying? Good day to you. Nurse…
About the writer:
Stuart Greenbaum is president of Greenbaum Public Relations, which during the past 25 years has represented multiple aging-services providers and organizations. He serves as a Governor’s appointee to the California Commission on Aging, is a recipient of LeadingAge’s national Public Trust Award, and is editor of the book Longevity Rules and author of the blog Humble Sky.