I’ve lived a long time and I’ve wondered why, when much younger people I knew have died. Now, I think I know the reason. What made me reach my conclusion was when I saw a veteran of WW-II being honored at the recent Super Bowl. I began to look at friends around me. It beamed fairly obvious that those of the so-called “Greatest Generation” normally are living longer than those of previous or succeeding generations.
Those of us born in the ‘30s lived a different lifestyle. I’m not sure it even deserves the title “style.” What I do know from experience is this: We ran and played outside in the air and sunshine and rain. We had very little to eat, there were no obese kids when I was growing up. What food we did have was “natural.” We had no money to buy what processed foods were available with preserving chemicals added to make them last longer. We ate a lot of vegetables because meat was scarce on the dinner table. We ate chickens that were raised in the barnyard and were not raised in cages. We ate eggs that came fresh from the nest. And we worked. The whole family was required to labor in whatever endeavor brought some money into the family.
But there is another contributing factor, I believe; a psychological element. The Great Depression was a terrible thing and if you weren’t there, words cannot express how awful it was. So people of that era had a “survival” instinct. It was a tough life, and one had to become tough to exist. We had no antibiotics so when we became sick we had home remedies like castor oil, kerosene, turpentine. Our bodies fought measles, scarlet fever, etc. and if we lived we were constitutionally stronger.
Socially we had no iPhones, no Internet, no TV and early on in rural areas we didn’t even have electricity. The first “radio” in my house was a crystal set, which required no power, built by my brother. Since we didn’t have electronic diversions we interacted with others and learned how to deal with different personalities. And then came WW-II. For the only period in my lifetime, when America was attacked, everything changed. The whole country was devoted toward winning that war. So rationing meant we had no sugar, no coffee, no meat, no cigarettes, very little gas and no tires so we continued to walk everywhere.
I think all these things are contributing to why, as a group, those who grew up in the ‘30s and ‘40s are living longer. As a rule, if they are not struck down by some modern disease, the old-timers are living longer than younger people. That’s my take on it, what’s yours?