The World's Greatest Treasure

In 1980, while working at a major hospital, I met a patient that was 104 years old! She had broken her hip and up until that point had lived alone and managed by herself. Her son, who was 78 at the time, came by her home often to take her shopping and run errands. She was born June 25, 1876 -- the same day as the Custer Massacre. I spent many of my off-duty hours talking with her. Imagine the history she lived through.

In 1889, when she was 13, her family participated in the Oklahoma Land Rush. They had lived in Vermont and her father decided to take advantage of the free land the government was offering. She got married in 1892 at the age of 16. She and her husband moved to Michigan shortly after.

One of my favorite questions to ask an older person is who the first President they knew of from living life and not by learning about in school. (Mine was Eisenhower.) While her first Presidential memory was Grover Cleveland, her most vivid memory of a President was William McKinley. She and her husband had gone to the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York in 1901. She was standing less than six feet from President McKinley when he was shot! Imagine the horror.

She retired in 1945, just after the end of World War II. Her husband died in 1948 and she had lived alone in the same house ever since. They had 3 children but two had died. My Gosh! She had been collecting Retirement Social Security Benefits for thirty-five years when I met her.

She had lived her adult life for all of the historic events in the 20th century -- Oklahoma Land Rush; Spanish American War; Assassination of McKinley; Sinking of the Titanic; World War I; Prohibition; Gangster Era; Explosion of the Hindenburg; Rise of Hitler and World War II, Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King; Man Landing on the Moon, Apollo 13 Near Disaster; Challenger Disaster; Attempted Assassination of President Reagan, and more. With so many to choose from, I asked her which one had the most dramatic effect on her. I supposed it was witnessing the assassination of President William McKinley, but asked her anyway. I was surprised by her response. With a smile on her face, she told me it was man landing on the Moon. In her lifetime she had gone from horse and buggy days, to the invention of the automobile, airplanes, to jets to the Concorde to Space flight and walking on the Moon!

At the time I met this lady, my favorite television show was Little House on the Prairie. This lady went much further in what she had seen and done in her lifetime than Laura Ingalls Wilder had. I wished SHE had written a book about her experiences. Her story would have made a great television series too. My only regret in this experience is that I did not at least make notes of what she told me, or even better yet, made tape recordings of her telling me about her life. She died one week after being discharged from the hospital. I went to her funeral and her son told me that I had made his mother feel important by my wanting to know about the historic events she had lived.

How many people do you know that are older than yourself? Ask them about the historic events they lived through. Once they are gone, so are their memories. Older people are the world's greatest treasure.

From the Email Bag

Of the many emails I receive from people visiting, occassionally, I receive some unusual emails. Below are a few I received in the past month:

  • Please send me a list of the first 13 colonies.

    Editors Comment: This obviously was a lazy student as this information is readily available without much effort. Guess it is easier to just ask someone to open the book for you :-)

  • Hey, love your site. I need to know what all the Presidents favorite foods were. If you could plz help me out i would be very greatful (its a school project).

    Editor's comment: Is this information available ANYWHERE? Also, don't they teach spelling anymore?

Ludlow Typecasting Machine Available

I recently received an interesting email from a visitor. It read as follows:
"I'm a printer, having recently sold our weekly newspaper which published over 125 years of CONSECUTIVE weekly issues in New England. We have a ludlow typecasting machine which needs a good home. It comes with a case full of matrices and original instruction manual and tools."

If you know of anyone that is interested in obtaining it, please email me.

Site Updates

Recently added to

Your Opportunity for Imortality

I want to expand the Primary Source Material section on in the Historic Events/People link. Were you alive when JFK was assassinated; during the Cold War of the 1950's-1960's; When John Lennon was shot; When Elvis Presley died; etc. Or, even better, grew up during World War II? If it was a major event in American history, where were you when you heard the news? How did you receive the news (newspaper, radio, televison, etc.) and what your reactions and memories are of this event/era. If you grew up during WWII, tell us about the paper drives, war bond rallies, rationing etc. and how it affected your life. From those submitting first peson articles, I will select some for including on Those that I publish will receive an original New York Times newspaper from the Civil War era. If you have any questions, be sure to email me.

In your opinion, did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone
in the assassination of John F. Kennedy?
I Don't Care19.3%
Not Sure12.6%

Last Month's Contest

LAST ISSUE'S QUESTION: During the Cold War between the United States in the 1950's a special bunker was built to harbor Congressmen and Senators and their families under a golf course in the Carolinas. What was the name of that golf course?

ANSWER: Greenbrier. All three historic newspapers were awarded. (Unfortunately, six entrants DID NOT follow directions and put the words "Contest Entry" as a subject in their email and two entered after the deadline so they were disqualified.)

This Month's Question

All of the American Presidents have lived in the White House except one. Which one never lived in the White House? (Too easy?)

Contest entry deadline is Monday, March 15, 2004. Only one entry per subscriber. Later entries will be disqualified. To enter, email your answer to "" with the subject heading "Contest Entry". From subscribers submitting the correct answer and correct subject heading, three will be selected at random to win original Civil War newspapers. To give more people a chance to win a historic newspaper, previous winners are NOT eligable to win.

That's it for this issue.

Rick Brown