Recently on the national news I saw two 100-year-old women setting track records. Why is the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population centenarians?
Much is being studied about centenarian health habits. Is it positive attitude, socialization, exercise, the ability to deal with loss, or the capacity to exist on yogurt and berries in Siberia that supplies the fountain of youth? No one I know has ever taken that jellyfish supplement advertised nonstop on TV.
AJ Jacobs’ book “Drop Dead Healthy” documents research that proper dental flossing adds six years of longevity. My mother flossed three times a day and had her original pearly whites until she died at 95.
My Uncle Lou downed a mayonnaisey salami sandwich with schnapps, egg salad, pecan sandies and Coca-Cola every midnight until he was 96.
Meet razor-sharp and accomplished centenarian Elizabeth Satloff Sherman, a native of Columbus who is now a resident of Berman Commons, where she was feted by relatives and friends Sunday, May 29.
She shares her philosophy for a healthy, productive 10 decades.
Jaffe: So what’s it like being 100?
Sherman: I don’t know. I’ve never been 100 before (laughing).
Jaffe: Share your early memories of Columbus in the 1920s.
Sherman: Our first car was a black Model T Ford — or maybe it was a Nash. Peddlers sold vegetables on the street, and we had shochets kill chickens. I remember a lot of chickens running around. We had a family of seven. On Sundays we churned our own ice cream for a treat. Of course, there was no freezer; we bought 50-cent blocks of ice. On the downside, there was no access to penicillin. We take that for granted today. During the Depression, we were very frugal. No one had any money. We did gamble and play casino games among ourselves.
Jaffe: What was the Jewish community like?
Sherman: The community was so small that everyone knew everybody’s business. There was lots of love and warmth. We looked out for each other. We baked for each other. Jews from small towns came into Columbus on Sunday for Hebrew school.
Jaffe: What factors do you think contributed to your longevity?
Sherman: I never smoked and drank very little. I worked until 92. It helped keep my memory sharp. I walked every morning for 30 minutes before work. Even in rain, I walked in the covered hallway.
Jaffe: Do you have any regrets?
Sherman: I was widowed at 37 and stayed in Columbus. Perhaps I should have moved to Atlanta earlier. I do regret not having the means to go to college and become a nurse. I have a lot of patience and would have liked that. For that era, I was an independent woman rearing two children alone and overcame a lot of obstacles. I worked in advertising for the Schwob Co., then making Simplicity patterns in New York, then for the IRS in D.C., ending at the JF&CS in Atlanta.
Jaffe: What advice would you give to young people today?
Sherman: Get educated. Take pride in your work. Don’t expect a handout. Be courteous to others. Play hard, but take school seriously. That advice has not changed through the decades.
Daughter Barbara Sherman Mendel: Believe me, Mother lived by her words. You will not find her sitting and moping. She doesn’t complain and aims to help others. Before Beyoncé’s new album, Mother was making lemonade out of lemons.
Jaffe: I recall you visited my late mother and brought her an artfully arranged tin of mandel bread. Maybe one day soon you will share the recipe.