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 Peter Takes on History 

June 10, 2013

The Oldest Man, Woman, Pine Tree, Light bulb, Tortoise and more

“This Day in History” I have a story about the oldest man in the world. GEE-ROW-MAN KIMURA (Jiroemon Kimura), born in 1897 died on this day in 2013 at the age of 116 years, 54 days. Kimura was health-conscious and active, early to bed, early to rise. He said (and a lot of research backs this up) eating small portions of food was the secret of long life. I’m hoping I live long enough to finish this.

He retired from the post office at 65 then farmed until he was 90. Lived alone, at home until he was 110. But Jiroemon had one thing working against him. A “Y” chromosome. Women are genetically disposed to living longer.

The oldest woman (and therefore the oldest human) to have ever lived was JEAN LOU-EASE CALMON (Jeanne Louise Calment); born in 1875, died in 1997, lived 122 years and 164 days. Maybe you remember this part of her story.

In 1965, aged 90, no heirs left, Miss CALMON signs an agreement with a tenant who will share her home. She gets to live there the rest of her life, he has to pay rent, but when she passes away, the home belongs to him. Well she lived another 32 years. In that time the guy who bought her mortgage paid her double the home’s value in rent. Then he dies in 1995 and his family has to keep paying her. Miss CALMON said, "in life, one sometimes makes bad deals."

OK, here’s a tip. Unless you’ve got an evening to spare, don’t Google ”the oldest.”

The oldest tree is thought to be a bristlecone pine tree in California’s White Mountains, 5,000 years old. You can’t go see it unless you’ve got an in with the Forest Service. The location is a secret.

You can go see the oldest light bulb at Fire Station 6 in Livermore, California. Turned on in 1901 and still burning … though it’s not as bright as it used to be. Insert joke here.

The oldest game in the world, Backgammon was played in Mesopotamia 5000 years ago.

The oldest company in the world is a Japanese Buddhist temple building company “Kongo Gumi.” It was sold in 2006 but stayed in the same family for the previous 14 centuries.

The oldest joke in the world … wait, first the oldest profession in the world … Noooooo.

Anthropologist’s say toolmaker is the oldest profession. Then comes hunter slash butcher. Then tailor. They’ve dated sewing needles between 41 and 60,000 years old.

The oldest joke in the world, a fart joke from 1900 BC but frankly, I read it several times an in my opinion, all the funny wore off.

The oldest trick in the book; some prop magic that fooled friends, Romans and their countrymen in 61BC. It was a pitcher constructed with a fake liner so you could “pour” out all the water, set it down on the table and it miraculously refilled itself.

There’s a pretty good list of the oldest animals in the world.

In 2006 a Galapagos tortoise named Harriet, an actual acquaintance of Charles Darwin, died at 175 years.

There’s a documented case of an Ornamental Koi, (you know those fancy carp in Koi Ponds) that lived 221 years.

They found a dead Bowhead whale with a 211 year old Ivory harpoon imbedded in it’s skin.

Ocean clams are called Quahogs. Yep, the same clams that are harvested for your enjoyment at Red Lobster. You can count the rings on a Quahog's shell, just like tree rings. Some are more than 400 years old. Think about that next time you pick up that menu.

But this one beats all. An immortal invertebrate. There’s a jellyfish that’s able to cycle from grown adult back to polyp at will. It grows up, gets hurt, hungry or stressed out and turns into a baby again. Again, insert your own joke here.

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