In a few short months, that is what Kaplan resident Eldridge Vincent will do....celebrate turning 100 years old.
“I tried to give away some birthdays,” laughed Vincent, “but nobody wanted them.”
A native of Gueydan, Vincent and his wife, Russie, moved to Kaplan 17 years ago because she was having medical problems and wanted to be near a doctor and a hospital.
She passed away eight years ago and he has lived alone since then.
Still walking without the aid of a cane or a walker, Vincent looks 30 years younger.
“I am very healthy for my age,” he said. “I have survived bladder and kidney cancer, and a little hard of hearing, but everything else works fine!”
Other than a daily phone call from his nephew, Vincent lives a completely independent life.
“I do everything by myself,” he said. “The only thing I don’t do is cook. And that is only because I never learned how to cook. I even keep up my own yard.
“In fact, I just bought one of those new lawn mowers that turn sharp (a zero turning lawn mower) and put it in the shed. By the time I had learned how to drive it, I had hit everything I had in the shed trying to get it out,” laughs Vincent. “But I got it.”
He does admit that a few times he has needed outside help.
“I was working in my back yard and fell on the corner of the air conditioner. I knew I had pulled my shoulder out of the socket and needed to get to the hospital. Thankfully, I was able to make it to the front yard and holler for help. A man was going into the church (Vincent lives directly in front of a church) and he heard me. I gave him my keys and he drove me to the hospital. I still have no idea who this man is and how he got back home, but I’m very thankful he helped me.”
Even though he is about to reach the century mark, Vincent admits to having a passion for new cars.
“I have bought nine new cars in the last two years,” he said. “One lady told me she had bought a car like the one I just bought. She said she loved it because it had excellent gas mileage. I told her, I wouldn’t know that because I still like speed.”
Being a very private man, Vincent says he has no plans to celebrate when he reaches the century mark.
“I really don’t care for a party,” he said. “I am happy just staying home. Some family have suggested they will give me a party, but we’ll see.”
Vincent is the last of the 17 siblings in his family.
He and his wife were married for 68 years before her passing.
Before his retirement, he drove a school bus for 35 years in the Gueydan area.
Editors note: Wondering what life was like a 100 years ago, a Google search produced the following interesting facts.
•Woodrow Wilson became president.
•The Titanic sinks.
•The average life expectancy in the United States was forty-seven.
•Only 14 percent of the homes in the United States had a bathtub.
•Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. A three minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.
•There were only 8,000 cars in the US and only 144 miles of paved roads.
•The maximum speed limit in most cities was ten mph.
•The average wage in the U.S. was twenty-two cents an hour. The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
•A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2500 per year, a veterinarian between $1500 and $4000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5000 per year.
•More than 95 percent of all births in the United States took place at home.
•Sugar cost four cents a pound.
•Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen and coffee cost fifteen cents a pound.
•Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
•The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were: 1. Pneumonia and influenza 2. Tuberculosis 3. Diarrhea 4. Heart disease 5. Stroke
•Plutonium, insulin, and antibiotics hadn’t been discovered yet. Scotch tape, crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented.
•One in ten U.S. adults couldn’t read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
•Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.
•Coca-Cola contained cocaine instead of caffeine.