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Comments & Curiosities: A very old and exclusive club

November 06, 2010|By Peter Buffa

Are you old? I am, sometimes. Depends on how I feel.

But if you should ever stress about your age and decide to throw a pity party for yourself, try inviting Eunice Sanborn of Jacksonville, Texas. She'll make you feel like a toddler. Eunice is 114 years old and was given the first-place trophy for "oldest person in the world" last Thursday when Eugenie Blanchard, most recently of the Isle of St. Barts, left the island, so to speak.

Eugenie , whose nickname was "Sweets" — not because she liked Snickers but because she was really nice — was 5 months older than Eunice. Both rolled off the assembly line in 1896, Eugenie in February and Eunice in July.

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I have long thought that people who got to see both the year 1900 and the year 2000 come and go lived through the most interesting century in the history of centuries. Their lives went from horses and buggies at one end to the Internet and deep space probes at the other. I'm also fascinated by the 100-Plus Club, not that I will ever get in.

Do you know what the fastest growing age group in the world is? Holy cannoli, you are so smart. That's right — centenarians. There are more than 50,000 peeps who are 100 years old or more in the United States, 5,000 in California alone. How fast the 100-Plus Club is growing — by a factor of ten since 1960 — is also impressive. The 110-Plus Club, however, is much smaller.

There are less than 100 people around the world who have blown out the candles on the cake 110 times or more. What are your odds of making it into that club? Not good. I'll spare you all the zeros, but the odds of living to 110 are about the same as tossing "heads" ten times in a row.

Oh, and here is a very encouraging number for all the male-type people out there. According to the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles, which studies people who are old enough to remember carbon paper, of the 74 super-centenarians in the world — i.e., people 110 years old or older — 71 are women. Any explanation needed there? Nope, I'm good, thanks.

By the way, not only does 114 years old seem to be about as ripe as ripe old age gets, but for an even number, 114 is really odd.

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