By Hey Jude
April 1, 2016
One of the world’s longest living people said the secret to her long life was kindness: “Treat people right, the way you want them to treat you.” (Gertrude Weaver from Arkansas, passed away last year at the age of 116).
Now, the world’s oldest living person is Michigan woman Jeralean Talley (age 115), and she says to “stay active and live by the Golden Rule”.
A common thread running through the lives of these two ladies, wouldn’t you say?
Now let’s hear from some of the folks who have been coming to Senator Wash for many years. This article is not so much about the age of these folks but is more about the length of time they have been coming to the desert.
An obvious place to start was the Contact Station as I heard that the couple who volunteer there on Monday and Tuesday had been coming to the “Wash” for over 25 years. Sure enough, I met with Norma & Art, who started coming here in 1990.
Back then however, they were Norma and Hu (yes, that is the correct spelling) & Dorothy and Art (CB handles Granny & Papa Who and Susie Q & Roadrunner). Although the four of them never met back then, they have since found out they were on many group “Desert Jaunts” together.
Art lost his dear Dorothy in 2000 and Norma lost Hu in 2006. Art started coming here alone (from Yakima, WA) and Norma ((from Morgantown, WV) started coming with her daughter, Becky, (CB handle Barefoot Girl) in 2009. Norma began to volunteer at the Contact Station that year and ended up working as a team, with Art. They started dating and were married in 2010. He will be 90 this year and she is 80 and they attribute their longevity to eating healthy, walking, staying actively involved in volunteer work and overall, just loving people in general. They now reside in Yuma and can’t wait to make the trek out to the desert two days a week to be with their “extended family”, which is all of us.
Moving on to Don (CB handle Taurus), who has been at the “Wash” for 35 years, he is a wealth of information and knows practically everybody. When he started coming here in 1982, from Dayton, Ohio, there was no water, no dump station, no buildings of any kind except for a little wooden outhouse (which has since burned down). The LTVA (long term visitor area) fee at that time was $25 for 7 months.
He has been a lone, full-timer all those years, spending the winter season here and the summers hosting at White Spar Campground in Prescott National Forest. This is a volunteer position in exchange for free rent and use of facilities. He oversees 60 campsites and logs in about 2000 visitors per season. He used to volunteer here at the contact station for a few years so had good references to work at the park in Prescott.
He has kept busy over the years helping other RV’ers repair things, especially the more elderly ones. “Now that I’m 83, some of the younger ones help me, so it all comes out in the wash” (no pun intended).
He asked me if I knew where Herman’s Horse Path was, to which I replied,” that’s where we are located so I know it well”. His response was “well Herman was a friend of mine and was parked way over at the west side of the path and every morning, Herman would walk his old, lame horse and his dog over to the reservoir known as Senator Wash, to let his horse get a drink of water (the wash, at that time, was half way up the banks of the reservoir).
When asked what he attributes his longevity to, he simply says “the outdoor life” (off grid living as he refers to it), hiking, walking, outdoor cooking in his solar oven and more recently, running around in his quad. His passion though is radio controlled “toys” which include planes, drones, helicopters tanks & boats and boy, does he have a collection!
Bob & Doris (CB handles Mr. & Mrs. Clean) have been coming to the “Wash” for 25 years. When they lived in Sacramento, they heard about this desert stuff from neighbors. Now they reside in Twin Falls, Idaho. They were up on the Mesa for several years (since 1990) but moved to Ocotillo Flats (near the Oasis Solar Center) when the lagoon was under construction. When I asked why the CB handles, Bob said he was a trucker and when he was at the loading docks (waitin’ for the loads), the guys would all be standing around doing nothing and he would be cleaning and sweeping and would tell the guys they should do the same, thus he was dubbed Mr. Clean and if you could see how spotless their RV is, you would know why Doris is Mrs. Clean. There are too many memories of their time in the desert for this article, but one funny one was the afternoon they were having happy hour at their place and the burros were hangin’ out close by. The next thing they know, one of the burros is resting its head on the shoulder of one of the guests (wish someone had a camera to capture that memory).
They’ve had their marriage vows renewed twice in the 68 years they have been married (yes, you heard me right, 68 years!)
Wow, can you believe that! I asked Doris if she had been a child bride to which she responded that she had been 18 and Bob was 20 when they tied the knot. I asked them what the secret of their successful marriage was and they said, “they put up with each other” and also, “our 3 kids and 6 grandkids would kill us if we ever parted”. Kidding aside, they too have always lived by the Golden Rule and keeping fit and healthy.
Before they were married, they were only apart a couple of years, 1944 & 1945, when Bob was just shy of 18 yrs. old when he served aboard the USS St. Paul during the WW2. At ages 88 & 86, they hope to continue coming here for some time yet, but they will see how things go.
Mary & Ken (CB handles Hush Puppy & Red Dog) have been coming to the “Wash” since 2001 and have always stayed on Quail Hill. They reside in Northern California (Red Bluff) about 150 miles S. of the Oregon border. She was a medical records transcriber for almost 30 years, and he was a certified picture framer.
Ken was called to serve for a couple of years in the 1957 Beirut crisis and unloaded ships at sea (where there were no docks). They would load supplies & equipment onto “ducks”. He was then sent home and spent awhile in the reserve. In 1962 he was called again to serve in the army in the Berlin Crisis but ended up not having to go, as it was settled.
When I ended my little visit with these two wonderful people, Mary admitted to me that she was 93 and my jaw dropped. This lovely lady looks nowhere near her age (neither of them do) and once again asked my favorite question, which is “what is the secret to your longevity”, and like most folks I’ve talked to, it is to live by the good old Golden Rule, staying fit and staying active. They too have many memories to share about their time here at the “wash”, but Mary was sick and I did not want to keep her/them talking too long (she has since come down with pneumonia and Ken is catching it) so let’s all think of them in our prayers for wellness.