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EDITOR'S NOTE: A former Sullivan and Charleston resident, Jerry Ginther writes a column the first Tuesday of each month in the JG-TC with his remembrances of years gone by in Charleston, Sullivan and the area.

If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. I thought getting old would take a lot longer. I’ve heard those amusing comments several times recently; from those my age as well as those who are older.

Not that introspection is a new thing with me, but the years seem to now be flashing by at warp speed. In recent years it seems I’m putting up and taking down the Christmas tree more frequently. As a matter of fact it seems that I go through this ritual every couple of months. And, the frequency of my own birthday is coming around more often than in the past. Now, I’m thankful, of course, that this keeps occurring, but as those annual celebration numbers increase, I am also reminded that it’s obvious that I have more of them behind me than I have to look forward to. This makes planning for future events a bit more restrictive. Not only do I have to consider the time element, but also, now I have to consider whether I’ll be physically and mentally capable to even consider some things I might want do in the years to come.

When we were young we started planning for what we would do with a long life and how we would have a family and retire at a ripe old age. We had hope to have some major accomplishments and a comfortable accumulation of assets; at least that is the way I perceived a normal life to progress after the general business course in high school. The textbook version of making money seemed really easy to accomplish. We learned to write checks and balance a checkbook. Juggling those dollars on paper was a lot easier than earning them and saving them, as many of us would later learn.

Many of our class did go on to have successful careers and families. Others seemed to have one or the other by choice. Still others endured misfortune and tragedy, and were not able to have a choice or suffered severely as a result of poor choices.

In the opening paragraph, I alluded to taking better care of one’s self with the intended outcome of having a longer, healthier life. Now, when it comes to taking care of myself, I try to eat sensibly, exercise regularly and stay as far away from doctors as possible. It’s a plan that has worked for me, so far.

In one of our local parks there is a half-mile track on which I have traveled many miles on foot trying to stay in shape. Other modes of travel have included 72 circuits around the sun on this terrestrial ball on which we live. Not a lot of effort expended there on my part, so those trips have contributed little toward staying in shape, but I won’t chalk that up to a free ride.

As for accumulating wealth, William Devane helps me to stay focused on that aspect of my life by asking me several times a day, while holding a stack of gold coins in his hand, what’s in my safe. He asks the question as though he’s sure there’s no gold in there. Maybe he just wants to be sure he has it all. Another minor benefit to my financial welfare is the young lady from a credit card company, who asks repeatedly, what’s in my wallet. If it weren’t for those two reminding us to check the places where we keep our money we could possibly forget where we put it, I suppose; after all we are getting on in years. How could we manage our wealth without their considerate help?

Now, all I need is for someone to help me keep up with my coffee cup. I get part of my daily exercise from going through the house hunting for the place where I set it down while I was looking for something else.

Jerry Ginther grew up in Sullivan, with a few brief departures over the years. He served two years in the U.S. Army, 1966-68, and was employed by the Illinois Central Railroad as a telegraph operator and train dispatcher for nearly 25 years. He and his wife reside in Texas. You may contact him at


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