Archive for Thursday, February 17, 2005

A century of smiles

February 17, 2005

It's not every day that you get to talk to a 100-year-old, much less interview one. I had that rare privilege Tuesday with Raymond Pearson, who reached the century mark Saturday. He's a February baby like me and we all stick together.

I've interviewed Centurions before. I've always believed it's one of the most remarkable achievements when a person lives that long. I'm sure I certainly won't. But, if by some miracle I do, I pity the reporter that has to interview me. That is, of course, if I'm as sharp as some of the amazing 100-year-olds that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.

That was certainly the case with Pearson. Before I went to see him at Orchard Lane Apartments, I talked separately to his grandson, Ed Pearson, and Ed's wife, Ann. I wanted to know what I was getting into with the interview that had been planned for weeks to follow his actual birthday.

I learned a lot from both of them, which helped. Oddly enough, I got differing answers from the husband and wife. Go figure that one.

With that preparation I headed to apartment No. 5. Pearson's son, Ralph Pearson, and daughter, Mary Haid and her husband, were there to help with the interview. It happened right away and sent the process into perfect motion. Mary opened it up by explaining who I was and who my brother is.

Wow, here we go again. I can't begin to count the times of conversations started with people because my brother Steve, a Lawrence surgeon, has worked on them. But, this one was different.

"Dad, this is Jeff Myrick. He's going to do a story on you," Mary opened things up with. "Dad, his brother is the one that took half your stomach out seven years ago."

Without missing a beat, Pearson immediately had a question for me about my brother and that half a stomach.

"What he'd do with it?" Pearson said, laughing and smiling at what he'd said.

I was laughing, too, and so was everyone else. Yes, Pearson is still sharp. I went into my usual spiel about my brother and who all he has cut on in Baldwin. The last guestimate I've made is at least about half the population. I explained how that happens all the time.

I also shared a laugh back with him. I told him every once in awhile, someone will tell me that my dad did surgery on them. My standard line there is, if my dad did surgery on you, you're in trouble. Pearson got a good laugh out of that. I also told him that whenever someone says that, I'm sure to give Steve a call. Pearson thought that was funny, too.

Somehow, that humor is lost on my brother.

Oh, well, it doesn't matter. What had transpired was the perfect start to an interview. We hit it off and moved from subject to subject. From talking to his grand children, I knew Pearson liked a joke. He proved that and made yet another Centurion interview one to remember.

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