Pearson still laughing at 100
Raymond Pearson hit a milestone Saturday. The long-time Baldwin-area resident made it to the century mark when he turned 100. But, to listen to him, it was no big deal.
"Well, it don't feel much worse than 90," said Pearson. "Probably not as bad."
Some Centurions will give secrets to their long life, whether it's exercise, diet, avoidance of vices or even the occasional propensity to a vice or two along the way. Not Pearson.
"No. No secret," he said. "It's all an accident. I don't know. I really don't know what they are. I couldn't tell you."
Of course, there's been a wealth of history along the way for Pearson, who's name is synonymous with Baldwin history through his great-grandfather, Robert Hall Pearson, a Civil War participant in the Battle of Black Jack which is immortalized in various ways at the historical site east of Baldwin.
But, Pearson wasn't a part of that, he didn't even know his famous grandfather, although he's still linked.
"Dad is the last living grandchild of Robert Hall Pearson," said Mary Haid, Pearson's daughter, who was on hand for his interview Tuesday at Orchard Lane Apartments.
"I don't know much about him," Pearson said of his grandfather. "He died when I was two years old."
But, there has been plenty of history since he was born Feb. 12, 1905 on the Pearson place east of town. There was World War I, which he was too young for, and World War II that he was too old for. There have been many other wars along the way.
Those wars aren't what stand out in his mind. What he remembers is the Great Depression, the dirty 30s.
"That was rough," said Pearson of the Depression. "I can tell about that. You wondered if you'd get something to eat. I was up in my 20s then, all right.
"I made it through, I made it through," he said.
He remembers the Work Progress projects at the time, where people could trade labor for food.
"Yeah, when they went to putting out work," said Pearson. "They'd let you work a little bit to get something to eat. It helped you get along."
He's also old enough to remember actual travelers on the Santa Fe Trail, although it was basically closed. Still, many used the trail that headed west on its path out of Baldwin.
"Yes, I saw freight wagons go by," Pearson said. "They were pulled by oxen. They'd cross the creek. That's where they tied up. Yeah, I can remember that."
He also remembers early trips into Baldwin when transportation was a lot different than it is today.
"We use to go to Baldwin in a horse and buggy," said Pearson. "One time we went down in the gully and the horse came out of there with just the harness. No buggy."
Everything is different now and that's all right with him.
"Pretty much. It sure has changed," he said. "Well, I'd hate to go back to how it was."
For most of Pearson's working years, he was a stockman, raising all sorts of cattle. But, he preferred Black Angus, according to his family who remember many "discussions" about what breed of cattle is best.
"Yes, I was a stockman," Pearson said. "They were just everything, dairy cattle, too. That's cattle. I don't know."
But, when prodded by his son, Ralph, during the interview, he did recall believing his Black Angus were much better than Polled Herefords.
"Yeah, I liked the black ones," he said.
Besides his daughter, Mary, and son, Ralph, Pearson's legacy continues through three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. His wife of 74 years, Katherine, died in 2001.
He held to his belief that he didn't have a secret for why he's lived to be 100. But, when he admitted that he liked a good joke and loved to laugh, he agreed that maybe there was something to that and that laughter is the best medicine.
"Yeah, it is," Pearson said. "I'm good at that."