Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Are People Living Longer Than 100 Years Ago?

An interesting e-mail sent by a friend in Germany lays out the differences in the United States of today and those of 100 years ago. The first figure mentioned is life expectancy, which was 47 in 1906. Now it is about 72, perhaps slightly higher.
Why the difference? Some of it is owing to prescription drugs and improved surgical procedures, of course. But the biggest reason is the control of the epidemics that killed so many people in the past. Cholera, Yellow Fever, Diptheria, Tuberculosis, so many, many more. It was far from unusual for an epidemic to wipe out an entire family. The countless dead children played havoc with that life expectancy figure.
If a person avoided all those deadly epidemics, he or she could expect to live far longer than 47. Because they are the only ones I know about I'll use the member of my family as examples. My great-grandfather, Peter Lynch, was born in 1835 and died in 1922. That made him 87 according to my meager skill with mathematics. His son, James T. Lynch, lived into his 90s. His wife died at 77.
Their children were Joseph, Leo, Mary, Helen, Alice and Ethel. Leo died in infancy, thereby shooting the hell out of my calculations. Joseph lived until his 70s, Mary and Ethel well into their 80s. The exceptions, along with the unfortunate Leo, were Helen and Alice. Helen, a Communist organizer in New York, took part in a demonstration on a rainy and cold winter day, came down with pneumonia and died at the age of 38. Alice was stricken with a deadly form of stomach cancer and died at 47. That meant the six lived to an average age of 55. Take away Leo and the figure jumps to 66. It would have been much higher if Helen hadn't been a fanatical advocate for New York's unemployed.
My father lived to be 77, both of his parents well into their 70s. So did both his sisters.
The point of all this, provided there is one, is something we all know: statistics can be deceiving. Those people living a hundred years ago had about as good a chance as we do of living to a ripe old age just so long as they kept away from the numerous and deadly epidemics.
Despite ignoring every rule of health devised by man I have lived well past my 81st birthday. So what does that prove? Not a damn thing.
Well, maybe it shows that we shouldn't place much stock in certain statistics.


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