Tuesday, December 30, 2008

He Lived Through 19 Presidencies

Nobody was listening to war news on the radio when George Francis was born; there was no reason to even think about events leading up to the war, which would not start for another two years, during the president’s second term. Turn of the century? Anticipated, but still four years off. None of his relatives would be flying in for the occasion; even those closer by would not gather for lack of parking at the hospital.

There wasn’t any radio. The war was the Spanish-American, Grover Cleveland was in the second part of his interrupted two-term presidency. The Wright Brothers were selling bicycles and thinking of airplanes. Cars had not been invented.

Sacramento's George Rene Francis, officially recognized as the oldest living man in America and the joint second-oldest living man in the world, died this weekend at 112 years old. Born in New Orleans in 1896, he had lived through 19 presidencies and in all, or part of, three centuries. Fewer and fewer people can make that claim.

He said Louis Armstrong played on his front porch in the 7th Ward, in an interview last year, and Booker T. Washington, the civil rights pioneer, spoke to his third-grade class and told the pupils to treat everyone with respect. Mr. Francis said Armstrong used to roam the neighborhood and play in front of homes. "We'd talk about fishing -- trout, sheepshead, perch -- and we'd talk about baseball and the movies," Mr. Francis said.

He saw the expansion of everything we have.


Anonymous Anonymous said...



December 31, 2008 7:29 AM  

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