Shared Stories: An old family friend

Janice Collins recalls a family friend of her father who lived much longer than anyone expected. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Janice Collins

When I was a teenager in Stratton, Colo., my father and uncle would visit with Carl Mages. Carl was also from Kansas, when we used to live. He remained a bachelor all his life because his doctors told him he probably wouldn’t live long.

Carl felt he needed special foods to recover from a dysentery he got in the service in World War I. It was later determined that he was suffering from an amoeba germ caused by the flu.
Carl started a diet of his own which consisted of black-eyed peas, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, cabbage, cranberry sauce, and sometimes a little beef or venison. It’s my opinion that when he ate the meat it was because he was hungry for it.

Carl also suffered from ulcers and a tumor on his colon, but in 1953 he went to an Indian doctor in Oklahoma. Carl was thankful to her for helping him rid himself of most of his health problems.   guess his stomach problems were solved with herbs – Indian remedies. Later in life Carl developed diabetes and followed doctor’s orders regarding diet.

As though he didn’t already have enough problems, Carl then was hit with a terrible dizziness resulting from a broken gland at the back of his skull.  

He was advised to move to a higher altitude, hoping to end his dizzy spells. He sold his Kansas land and bought a section or so at Stratton. Carl rented a room at the Collins hotel in Stratton where he made many friends.

After his retirement from farming, Carl moved to New Mexico and lived there for 28 years in government housing. He said he sat and watched traffic go by on the interstate highway for entertainment. Carl lived there until he suffered from a bad fall and had to move back with family in Kansas.

At the age of 95 Carl was looking forward to his 100th birthday, and he actually lived into his hundreds. As far as I can remember, he lived to about 104. A news reporter found out about Carl and his life story was published in a Kansas paper.

I remember how much Carl liked people. He would fish at Bonny Dam with us, but I believe his favorite thing was playing ball with us kids. Carl was a jolly soul, always joking and laughing.