I’m not that old…

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Contributing Editor
Walt Pickut

Nobody is!

But how would you feel if you actually were 200 years old this year? That depends, doesn’t it? It depends on how healthy you are, whether you have enough food, shelter, money, and especially enough good friends.

If you were 200 years old you could have gone to kindergarten with Ulysses S. Grant, voted for Honest Abe Lincoln before you were 40, and cheered for the Wright brothers’ first airplane flight when you were still a youngster at 82.

I think I’d like it. But since that’s not likely, I am reminded that we do have companions who really are that old, and many even older. They are the institutions and communities that we have created. They “live” because we care for and feed them, each in their own way. Consider these:

  • At the age of 385, Harvard University, founded in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.
  • At 261 years of age, the Lorillard Tobacco Company, established in 1760, began selling snuff in New York City packed in dried animal bladders to keep it fresh. They’re now worth nearly $6 billion.
  • And checking in at the age of 465, St. Augustine, Florida, founded in 1565, is the oldest established community in the United States.

But these institutions did not found themselves. One single person did in it each case. Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th century American author and philosopher, once wrote,

“Every great institution is the lengthened shadow of a single man. His character determines the character of the organization.”

This week your Jamestown Gazette invites our readers to be inspired by one of those remarkable individuals and the community named in his honor celebrating its 200th birthday this year.

We’re talking about George Clymer and the town of Clymer, New York, so named in his honor. George Clymer was an early American statesman, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution—a Founding Father of the United States—and one of 34 Signers who did not own slaves, the first President of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery.

And just as anyone reaching that age enjoying enough food, shelter, money, and especially friends, communities like Clymer only survive and thrive for the same reasons.

Though George Clymer would be 282-years old this year, the town of Clymer is still a vital, thriving community at 200, as is its courageous Fire Department now completing its first century of service—not at all old, merely mature, and quite well.

Writer and poet, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, explained it in a way that applies equally well to communities like Clymer and to people like you and me.

To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent – that is to triumph over old age.

Join with us in celebrating Clymer’s bicentennial and the centennial of its firefighting service. Be inspired by them. Grow wiser, not older—more hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent—unwrinkled in mind and heart.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.