Inez Parker Jeffus

The above photograph shows a young Inez Parker Jeffus, who was a supercentenarian from Texas, United States. It is the only known public photograph of her currently in existence.
Born Inez Dean on 20 March 1894, Jeffus' parents were physician James N. Dean, who was from Alabama, and Emma Caldonia Calloway-Dean, who was a Texan native. She was born when her father and mother were thirty-two and eighteen years old respectively. Her father died in 1957, aged 96, having been born in 1861. Her mother died in 1975 less than two years before her 100th birthday, having been born in 1876.
Jeffus also had a total of four siblings: Lena, born 1892, Essie, born 1895, Kent, born 1899, and finally Jimmie, born prior to 1 April 1906. Lena had unfortunately died by 1910.
Jeffus' first husband was fellow Texan native James M. Parker, seven years her senior. She was no longer married to him by later than 1930 according to findings by Gerontology Research Group correspondent Filipe Prista Lucas, as Jeffus' second husband, Hayne Jeffus, was then still married to his first wife according to the fifteenth population census of the United States, conducted beginning from 1 April 1930. Hayne Jeffus lived from 26 July 1893 to 8 March 1967, dying at the age of 73.
Jeffus, who had taken residence in California for a time during the 1920s before returning to Texas, had at least three children: May Dean (later May Dean Burnap), James, and Ellis Clifford Parker. Ellis Clifford was the only child who had predeceased Jeffus by the time of her death, having died on 2 February 2006, eight and a half months before Jeffus herself. He was 85 at the time of his death, Jeffus having given birth to him in May 1920.
The gravesite of Hayne and Inez Jeffus
By the time of her death, Jeffus had four surviving grandchildren, three of whom were then already married: Brooke Crowden, Jim Parker, Mae Dean Hahn, and Betty Ann Taylor.
She passed away in Nacogdoches, Texas, as that state's second-oldest living resident on 16 October 2006, aged 112 years, 210 days, a week behind Arbella Ewing (13 March 1894 - 22 March 2008, aged 114 years, 9 days).
Prior to her validation, it had been believed that the second-oldest living Texan then was Martha Wiley (28 August 1894 - 16 October 2006, aged 112 years 49 days). Coincidentially, Wiley and Jeffus both died on the same day. Assuming Jeffus predeceased Wiley, Wiley would have indeed been that state's second-oldest person at the time of her own death, albeit for less than twenty-four hours. Even if Wiley had predeceased Jeffus, it would have counted for one of the closest longevity-related title misses in history, of less than 24 hours.
At the time of her death, she was the 14th-oldest living person and to this day still remains one of the 250 oldest undisputed people on record, tied with Margaret Russell (31 October 1892 - 29 May 2005) and a living woman who is currently the 20th-oldest living person, Susannah Jones of New York, United States, born 6 July 1899 and also aged 112 years 210 days as of 1 February 2012.
Her age was not validated while she was alive, as her online obituary was later discovered by Filipe Prista Lucas, who was able to validate her age via census records using family names provided in the obituary. She was afterwards added to the GRG database on 6 November 2006.

V.V., who owns another supercentenarian-related blog, Supercentenarian Research, helped with the writing of this article.

Angela Case-Petrone

Angela Case-Petrone was a supercentenarian who was born in Veneto, Italy, on 21 July 1899.
In her youth, Case moved to Brazil in 1917 aged 18 with her then husband-to-be, Savino Petrone, owing to disapproval surrounding their relationship; Petrone, a native of Apulia, Italy, was a well-to-do businessman while Case was from a peasant family.
The pair married while in South America, and lived there for a further six years before returning to live in Apulia, Italy. They lived there for a further twenty-two years before taking residence in Castelfranco, Veneto, in 1945, where Case would live for the rest of her life.
She had a total of four children with her husband -- Maria, Teresa, Benita, and their youngest child and only son, Cataldo. Maria, the eldest, died in 1999.
According to a Italian source in translation, Case had a strong will and was never "intimidated by the fact that each year could be the last, and is very proud of her record".
Case, who was a housewife for much of her life, resided at Domenico Sartor, a retirement home, for the last sixteen years of her life, having moved there in 1995 at 96 years of age.
Case died on 17 August 2011, aged 112 years, 27 days, as the 49th validated supercentenarian to do so in that year. At the time of her death, she was the 31st-oldest living person and the third-oldest living Italian, as well as the 17th-oldest Italian on record; she has since been displaced to 18th place by Emma Morano-Martinuzzi of Piedmont, Italy, born 29 November 1899, and aged 112 years 63 days as of 31 January 2012.

Edith Land

Edith Land was an American supercentenarian who was born in Maryland, United States, on 20 February 1879.
An African-American, Land never married, and died in New Jersey, United States, as the second-oldest living African-American, behind Lucy Hannah of Alabama, United States (16 July 1875 - 21 March 1993), who herself died aged 117 years 248 days.
She was also, retroactively, the 16th-oldest person in the world at her death on 19 February 1990, aged 110 years, 364 days.
Land is the only validated supercentenarian to die one day short of her 111th birthday at the age of 110 years, 364 days. Another somewhat similar case exists with another supercentenarian, Valentino Stella. He was born in Veneto, Italy (coincidentially the birthplace and current residence of Italy's oldest currently living person, Stella Nardari-Vecchiato, 113) on 2 January 1886, and died on 1 January 1997 at the age of 110 years, 365 days - owing to the fact that the previous year of 1996 was a leap year. Stella's case also represents the longest-ever time someone lived as a supercentenarian without turning 111, at 365 days, beating both Land and Brown by one day.
Land's age puts her as the 759th oldest person on record; there are approximately 1450 validated supercentenarians all-time, not including disputed cases.

hot season is coming . . .

The other night the wind did not pick up like it usually does. Instead the heat stayed in, near the ground—this creeping ooze that filled the compound and all the corners of the house. There was nowhere to go to get away from it. It was mostly calm, so the air was like this blanket that pressed against your face wherever you went. The next day, D bought a fan cause she has electricity. Hot season is coming.

I was going down to Bassar the other day. We got to one point on the Kouka-Kabou road where I did not recognize where I was, it was so different. Bulldozers are pushing back the brush and preparing the new roadway after logging crews cut out the useful lumber. Then people pick through the roadway for every burnable scrap of wood.

Speaking of traveling, this is the best time of year to ride in bush taxis, at least up here. The roads are turning to sand and powder, so a lot of the holes and ruts are somewhat smoothed out. Motoing is a lot harder cause motos don’t do well in sand.

I had a nice bush taxi ride down to Bassar the other day. The road was wasn’t too terrible, and the car left on time. We didn’t have too many stops, except for one flat tire. I got the front passenger’s seat. The guy sitting next to me kept dozing off and bouncing off of me but that was ok. When we got to where they are working on the road he kept saying “c’est bon, c’est tres bon.” I didn’t really care though because I love sitting in the front, and the seat was good. I don’t care how its allegedly not safe. Most of the bush taxis in Togo are Mazda or Toyota vans that have the engines under the driver instead of in the front of the vehicle, so a head-on collision is theoretically more dangerous in one of them. However, I’ve seen way more bush taxis that have rolled over and burned than have gotten in a head-on. I prefer to be able to get out of the car quickly, instead of being crammed in the middle of 20 other people in the event of an accident.

My wish list includes Clif Bars too

Its kind of interesting how much stuff has changed here just in the past year or so. My favorite egg sammie guy just rebuilt his little café—its really nice now. A couple new storefronts have opened up in Kouka. Double and triple kit phones that play mp3s are more common—despite the fact they are all chinese knock-offs. MP3 headsets entered the scene about a year ago and a lot of people have them now.

Speaking of buying things, it’s the new year, so Nigerian moto salesmen have been through. Now a lot of the zed drivers have new motos, which they will resell again next year when they are worn out.

And speaking of Nigeria, current war/strike there is creating a problem here because that’s where Togo gets most of its gasoline. The gas stations in Kabou, Kouka, and Bassar are either out of gas or are hoarding it. There is a thriving illegal gasoline trade here—little stalls along the road that sell liter bottles of gas are ubiquitous. They are getting rich because, since they stockpile gas, they are the only source of it now. Gas used to be 500-600 CFA/liter in the station and at the stand. Now its up to 600 at the station, and 800-1 mille at the stands. Traveling just got a lot more expensive.

I saw the most hilarious thing the other night. Nighan was out and the kittens were asleep on my lit picot. I was watching something in bed when I heard this crash and snarling from the other room. I got my flashlight pointed at the door in time to see both kittens charge into my room side by side, growling and hissing. They each had one end of a mouse that Nighan brought in. The kittens ran under my bed where one of them eventually won out, and then I got to listen to kitty jaws crunching a mouse. I didn’t mind though, I was too busy laughing.

I sort of like TIME Magazine's Person of the Year for this year-- the Protester. It is cliche, but summarizes the year's most important development. I, however, take issue with the obituary section. Yes I love Steve Jobs-inspired/developed products and will keep buying them. Yes, the man was a genius. But, compared to the rest of the people who died this year, why the hell does he rate the first mention, like he was the most important? Buried back in the section is the obituary for Sargeant Shriver, the guy who founded the Peace Corps, among other things. Who has more of an impact-- someone who developed stuff that people want to spend money on or someone who created an organization that helps the world? Would you rather have an iPod or clean water? Someone's importance should not be related to how much money they made in their lifetimes, but, sadly, it is. Jobs did a lot, but no one in Nampoch knows what the hell a Macbook is . . . .

The price of progress is

a lot of trees. Crews have started working on the road between Kouka and Kabou-- my current link to civilization. When its done, it will go from a partially washed out, rutted, dirt road that is barely passable in the rainy season to a 2 lane blacktop that will be one of the nicest roads in Togo. All of this is hard on the teak forests that surround parts of it though. It will also be hard on my friend Jen's village, Manga, because the road will completely change the village. And Kouka too. But it will take me like an hour to get to Bassar when the road is finished, instead of the current two, or an hour and a half to get to Kara, instead of the current 2.5 . . . crazy.

My insatiable curiosity is, i have decided, no longer good for my mental health in some respects. A couple months ago, when we were doing the technical visits for our pump project, i saw a long, thin, silver snake cross the road in front of our motos. My driver freaked and swerved, but the snake was fast and long gone. i thought it was pretty, and i also thought that the likelihood of me running into every venomous snake in west Africa was pretty low, so i didn't think much of it. Then, a couple weeks ago in Lome, i was looking up another snake that i've seen around here a couple of times because i was really curious as to what it was . . . i stumbled across a picture of a black mamba. they are long, thin, and silver. . . .

The Kouka girl's football team came out to Nampoch last friday for a match. they won. 2-0. on penalty kicks. like anything else is new. but it was fun. A bunch of my Volunteer friends, Abs (Abby), D (Danielle), Siya (Katie) and Bry (Bryanna), came out to do a condom demonstration and a talk on family planning after the match. they did a really good job. I had to go back and add their real names in parentheses . . . .

Ningan is awesome. her kittens are imps from hell. she's been bringing back mice at night for them. whichever one gets to the mouse first runs into my room with it and growls for a half hour to keep the other 2 away. since the mice are about half the size of the kittens, i have to lay there and listen to them chew on it for an hour . . .

in other cat news, the other two haven't showed up yet most likely never will now.

My wish list, in case anyone wants to get stars in their crown or blessings in the hereafter or to have a chicken sacrificed in his or her honor and sends me a package:

seasoned salt/pepper
beef jerky
instant mashed potatoes
instant anything that just needs water added . . .
crystal light
AA batteries
snacks- of the instant kind that i can eat instantly
cheese (Velveeta?)
cigars (thanks Annabelle)
cheesy anything
granola bars (thanks Bry)
trail mix
chex mix
tuna packets

ok, i think i am done now . . . I've been craving snack foods for the past week

People in village are starting to finish up their harvests. this means that huge cotton trucks go up and down my road as they collect the cotton harvests from small villages. Nampoch is deserted most days, but people are starting to be around more as they begin hot season 'repo'.

its still cold at nights. which means i get to sleep under a sheet. i walked out the other morning in my shorts. N'tido was huddled over the fire wrapped in a pagne and wearing a sweat shirt. i asked her if she was cold, she looked at me like i was crazy. it probably only gets down to like 65 maybe, but i can't tell. a thermometer in Kara last weekend said that it was 40 C. I was wearing a long sleeve shirt and jeans and felt fine . . .

its still really dusty. some days, the air is white. if i squint and tilt my head just right, i can briefly imagine that i looking at blowing snow. . . .

Phrasal verb exercises

The first exercises for this year are related to phrasal verbs.
1.The first one is writing each of the sentences above in English and next to it its translation into Spanish.

2. The second exercise is rewriting the text in the following site: with the corresponding phrasal verbs.

Pay attention to the instructions and good luck!


Makato Kinjo

Makato Kinjo was a Japanese supercentenarian who was born on 7 August 1888.
Born Makato Takara in Okinawa, Japan, Kinjo was born to a father who worked as a butcher and who died at 90, and a mother who died at 70; she was her father's fourth child and her mother's second. In total, Kinjo had seven siblings, the eldest two of them half-siblings born to her father's first wife.
Two of her siblings died at 60, one died at 45, and another lived until he was 70. The ages at death of the remaining three siblings cannot be ascertained.
Kinjo, who never received an official education, married her first husband, a man surnamed Teruya, at 21 years of age. Though Kinjo mainly farmed the land, she also partook in weaving and sewing.
Three years into her first marriage, Kinjo and her husband moved to Hawaii, United States. They were, however, divorced ten years into their marriage due to Kinjo's inability to produce a baby boy.
She married her second and last husband at 47, a marriage that would last 33 years until her husband's death. During their marriage, the pair amassed a fair amount of wealth from a shop in Japan they were operating.
At 85 years of age, Kinjo had surgery to remove cataracts, and underwent surgery once more five years for a broken hip. Kinjo eventually moved to a nursing home at 94, after suggesting the option to her daughter.
Kinjo was independent by nature, and particularly enjoyed tofu. She was noted to have always removed the fat from pork whenever she ate it.
Kinjo passed away in Okinawa, Japan, on 18 August 1998, aged 110 years, 11 days. She is currently the youngest Japanese supercentenarian validated by the Gerontology Research Group and the 188th oldest Japanese on record.

ho ho ho its a new year . . .

Merry 2012. I forgot today that it was not 2010 anymore.

New Years was fun. Togolese know how to celebrate the new year. It is, however, not a good holiday for Togolese poultry, or other livestock. Togolese start feting on the 31st and they do not stop until at least the 2nd. The holiday coincides with a lot of the harvests, and it is not religion specific, so it is really popular. Of course, I had one Assembly of God friend try to tell me that it is really a Christian holiday that no one else understands, but whatever.

My friend Christine came to visit me over the New Years. She got into Lomé on the 28th; we got up to Nampoch on the 30th. It took her the same amount of travel time, or maybe even less, to get from the US to Togo as it took me to get from Nampoch to Lomé. Anyway, it was a lot of fun showing her Nampoch and feting together and stuff. She flew out yesterday.

It was kind of interesting seeing how Peace Corps is reflected off of someone who is not a Volunteer. I found myself having to adjust my vocabulary cause most Americans do not habitually speak in acronyms. I take a lot of stuff for granted, like the instinctive response to “ça vas?” or laughing at ridiculous zed drivers, or being one of 25 people in a 15-seat van for 8 hours straight.

The highlight of New Years was popping a bottle of champaign at 1700h with my host family on the 31st. Specifically it was N’tilabi going "oOh” when the cork got 10 meters of altitude over his head.

Cat update: I am down to 3. It does not look like Nigarmi or Mullet, Jen’s cat that I am babysitting while she is in the States, survived New Years. They have not been seen for a week and the consensus is that they were probably on someone’s menu. To say that I am really pissed about this would be an understatement; the public nature of this forum, however, limits what I can say on this matter. The matter is being investigated.

In the vein of sad things, Jacqui and I went out to Dimori, my friend Sangbo’s village, today to get some of his stuff and to tell the community what happened to him. That was one of the harder things I’ve done in a while. It is hard enough for communities when their Volunteer finishes his or her service. But many times, like in the case of Sangbo, Volunteers leave without warning and people in village have no idea what happened to them. Jacqui and I went with a couple people to the local school where Sangbo did a lot of work and told the students what happened. They were pretty sad about it.

It kind of goes to show that you should never take anyone, or any relationship, for granted. Life can change in a heartbeat and bonds can be severed by unforeseen events that are out of your control. It is not a concept that life in the United States prepares people for. We are conditioned to plan, to think that no problem is insurmountable, to think that there is some kind of magic cure or surgery or drug that will fix any problem. We do not have holes in our lives that are left by people except by death, which is usually foreseen in some sense. Anything other than this is a tragedy that we can numb away through media, electronics, drugs, or by drowning ourselves in the endless noise that characterizes western life. But most people do not have the luxury of such temporary amnesia. What is there when the only thing you can do is wake up the next day clutching the previous day’s sorrow? You mourn, adapt, and go on.

The best laid plans of mice, men, and Peace Corps Volunteers . . .