The World’s Oldest Person

Lisbon in the 1930s

Mrs. Edna Parker, the 115 year-old American woman who was recognized as the world’s oldest person has died.  According to her family, the secret to her longevity was an active life free of alcohol and cigarettes.  I’d also add the very likely probability of some very good genes, although she did outlive her own two sons. Maybe the fresh air in the Indiana farm where she lived until she was 100 also had something to do with it. She was also a highly educated woman, working as a teacher until 1913 when she decided to dedicate her life to her farm.

But this leaves a Portuguese woman born in 1893 as the new oldest person in the world. Also 115 years young at the moment, she’s seen Portugal ruled by kings (until 1910 when the country went from monarchy to republic), by a dictator (for decades in the 20th century), and by prime-ministers democratically elected by the people in a country that’s also a member of the European Union. She was born at a time when locomotives competed with horse-drawn carriages as the most efficient means of transport, witnessed the first streetcars or trams arriving in Lisbon (pictuted above), the emergence of the automobile, the invention of the telephone, radio and television, and saw the first airplanes in the air. The world has suffered through world wars, man has landed on the moon, and the entire world is now connected through computers and wireless gadgets. Reviewing these women’s lives really makes you realize how much the world has evolved in just over a century, and makes you wonder what it will be like when a baby born today turns 115 years old…

For an overview of the history of Portugal click here.

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