June 27, 2012 - A quick look on-line and I found in 1907 Oklahoma became the 46th state in the Union after the Indian and Oklahoma territories were merged. I discovered the United States proclaimed to be protector of the Dominican Republic and invaded Honduras. That year, the Detroit Tigers lost the World Series to the Chicago Cubs, four games to none (with one tie).
And, while it wasn't a cold day in hell, June 13, 1907 was to be recorded as the coldest day ever in the continental United States (it was reported the low temps for that day dipped down to 2 degrees (Fahrenheit) in Tamarack, California).
And, on the following day, in the city of Pontiac, Mark Edward Bird came screaming into this world.
I had the opportunity to meet with Eddie (as he has always gone by, not Mark or Markie) last week during one of those blistering hot days. No, there were no seances nor other ether entering practices committed. I simply drove to his home in Lake Orion -- the same home he moved his family to in 1940 -- and visited with him.
Holy Pass The Geritol, Batman and start living goodly. At 105 years of age, Eddie rocks!
I came to visit Eddie and his two daughters in a round about way. See, one of my Clarkston High School buddies, Darryl Berry, called me out of the blue a few weeks ago.
"Don, you should interview my Grandpa Bird, he's gonna be 105 this year and he still has it . . . and he still has an eye for the ladies. He likes my wife," Darryl explained. You need to know this, Darryl's a salesman of hot tubs and sauna stuff, and I think Darryl was trying to sell me on the idea. He didn't have to.
I've always -- always -- had a spot in my heart for old-timers. Don't believe me? When I had an Oakland Press paper route back in the mid-1970s, the first folks on my 50-home route were gray-hairs. On Greenview the Arnolds, Fritches, Bassets and VanHorns were all way older than my 13 years. And, at each I would take the time to listen to their stories (eat their pies, rake their leaves or shovel their driveways).
By the time I cut through the woods to the second, larger part of my route by Dubuque Road-- a neighborhood comprised more of young families like mine (the Barnards, Zubalics, Morales and Slattery are names I remember) -- it was usually getting dark. Which, kinda sucked for a couple of reasons:
1. The gal I had a secret crush on all through school lived on the second part of my route, and since I was late, I would have no time to chitchat; and
2. Cutting back through the woods when it was dark out was . . . well, let's just say it was good fodder for the overactive imagination of a science fiction reading and scary movie watching lad.
But, I digress . . .
For two hours last week I asked Eddie questions about his life, what changed, his opinion on stuff in general. And, though his eyes are a wee-bit clouded with age, there's still a twinkle in 'em. And, though he was a little hard of hearing, he answered my questions. He told jokes, stories of lost loves, his first car, sang songs, offered words of encouragement for riding out these harsh economic time and upon my leaving, some final words of advice for the kids.
"Before you go to school, make sure you water your pets," he said -- remembering a time long ago, as a youth when he hadn't.
Next week, readers of the Oxford Leader and Lake Orion Review print editions will be able to read my feature story about Eddie, the rest of you will have to go our website. On a final note . . . I want to thank Darryl, his family and Eddie, for allowing me this opportunity. Thank you!
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org