Born June 5th 1907
Fred Cain was 102 at the time I wrote him. He is blind and his response was typed by a staff member of the care home in which he resides. The letter was received all the way from Chippenham, Wiltshire, England!
Tuesday 29th June 2009
Thank you for your card & enquiry about my secret to long life.
I was born in Plymouth where my father was a Navy man for the first ten years of my life. He retired as a Chief Petty Officer. We then moved to Cornwall and after leaving school I learned a trade as a Pattern Maker.
I joined RAF [Royal Air Force] in 1936 and was with them for 6 years. In 1939 war broke out. I was a mechanic on the airplanes and retired as a corporal. I just missed out on being made sergeant by one day! While I was in the RAF [Royal Air Force] I joined The Order of Buffalos which is a secret society just like the Masons. I was 21 years old when I joined and I am still with them now at the grand age of 102! I go to meetings every Sunday evening as long as the weather is good.
The secret to long life is honest living. I still do my KP exercises every morning stretching and touching my toes and every evening I have a glass of whiskey. I still play the piano even though I am now blind and enjoy listening to football matches on the radio with a friend in the home where I am living.
As an unexpected extra, I received a letter from Fred Cain’s daughter Jan Withers a couple of months later. She was able to provide me with some additional interesting information about her father. Remarkably, Mr. Cain can still touch his toes – without bending his knees. He was married for 68 years and had 3 children. His wife died in December 2000, at the age of 90. She mentioned his membership in The Order of the Buffaloes but specifies they are not like the Masons. In November 2008 they held a ceremony for him to celebrate 80 years of service and recognized him as the oldest member in the world. She included the picture below. Also, in addition to playing the piano, as he mentioned, he had played the saxophone as well. He played in a dance band for 25 years and she points out that he never received any music lessons but was completely self-taught by listening.
I love how Mr. Cain breaks his longevity down to ‘honest living’. Despite the aging process which has left him hard of hearing and blind he still continues to get up each day and do his stretches, he keeps his music love alive, listens to football (soccer) – with a friend, and that glass of whiskey!
According to a study in a January 2009 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, healthy seniors who were light to moderate drinkers had a 25% increase in their ability to complete daily activities. This same study did note that seniors who were heavy drinkers did have an increase incidence of disability. Researchers even defined light to moderate drinking as less than 15 drinks a week with a daily max of 5 drinks a day for men and 4 drinks a day for women. These results did however only seem to benefit those who were without other significant health concerns (i.e. diabetes, heart disease, depression).