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April 8, 2010 - Karin Elton
This morning I visited with a 98-year-old woman, Gert Nelson, who walks a half a mile every day, does 20 minutes on a stepper daily and does chair exercises twice a week as part of a group at Hill Street Place. She also does Sudoku, cooks all her own food and if she receives too many tomatoes in the summer, she cans them. She also plays cards and bakes.

One top of that, she looks good too. She doesn’t look like — wow, she’s old. She looks at least 20 years younger than her age.

In addition to all those activities above, she corresponds by e-mail. Her daughter, Karen Fischer of Wood Lake, introduced her mother to the computer when Gert was 90.

She didn’t really want to learn, she said. She never learned to type, so she pecks at the keyboard with one or two fingers.

I e-mailed Gert to make an appointment with her to look at an old book that her aunt had from the 1880s.

Here is Gert’s e-mail: “Hello KARIN got your E mail There are so many coffee birthday celebrations going opn but i could see you tomorrow morn at 9 45 APR 8 th If you cant come just E mail Thanks Gert Nelson”

She’ll be 99 next month.

The book is for kids just learning how to read, but I was amazed at how high-level it was. It goes from cat and rat to a full-on story about “The Sleepy Mule.”

“The Sleepy Mule” starts out: “Here is old Bob! Come, boys, let us have a ride! I am afraid to get on him, Fred; he may throw us off. Fie, Paul!”

I remember reading the old Dick and Jane books in the early 1960s. They had a sister named Sally and a dog named Spot. I quickly read to the end of the book and kept my finger at the page where the rest of the class was reading so I would know where to read when it was my turn to read aloud. I was bored with the simple story of Dick and Jane. “Jump, Spot, Jump!” I would have liked to have read this reader from 1884 as a 6-year-old although it looks geared toward farmers and boys.


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