Transcript for the Piece Audio version of Walter Breuning: World's Oldest Man
GREAT FALLS RESIDENT WALTER BREUNING IS CELEBRATING HIS 114TH BIRTHDAY TODAY.
HE WAS BORN IN 1896 IN MELROSE, MINNESOTA.
FOR THE LAST 92 YEARS HE’S BEEN LIVING IN GREAT FALLS.
THE GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS DECLARED HIM THE WORLD’S OLDEST MAN IN JULY 2009.
CAPITOL REPORTER EMILIE RITTER SAYS SINCE THEN, HE’S RECEIVED HUNDREDS OF LETTERS ASKING FOR HEALTH ADVICE AND INSIGHT INTO THE LAST CENTURY…
EVEN AT 114 YEARS OLD WALTER BREUNING WAKES UP EVERY MORNING AT 6:30, DOES CALISTHENICS, PUTS ON A SUIT AND TIE AND (FADE IN WALKER NATS) WALKS – WITH THE HELP OF A WALKER – DOWN TO BREAKFAST.
(GOOD MORNING NAT POP)
WALTER HAS NEVER HAD ANY MAJOR HEALTH PROBLEMS AND FOR YEARS ONLY TOOK A SMALL DOSE OF ASPIRIN.
WALTER: “No pills, no medicine, none. R: Do you still take an aspirin a day? W: I don’t take nothing anymore, I quit that too. R: How come? W: I don’t need it. I’ve been going to the doctor every 6 months, he pulled out his computer and said come back in six months, well why the hell am I going to the doctor?” Walter1.wav :26
HE CREDITS HIS GOOD HEALTH TO YEARS OF EATING JUST TWO MEALS A DAY.
HE EATS BREAKFAST AND LUNCH AND BY MID AFTERNOON HE RETIRES TO HIS ROOM FOR THE EVENING AND WILL SNACK ON FRESH FRUIT.
WALTER: “50-60 years ago I started 2 meals a day that’s when my wife passed away. And I started eating in restaurants and just got in the habit of it. Same weight all the time, people come in there with too much weight, I tell ‘em.” Walter2.wav :18
WALTER’S WIFE AGNES DIED IN 1957 AFTER 35 YEARS OF MARRIAGE.
THE TWO NEVER HAD ANY CHILDREN.
WALTER’S BROTHERS AND SISTERS ALL PASSED AWAY IN THEIR SEVENTIES AND HIS PARENTS DIED VERY YOUNG, HIS FATHER WAS 50, HIS MOTHER JUST 46 – THAT WAS BACK IN THE 19-TEENS.
WALTER SAYS HE REMEMBERS EVERYTHING SINCE HE WAS THREE YEARS OLD, HIS FIRST HAIRCUT, MAKING ICE CREAM WITH HIS MOTHER AND WHEN HIS FAMILY MOVED FROM MINNESOTA TO DESMET SOUTH DAKOTA – IN 1901.
WALTER: “No electricity, kerosene lamps, we were there 17 years without any lights. No street lights, no running water, no bathrooms, pumps outside, carried in the water, heated it on the stove. That’s the way people lived at that time.” Walter3.wav :29
AND HE SAYS IT WAS HARD.
NOT ONLY WERE MODERN AMENITIES OUT OF REACH FOR WORKING CLASS FAMILIES IN THE WEST – BUT JOB SECURITY AND BANK SECURITY WEREN’T A REALITY EITHER.
WALTER HAD BEEN WORKING FOR THE GREAT NORTHERN RAILROAD FOR ALMOST TWO DECADES BY THE TIME PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT CLOSED THE BANKS FOR REORGANIZATION IN THE MID THIRTIES.
WALTER: “They try to compare today with yesterday, there was no radio, no TV, no social security, no food stamps, nothing like that. You couldn’t go to the government and get money. That’s why it was so tough.” Walter4.wav :20
WALTER WAS FORTUNATE; HE WAS NEVER LAID OFF IN 50 YEARS WITH THE RAILROAD.
HE’S SAID HIS BIGGEST REGRET WAS NOT VOLUNTEERING FOR WORLD WAR ONE – HE WAS TOO OLD TO FIGHT IN WORLD WAR TWO.
(NATS UP OF RAINBOW…)
MID MORNING AT THE RAINBOW RETIREMENT CENTER, FOLKS START TO GATHER IN THE LOBBY FOR LUNCH.
WALTER’S LIVED HERE FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS, AND HE SAYS IT’S THE BEST PLACE IN GREAT FALLS.
HE GETS HUNDREDS OF LETTERS FROM PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD WANTING TO KNOW HIS SECRETS FOR A LONG LIFE…
(NATS OPENING LETTERS)
TINA BUNDTROCK IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE RAINBOW, SHE HELPS WALTER OPEN AND READ HIS LATEST PIECE OF FAN MAIL…
BUNDTROCK: “God bless your days with everything you like to be, sincerely Vicki Lynn Johnson of Great Falls. W: Johnson? B: Yeah, Johnson.” Readingletter.wav
BUNDTROCK IS ALSO MAKING SURE TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION GOES SMOOTHLY.
SHE ORDERED WALTER’S FAVORITE CAKE AND PICKED HIM UP A NEW SUIT.
AND, THE GOVERNOR WILL BE THERE ….
WALTER: “God, they’re making a fuss aren’t they? B: Yea, but they love ya. We’ve kept the invitation list below 100…Walter: They’re sure making a fuss.” Makingafuss.wav
I ASKED WALTER HIS ADVICE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS AND HE SAYS GET A GOOD EDUCATION, WORK AS LONG AS YOU CAN AND MAKE TIME TO VOLUNTEER.
WALTER: “We got a good world here, the only thing is, there is so much hatred. Hatred, in the world today. And if we could just be a little kind to one another, we could make this country wonderful.” Walter5.wav :19
THERE ARE DOCTORS AROUND THE COUNTRY WHO’VE BEEN RESEARCHING WALTER AND TRYING TO FIND OUT JUST WHY HE’S LIVED SO LONG.
A RESEARCHER IN BOSTON RECENTLY TOOK SOME OF WALTER’S BLOOD TO STUDY HIS GENETICS, BUT WALTER SAYS, THE ANSWER ISN’T IN HIS BLOOD…
WALTER: “There is only one man – and that’s the guy upstairs – he knows when your time has come…” Walter6.wav :06
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WALTER.
FOR MONTANA EVENING EDITION, I’M EMILIE RITTER AT THE CAPITOL.