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Life Lessons from a 97-Year-Old Lobsterman

Hathorne Point
the U.S. Labor Bureau
Right here.’

John Olson
Chris Bennett)World
Sarah Ashley
Tic Tacs
John’s secret.“Work
Andrew Wyeth—
Jim Seavey
Halsey Flint
Will Maloney
Betty A.
John W. Sr
Hathorne Point
Sarah Ashley’s


Griffin Island
Muscongus Bay

Hathorne Point

San Francisco
Caldwell Island

the World War II

Positivity     53.00%   
   Negativity   47.00%
The New York Times
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Wearing rubber boots, brown work pants, and a navy jacket with enough dirt on it for him not to worry about keeping it clean, John has the straight-backed bearing of the World War II sailor he once was.“My mother wanted me to work in an office,” he says, nudging the boat close to an orange and black buoy bobbing off Griffin Island in midcoast Maine. “But that wasn’t for me.” He snags the buoy with a duct-taped gaff, and the hydraulic hauler whines as it lifts a wire trap with a tangle of lobsters inside.“How do you know where to find them?” I ask.“It’s all in here,” John says, pointing a yellow-gloved hand to his head, which, after 97 years, is still covered by a respectable amount of gray hair. The boys spent their nights camping out and their days fishing, swimming, or working on Clyde’s father’s lobster boat.“I couldn’t have been much more than six,” John says of his early start in the lobstering business. After high school, he bought a brand-new boat, paying for it the Maine way: “I went into the woods and cut 100 cords of pulpwood with a bucksaw and ax,” John remembers. Sea water flows into a barrel where crustaceans pile up in a glistening brown heap flecked with sky blue and orange.“What do you eat for breakfast?” I ask John.“Half a grapefruit, cornflakes—sometimes a banana along with it—cuppa coffee, and a doughnut.”“How do you sleep?”“I go to bed and go to sleep.”“Do you ever go to the gym?”“Gym?” His laugh—heh, heh, heh—sounds like an engine sputtering.“He split 100 cords of wood every winter by hand,” Sam reminds me as he measures the lobsters. Keepers must be at least three-and-a-quarter inches long from eye socket to tail.“So if you get a headache, you just take a couple aspirin?”“Very seldom had a headache,” says John.I’m now in my mid-fifties, popping Tylenol like Tic Tacs, my right rotator cuff torn and my knees aching from years of running, so I’d like to know John’s secret.“Work, I guess,” he says. But hey, I don’t want to.” It occurs to me then that John’s longevity might be due to the fact that he’s always known who he is and been content to be that.“He doesn’t drink or swear or kill any other life,” Sam says as John takes the wheel and heads for Caldwell Island. “I was sittin’ eatin’ my breakfast one morning, and a knock come on the door,” John says, reaching back for the memory. “And I said, ‘Right here.’” The wistfulness in his voice reminds me that there’s a downside to living 97 years: at some point, you’re the last lobsterman standing.“I think about them,” says John of his fellow boat captains.

As said here by Suzanne Rico