I have been very fortunate over the years as a journalist to have the opportunity to interview many, many interesting people; the famous, near famous and just plain remarkable individuals. Place West Lebanon resident Gordon Stone in that last category, only add truly remarkable!
On June 21, 2018 Gordon celebrated his 100th birthday at his residence at the Quail Hollow Senior Living Community. He was born June 21, 1918 in Barre, Vermont. The fact that Gordon lives at Quail Hollow should give you a hint about how capable he remains to this day. You see, Quail Hollow is for senior citizens that are able to live independently. No nursing home for this gentleman and, once you meet him, you will fully understand how remarkable a person he has become. At 100 years of age, Gordon remains completely independent.
He is always on the move, but I finally caught up with him to request an interview for this feature story. His response was typical. He gave me a point blank stare that would stop you in your tracks!
“Why me?” he snorted. “What have I done? All I’ve done is live my life. Haven’t accomplished any great feats!”
I fully respected his statement, but was quick to point out that reaching a healthy 100th birthday was something truly newsworthy and everyone would love to hear his life story. He continued to give me that look before answering.
“Well, I suppose so.” he said with a slight smile. “You know a lot of people have asked me already how do you get to be 100. I tell them I have no idea!”
Gordon then paused in the conversation and added further explanation.
“Well actually, the correct answer is that back on December 8, 2008 I had heart surgery at Dartmouth Hitchcock Memorial Hospital. (I still call it Mary Hitchcock Hospital). The truth is without that I may not have made it to this stage.”
Before we ended our conversation, Gordon reluctantly agreed to the interview, but he set firm conditions. He wanted to read some of the feature stories I had written and then he would highlight what he considered his most memorable moments of the last 100 years. I fully agreed, so here they are in his own words.
“I received 10 years of education. I went to a one-room schoolhouse in East Orange, Vermont with one teacher for all grades. It was heated in the winter by a wood stove. Yes, I walked to school every day!
What I recall most as I look back is the 1927 flood in Vermont and the 1938 hurricane. I remember when prohibition ended. I think it was in 1933 they came out with 3.2 beer and sold it in Quechee, Vermont. The Depression was at its height in the 1930s and I had to go to work on a farm to make ends meet. I moved to West Lebanon in 1940. To this day, my heart remains in West Lebanon. Still here!
I went to work for a Lebanon company called Fro-Joy Ice Cream. That became a famous brand endorsed by Rudy Vallee and Babe Ruth. In April of 1941 I was drafted into the Army eight months before Pearl Harbor. I remember sitting and listening to the Day of Infamy Speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt. I came home from the Army in 1944 and returned to the ice cream company that was now Sealtest Ice Cream. Later I went to work in the grocery business at Cross Abbott in White River and retired in May 1984.
I have been a member of both the Masons and The American Legion for over 70 years and I am one of two original residents at Quail Hollow which was built in August of 1999.”
I want readers of this article to remember that I have honored Gordon’s request for this format out of pure respect and awe. As a writer, I would have gone into far more detail, but Gordon avoids heaping attention on himself. He did however, point out that he never married, did not smoke or consume alcohol. He added those facts with a wide grin!!
I will close with a quote about aging that fits Gordon quite well.
“If things get better with age, then you are approaching magnificent.”