Texas Spirit – Jogging Into The 21st Century

By David Smith

Since 1973 my wife Charis and I have lived near Rice University. Chief among what I call “spillover benefits” from living across from Rice is the jogging path around its campus,

that is just a tad short of three miles. We also enjoy events at Shepherd School of Music.
I suit up before dawn most mornings, cross Rice Boulevard and jog around that path. For me, jogging is less than a flat out run but more than a shuffle. A jock I am not and never was, though for over 50 years in the chemical business and most of the 50 years that I’ve been married, I’ve jogged around that fine gravel walkway, dropping to only two miles when we sack in. A time or two, I’ve run what I call my Galena Park Marathon, which is 15.3 miles by way of Ben Milam Square at 1500 Texas Avenue.

You cannot deny your own experience, and mine has been that jogging is the best investment in good health a person can make. The cost is a pair of running shoes, a gym suit, and an hour before work every day.

The result? I feel fine most days.

More important, I rarely have colds or flu, but when I do, they last but for a day. As a little boy growing up in Far West Texas (El Paso), my dad used to have lots of colds and would take dreadful stuff called Citrocarbonate, which tended to spoil his disposition. Pollen in early spring or summer gives our family more irritation than colds or flu.

You may be saying to yourself, “This guy has his sellin’ shoes on.” Not really, but I’ll tell you jogging is high on my short list of priorities.

I have never taken a flu shot and I’ve rarely been in the hospital, except as a teenager and another time in college when I was bitten by a copperhead and treated with horse serum, to which I reacted violently. A week after the copperhead bite I went down for a count of five. Thankfully I survived.

I wax eloquent on the merits of jogging but I’ll lay off, except to say getting a five or seven days a week workout throughout life, with strain on your heart and lungs, will add at least 10-15 years to your life.

So I pack my shorts and Adidas when I travel which has led me into all kinds of adventures. Sometimes at moderate risk I’ve jogged in major towns like Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle, as far south as Brownsville, and also in East Texas.

Once when I was in Romania, during the days of Dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, I got to “visit” with some of the local folks, which was amazing since we were only able to communicate with eyes, hands, grunts and smiles, essentially all “nonverbal communication.”
Yes, I believe in non-verbal communication.

My resolution on daily jogging goes back to the 1960s when I met an old gentleman at the YWCA Cafeteria, Mr. W.E. Thompson who was then over 80. Today we might call him a coot. He had religiously kept up his exercise program that began when he and his wife Miss Betty were members of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

His stated goal in connection with daily exercise was to live to be 100 years old.
One time at the YMCA Cafeteria I asked Mr. Thompson, “How did you get into this habit of daily exercise?” He responded, “Davee” (that’s what he called me) “as a young man I boxed, wrestled, as well as played with the Indian Clubs, did gymnastics and worked out on the machines at the YMCA.”

When I asked him what he was doing at the time we talked, he replied, “Oh Davee I walk. I walk a lot, all over downtown Houston, three to five miles every day.”

Mr. Thompson went on to say that a few years back, before he sold his car, he and his wife “Miss Betty” continued to exercise so that they might live to be a hundred years old. I’m happy to report that he reached his goal.

He made it to 100 years plus a little over a month extra, and “Miss Betty” made it to 98.
What a role model Mr. and Mrs. Thompson provided Charis and me.

A few years back when Charis and I were on vacation with lifetime friends the Langfords, Don and I made a formal pact, really a contract, duly signed, witnessed, and attested by Don’s wife that, subject to continued health permitting, and the Lord willing, we too would aim to live to be 100 years old!

Articles today inform us that the ranks of “centurions” are growing in this great nation of ours. A recent “National Geographic” has an infant on its cover with the note, “This baby will live to be 120 years old!”

“Aim at nothing and you’ll always hit it” is one of my aphorisms at Texmark. Well, Don and I not only aim to make it to a hundred; we hope to make it together, with our wives, and do it as well as the Thompsons.

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