Diary of a 100-Year-Old Man

Running Across Town for Some Indian Food
All things elderly.
Sept. 9 2008 12:40 PM

Diary of a 100-Year-Old Man

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At age 100, I luxuriate in late sleeping, until 9:30 or 10 and once even till 11. Today, at my request, a friend is driving me to see Devon Avenue, eight miles north of the Chicago River. I live eight miles south of the river and have not seen Devon Avenue for years. It is a long ribbon of a street that used to be filled with Eastern European Jewish stores. Almost everything you could imagine. Now the stores are all Indian or Pakistani groceries, jewelry, books, money exchange, and stores with only Asian names. Many restaurants, with many unlimited lunch buffets. Women in saris on the sidewalks. We stopped at the imposing Viceroy of India for an unlimited Devon Avenue buffet, which was actually limited for Occidentals by spiciness.

Home, at 2. Then, at age 100, a nap.

Our local Hyde Park newspaper did an "Obama Advertising Supplement," apparently assuming his election and including photographs of presidential libraries. I called the editor to leave word that adjoining Woodlawn would be appropriate. Woodlawn was all white, then all African-American, and is now beginning to be mixed. I decided that after Obama is elected, I will pursue this with the Obama group and the University of Chicago. An Obama library would be a great asset to the university as a neighbor.

At 4:30, I go down to our grassy garden and talk with neighbors. Our co-op apartment building has about 60 small gardens, and today our gardens gave us tomatoes. I wish very much I could still garden. Also, I wish I could walk.

At 5:55, most of us go indoors to look at the news. I like BBC for a half-hour and then PBS.

After that dinner, reading, and bed by 9.

Retirement is a very busy time, because I no longer have a secretary or a clerk as an assistant. In other respects, it is a wonderful time—few deadlines, no pain, lots of fun.

Leon Despres represented Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood as an alderman for two decades. He is the author of Challenging the Daley Machine: A Chicago Alderman's Memoir.