« The Geezer Files


by Terry Veldhouse

Little Woman: So, was it a big funeral?

Geezer: No, average size, one guy.

Everybody likes to identify with a group, and once they do they just naturally start to cherish, and measure, their group members. Soon they establish a little pecking order of greatness inside the group. Geezers are no exception to this. In fact, because geezers have been around a long time, they have had plenty of time to peck.

Geezers peck about things like the number of great and near great grandkids, date of retirement, prettiest little woman, pills, classic cars, bullet holes, fish stories, and on and on. But this geezer believes that the all-time top peck is the number of people that go to a geezers funeral.

So here is how to rank geezers on funeral size.

Rule #1: The Geezer has to be a regular guy. No Presidents, KIngs, Arab sheiks, or other polygamists.

Rule #2: If a building wont hold the funeral, you get to count all the people that eat a ham bun after its over, whether they were inside or not.

I submit to you that the all-time winner of this peck is Benjamin Franklin. When Franklin passed away in 1790 at the age of 84, 20,000 people were said to be at his funeral. Now considering that the population of his town of Philadelphia was only 28,522 (we know this because 1790 was the year of the first US Census) at the time of his death, that is a lot of people to pay their respects.

What did Franklin do to draw such a crowd? In 1790, when Ben finally called it quits, the average life expectancy in the newly formed United States of America was about 40 years, depending on whose stats you believe. This means that Ben lived twice as long as the average. He basically out geezered everybody. To perform that feat today, he would have to live to be 156 years old. Imagine the number of friends and enemies you could make in that amount of time!

Others will say that it was more important that he was a governor, wrote the Poor Richard Almanac, learned a lot about electricity, and was the glue of the American Revolution. Most of us know at least some of that about him. But I bet that all of us know how to finish this sentence:

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man, healthy, wealthy, and _____________.

So, Franklin was a quote master, he out-geezered everybody, and got his picture taken for the $100 bill. Who beats that?

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