Woody: Landing on your 102nd birthday
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Last week a woman in Iowa jumped off a bridge to celebrate her 102nd birthday.

Jump off a bridge? I hope when I'm 102 I'm able to blow out the candles on my birthday cake.

Not Dorothy Custer (perhaps a descendant of who-me-worry cavalryman George?) Daredevil Dorothy strapped on a parachute and made a 486-foot plunge off a bridge abutment.

Of course jumping off a bridge is easy. It's the landing that's tricky.

As Lewis Grizzard once said, he wasn't afraid of flying. It's the crashing and burning that worried him.
Thankfully Dorothy had a smooth landing. The only thing she broke was into a smile.

Someone asked her why she jumped off a bridge.
She said she wanted to jump out of an airplane but it was too expensive. So she jumped off a bridge.

No, really.

"Oh, I guess I just don't know any better," Dorothy chortled.
How many of us have said that, usually after regaining consciousness on an ambulance gurney?

I once jumped off the high-dive at the Cumberland Mountain State Park swimming pool, trying to impress Martha Sue Wattenbarger. When I eventually surfaced, pop-eyed and dazed, Martha Sue was gone.

I asked the life guard where she went.
"Some dope jumped off the high-dive and swamped her in a tidal wave," he said. "She looked like a drowned rat."
I'll bet a drowned rat never filled out a two-piece polka-dot bikini like Martha Sue Wattenbarger did, but that's a different story for a different time.

I confess that I'm afraid of heights. I get dizzy climbing a ladder to clean the gutters.
Back when I used to travel the country covering sports events, I'd request a motel room on the lower levels. Generally I'd get one up around the 100th story.

I once stayed in a glass-enclosed Tower of Babble in Atlanta that was so high the pigeons on the ledge had nose-bleed.
When I walked into the room I shut my eyes and groped around until I found the cord that drew the drapes. Even though I couldn't see the clouds scooting by outside my window, I still had the high-rise heebie-jeebies.

Back to Dorothy: she said staying active was the secret to her longevity.
I thought that when your odometer clicked over to 102, "staying active" meant putting your socks on by yourself, not parachuting off a bridge.

Ms. Custer is one Super Senior. She's an inspiration to all of us sedentary sorts who whine if the newspaper is not thrown on the porch and we have to walk down THREE WHOLE STEPS to fetch it.
I hope I have Dorothy's daring-do when I'm 102. In fact, I could use a little of it right now because I'm getting ready to stand on a chair and change the front-porch light bulb. (I keep telling myself: don't look down!)
Let's trust that Dorothy is jumping off bridges for many years to come. In that spirit, I'd like to raise a toast (not too high) to her.


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