EUGENE, Ore. – Four score and seven years ago, Jim Lincoln was as old as some of the people he’s now drinking with.
Lincoln, who turned 108 last week, may not be the oldest man in Oregon, but he’s the definitely the elder statesman at the Horsehead, a downtown Eugene pub that Lincoln frequents when he’s not at his assisted-care facility.
“I feel at home here,” Lincoln said while seated at a corner table on a recent afternoon. Lincoln couldn’t see the paintings on the walls – “I’m blind, you know” – but had no trouble hearing Aretha Franklin’s voice coming through the speakers.
He also had plenty to say, offering many detailed stories.
Lincoln said he started his life on a wagon trail in Alaska in 1898, and his family lost their home in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
“It was about a week after Easter,” he said. “I was still in my impressionable years then, so I remember it very clearly.”
Lincoln, who was married twice but never fathered a child, served in the U.S. military during World War I and later became a research scientist, working at several universities throughout the country. He moved to Eugene after retirement, and continues to paint and write poetry.
“It’s hard to take a life like mine and condense it into a few sentences,” Lincoln said. “I’ve done a lot, and it all adds up to a long, long story.”
The Guinness Book of World Records lists a 114-year-old Puerto Rico resident as the world’s oldest living man. The oldest man in the United States is 113, according to the Gerontology Research Group, an organization that works to authenticate cases of people older than 110.
Recognized as the oldest living person is a woman from Ecuador who is nearing her 117th birthday.
Many people ask Lincoln about his regimen for living a long life, but he says it’s just chance. He also said he has no desire to top of any of the oldest-person lists.
“There’s no advantage to being 108,” Lincoln said. “If there were, there’d be a lot of other people trying to get in on it. It’s nothing to brag about. I just grin and bear it.”