Mexborough & Swinton Times, September 01, 1939
Forget Your Age
Conisboro´ Veteran´s Recipe for Longevity
“A man´s not old until he admits it to himself – and if he does that he´s a fool”, says 81-years-old Mr. Walter George Pope, of Barnsley Avenue, Conanby, Conisborough, and he has proved his words many times over.
Most men of his age cringe when they see younger people exerting themselves , but Mr. Pope doesn´t believe in watching. He can keep up with men many years his junior at almost anything. He cycles, hikes and is an expert gardener.
Mr. Pope, a well known figure in the locality, is the possessor of a tricycle: this he bought when he was 77 and ever since he has ridden his three-wheeler many hundreds of miles. He thinks nothing of going for a 20 mile spin in the old country lanes and he thinks that is the best place to spend an afternoon, away from the busy roads.
To celebrate his seventieth birthday, although it was pouring with rain, he walked for 23 ½ miles, but that is not all – “to keep his mind busy” he cultivates two full-sized allotments about half a mile from his home, and if you want to see some grand displays of potatoes, cabbages and cauliflowers his garden is well worth a visit.
When a “Times” reporter paid him a visit this week he was busily hoeing a section of his allotment near the Conanby reservoir whistling to himself.
“It´s very peaceful in a garden” he remarked. “It´s always the best plan to leave as much worry behind you as you can and especially in troublesome times like this”.
He laughed at a suggestion I made that it seemed hard work for a man of over eighty years of age to be digging hard for many hours of the day. “A man´s not old till he admits it to himelf” he chuckled, “and that´s a thing I would never admit. I shall live as full a life as possible until I can´t go oany farther. With some men living a full life at eighty means a little walk round the houses when the wind is not too chilly and when the sun is nice and warm. With me it happens to be a gardening and I see no harm it it. I might get lazy doing nothing”.
Half the Battle
Mr. Pope added that he thought it was half the battle when people forgot their age and never tried to think about it “It will get you down if you mope about the house and expect to find your old heart thumping to a standstill, because on one of these occasions it will really happen and you won´t have time to say to your self “I told your so”.
Conversation about work brought about a discussion of work in the old days and Mr. Pope mentioned that he left school at the age of ten years and his first job was treading clay at the brickworks. “I used to be there at five in the morning”, he chuckled at the memory “and we used to fold our trouser legs up and stamp in our bare feet at the clay to make it ready for the ovens. We did that for three hours continuously, and then we ran bricks off until seven in the evening”.
“A second job I once had”, he continued, “was flailing for farmers. This was separating the grain from the chaff and it used to be a queer sight when it was raining and the other labourers on the farm would come to help me. The flails were very awkward to swing properly in a small space. They were two pieces of wood shaped something like the handle of this hoe and they were joined in the centre. When five or six of us got going inside a small barn it was like ringing bells. We had to take it in rotation and the slightest miscalculation on anyone´s part would bring the lot of us out of tune. Flails are pretty painful things to be cracked on the head or shoulders with”.
“I used to mind sheep, too, and I was a shepherd in the south of England and in North Yorkshire. I worked at High Melton for twelve years and at Barnby Dun for eight years. I have never retired at all”.
Mr. Pope invested in a safety bicycle when he was seventeen years of age and rode it until he was 77. After that his sense of balance was becoming a little warped and he decided to get a three-wheeler. So he scanned the adverts of a well known publication devoted to cycling and at length he saw an offer of a three wheeled machine.
The owner lived in the South of England, but Mr. Pope arranged for it to be transported by rail to Bawtry whence he pedalled it in triumph to Bircotes.