Joe Rollino – Bending Minds As Well As Quarters

Is it too late?  Should I see my dentist first?

Here’s the big question:  is it the bending of quarters with one’s teeth that leads to a sprightly 104, or is it the ability to bend quarters with one’s teeth?  Or is it the wacky bravura that thinks up the idea of bending quarters with teeth and then actually tries it?

I like cold water.  I even swam at Coney Island (okay, dunked) on January 1, 2009 when it was 18 degrees on the beach.  But as I contemplate whether it’s worth going out there this weekend, the question once again comes to mind:  is it the swimming every single day for 8 years that leads to long-lived gusto? Or the gusto that gets you into that water in the first place?  (And also saves you from all the bacteria? )

The great Coney Island strongman, Joe Rollino, died yesterday (January 11, 2010) at 104, hit by a minivan, walking his typical five miles a day, somehow too far from a crosswalk, too close to the road.

A wonderful obituary in the New York Times describes Rollino bending a quarter with his teeth at 103, and shows him at age 10, already buff and tendon-y.   At age 89, he kept four motorcycles stationary at full throttle for twelve seconds.

He was a relatively small for a strong man, so seemed driven towards creative stunts to prove his strength.  (Lifting 685 pounds with one finger.)  Somehow the ability to come up with zany, but impressive, tricks seems almost as integral to Rollino’s youthful aging as the discipline that gave him the strength to do those tricks.  (No meat, no cigarettes, no alcohol.)

You almost feel that at, a slightly younger age (say 98), he might have been able to stop that minivan.  With one hand.

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