Nov 20, 2009

Happy 95th Birthday Mr. Vine

My great, great Grandfather George Vine is interviewed by the St. Catharines Standard on the occasion of his 95th birthday, November 17, 1951...he's got some opinions ;-)

Although he's only five years short of the 100 year mark, George Vine, retired St. Catharines butcher, says he could still ''put the gloves on'' with any boxer and give him a run for his money. "I'm right as a kite and feel as well as any man can feel," he beamed yesterday during a surprise interview on his 95th birthday. "My appetite is good and my memory's not bad - I can still remember the names of most of my first teachers."

The merry old gentleman celebrated his birthday quietly at the big home at 185 Ontario Street where he has lived for 38 years. On hand to help celebrate the occasion were his niece, Mrs. Martin A. K. Cosens, who keeps house for him now, and his son Frank. Thursday his son brought him a duck and Mr. Vine cooked it himself for his birthday treat. Last night there was a birthday cake, at least the packages brought in by son Frank indicated as much. Mr. Vine Sr. loves to cook, he says, and at one time could bake anything "from a pancake to a wedding cake".

Unlike most people of his age, Mr. Vine has no particular formula for his longevity. He doesn't drink, doesn't smoke now and he believes walking is the best exercise for anyone.

Liquor A Curse!

"Never touch liquor," he said. "One of the biggest curses man ever had! And all those soft drinks people drink nowadays are no good either. It will kill 'em all!" As for smoking, the old gentleman had this to say: "I used to smoke but I cut it out some years ago. Found it hurt my throat. You're better off if you don't smoke, especially women." In Mr. Vine's younger days only old women smoked. They used to sit in their rocking chairs all afternoon and smoke their long clay pipes, he recalls. "I didn't mind that, but today, I just shudder when I see a woman light up a cigarette," he said.

A great walker, Mr. Vine remembers the day (when he was only 83 years old) he walked from his home on Ontario Street out to his son's farm on Lock Two Hill, pitched wheat with his grandson all day, then walked home again at night. "Wasn't even stiff the next day." he boasted. "These cars will kill people. They'd be much better off to walk!"

Mr. Vine thinks that people nowadays ''don't go to bed until it's too late." He said he goes to bed every night at nine o'clock, and until recently got up at 5 a.m. Last spring he suffered pneumonia which slowed him down a little so that now he gets up as late as 7:00 or even 8:00 in the morning.

Retired in 1925

A well known and prosperous butcher in St. Catharines, Mr. Vine retired 25 years ago. For many years he owned and operated a meat shop on Queen Street across from the Post Office. As he puts it, he was always a butcher and knew his trade so that he always did well in that business.

He recalls that as a young lad of 19 he took the train to California (when they were still cutting the railway lines through the Rockies) and worked in Santa Rosa, about 400 miles from San Francisco, for two years as a sheep butcher. Mr. Vine didn't go in for the gold rush business, he said. He also spent 10 years in Minnesota where he owned a meat packing house and had a prosperous business. Perhaps it was this influence that led him to wear the tall rancher's hats and square coat which made him a familiar figure in St. Catharines for many years. He thougt it was a great joke when he was told yesterday that he looked like a Senator from the Deep South.

George Vine was one of the first men to ''put on the gloves'' with the famed Jim Corbett - "Gentleman Jim". It was in San Francisco when Mr. Vine was a lad of 18 and Gentleman Jim was a shy kid of 13. The two became good friends during George Vine's brief stay in the Golden Gate city and used to box often.

Life has treated Mr. Vine kindly since he was born in Niagara-on-the-Lake 95 years ago. His only complaint is that he can't walk uptown much anymore since his bout with pneumonia last spring. However, he says he still gets a kick out of life and hopes to celebrate his 100th birthday.
© 2009 Kindred Footprints