After my family moved about an hour away to a city of about 18,000 when I was 11 years old, I didn't have a lot of reason to go to Bluffton any more. But I still had fond memories of it as a friendly little town with a very homey feel to it.
That probably explains why, when it came time for me to move away to college, I chose Bluffton College ... and I loved it. Seems like I spent as much time "in town" meeting and visiting and working with folks as I did on campus. I still stop by there on occasion. My favorite coffee house in the world is there, and trust me -- I've tried a lot of them. It's called Common Grounds and, of course, it wasn't there while I was in college. Would have been neat if it had been though.
I still subscribe to the weekly Bluffton News, just to keep up on what's going on there. I worked for the newspaper when I was in college, as a proofreader and a features writer. The editor who was there when I was there, Fred Steiner, left for a few years but he's been back at the paper now again for many years. He's always been a huge inspiration to me as well as a mentor. (And I really would love to have his job.)
Anyway, what was the point of all this? Oh yeah ... do you want to live longer? Move to Bluffton.
In this week's paper, there were three obituaries. Ages 96, 98, and 102. That isn't uncommon when you look at the Bluffton News.
Also, there were two great stories on older residents of the village. One was on Luther Shetler, aged 91 and a half. I had Luther as a prof in college. He was a hoot. A little bit silly, he liked to make giant bubbles and encase people in them. He made learning fun and real. He was "living curriculum". Luther was in the news this week because he is "retiring" from 24 years of volunteer work at the local assisted living home. Of course, he will still be volunteering at the hospital. In his picture, he looks as spry and mischievous as ever.
The other story was on Margaret Steiner. She is 93 and actually was around when John Dillinger blasted his way through Bluffton once. Margaret is the Bluffton News' editor's mom. In the article on his mom, he tells the story of how she was once at the post office window when she dropped her purse. Picking it up and looking to make sure everything was okay, her comment to the postmaster was something along the lines of "Thank goodness my whiskey bottle didn't break!" He also tells the story of how, when he was growing up, his family was the only family in town to subscribe to Ebony magazine. I am sure, by the way, that, at that time, Bluffton was an all-Caucasian town, including the Steiners.
Anyway, there's something very special about Bluffton ... a feeling ... an atmosphere ... and ambiance ... or maybe it's the water (which would be a pity as I believe their water now comes from another town.) But there's something special there ... and it encourages living long and living vibrantly.
Gotta love it.