Doing for Himself

Jessen, Holly. "Doing for Himself." Forum, 11 December 2005, sec. 21A.

KULM, N.D. To demonstrate how a cortisone shot and various supplement pills help keep his joints limber as he approaches 100, Albert Brost doesn't hesitate. He jumps up from his seat and vigorously kicks his legs behind him several times.

Albert Brost in his Kulm apartment turned 100 years old recently. Brost still lives on his own and cooks for himself.

You want to find out how old I am? he asked before that. Im older than I ever was before.

Friday was the Kulm residents' 100th birthday. He lives alone, walks around the block almost every day for exercise and cooks for himself.

I do the best I can from day to day, he said.

Once or twice a week, Brost walks a few blocks to buy groceries and go to the post office or the bank. A woman has offered to run errands for him, and the independent man said he will accept help occasionally, when the weather is bad. He wants to keep doing it for himself as long as I can go at it, he said.

Albert Brost was born Dec. 9, 1905, in Dickey County, to John and Elizabeth (Rotschke) Brost, he said. His parents had eight children; three boys and five girls.

With the exception of a sister who died of cancer at 63, longevity runs in his family. His father lived to nearly 84 and mother lived just past 85, he said. Still living are three siblings, including a 95-year-old sister and a 93-year-old brother.

The baby, she's 87, he said.

Quick to make a joke, he has a few theories on why he's lived so long. The first is that he's never been married. He was told married people don't live longer it just seems that way, he said.

Then he gets serious.

Maybe the good Lord has a little bit to say about it, he said. If I look at myself, all the mistakes I made, I went past the stop sign a long time ago.

There are a few things that have gotten harder with age. His eyesight is failing and he can't read anymore, something he really enjoyed doing. And he doesn't get around as well as he used to. He's still a member of the Kulm Seventh-Day Adventist Church but doesn't attend anymore.

I run out of gas pretty quick now, he said.

Other people see it differently. Marvin Reinke, a fellow church member, said Brost gets around better than a lot of people younger than him.

Getting lots of exercise has helped keep Brost young longer, Reinke said. For 20 years, every summer Brost would mow three Adventist cemeteries with a 20-inch push mower.

He wouldn't take a riding one, Reinke said.

One cemetery, at the site of the first Kulm Adventist church, wasn't accessible by a road. Brost would push the mower a quarter-mile to get there.

It was not exactly the end of the world, but you could see it from there, Brost said, recalling it.

A push lawn mower provides good exercise. Besides that, leaning over the handle is a good way to keep yourself steady, he said.

If you see me go down the street with a lawn mower, don't laugh, he joked. There's a reason.

From 1945 to 1995, Brost only spent two winters in North Dakota. He drove South to work on various farms, mostly in New Mexico, he said.

While there, he spent a lot of time picking up aluminum pop cans. He'd cash them in and give a lot of the money to charities, including homeless shelters and Adventist schools in New Mexico and South Dakota.

One winter he picked up about 3,500 pounds of cans. A man stopped once and gave him $5.

He thought I was picking cans to make a living, Brost said with a laugh.

At Heartland State Bank in Kulm, Penny Jans-Mclean, cashier and executive vice president, said Brost was a marvel. Although he can't see too well anymore, he always knows what's going on.

He's as sharp as a tack, she said.

And he walks like he's only about 60 years old, she said.

I'm hoping I'm as good as he is if I get to be that age, she said.

Linda Hehr, owner of the Peoples Meat Market, said Brost is known in town for his abilities as a mole trapper. Three years ago, her neighbor tried to help her with a mole problem in her yard. When he was stumped, he advised her to get Brost on the job.

He said, We've got to get the best guy in town, she said.

Reprinted with permission of the Forum.

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