Taft is an interesting case–being fat certainly didn’t shorten his life (1857-1930) relative to those of his age peers. He lived to the ripe age of 72, when the average life expectancy for people born around 1860 was still in the low forties. (That’s a crude average that probably counts people who died in infancy and childhood, so it’s extraordinarily low. But still–his longevity was pretty impressive.) I’m sure his abstention from both drinking and smoking helps explain his lifespan. Here’s something equally impressive: he was not famous for telling people to “shut up” when they talk about issues that he himself has raised. How would that have sounded in a Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court? (Taft, like John Quincy Adams, went on to a post-presidential career that was more distinguished than his presidency.)
More fun Taft facts: Did you know that he was the father of Helen Taft Manning, famed historian of the British Empire at Bryn Mawr College? I had no clue until just last week, when I had to look her up. She was most unusual among the professors of her generation, as she was a married mother of two, whereas most women with Ph.D.s in the 1920s and 30s devoted themselves to their livelihoods as maiden scholars (or in Boston Marriages, if you will–but no gentlemen, please.)
Dig this, you women of a certain age wondering how you will “have it all:” She married a Yale professor, and he moved to Swathmore College to follow her to her job! Granted, we’re not daughters of presidents or of Supreme Court justices most of us, but why does this concept still seem so revolutionary, nearly ninety years later? I wonder. Some of you heterosexualists have some explaining to do.
As for the Taft diet: it seems like pretty good advice to me, except for the part about avoiding the “fat members of the fish family.” If you watch your carbs and double-up on the veggies, salmon or bluefish are perfectly fine. Fratguy is avoiding wheat these days, but it’s not been too much of an adjustment as I had already cut out most of the pasta, bread, and potatoes from our diets. That, plus watching the drinkies, seems to be a pretty painless strategy for middle-aged health and beauty.