News & Politics

How to Live to Be 100

Ten local centenarians share their (mostly unscientific) secrets to a long life.

Photographs by Christopher Leaman.

Every day brings new information about what’s good for the body and what’s not, but
who really knows? We thought: Perhaps people who have been at this living thing the
longest would have some advice. Enter ten local centenarians, who talked with
The Washingtonian about their lives and what has made them happy for 100 years or more. —Mary Yarrison

Saul Janov

Though he can tell stories of spotting stars like Clark Gable and Carol Lombard in
1930s Hollywood, Saul Janov’s fondest memory is of his first trip to New York. He
was just seven years old, but Janov—a Pennsylvania native who grew up working for
his family’s shirt company—still remembers the Sunday morning bustle of the Lower
East Side: “There were horses and buggies, horse-drawn trucks, a few automobiles,
and by then there were trolleys for customers. . . . The noise was tremendous.”

Secret to Longevity: “Stay healthy and be true to yourself.”

Inez Blair

Inez Blair’s family jokingly calls her “Calamity Jane.” The 101-year-old Texas native
was born the year the
Titanic sank, graduated from high school the year the Great Depression began, and got married
right before the start of World War II. Ten days before the Mayan Calendar runs out,
she will celebrate her 102nd birthday.

Secret to Longevity: “Be happy with what you got.”

Agnes Dahan

Agnes Dahan, 100, grew up in a large family in Boston. She lived there until after
World War II, when her husband’s interstate commerce job brought the pair to Washington.
But though she left home, her family ties stayed strong—every summer, her six sisters,
brother, and extended family would reunite for a vacation. Nowadays, the family comes
to her: Two of her four great-grandchildren live nearby and stop in for bingo on Saturdays.

Secret to Longevity: Dahan says she’s always been interested in healthy eating and exercise. She followed
Jack LaLanne’s fitness routines in the 1950s and ’60s and has always eaten a diet
full of vegetables and vitamins.

For pictures and more advice from our centenarians, check out our slideshow.