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Eric Shackle Writes: World's Oldest Columnist Is 104

Veteran journalist Eric Shackle marks the birthday of the world's oldest columnist Margaret Caldwell who is 104 today,

Margaret Caldwell, the world's oldest columnist, celebrates her 104th birthday today. She writes a weekly column for The
Desert Valley Times in Mesquite (formerly Mosquito Flat), Nevada, USA.

You can see her latest column by visiting

She describes how she learnt to drive Model T Ford at the age of 11.

...I was 11 years old when my brother, Tom, bought one of the first Model T Fords. It was summer and he demonstrated it in our front yard, the front yard being the cleared spot in front of our log cabin.

“Golly, it’s noisy,” I said.

Tommy stopped the car and got out.

“Come on, get in and I’ll show you how to drive it.”

Since I always wanted to make my brother proud, and, at that time, I thought I was fearless and anxious to try anything new, I hopped behind the wheel.

“Put your foot on the gas pedal, but don’t push it until I tell you.”

I was excited and scared but I did as he said.

After he cranked it up, he told me to gently push the gas pedal and the car would move. He said, “Just keep the wheel straight and it will go ahead. If you need to turn it just turn the wheel in the direction you want to go.”

After maneuvering the car around for a few minutes, he told me to brake and let it idle a bit, so I managed the effect of idling.

“Now,” he said, “take it for a run, go to Martha’s place, that’s only about 10 miles. Turn around and come back.”

My heart was beating so fast and I wanted to puke but I did it.

Martha came to the door, but I just yelled at her, “I can’t stop. I can’t crank it.” I made a careful circle around the front of her little house and drove back home where Tom and the rest of my family waited.

I never drove that car again. In fact, I was near a nervous breakdown but since I didn’t know how to have one, I just turned the car off and dropped my head on the wheel until I stopped panting.

This was a first for me – my first glimpse of a Model T Ford and my first attempt at driving.

I remember when my husband and I were dating and Deane said he would teach me how to drive.

“I know how to drive,” I said. “I learned when I was 11 years old.”

Blessed be...

Here's a story I wrote about Margaret two years ago:



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