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Founded in 1989 by Lynn Peters Adler, J.D.
Centenarian Expert and Older Adults Advocate

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THE LIFE OF KARL DREW HARTZELL

This book is about the hands I have been dealt, and how I have played them for more than a hundred years. There was nothing I could do about it. Like most of us, I live in the past, the present, and the future. Ten years ago, I had a little fibrillation on the tennis court, went to a doctor who said, “Cut out the caffeine.” I did, and switched from tennis to golf. No further problems, except with the putter and all the other clubs. The legs were fine.

The Present
As for now, it is as though I am on top of a mountain. It has now been climbed. I can look around. I have arrived. I begin to realize who I am, and who I must have been. My friends keep asking me, “How does it feel to be a hundred years old?” I am continually being reminded that I am a century plant. I need that reminder, because I do not feel any differently today than the way I felt last week or the week before. But somehow things are subtly different. 

My golfing partner carried my bag from the car out to the cart, even though I could do so just as well with a little more effort. The seniors at the clubhouse in Florida voted to free me from the annual fee for being one of them. I was given a beautiful little glass memorial with a golf ball etched on it saying “Karl, Happy 100th, P.V.G. &C.C.M.G.A.” Because of my age, the trustees of the Club at Shelter Island, New York voted to allow me to play regularly free of the greens fee. Harry, my Ponte Vedra barber in Florida, learned from the local paper that I had reached the milestone, and would not let me pay for a recent haircut.

Not only do my friends ask how it feels to be a hundred, they want to know what I eat and drink, and what other secrets I may have for my longevity. I tell them that I very carefully selected my grandparents. Others in the dining room keep turning and looking at me. I ask myself, “Am I a curiosity.” I suppose I may be. I am a preacher’s kid, not a child of wealth. A follower of Jesus, not Mohamed, of John Wesley not Henry the Eighth. I am white, not yellow, brown, or black. My families were immigrants in 1640 and cir. 1730, not 1950. 

My Ancestors
The Drews and the Hartzells were 17th and 18th century immigrants from England and the German Upper Rhine area called the Palatinate. Both families were religious refugees. My mother’s family, the Drews, left England at the time of the war between the Catholics and the Protestants known as Cavaliers and Roundheads, and landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1640. The Hartzells, my father’s family, left Germany after Louis the 14th, King of France, revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. That Edict (1598) by Henry IV of Navarre, then King of France, had given toleration to the Protestants in the upper Rhine area, which was then under France. Without that protection the Protestants began to leave Europe. Some, known as the Palatines, went to Ireland. But the Hartzells went first to Switzerland, and then around 1730, arrived in Pennsylvania near Philadelphia. Both families had left Europe seeking religious freedom and a better life in America.

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