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Rick Guinness

91-year-old man credits his good health to walking everywhere, and drinking

91-year-old man credits his good health to walking everywhere, and drinking
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Published by the herald
91-year-old man credits his good health to walking everywhere, and drinking RICK GUINNESS 12/11/2007 Email to a friendPost a CommentPrinter-friendly Advertisement NEW BRITAIN — After walking from his house on East Street to the Amber Club at 90 John St., more than a mile away, Frank Senus bellies up to the bar in late morning and orders his usual — coffee with anisette, an anise-flavored liqueur. Senus, a lifelong resident of New Britain, will turn 92 on Dec. 20 — a healthy 92, according to those who know him. The 5-foot, 7-inch, 140-pound retiree says his secret to good health and longevity is that he eats like a horse, walks at least four miles a day and has a minimum of six drinks a day. In the afternoon he switches to his favorite drink — vodka with cranberry juice. Senus swears by his regimen. “It makes the blood flow,” he said, taking a sip of his morning elixir. For example, “Let’s say you have high cholesterol,” he said. “You need to put down alcohol or vinegar to thin the blood down.” Booze also “cleans the blood out,” Senus argues. “But doctors won’t tell you that.” In fact, medical science is edging closer to Senus’ view on the healthful attributes of alcohol. Advice to drink a glass of red wine a day — of all alcohols, “red wine is the most beneficial to your heart health,” say experts at Yale-New Haven Hospital — has been embraced across the country. But Senus formed his opinions about drinking — and doctors — a long time ago. Probably because he suspects any doctor would reject his alcohol health regimen, he has a low opinion of the field. He said doctors are not to be trusted because most of them “tend to conform to the corporations that make the medicines.” But before there were doctors, there was natural medicine — and the main ingredient was alcohol. “It’s all-natural,” he said. “You don’t have to go to a doctor,” Senus said. “I’ll give you this advice for nothing.” Semus takes care of himself without consulting a physician. Senus walks everywhere because he doesn’t have a car. Amber Club President Gary Chute smiled as Senus expounded on his medical views. Chute was sold on the idea that good nutrition and walking all over town are probably healthy habits. But it was Senus alone who continued to espouse the cheerful notion that heavy drinking is the key to a healthy lifestyle. He is Lithuanian, and calls himself a Lit. “You’re always lit,” puns Chute, who is also Lithuanian. “Yeah, but the way I drink, people think I’m Irish,” Senus replied. The health benefits of alcohol are always touted in moderation, advice for which Senus has little use. He said he has been drinking most of his life with no ill effects. His father, a local butcher, used to make whisky, beer and wine at home in the 1920s, during Prohibition. “Everybody did,” Senus said. His father eventually left his family, he said. His mother lost the family home and he had to drop out of school and work. It was during the Great Depression, so he took any job he could find. He worked on a farm, where he milked cows and built up his strength tossing around bales of hay. He drove trucks, delivering everything from beef to beer, and he worked on some of President Roosevelt’s workfare programs — including road projects requiring a lot of grinding manual labor. Also during the 1930s, Senus dabbled in professional wrestling and was able to earn $35 per bout — although he admits they were mostly preliminary matches. He also boxed and lifted weights as a bodybuilder. Senus settled down after he married his wife, Arlene, in 1937. She started Arlene’s Luncheonette on East Street, which remained a successful business for more than three decades. She died 13 years ago at the age of 79. “I miss her,” he said. “I have nobody to argue with anymore. She had to be a good person to live with me all those years.” Chute’s wife, Laura, bought Senus a warm hat for him to wear in the winter so his ears won’t freeze when he walks all around town. Senus stops at various bars after he leaves the Amber Club, which threw a party for him on his 90th birthday. Chute said he thinks it’s the walking, rather than the booze, that keeps Senus healthy. Senus conceded that some drinkers develop liver problems after years of drinking, but he said “that is because they drink it straight, and they don’t eat. So they are malnourished. I eat like a horse.” He said he doesn’t take any medicine, and if he doesn’t feel good, he orders a Guinness beer. “It’s a blood builder,” he said.CNSC ©The Herald 2008
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Health/Medicine , Humor
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