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8 of the Oldest Institutions

Scientists discovered a collection of nuts estimated to be 17 million years old.
Scientists discovered a collection of nuts estimated to be 17 million years old.

Western culture has become so age-obsessed that people in their thirties are trying to recapture that youthful glow. Well, outta the way, kiddies! There's something to be said for withstanding the tests of time, so this list pays homage to the old!

First up: The Oldest Tavern in America.

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Established in 1795, Boston's Bell in Hand Tavern is the longest continuously running tavern in America. Founded by town crier Jimmy Wilson, the Bell in Hand still serves frosty mugs and food to an often full house. Famous customers have included Paul Revere and President McKinley.

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The next time you're in Miami Beach, check out Bernie Baker at Club LeBare. In 2000, after a bout with prostate cancer, Baker reinvented himself as an erotic dancer at the tender age of 60. Still gyrating, Baker has plenty of loyal fans and has won many awards.

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In 2001, archaeologists found signs of an ancient city in the Gulf of Cambay in western India. In the 5.6-mile stretch of submerged city, carbon dating found evidence dating back to 7500 B.C., about 4,500 years older than what were believed to be the first cities, located in the Sumer Valley of Mesopotamia.

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Headquartered in Osaka, Japan, Kongo Gumi Co., Ltd., has been continuously operating for more than 1,400 years. Their business? Construction. Since A.D. 578, when the company built the still standing Shitennoji Temple, Kongo Gumi has had a hand in building Osaka Castle (16th century) and other famous Japanese buildings and temples. In 2006, the company had financial trouble and liquidated its assets, but it still maintains its identity and continues to function in Japan as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Takamatsu Corporation.

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When the Tivoli Lovelies of Melbourne, Australia, entered Guinness World Records in 2004, the ten dancers had a combined age of 746 years and some change. The geriatric ladies still kick as high and wear the sequins of younger chorus girls, and they certainly have more experience.

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In 2003, scientists at the University of Bonn uncovered a burrow containing 1,800 fossilized nuts. They were digging in a mine near Garzweiler, Germany, and came across the nuts, probably winter food supplies stashed away by a large hamster or squirrel more than 17 million years ago.

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John Glenn was a U.S. pilot during World War II and, in 1962, became a national hero as the first American and third person to orbit Earth when he rode in the Friendship 7, a NASA space capsule that successfully circled the globe three times. In 1998, Glenn went back into the great beyond at age 77, making him the oldest person to travel into space. The reason? To test the effects of space travel on the elderly, of course.

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Some come close, but so far, no one's been older than Jeanne Louise Calment, who died at age 122 in Arles, France. Calment was born in February 1875, a year before Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. She met Vincent Van Gogh at age 13 and was famous for her wit until her death, famously saying, "I've only ever had one wrinkle and I'm sitting on it."

 

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS:

Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen

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