Man, 106, reveals secret to longevity

November 01, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — A 106-year-old Mexicali man was given a flu shot here Wednesday.

As the nurse prepped his arm for the shot, J. Jesus Loza Estrada told Imperial Valley Press Staff Photographer Cuauhtemoc Beltran the secret of his longevity.

"He said, ‘Treat the big things like the medium things, treat the medium things like small things and don't give a damn about the small things,'" Beltran said.

After the shot, Loza thanked the nurse, gave her a handshake with a steady and strong hand and said, "I'll see you next year."


He then sat down in the waiting area of a local clinic and talked about his life, the changes he has witnessed in the past century and his diet.

It turns out, Loza has done — and still does — all the things that doctors at one time or another have declared "bad for you."

He drinks a little tequila or whiskey every day, smokes cigarettes and puts copious amounts of salt on his food.

His daughters and the people he meets during visits to the bank or to the market marvel at his vigor and his sense of humor.

He can still walk pretty well although he uses a cane and he can still see colors and make out people's faces even as cataracts cloud his left eye.

Loza sports a shock of white hair that seems to be electrically powered and his muscles are still strong after a lifetime of working in the gym.

He was born in Guadalajara in 1895.

In 1903, the Wright Brothers flew for the first time in North Carolina.

Loza said that of all of the inventions during his time, the marvel of flight still astounds him.

"When the Wright Brothers flew that first time, the flight lasted five minutes and now — planes can fly almost an entire day in the air," he said.

A few years after the Wright Brothers flight, Loza started working at a young age for a Guadalajara store that sold textiles and fabrics.

Until he was 40 years old he worked at that store — a long time by most standards.

After more than 20 years of service, he retired but was not given a pension, he said.

"But, that's all right because I married the (17-year-old) daughter of the owner," he said, with a grin.

For the next 24 years, Loza's young bride had kids — 12 of them.

"You can tell that we really loved each other because we had 12 children," Loza said.

In 1950, the Lozas moved to Mexicali but faced hard times after Loza lost his job.

To support his family, he moved to the San Jose area to pick fruit.

Recalling a funny moment during his time in the U.S., he said, "One day, I bumped into a woman, causing her to drop her purse."

He wanted to say, "Excuse me," as he picked up her purse and handed it to her but the words came out as "Kiss me."

Recalling, the moment he smiled and said she didn't.

When he returned to Mexico, he returned to a country in the grip of the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

He still chafes at the more than 70 years of PRI administration but was delighted to see the National Action Party win the most recent presidential election.

"Listo, papa?" one of his daughters said as she helped him up from his metal folding chair.

Loza walked to the clinic door with his daughter close behind but before he left, he invited two new friends to his house in Mexicali for a shot of tequila if they were in the area — "the good stuff," he said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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