Ralph Gardner – … I met Alexander Imich at a party where he was the oldest person in the room. That may not sound like a big deal—more and more frequently these days I attend events where I am the oldest person. But the party where I met Dr. Imich was for people over the age of 100, and there were a couple dozen of them.
Dr. Imich, a chemist born in 1903, and I had a brief conversation at the Queens event. I vowed to see him again, and not because he was ancient, or at least not just because he was ancient. My grandmother lived to almost 105, but she was just a shadow of herself after 100. Dr. Imich, on the other hand, remains a dynamo. But it was his interests that most intrigued me. At the party, he regaled me with tales of paranormal events he claimed he’d witnessed—at his West End Avenue apartment, no less.
I don’t believe in parapsychology or UFOs, another of the centenarian’s interests, but I was impressed with his passion on the subject and his claim to have published dozens of scholarly papers in several languages. So I asked Arthur Solomon, the gentleman who had invited me to the party back in October, whether he could reconnect me with Dr. Imich (the honorific from a Ph.D. he earned in zoology in 1929).
Mr. Solomon checked and reported that unfortunately Dr. Imich had entered the hospital with some unspecified ailment. A couple of months later, Mr. Solomon contacted me. “I bet you never expected to hear from me again,” his email began. “But here I am with news about Dr. Imich. I was told he is feeling better and would like to do the interview.”
So on Monday afternoon I visited him at his apartment at the Esplanade, a senior-citizens residence on West End Avenue. He has lived there 50 years, actually since before it became a senior residence and was a hotel, according to Robin Kaufman, his social worker.
If there were any doubts about Dr. Imich’s mental acuity, he dispelled them within seconds of our arrival at his cluttered one-bedroom apartment with excellent views of the Hudson River. He complimented Natalie Keyssar, our photographer (“You’re beautiful,” he said); commented that he wasn’t aware that The Wall Street Journal ran photographs; and then patiently spelled out the name of the Polish city where he was born, Czestochowa, launching into its history. …
Occasionally Dr. Imich would lapse into silence—only for a few seconds—and I’d wonder whether it was a sign of senility, or at least flagging stamina. But that wasn’t it, because his next recollection, or retrieval of a name or date from the distant past, was just as confident, his voice just as robust, as anything that he’d said previously ….
But on to the paranormal, though Dr. Imich doesn’t claim to possess such powers himself. He produced bottles filled with objects such as bottle caps and plastic utensils that couldn’t have fit through their holes. He also told the story of the time he heard an explosion in his apartment and discovered a visitor, whose arrival he’d been awaiting at his front door, seated on the floor behind him. He also believes in UFOs and has a photograph on his desk of friends he says were abducted by aliens. Finally, he believes that humans can survive largely without food, and attributes his longevity, at least in part, to how little he eats.
Whether he’s right about any or all these things scarcely matters. “I’ve never seen Alex tired,” said Ms. Kaufman, who works for Selfhelp, a support organization for Holocaust survivors. “All that stuff he was talking about keeps him going.”
via A Secret to Long Life: UFOs – WSJ.com.
Awesome. But it would be nice to hear what Dr. Imich actually said about UFOs. I don’t understand how someone can get to the point where he is writing for the WSJ, and yet is able to get away with saying he does not believe that some flying objects are unidentified.
“I don’t believe in parapsychology or UFOs”.
Why, then, write an article titled “A Secret to Long Life: UFOs”?
Saying you “don’t believe in UFOs” is a bone headed statement. So, do you believe in … “objects”? Do you believe some objects fly, float, reflect, or otherwise appear to be in the sky? Okay, last question: Do you believe some objects that appear to be in the sky are unidentified? If you answered YES to all three, then you DO believe in UFOs, so stop lying. If you do not believe some flying objects are unidentified, then kindly explain exactly what was picked up by forward looking infrared radar by the Mexican military, for starters.
And, Ralph, parapsychology is a field of study. It really exists! Do you understand what I’m saying? The field of study, parapsychology, exists. I think you intended to say that you believe people are mistaken who believe in ghosts, life after death, telekinesis, telepathy, regression memories, out of body experiences, and anything else parapsychologists research. I guess your way of saying it is shorter.