Monday, May 20, 2013

18 Days: 92 Years Young and Still Going Strong!

At 92 years old, Mike is still a force to be reckoned with.  At least six times a year, this small strongman washes his gold, 2006 Buick, drives it to whichever New York City borough has asked him to perform, and proceeds to pull the car at least twenty feet - with his mouth!

Mike's invited me to his home to share his story with me.  We visit for three hours, drinking coffee and he is easygoing and very relaxed and happy to answer any and all of my questions.

The son of The Might Atom, a Ripley's Believe It or Not original strongman, Mike shares how his strength is partially physical strength, in the case of pulling the car, it's the strength in his jaw muscles and his neck muscles, but mostly, he says, it's about controlling the mind by focusing on the "task" at hand.

I'm amazed, stunned and mesmerized by Mike's life story.  He has folders, drawers, desks and cabinets overflowing with newspaper articles and interviews written on him, awards he's won, medals and photographs of his father's achievements as well as his own.  When he's not pulling cars, bending steel or flirting with the woman in his apartment complex, Mike likes to create beautiful and unique 3D artwork of scenes of places he's visited, some of which are hanging in his home.  Many others he donated to nonprofits around his Rockaway, Queens neighborhood, most of which were lost in the hurricane.  But, in what I'm seeing is typical Mike fashion, he smiles and says, "That's water under the bridge that's no longer there".

After exhausting ourselves with conversation, I ask what his goal is today, at 92 years of age, and he is quick to answer that it's to make it to 93.  And when I ask what keeps him going, he winks and nods suggestively, saying that all his parts still work.

With that, I take my blushing face and the copies of the photographs that he's so generously shared, and I hit the hot pavement home to Brooklyn, pondering Mike's insights on how powerful the mind can be.  And with his lifetime of personal experiences, this is something I'll be thinking about for a long, long time...



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