Who Was Still Alive When You Were Born?

Who Was Still Alive When You Were Born?
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Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons, The Old Guitarist, 1903-1904, by Pablo Picasso

What famous person was still alive when you were born? And what historical period do we connect them to? And how far back in history can you go?

I was born on December 22, 1964, in the small Central Valley town of Tulare, California. Where I was born is actually of no interest to this story, but when I was born is. I will mention people who were still alive when I was born and how far back I can reference them to an era of history. They just have to have been alive when I was born. If they died on December 21, 1964, I cannot mention them. (Alvin York, the famous World War One hero, died September 2, 1964, and so I cannot reference him.) And I am 51 years old.

And I will mention people both from pop culture and important historical figures. And I will be purposefully mentioning only people who have passed away, even though I could mention people who were famous and born before me who are still alive who got famous in the 1980s, 1970s, and 1960s.

Let's begin with pretty recent history. We will start with the 1980s.

When I was born Ronald Reagan and Prince and Princess Diana and the Ayatollah Khomeini and Margaret Thatcher were still alive?

Then let's go to the 1970s

When I was born Richard Nixon and Evel Knievel and Pol Pot and Freddie Prince were still alive.

Then we go to the 1960s.

When I was born Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X and John Lennon and Muhammad Ali and Lyndon Johnson and Ho Chi Minh and Barry Goldwater and Cesar Chavez and Betty Friedan and Rachel Carson were still alive. (Malcolm X barely made it in; he was assassinated on February 21, 1965.)

Then we go to the 1950s.

When I was born Dwight Eisenhower and Elvis Presley and Gamal Abdel Nasser and Jonas Salk were still alive.

Then we go to the 1940s.

When I was born Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle and Bing Crosby and Jean-Paul Sartre were still alive.

Then we go to the 1930s.

When I was born Judy Garland and Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie were still alive.

Then we go to the 1920s.

When I was born Charles Lindbergh and Georgia O'Keeffe were still alive."

Then we go to the decade of the Great War. That is, the 1910s.

When I was born Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford and Igor Stravinsky and Irving Berlin were still alive.

Can I go any deeper? Yes. But this is the deepest I think I can go. I do not think I can go past the 1900s, either the decade or the century.

Many people date the birth of modern art from the 1907 painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso. And from his Blue Period one of his famous paintings is called The Old Guitarist and that painting was done in either late 1903 or early 1904. And, yes, when I was born Pablo Picasso was still alive. And it still weirds me out when I look at that painting and realize that when I was born that painter was still alive. And when Picasso was born (October 25, 1881) Karl Marx and Herman Melville were still alive.

This is a strange little game to have fun with. It teaches us how recent history still is. And you can use the people you personally know also. My late mama (Mary Alice Lund Reynosa) was born June 24, 1934, and my late papa (Filomeno Hillman Reynosa) was born November 26, 1932, and John D. Rockefeller was still alive when both of them were born and Rockefeller was born before both the Civil War and the Mexican -American War! John D. Rockefeller was born July 8, 1839, and died May 23, 1937.

The oldest person living right now that can be proven to be their age is Emma Morano, an Italian who is 116 years old and the last person born alive from the 1800s. And she can say: "When I was born Jules Verne and Mark Twain and Winslow Homer and Geronimo and Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa and King Leopold II of Belgium were all still alive."

And let's end with a very strange fact. Shirley Temple was a child actress who got famous in the 1930s and she passed away on February 10, 2014. And this means eighty-five years from now (in the year 2101) an eighty-eight year old person could say: "When I was born Shirley Temple was still alive."

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