Sam, who is given to pungent sayings, especially on things political, comes up with these meaty observations on the passing world:
"The failure to nominate and elect Taft was the death of the Republication party."
"The last county election showed that the majority of people do not want law enforcement or good government"
"All organized labor knows is higher wages"
NOW THESE pithy statements are slightly incendiary, if dropped in the wrong company, but Sam's been saying things like this for most of his life, and his acquaintances and friends say he's never backed up yet.
There's a certain charm in Sam's outspokenness and candor. Far from being dogmatic when he reels off his telescoped homilies, Sam passes them out with a patriarchial twinkle in his eye, and you can't tell if he's spoofing or not.
Sam has one ambition. That's to reach 100.
"I don't want to live much longer after that," he confides, "but that's my ambition."
Sam takes great pride in his age. He'll point out that only one person out of 50,000 gets to be as old as he is.
"WHEN I WAS 75, I had a birthday party," he recounts, "and I invited only people over 75 years old. Eighteen showed up.
"Today every one of them is dead. I'm the only one left."
Today Sam is the oldest man in Lake County, and one of its better known sages. His frequent contributions to the Hammond Times' Voice of the People have triggered many a tempest.
Looking back through the vista of years, Sam remembers:
When Hammond was a wasteland of sandhills covered with scrub oaks and the marshes were covered with wire grass. Cattle were driven over sand paths to the Chicago slaughterhouses.
When his mother used to load up a box lunch and take the children to Gary to pick ripe huckleberries. In those days his mother spun wool, made cloth and sewed their clothes by hand.
How his mother gathered rye straw, braided it and wove it into hats for her eight children. How she made soap out of lye leached out of wood ashes saved from the family fires and mixed with cooking grease.
SAM CAN LOOK BACK on not only a long life, but a full one.
He was born in a log farmhouse near Griffith five years before the Civil War started. He grew up on the farm which his father, Bartlett, bought from the federal government for $1.25 an acre. He took over the farm when his father became ill, and specialized in dairy farming. He later developed a Holstein herd and managed the farm until a little more than a quarter of a century ago when he retired.
In 1938 he authored a book, The First Hundred Years in Lake County.
As in the past several years, Sam will greet well wishers at the home of his daughter. Mrs. F.A. Malmstone, 114 Main St., Griffith, where he resides.
Injured in a fall on the stairs of his daughter's, Mrs. F.A. Malmstone's, home in Griffith, where he had spent much of his time in recent years, he had been bedfast since August 17. Although his condition weakened steadily, he remained alert and eager to see friends until he lapsed into a comatose condition Saturday. His daughters, Mrs. Chester A. Clark, the youngest daughter, and Mrs. Malmstone were with him when death came, easily and quietly, Tuesday morning.
Son of Bartlett Woods, an Englishman who came to America in 1836 and to Lake County in 1837, Sam expressed over the years many of the admirable characteristics of his father, who like his son, sought to keep informed on every public question and to form and express considered opinion.
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