Robert Rakestraw, who will be 97 in June, continues his story started May 8.

In November of 1942, during World War II, I quit my job at the mill and started my second (and my shortest) career, by joining the U.S. Marine Corps. I served with the 22nd Marine Regiment until the war was over, participating in the Marshall Island Campaign, the liberation of Guam, and the Battle of Okinawa.

Back home in November of 1945, I took a temporary job as night clerk at the Third Avenue Hotel, filling in for my uncle, Ben Rakestraw, who had broken his hip.

While working there, I met my future wife, Roberta Audrey (Bobbie) Roberts, a beautiful ballet dancer who had come to Rome to start a dancing school.

I helped her find a place for a studio and a few other things. She didn’t teach ballroom dancing, so I told her that I had taken ballroom lessons from Robert Rounseville, a previous dance teacher in Rome, and that I could teach the ballroom students.

After Uncle Ben returned to his night clerk job at the hotel, I began my third career, as a dance teacher at the Bobbie Roberts School of Dancing. And the following June, we got married. Later on, I taught ballet, tap, and ballroom dancing once a week in Cedartown at the Hawkes Children’s Library. And once a week in Calhoun at the grammar school,

That career ended in 1966, when Bobbie decided to retire and pursue some of her many hobbies — knitting, crocheting, rug hooking, sewing, art and ceramics.

My fourth, and longest, and most satisfying career was as a successful working artist (my lifelong ambition). It started as an avocation in the late 1940s and became a full-time career in 1966. I worked on commissions during the week at the studio and, on weekends, I sketched charcoal portraits and sold my prints and other artwork at the arts and crafts shows.

This career ended around 2003 because of my eyesight problems.

Another avocation occurred during the 1960s — I taught teenage boys (who dreamed of becoming rock ‘n roll stars) how to play the guitar. I usually taught three or four students at a time who wanted to form a band, with a lead player, one or two playing rhythm and one playing the bass part. Some of the groups did so well that radio station WRGA let them play some of their favorite rock and roll songs — such as “Walk Don’t Run” and “Pipeline” — on the radio.

One other job I held for many years was as a poll worker at election time.

My longest and most satisfying avocation, lasting from 1961 to 1996, was playing the contra-bass (bass fiddle) as a member of the Rome Symphony Orchestra.

As to the question: How have I managed to live so long and stay so active?

Well, it started with (and would have been impossible without) the guidance, inspiration and help from my parents and siblings, extended family members, friends and mentors — plus the guidance, inspiration and help I ask for and receive from my maker. I thank them all, deeply.

To sum up, briefly, If you would like to live for 90 or maybe 100 years, or more — try doing this:

♦ Create a diet for yourself that is 50% fruits and vegetables (raw as well as cooked). Limit your calorie consumption to between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day.

♦ Schedule a sufficient amount of physical exercise: walking, running, gymnastics, dancing, etc...

♦ Exercise your brain. Play bridge and other games that require you to think; work puzzles.

♦ Develop one or more creative hobbies such as drawing and painting pictures, photography, playing a musical instrument, knitting, crocheting, sewing or other needlework, culinary arts, etc ...

♦ Develop one or more useful job skills early in life, such as a butcher or baker or candlestick maker — or computer programmer, school teacher, brain surgeon or auto mechanic.

♦ Don’t be reluctant to ask for help — and offer help to others.

This works for me. Give it a try.

Robert Rakestraw of Rome is an artist and former U.S. Marine.

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