George Sims, a resident of Fort Lauderdale assisted-living facility Willow Wood, is two years older than the city in which he lives. Sims celebrated his 102nd birthday November 11, two weeks before the lights at the Las Olas beach entrance were illuminated to commemorate Fort Lauderdale's 100th. The Juice caught up with Sims, who moved here from Long Island a few years ago, to hear about the life of one of Fort Lauderdale's oldest residents.
What brought you to Fort Lauderdale?
I wasn't a Florida man;l I was a New Yorker. I love the cold weather. I still would like to be up north, but my children told me it would be a better place for me. I have a nice apartment and made friends. Everybody knows George, but nobody believes my age. But I got used to Florida... The weather is nice, but I miss a car. I still have my New York license for driving, which is due 11/11/11, and if I live another year, it will be 11/11/11 [his golden birthday].
Are you going for a drive to celebrate?
Oh sure [he said, kidding]. I have a little trouble with my feet. These are diabetic shoes. We all have trouble when we get older, I guess. Internally, I'm pretty good. It's externally that bothers me. I had a hip replacement, so my whole side bothers me. So I got this thing [a motorized chair] to make it easier. [The doctor] comes here once a week, and I see him just to keep him happy. I have an irregular heartbeat. That's about it. It doesn't bother me, though.
What do you do for fun here?
I like to play poker. You win some, you lose some, but I enjoy that game.Then they have bingo, which is annoying to me. I don't like it.
When was your favorite time of life?
It was with my wife of 63 years, and we enjoyed going down to New York. I loved musicals; I saw them all. I feel asleep one day when I saw a regular show, not a musical. Talk, talk, talk, and the musicals, we saw them all. Most of the times, we had dinner if I got home early enough. She was very particular -- she liked good things.
What did you do before you retired?
I was in the dress industry... ladies dresses. I worked for somebody, and another salesman and I went into business... We did very well. We copied the better dresses... Glatter & Sons -- right on 1975 Broadway, with factories in New Jersey, not outside of the country. I'll tell you, that industry went to hell. That stuff is made out of the country.
What advice would you give young people?
Go to college, [and] it all depends what company you keep... I think that's 90 percent of it. Some of them go crazy with the drugs and the drinks because their friends do it.
Did you go to college?
I started at NYU. I wasn't college material -- didn't like to study. That was the worst thing I could do, was study. So I went one year and stopped. I thought it was silly to go on. I wasn't interested. I liked the world, and then me and my wife, we went all over.
Where did you travel?
My wife and I loved traveling. I was all over Euorpe one year, one year I went to Japan, one year I went to China... every year we went somewhere. We took the month of September. There was really no favorite [place] -- we liked wherever we went. She was beautiful. Everybody looked twice at her.
[Comparing his more recent travels with those of the past, Sims doesn't like how cruises have changed. In addition to being too big, he says:]
I went on a cruise two years ago on the Holland America. I didn't like it -- too many old people... I think I was 100.