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Tomato grower Ray White, 93
is America's oldest blogger
Ray White with computer

By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia

Tennessee tomato grower Ray White (93) is America's oldest blogger. He's three months older than that other veteran blogger, Donald Crowdis, of Toronto, Canada, who turned 93 on Christmas Eve.

In the last three years Ray has posted more than a thousand blogs.

He's only a year behind the world's oldest blogger, Allan Lööf, of Norrköping, Sweden.

We sent Ray an email, congratulating him on both his blog and his tomatoes, and asked him to confirm his age. He replied:

You are correct. I was born on Sept. 2nd 1913. I started this journal a little over three years ago, daily except Sunday. My purpose in starting it was to help others all around the world to produce a good home grown tomato.

I spend about 50% of the time working on my Journal (Blog) and also that much time producing and thinking about tomatoes. But I do slip in a nap once in a while!

Below are links to some of my other pages.

Ray, a widowed father of two (his daughter Mary lives with him, and is often mentioned in the blog), is a genial homespun philosopher who loves the simple pleasures of life. He says:

My home is in East Tennessee. We live about 35 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains. I was born here and have never had a desire to leave. When it comes to gardening, tomatoes are my first choice.

I always have between 50 and 75 plants each year. I don’t sell any. I just give them to my friends and neighbors. It is a great pleasure for me to grow pretty red tomatoes and to see people smile when they see them...

Another hobby of mine is feeding and watching the beautiful birds in the Tennessee Valley. We have hummingbirds, eastern bluebirds, blue jays, cardinals, goldfinch, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, and many, many more.

It is a great joy to me to feed and water these birds on a daily basis. I have 3 hummingbird feeders and 2 bird baths, in addition to several other bird feeders and corn stands for the squirrels.

Ray (let's call him Dad) writes about and displays photos of whatever occurs to him: teapots, recipes, tomato-growing tips, sage advice (sage as sagacious, and sage as a/an herb as well).

Dad's Tomato Garden is a homely, friendly blog that appeals to viewers of all ages. Those who add comments to his stories invariably address him as "Dad." They're members of his internet family.

Catherine Hersh, on the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Community Television website, flagged Ray White as the world's oldest blogger more than a year ago. In October 2005 she wrote:

I think that title [the "Oldest Living Blogger"] can be claimed by ... Ray White, a 92-year-old in Tennessee, who publishes Dad's Tomato Garden Journal.

There are lots of thoughts about agriculture and weather, among other topics. The print is large (and BRIGHT!), which can be a bonus to older readers. Commentators share fond memories of buying milk for 48 cents a gallon, and they seem to all call him "Dad". It's a feel-good blog.

But few net surfers have read that message. The world's media seem to have overlooked Cathie's discovery.

And they never credited Sweden's Allan Lööf with being the world's oldest blogger, until his local daily, Norrköpings Tidningar, proudly displayed on its December 2 front page a photo and story about him by author/photographer Håkan Pettersson.

Swedish media practitioner Hans Kullin in his media and PR blog Media Culpa wrote:

If I'm half as productive at 74 as Allan is at 94, I'd be happy.

Two weeks ago, BoingBoing wrote about 92-year-old Donald Crowdis, and asked if he might be the world's oldest blogger. But we who follow the Swedish blogosphere know that Allan Lööf is Mr Crowdis' senior by two years.

Allan Lööf, 94, has been blogging for a year and has had his own site for a couple of years. On his blog he writes that no-one has yet found an older blogger than him: 'Any blogger who is older than me hasn't made contact yet. In a comment it has been said that there might be a 92 year old Japanese who is currently blogging. Who knows?'

Allan's website says he's "a senior", raised in Finspång, where he now lives. Most of his blog is in Swedish, although the comments from his web visitors are in assorted languages and scripts. We can't help wondering how many of them Allan understands.

Who is the world's oldest female blogger? She could be Millie Garfield, a lively octogenarian in Portland, Massachusetts. Her bio says: "At 81 years young, Millie Garfield is one of the Internet's oldest bloggers... With an authentic and humorous voice, a knack for story telling and frequent updates, Millie's blog, My Mom's Blog, shows that people want to hear from someone with a story to tell."

One of Millie's younger fans, 27-year-old fellow blogger Dahlia Janey, enjoys the videos on Millie's blog. She wrote:

I certainly hope to look as young as she when in my eightieth year! I discovered Millie, and watched (her) first in the funniest on the Internet series, “I can’t open it.”

At that time, it was Nescafe (and I am with her on this one, because I had the same silly problem with that particular container!) and I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks. Since that time, there have been many more episodes of “I can’t open it”, each funnier and more poignant than the last...

One of my best friends is 67, another is 58, and I love them both to pieces because of their wit and wisdom. Millie is certainly the most advanced in age, (and, by default, also wisdom!) and of course I adore her blog!

Who said bloggers are always young? Perhaps blogging keeps us young at heart. Long live Allan Lööf, Ray White, Millie Garfield - and a happy birthday too to Donald Crowdis, almost certainly America's second-oldest blogger, who turned 93 on Christmas Eve.


See our earlier story, Will you still be blogging when you're 94?


Story first posted January 2007

Copyright © 2007

Eric Shackle

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