Old Mr. Flood
Joseph Mitchell
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Old Mr. Flood

Joseph Mitchell
120 pages
April 2005
rated 3 of 5 possible stars
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The inimitable Mr. Flood is determined to stretch his life to one hundred fifteen years on a diet that consists mainly of fish, a man who feasts on an ancient Boston breakfast of fried cod tongues and cheeks and relishes the sound of gelatinous air bladders.

Mr. Flood enjoys every minute of every day and has no desire to sample the alternatives to his Baptist beliefs. He has a firm belief in the quality of a fish diet in prolonging life. Frequently seen at the Fulton Fish Market picking out that day's fare, Mr. Flood has become something of an icon, always precisely dressed, a dapper man in his 90s who still has his own teeth and doesn't need glasses.

He hasn't had a cold since 1912. Not averse to imbibing a couple of shots of Scotch whiskey, Mr. Flood has been known to supplement his diet with such select spirits. Aside from the occasional hangover, he believes oysters can cure any ailment. Is Mr. Flood the real deal? Perhaps not in Mitchell's incarnation, but the author has combined the aspects of several old men over the years, "truthful rather than factual", Mr. Flood's existence based solidly on fact.

With anecdotal vigor, Mitchell walks through a day in the life of Mr. Flood, exploring the New England world of a man who has seen much of history pass by but isn't finished playing his part in the drama. The epitome of the independent spirit that characterized so many of his generation, Mr. Flood is essential Americana, an individual who is proud of his achievement - justifiably so.

Mr. Flood is old school, plain-spoken, with a penchant for his alcoholic comforts of an evening, part of a vanishing breed. This old gentleman is a reminder of a generation that asked for nothing, unafraid to toil for a living. His voice echoes through the years, a denizen of the East River Fish Markets and neighborhood pubs, satisfied to end each day well-fed and warm, determined to give as good as he gets, leaving his mark on the world he inhabits. This man will not go quietly into that dark good night.

This is a small, intimate look into the lifestyle of a gentleman from the old days. Reaching the end of his life, he remains tenacious and determined, as dapper today as when he was a young man with a bright future ahead.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Luan Gaines, 2005

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