Farewell to ‘Old Sol’

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 26, 2004

This week, the residents of the Drum Hill area of Gates County share the grief felt by the family of the late Sol Benny Sigel, who died peacefully in his bed last Monday, after 100 years and 56 days of a life lived to the fullest.

I had the privilege of interviewing &uot;Sol,&uot; as his Drum Hill &uot;gang&uot; knew him, 37 days before he slipped from this life into the arms of God. Now, you may wonder how I could possibly know that Sol went to be with God, but anyone who knew him would stand up for that fact.

Sol was a good man… a kind and generous soul who would do all he could to help anyone he knew. His personality was as sweet as the honey that he so loved. All that’s the general consensus around Drum Hill, anyway.

Sol lived his life in a way that he, at least, believed that God intends for all of us to live. He was devoted to the earth and loved it so much that he not only grew almost every morsel of food he put into his mouth, but he loved nothing better than a warm, sunny day in which he could lay out on the green, grassy earth and feel the healing rays of the sun providing all that vitamin D to his body.

Did I say &uot;healing rays?&uot; That’s right. Old Sol (Latin for sun, by the way) believed in using the sun to maintain his self-prescribed course of healthy living. His skin proved it. He had a perpetual tan without ever paying a cent for one of those tanning beds. Remarkably, he never had even a tiny skin disorder, much less carcinoma of the skin. He explained that fact by the fact that he lived on things grown from the earth without drowning them in pesticides and herbicides. He also said that he chose the God-given fruits and vegetables of the earth over the cholesterol laden fats and steroids Americans are so in love with today.

Some of the centenarian’s

&uot;Sol-isms&uot; included &uot;lose weight and live longer,&uot; &uot;eat no meats, but eat plenty of wheat and honey.&uot;

When I met Sol for the first time, I was amazed at his slight stature. Listening to stories – actually almost legends – of his life and times as told by the people around Drum Hill, I expected to meet the &uot;Paul Bunyan&uot; of carrots and goats. Goats? Yes, he also raised goats by the herd. He drank the milk and he often brought a goat to friends in exchange for some kind favor from a member of the Drum Hill gang.

Sol was also a believer in walking, almost a century before the fitness gurus pointed out the benefits of such activity. He would never accept rides from those blessed with wheels to transport themselves about, and he was proud of the fact that he was never a &uot;hobo,&uot; those gentlemen who tramped their way across the nation by illicit rides in railcars.

Sol, in his interview for this newspaper, claimed that the sun had provided &uot;energy&uot; to his body all those years he spent on his 50-acre Drum Hill farm. Could it be that the kindly old gent knew what he talked about?

It must be considered that he was healthy and vibrant until age began to ply its ruinous ways, preventing him from venturing out dressed only in a pair of shorts to lie on the earth and soak up that energy.

When he went to Down East Health & Rehab Center, he got excellent care. He was the first to state that fact emphatically. He loved the people, the caregivers, there. However, Sol realized that his only sojourns from then on would be those in his intellect. A traveler in his early youth, Sol had walked across this nation and he had worked all along the way to feed himself. His travels went to a different plane and he won’t have to work to earn another mouthful to eat as of Monday, Nov. 15, 2004.

Good bye, old Sol. Your wit, wisdom and charity will be missed. Especially by your old Drum Hill gang.