There are 18 men and 70 women in Tyrol who are more than 100 years old. In Austria, we’ve got 1.148 people aged 100+*. „Steinbichl“ Sepp (Joseph is his given name) from Alpbach in Tyrol is one of them. A genuine original of 100 years with lots of humor, a colorful past and just one wish.
It didn’t need to use my full art of persuasion to ask Sepp out for a trip to an alp in Alpbach to talk about his life. He’s been waiting for me all ready to pick him up wearing his beautiful blue apron and his hat he’s usually wearing only on Sundays.
He was born in March 1917 on a farm in Inneralpbach as the third of seven children. His mother has died in childbirth when Sepp was only one year old. The beginning of the 1900s were tough times when quite many women have died in childbirth. His father has lost three wives within 15 years.
Maybe these tragedies have affected him so that Sepp has never married in his entire life. There was one he fancied and for who he made some beautiful bouquets of alpine roses, but at the end, they didn’t get together. He hesitated for too long and couldn’t make a go of it. I asked him if he might have been a bit too greedy and with a cheeky smile he just nodded and said that he didn’t want to have just any woman. I have the feeling, that there are some little secrets he was not willing to share… 😉
After Sepp finished school he used to work on his father’s farm until he started to work as a weaver. He cannot estimate how much linen he has produced in his entire life, but it must have been quite a lot. His love to animals and to work on the farm has always been his priority and so he has spent every summer on an alp in Alpbach. Most of the time he was all by himself. Sometimes he wished to have a woman by his side to talk and enjoy some togetherness. Sepp has worked on his beloved alp until two years ago.
I had to ask him about World War since this is a topic I am very much interested in and which still touches me. He was drafted on 31 July 1941 together with some of his fellows, but due to his speech impediment he used to have, he was lucky to return home after only 17 days. Unfortunately, some of his friends have never come back.
I would have bet my home and belongings telling you that Sepp has never traveled in his life. He has proven me totally wrong. He was in Vienna twice, in Rome, in Fatima and even in Isreal. He loved to bath in the Dead Sea, but was cautious and didn’t want to swim too far fearing some animals. Crocodiles maybe? 😉
Today Sepp is physically and psychically rather fit with his 100 years. His secret? Goat milk every day (he says, it’s good for your lungs) and the alp. And he goes to church twice a day.
At the end of the day, I asked him what he would ask for if he could make a wish.
„I would want to live my life as an alp farmer again, because it’s simply just the most beautiful thing you can imagine.“
Dear Sepp, even if you won’t read this article, I am so grateful to have spent this wonderful day with you. I hope you will stay healthy and fit for a long time yet and enjoy many beautiful moments.
*source: Statistik Austria, 2017