Daily News photo/ALY GIBSON Herb Anderson, left, celebrates his 96th birthday Monday with a group of friends he's been meeting for coffee at Caruso's for more than 50 years.

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Celebrating 96 years over coffee

Published 3:44pm Monday, June 18, 2012

Every morning for years, a group of men have met at Caruso’s in downtown Dowagiac to talk and celebrate life’s accomplishments.

While some days they talk about the world and try to “solve its problems,” other days they celebrate a fellow coffee chatter’s birthday, much like Monday’s meeting.

Herb Anderson turned 96 Monday, and his Caruso pals joined him to celebrate.

Over cups of coffee and tea, the men, including Bob Jirgl, Jim Judd, Jim Sayer, Jack Revette, Anderson’s son-in-law, Jim McWilliams, Bob Van Husan and Mark Herman, lit a candle for Anderson and placed it in a donut. Once “Happy Birthday” was sung, they reminisced on some fun memories and presented Anderson with a few cards and a gift.

“We like to talk about a lot of different things,” Jirgl said. “Women, too. The other half of society.”

Between refills, Anderson received a bright yellow ball cap, emblazoned with the word “Kodak” in fire-engine red.

“It’s one of the most popular motifs in the country,” McWilliams said when asked why Kodak. “Because this is a Kodak moment.”

For Anderson, who has been married nearly 70 years to his wife, can remember serving in the infantry division during World War II. Beginning his overseas service in Africa, Anderson saw several countries in Europe, including Italy, France and Germany. He returned home in December 1945.

Though Monday morning’s coffee was the first of his birthday celebrations, Anderson said turning 96 still feels the same as 95.

“It’s no different; I’m a little slower, maybe,” he said with a laugh.

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