104 years old and still engaged
One Carson City resident is over a century old, and is still continuing to make his mark on the world.
John DeLaVaux turned 104 years old Monday, but he said he doesn’t feel it because he hasn’t let his mind falter.
“It seems like time just runs along, the next thing you know you are 100 then over 100,” DeLaVaux said. “If you are engaged or interested in something you will never let your mind go blank.”
To keep his mind going, DeLaVaux has spent the last five years writing a book on how the pyramids were built. He believes that many authors have the facts incorrect, that instead of the ancient Egyptians using levers, they used the simple laws of physics to create a system of pulleys, locks and tackles.
“Everything I am writing about can be explained by physics,” DeLaVaux said. “And no one can argue with physics.”
“I was prompted to write the book because of the ridiculous ideas people had of how the pyramids were built and to come up with those ideas are preposterous.”
His interest in the pyramids came from a picture of his mother that showed her adventures in Egypt in the 1880s and the finding of King Tut’s tomb in the 1920s. He said he was appalled that no one had written anything opposing what had been written.
“Others claimed that they used levers and sleds to tow and lift beams,” DeLaVaux said. “Impossible. So how do you handle those beams (to create the structure)? You do it by adding blocks at the fulcrum so you can jack the beam to the height you want.”
And if anyone knows about how structures were constructed, it would be DeLaVaux. He spent decades building houses for the famous architect John Lautner all along the West Coast.
DeLaVaux started his construction career in the 1920s in Hollywood, after learning the trade from a neighbor, Robert Bell. Bell would teach DeLaVaux how to read blue prints, create estimates and even allow him to help on some of his projects.
“He was a great teacher, I wouldn’t have become the person I did without him,” DeLaVaux said.
By the time DeLaVaux married Bell’s daughter Marguerite, he was running his own crew and had even started building boats during World War II. It wasn’t until several years later, when DeLaVaux met Lautner through his kids’ school.
“Our kids went to school together and one day (Lautner’s wife) said that Lautner has mentioned how hard it was to get someone to build one of his houses well, so I decided to take a crack at it,” DeLaVaux said. “And we began building houses together.”
Over the years, DeLaVaux built six of Lautner’s designs including the famous Chemosphere in Los Angeles, which is where he discovered the knowledge on how the Egyptians created the pyramids. Because the house was on a hill, they had to get 40 to 70 foot masts to “walk” the materials across to the house on a high line.
“This is the knowledge that I used to write my book,” DeLaVaux said.
In 1986 DeLaVaux and his wife, Marguerite, moved to Nevada to be closer to their three children. DeLaVaux lived on his own until his last year. Now, he lives with his daughter Marge and spends most of his days writing.
“I am very fortunate that I have been able to dodge aliments that others younger than I have,” DeLaVaux said. “Now writing occupies most of my time and in the evening I enjoy documentaries and reading National Geographic.”
To celebrate his 104th birthday, DeLaVaux and his family kept the day simple, with a nice family dinner. He hopes to continue to write his book and enjoy the rest of the time he has.
“Even though death may be around the corner for me or maybe a few more years away, I’m not afraid of dying,” DeLaVaux said. “People don’t realize that everything has a beginning and an end and the end is peaceful. It is our reward for living.”
DeLaVaux has lived a full life, and knows how to make the most of it for 104 years.
“You just always have to be an enthusiast,” DeLaVaux said. “Always keep your mind busy and never be negative, that is the worst poison.”