THEY MET FOR their special lunch at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, ignoring the fact that the hotel was a whole lot younger than they were.

Meet the Porters. Six siblings who have been getting along, more or less, for at least 80 years. Each. When Ruth, the youngest, turned 80 this past week, her four older brothers and one older sister said, "It's about time," and booked the party room at Little America. Added together, they were 508 years old. If that wasn't a good excuse, what was?All of them still alive, all still independent, and now, all 80-something.

So let's see, there's Cliff, who's 89; John, 87; Theron, 86; Earl, 84, and the two girls, Hazel, 82, and Ruth, finally 80.

Only Theron isn't known as Theron. Since he was little, everyone's called him "Ick," after Ichabod Crane. Cliff gave him the nickname because "I was madder than hell at him, I forget what for." Ick didn't like the name then, says he still doesn't, but it stuck.

Of course he's had revenge on his mind ever since.

After lunch, he said he and John planned to "get on either side of Cliff, who's half blind and can't see us, and beat the hell out of him."

Ick laughed. John laughed. Cliff sorta laughed.

The Porters don't know exactly why they've all lived so well and so long. Pressed to guess why, Earl said, "hard work," and Hazel offered, "good diet." To the Porters of Preston, Idaho, "junk food" was cream and honey and not a whole lot of that, and chores were part of the natural order of life. Much of what they wore, and most of what they ate, they made.

Their father, Ernest, and mother, Ida, lived to be 92 and 88, respectively, so genetics must have something to do with it as well.

And so must temperament. Ernest and Ida, according to their children, were incredibly upbeat even if they did raise six kids through the Great Depression, and even if those six kids were them.

With the kids that close together, and with the parents not much older - Ida had all six by the time she was 30 - the Porters were a real team. One for all and all for one all the time.

Ruth, the little sister, showed up to the party on the day of her birth with a present for herself - a brand new husband-to-be. She met Elbert Thompson, a retired dentist, eight months ago and chose the occasion of the big 80's bash to present him as her "feller" to the family. They planned to be married in two weeks.

Not that that stopped Hazel from putting the moves on Ruth's feller. Upon being introduced, Hazel linked her arm in Elbert's and asked, "Wanta be a polygamist?"

Ruth rolled her eyes.

The brothers being brothers, they naturally had a good time with the news of their sister's impending nuptials.

"You know, don't you, that the first marriage is Niagara," Ick, nudging his brothers, said to Ruth, "And the second is Viagra."

Ruth pretended she didn't hear.

With that they adjourned to lunch, where Hazel predicted peace and calm despite the lack of "mother and dad telling us to behave," although Ruth added, "Only if John can keep his cotton-pickin' hands off my pork steak."

They laughed as they left.

"You know," said Earl, "we went from horse & buggy to the moon."

Which got John to reminiscing about the first time he saw a car - a Hupmobile - come to Preston.

And got Cliff to remembering the time he dodged that bomb in Africa in World War II.

And got Ick to laughing about how he and John, the brother he now had his arm around, used to fight "every day the sun came up."

And got Hazel, still looking after her little sister Ruth, to observe to no one in particular, "Look at her. She's walkin' about a foot off the floor."