Stories of the century

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Imagine being born in a time when horses clip-clopped down city streets and fewer than 5 percent of American homes were lit using electricity. Theodore Roosevelt resided in the White House, and Harry Houdini astounded crowds with his feats.

Just days after Lois Leyda was born on July 19, 1903, the Ford Motor Company sold its first Model A car. At the end of the year, the Wright Brothers made their first flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Leyda is the second-oldest person in the District of Columbia. She and two other local centenarians are profiled in the June issue of the Beacon. They have all lived remarkably healthy and interesting lives. Leyda, for instance, worked for a half dozen presidents, from Harry Truman to George H.W. Bush.

While turning 100 is still an amazing accomplishment, the numbers of centenarians is burgeoning. There were about 72,000 in the U.S. last year, up from 37,000 two decades before. By 2050, there will be at least 250,000, according to Census Bureau projections.

My own Aunt Sara will turn 100 on June 21, the longest-lived person in my family so far, and several dozen family members will celebrate the day with her.

Do you want to be a member of the centenarians club? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.