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Columns

September 23, 2013

Swapping stories with a sweet centenarian

Marge Mathews is one very special lady.

I had the pleasure of spending a quiet afternoon with her over a piece of homemade apple pie a few days ago. Marge, you see, was getting ready to celebrate a birthday coming up.

“Yes, they always make a big fuss about it,” the spry little lady said. “I am sure there will be a party here, a gathering there, some cake at Denny’s or maybe Brooks or McDonalds. They all know me at those places.”

Marge has been around long enough to see it all.

“I was born in East Meredith and moved to Oneonta when I was 2. Been here ever since,” she told me with certainty.

“Oneonta was a lot different way back when. My folks, Pasquale and Angelina, came from Italy. Dad worked for more than 40 years with the D&H railroad. We lived on a street that is no longer around, Liberty Street. It’s where the Lettis Highway is now. My girlfriends and I used to play all over the neighborhood and we had a fun time. Gals like Rose and Mary Powell, Alice Dilello and my three sisters Minnie, Josephine and Antoinette. We all stayed together.

“We went to dances in downtown Oneonta. At a place called Dreamland over one of the businesses. Downtown was a great place to be when you were young in my day. Lots of exciting things to do and fun places to go.”

Marge hasn’t moved around much. Just East Meredith to Liberty Street and then to Wells Avenue. “We moved there after the war,” she said.

She was speaking of World War I.

Marge went to Oneonta Public Schools all the way through graduation. I am sure this devout Catholic would have attended St. Mary’s School if she could have.

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