Marguerite Davis, my grandmother-in-law, turned 100 last Saturday. She was born on March 5, 1916, and spent the first part of her life in Fall River, Massachusetts, before settling in North Attleboro. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how amazing it is that she is a century old! So I decided to share some of these thoughts with you.
When she was born, women couldn’t vote yet. That wouldn’t happen for another four years. Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States and World War I was at its height. When little Margie was one month old, the toggle light switch was invented. Around that same time, the Chicago Cubs played their first game at what would come to be called Wrigley Field. At two months, the Saturday Evening Post ran its first cover featuring a Norman Rockwell painting. At five months, the National Park Service was created.
She was nearly three years old when Theodore Roosevelt died. She became a teenager in the Roaring Twenties, and was a teenager when the stock market crashed in 1929, ushering in the Great Depression. When Margie was 14, the chocolate chip cookie was invented—also in Massachusetts. When she was in her thirties, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.
I find it interesting to think what the world was like when Margie was my age. At that time, Elvis Presley scandalized TV viewers with his hip thrusts while singing “Hound Dog.” President Dwight Eisenhower instituted the Interstate Highway System. The Montgomery bus boycott ended, and Yankees pitcher Don Larsen pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series.
Speaking of baseball, being a big baseball fan, I can’t help but think of history in baseball terms. When Margie was born, the reigning batting champ was Ty Cobb. The reigning World Series champions were the Boston Red Sox, who would go on to win another title that year against the Brooklyn Robins. In fact, the Red Sox had a star pitcher who would win 23 games that season while leading the league with nine shutouts and a 1.75 ERA. His name was Babe Ruth.
I really got into Major League Baseball when I was 11 years old, in 1986. That was the year Bill Buckner made the error and the Mets beat the Red Sox in the World Series. If Margie had gotten into baseball at the same age, it would have been 1927—the year that Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs as he and Lou Gehrig led the “Murderers Row” Yankees to a World Series title.
Something that really helps me put the historical significance of Margie’s age into perspective is to consider people that were alive at the same time as her. In addition to Teddy Roosevelt, she was alive at the same time as the inventor Alexander Graham Bell, writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Jack London (The Call of the Wild), and L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz), cowboys Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill Cody, Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln, escape artist Harry Houdini, painter Claude Monet, musician Scott Joplin, Nicholas II (the last czar of Russia), and communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. Most interesting to me is that not only was Margie alive at the same time as Lizzie Borden (as in “Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks…”), but for about 10 years they actually lived in the same town of Fall River (also known as the home of chef Emeril Lagasse and Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf).
So far everything described is from Margie’s lifetime. But we can also work backward. For instance, remember when JFK was shot? (Before my time, but you might have been around.) That was 53 years ago. Work back 53 years from when Margie was born, and that’s when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
One of the neat things about spending Margie’s 100th birthday with her was getting to see my daughter’s interactions with her great-grandmother. Margie is 93 years older than Laura Marie. Someone who was 93 years old than Margie could have met Beethoven and been old enough to remember him. In fact, she is closer in age to Leo Tolstoy, Billy the Kid, Stonewall Jackson—and in fact most Civil War veterans—than she is to Laura Marie. She’s even almost closer in age to Queen Victoria!
There’s an old proverb which says that when an old person dies, a library burns to the ground. I love how Marguerite Davis is a living library who is still going strong after a solid century!