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Five Croton Centenarians Celebrate Birthdays

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. — Bethel Nursing and Rehab Center celebrated birthdays of five centenarians Friday afternoon, one of whom turned 104.

"I just combed my hair, and go," said Carmela Giordano, 100, who was born in 1912 and was formerly a resident of Flushing, Queens. "I was too busy taking care of work instead of my body. I never paid attention," she said.

Giordano said she drank and smoked cigarettes until her husband of many years died, but never cared for pasta.

"She was an incredible cook," added her niece, Georgette Alfano, of Yorktown.

Centenarians who also celebrated birthdays Friday are Anna Allen, 104, Rose Zoeller, 102, Mary Maclim, 101, and Libia Rosa, 100.

Activity coordinators read aloud bits of history each centenarian — and many helping to celebrate — had lived through. When Allen was born in 1908, a postage stamp cost 2 cents. The Boy Scouts of America were incorporated the year Zoeller was born, and when Mayclim was born, a person reached the South Pole for the first time.

The centenarians all lived through two world wars, the Titanic sinking on its maiden voyage, women's suffrage and the eventual passage of the 19th amendment guaranteeing a woman's right to vote, the attack on Pearl Harbor and Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball color barrier by joining the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Together, the five centenarians have lived through three stock market crashes — in 1929, 1987 and 2008. The discovery of penicillin, first successful open heart surgery, first successful kidney transplant and the first successful test tube baby all happened during their lifetimes. They lived through the first men in space, on the moon and shuttle orbits, from computers the size of living rooms to floppy discs, to the invention of the Internet to the iPhone.

All five centenarians also received a letter from Gov. Cuomo, sending them birthday wishes.

"This special milestone provides an opportunity to pay tribute to an extraordinary individual who continues to live each day to the fullest," read the governor's letter.

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