They have seen the world change from a time when only birds flew through
the skies, to seeing man walk on the moon. And saw communications advance from the telegraph to e-mail.
Not all of the changes were dramatic, by history's standards.
"It was a big deal when we got a refrigerator, 'cause then we could keep ice cream," recalled Bertha Rostedt, daughter of Sophie Sroka, who turned 101 on Nov. 11.
Now a resident at Altercare of Ravenna, Mrs. Sroka came to America at age 16, from Poland. She later moved to Danielson, Conn., where she worked as a weaver of curtain material, and met her husband.
"They left at 6 o'clock (in the morning) and came home at 6 (p.m.) and then my mother began to cook" on a kerosene stove, Mrs. Rostedt recalled.
The family had a large garden and raised cows, chickens, pigs and ducks, and they canned much of their produce for use in the winter.
In the summer there were picnics, and neighborhood children playing in the hayloft, Mrs. Rostedt recalled.
The family did not have a telephone until Mr. Sroka, a World War I veteran, went into the hospital. "If anybody really wanted to call, they'd call a neighbor," Mrs. Rostedt said.
Mercy Foster, 101, moved to Ravenna in 1936 with her husband, who was a railroader. She was born and raised in Magnolia, Md., until the seventh grade, when her family moved to Canada to homestead in Alberta. Five years later she came east to visit family, met her future husband, and stayed.
Modern grocery stores, with their thousands of choices, are a far cry from the small stores she recalls.
"There were just a few things on the shelf. We used to buy mainly flour and sugar. We baked our own bread. Now you can buy everything ready made, if you have the money," she said. Cooking was done on a wood stove. And there were no indoor bathrooms for most people.
Sara Farmer, 102, also will see her third century this weekend. Born Jan. 30, 1897 in Manchester Ky., she lived 90 years on the family farm. She now is a resident of the Portage County Nursing Home.
"It was 300 acres of virgin forest, and my father took out just enough trees to build a house," she said.
Her father and three brothers traveled to other jobs, leaving her mother and the five sisters to work the farm. "I could put harness on a mule and hitch him up. I'm proud of that," she said.
During World War I, when she was 18, she went to work as a postmaster. Her mother was their local postmaster for 41 years, she said.
For Marie E. Varga, 90, of Ravenna, Franklin D. Roosevelt was a memorable personality. "The first time I was old enough, I voted for him," she said.
Born in Smock, Pa., she was one of eight girls and four boys in her family.
She's grateful for modern conveniences such as gas or electric heat, and lights.
"I can remember hauling coal in, and ashes out, (to heat the house) and cleaning the chimney, and filling (oil) lamps." she was 16 or so when the family got electricity, she said.
She moved to Cleveland in 1929, where she married her husband just as the country was headed into the Great Depression.
"It was kind of hard. I made an awful lot of things with potatoes," she recalled. "We lived on $18 a week. And you learned to stretch a dollar."
But it wasn't all bad times, she said. "It seemed we helped one another more. We got along."
During World War II, she did volunteer work, helping monitor rationing rules in stores, and working in her victory garden on the grounds of St. Luke's Hospital in Cleveland."
The end of the war came as relief more than jubilation, she said.
"It was quiet and prayerful; that everything had come to the end," she said.
Edna George of Ravenna worked 36 years as a secretary for the general manager of Twin Coach in Kent, retiring in 1965. "We made the most beautiful buses you ever laid your eyes on," she said with pride.
And all the office paper had to be done by hand, unlike today, when office work is dominated by computers, she noted.
Mrs. George said she had hopes of becoming a nurse, but her father was injured in an accident, "so I took care of my folks," and didn't go on to nursing school.
"But I have enjoyed my life very much," she said.