PLATTSBURGH - Imagine surviving to see everything from the advent of the automobile to the invention of the iPod. In one century, the world has seen an enormous amount of change.
Emma Dean Bagget has been around to witness it all, but you could never tell by looking at her. The native Texan, who today resides at Pine Harbour Assisted Living, passes the century mark today, April 1.
"It's particularly amazing," said Emma's son, Michael Bagget. "Especially because of her [excellent] condition."
Emma's memories are particularly amazing. One example is how she recalled when her family got their first car when she was just a child. Her father, she remembered, was the do-it-yourself type, and it was this attitude that allowed Emma to drive the brand-new Ford automobile.
"My father put me in it and said 'drive!'- I drove it straight into a tree," she said.
"He said we should do everything on our own, but I guess he changed his mind after that," she joked.
Luckily, Emma wasn't hurt, but the old-time automobile was out for the count.
Throughout her life, the centenarian has made her living as a secretary for a few high-profile persons, including a senator and a president of a community college in Texas. Her Texas roots were moved to the Empire State when her son's wife received a job offer in the area.
"I think it's remarkable how well she had adjusted," Michael said. "When she gets her head around something she gets it done."
Emma, who is a devout Methodist, has been married twice, most recently when she was in her 80s. She is the mother of two now-grown children, Michael and Christina, and has a slew of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including a granddaughter with 17 children. She has long outlived anybody else in her family so far.
Emma attributes her longevity to a healthy and happy lifestyle. And, even though she may be getting older, her heart is as young as ever.
Recently, Emma rode a Harley, had her picture placed in the paper.
"She has the best attitude of anyone I have ever known," Michael said. "She takes life in stride."
However, Emma doesn't spend every day on the back of a motorcycle. On a normal day, you can find her at Bible study, church, walking around the lake area in Plattsburgh, singing in a choir or just socializing amongst her peers at Pine Harbour.
"I think it all has been wonderful," Emma said of her life and memories she's made. "I feel fine."
Michael O'Keefe is an intern with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.