In 1917 the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded, the United States got involved in World War I and the University of Oregon defeated the University of Pennsylvania in the third annual Rose Bowl.
It was also the year five residents at the Greenport retirement community Peconic Landing — Charles Slama, Edwin Masback, Genevieve Leskody, Sally Haupt and Helen White — were born, making this the year they’ll all celebrate their 100th birthdays.
Although today they are all neighbors, their lives have gone in different directions in the past century.
Slama owned a machine shop in Long Island City and spent his free time building things, such as decorative wooden ships. He also served in the army during World War II and spent the majority of his time cruising around on his motorcycle.
White was an avid figure skater, tennis instructor and elementary school teacher who loved dancing with her late husband, Thomas, and helped establish Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge in Southampton in the 1950s.
“Ms. Morton called me up and said ‘Mrs. White, do you think I’m making a mistake by giving up my property?’” White recalled. “And I encouraged her to do it. I said ‘Don’t change your place, give it as property that everyone can enjoy.’”
Masback graduated from Yale University and went on to work for a hardware wholesale distribution company while also serving on the American Field Service board. Haupt was a minister’s wife and stay-at-home mom, who was largely involved in the church and music.
Leskody was born in North Dakota, living there until she moved to Brooklyn, where she worked in a factory during World War II making aerial cameras for planes. It was there that she met her late husband. She also waited tables, once serving New York Yankees outfielder Babe Ruth.
“He was a big, heavy man,” Leskody said. “He was nice and very considerate.”
Additionally, two of the women attended college, a rarity in the Depression era.
White followed in her mother’s footsteps and attended Goucher College in Baltimore, Md., the sister university of Johns Hopkins University, and Leskody was a student at Dickinson State College in North Dakota. Both women were also school teachers for a period of time.
Each person had different experiences throughout their lives, but they all centered around work and family time while recognizing the importance of keeping hobbies and enjoying free time.
When they reflected on their past and their family, each of their faces lit up and their smiles grew wide as they relived some of their favorite times.
For those hoping to happily make it to triple digits, the residents who are soon to be celebrating that feat have some advice.
“Just find something you love to do and do it to the best of your ability,” Slama said. “That’s my thing.”
Leskody had even simpler advice.
“Just live,” she said.
This article appeared in Times Review Media Group’s 50+ magazine.