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On the brink of 100, helping more and worrying less

Margaret Brown retired long ago from the Social Security Administration but still gets up at 8 every morning. She likes to read detective novels and watch “Criminal Minds” on TV. She also volunteers several times a month at the Kenmore Mercy Hospital gift shop. She credits a helping spirit, good genes and realistic attitude for the reasons she looks to celebrate her 100th birthday on Monday.

“If I run into a problem, or a problem comes up, and I can’t do anything about it, I forget it. I do as much as I can and then I don’t worry about it,” said Brown, who is Irish-American and has lived in the Town of Tonawanda since she was 5. She was born the year before the U.S. entered World War I. It was the same year the Chicago Cubs played their first game at Wrigley Field and unions successfully fought for the first 40-hour work week.

Q. What was it like to live as a teen and in your 20s in the Buffalo region?

When I lived over on North End Avenue with the family, on a clear day you could see the trolley cars on Hertel Avenue. There was nothing out here but farmers. You’d go downtown on the trolley car. There were some really nice stores down there. They ruined that. It used to be nice when AM&As had those beautiful Christmas windows.

Q. You say your fondest memories include greeting your husband, Kenneth, at the Buffalo Terminal when he returned from the Pacific during World War II, and the birth of your son, Michael, 69 years ago. You’ve celebrated the births of three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, and mourned the losses of your parents, husband, two sisters and almost all of your friends. Why do you think you’ve been around for almost 100 years?

I try not to dwell on the losses. I don’t know why I’ve lived this long. It must be the genes. I can eat anything; nothing bothers me – yet. For breakfast, my son brings me coffee cakes or I have toast. Lunch, I lean toward soup and an orange or banana. I have a regular dinner, meat and potatoes. I don’t drink any alcohol. I drink a lot of coffee, iced tea and orange juice.

Q. What kind of music do you like?

Guy Lombardo and all those ancients. I can’t stand that stuff they’re playing now.

Q. Do you have a favorite Irish song?

No. I like ’em all.

Q. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen?

I liked everything in Ireland. I enjoyed that trip. I went to Hawaii three times. That’s nice, too.

– Scott Scanlon

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