To a large degree, the centenarians in the following pages belong to the Sir Winston Churchill school of aging.
"We are happier in many ways when we are old than when we were young," Churchill said in his later years. "The young sow wild oats. The old grow sage."
The centenarians included here are handpicked "sage growers," beautifully wise as individuals.
They are also splendid representatives of a trend in the United States. The number of centenarians is increasing dramatically. Today, the US Census Bureau puts the figure at around 65,000, up from 36,000 in l990. In 20 years, the number could reach 200,000.
To mark this growing bounty, the Monitor's editors decided to create a collection of portraits of 100-year-olds in photos and words.
Those interviewed - who came from rural and urban backgrounds - shared a sense of humor, much interest in the here-and-now, a strong work ethic, and a refusal to dwell on past hurts or regrets.
By example, the "sage growers" in these pages lead the way into a new century.
For extended e-coverage, log on to the Monitor's online site @ www.csmonitor.com/livesofacentury
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