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Centenarian reflects on the brighter side of turning 100 years old

PLATTSBURGH - Marion Biesemeyer has witnessed a lot of history in her 100 years of life and she plans to witness a lot more.

Biesemeyer - who spent most of her adult life in Keene and today resides at Meadowbrook Healthcare in Plattsburgh - was born Marion Hempel Feb. 22, 1911 in Germany, where she grew up and completed medical school. Though she grew up in Germany during a time of political turmoil and persecution, Biesemeyer likes to look back at the fond memories of her earlier years.

"I had a very happy youth," said Biesemeyer, who recalled the simpler times of growing up before inventions like televisions and washing machines became common household fixtures.

"We didn't have any," Biesemeyer said of many of the modern conveniences seen today.

Even the automobile - then still very new to the world - was considered more a luxury than a given for families. However, that was of no importance to Biesemeyer.

"I always liked to walk," she said. "I could outwalk the cars with the many stops they made."

Biesemeyer said she doesn't remember her family owning a car when she was growing up, let alone going through the rite of passage many teenagers go through today - driving the family car to practice for a driver license test.

"It cost money," Biesemeyer said of owning a car.

"And, I think fuel was too expensive to waste on a little girl who didn't know what she was doing," said added, laughing.

It wasn't until she moved to the United States several years later with her now late husband, Walter, that she owned her first automobile.

However, that wasn't the only major change in Biesemeyer's life. During the beginning of the Nazi occupation of Germany in 1939, Biesemeyer and her husband, a Swiss architect, fled to France, and eventually to the United States. It was a time in her life that Biesemeyer doesn't like to talk about but one that also saw the denial of her German medical degree because her mother was Jewish - something that wasn't rectified until she was 90 years old.

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