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Man Lives In Same House For 100 Years

April 30, 2009

I can’t imagine what this must be like. Alfonso De Marco moved from Italy to England when he was seven, in 1909, and he’s lived in the same house ever since. You can read the article here.

We hear a lot about people who are that old, but stop for a moment and try to picture what it was like to have lived through history the way this man has. Mr. De Marco was a teenager when the First World War broke out. He was in his 40s during the second. This is a man who can tell you what it was like when movies were a novelty. He was close to retirement when television first appeared, and by the time man walked on the moon he was almost 70. If I knew his phone number, I could call him and ask him how things changed when telephones became common.

And he saw it all while staying in the same place, as the world changed around him. Incredible.

A century ago, my property was a forest. Most of my neighbourhood was. That’s Canada for you. But when I first moved to this city, I rented an apartment in a house built in 1840 — a rare thing north of 49. My city has a lot of heritage buildings, and the museum features an incredible diorama of the city circa 1860. My kids like looking at it to see the wild woods where our house stands now — but also my mothers’ incredible old house, built around that time as a girls’ school.

I’m kind of a sucker for history. Maybe that’s why I’m so fascinated by Mr. De Marco’s story. When I was a reporter, I interviewed a few centenarians on their 100th; while some weren’t completely present, a couple — one of whom was a First World War veteran — astonished me with the stories they told. It’s one thing to read books about the Edwardian age; it’s another to talk to someone who lived it.

Anyway, I doubt I’ll live as long as Mr. De Marco. I’d like to, though. My kids are stunned when I tell them we didn’t have video games when I was their age, and if we wanted a movie, we had to go to the theatre. The changes he’s seen make that look like chump change. And I would love to be able to tell you, in 2075, what it was like when we could still breathe the air and the planet had separate countries all over it.

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