Brattleboro centenarian is her 'own boss'

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BRATTLEBORO — Longtime resident Marjorie "Midge" Dunham just joined the centenarian club.

"If you think you're right, do what you want. But make sure you're right," is her advice on growing old. "Because there's always someone out there that's going to tell you what to do. I make up my own line and don't listen to them. I'm my own boss."

Dunham describes herself as being "very healthy" and she looked the part during an interview in her second-floor room at the Thompson House, a rehabilitation and nursing center in Brattleboro that provides care and living space for seniors.

Growing up, she said, "You ate what my mother put on the table."

Dunham was born and raised on Organ Street in Brattleboro. Her father tuned organs at the world-famous Estey Organ Company in town and her mother stayed home with the five kids.

"Most of my life's been spent here. It's not a bad place," Dunham said.

Brattleboro hasn't really changed much over the years, she said.

"Not to me."

Besides registering cows with the Brattleboro-based Holstein Association, Dunham had jobs in various stores downtown. She went to the Catholic elementary and high school, Saint Michael's, on Walnut Street. She was married and had two children.

Dunham is keeping close track of the Democrats, she said, as she watches presidential contenders vie for the position. She decided she was a Democrat when she came to be of voting age. But she finds it interesting to follow both parties.

"I wouldn't leave the Democratic party," Dunham said, adding that she's never thought politicians were "actually honest" but nonetheless, "it's interesting to keep track of them. I follow them. That's what I do."

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has kept former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her toes throughout the primary, so far securing 1,192 delegates to Clinton's 1,944, did not impress Dunham.

"I think he's a good person in his own person. But I don't know enough about him otherwise," said Dunham.

On living to the age of 100, she said, "I don't feel a bit different. I just think it's funny that I made it."

She celebrated her birthday on Sunday.

"I had a natural life. It went along from day to day," Dunham said. "Brattleboro's fine for me. We had good schools and things here. I've been around once. That's enough."

At the Thompson House, there are plenty of activities. If residents want to be busy, Dunham said they can get busy.

She would know. She's been there for almost 10 years.

Dunham did not have any goals or plans in mind.

"I'm stuck here now. I got to go along with the flow," she laughed. "I don't mind. It's not bad. It's a good group here."

She jokes around with the staff members. She said they have "a good time."

Friends visit with Dunham, coming from inside and outside the Thompson House. Most of the friends from her days at Saint Michael's have not lived as long.

"It takes a lot of years to grow up," she said.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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