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Ex-resident marvels at 103 years of change

As the ball dropped in Times Square at midnight on New Year's Eve, former Suncoast resident Esther Holmquist said to her granddaughter, Kim, "Well, now I've lived in three centuries."

On Tuesday, Mrs. Holmquist celebrated her 103rd birthday at her granddaughter's home in Kissimmee. Before 1998, Mrs. Holmquist had lived at the Heritage Apartments in Largo for 20 years after living in St. Petersburg for 20 years.

Born of Swedish immigrant parents on Feb. 1, 1897, she lived in her native Chicago until the early 1950s, when she moved to St. Petersburg with her husband, William, who retired from the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

In the 1970s, after her husband died, Mrs. Holmquist moved to the Largo apartment where she lived independently. It was 1998 when injuries she sustained in a fall made it necessary for the 101-year-old to move to Kissimmee so her granddaughter could look after her.

Today, the 103-year-old remembers when she and her husband would "take a thermos of coffee, a sandwich and the St. Petersburg Times and go to the beach. . . . The beach was anywhere along the gulf where we decided to pull in, park and spend the day swimming, sunning and reading the paper."

Mrs. Holmquist also remembers when presents were wrapped in newspapers, when an orange in her stocking was a once-a-year treat, when the only light was a single bulb hanging from the ceiling on a cord, when she walked 5 miles to get a glimpse of an automobile. She recalls the day she ran outside of her home to see an airplane flying overhead and a time much later in Florida when she walked outside to watch a shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral.

Now, living in her third century, the 103-year-old marvels at the instantaneous e-mail greetings she receives from family members from all over the United States and as far away as Sweden and Thailand. She is proud of her four children, 11 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren, and she knows each one's name and birth date.

She likes that her granddaughter can send and receive pictures through the computer, and she was ecstatic that many in her family were on hand Tuesday to help her celebrate.

Library gets magical gift

Clearwater Public Library System recently received a donation from Tampa Bay Magic Club: a complete set of The Tarbell Course in Magic. For 75 years, the eight-volume book set has been considered the most complete series on the subject that has ever been compiled. The books will be available as a reference source at Clearwater Countryside Library, 2741 State Road 580.

First published in the 1920s as a mail-order course, the Tarbell volumes cover all aspects of magic, including close-up routines, parlor magic, mentalism, card tricks and stage illusions.

Among the tricks is one invented by a young David Copperfield, then known as David Kotkin. Tampa Bay Magic Club is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of Magicians. For information on the books or the club, call Bill White at 392-4242.

_ To submit an item to Good for You, write to Betsy Bolger-Paulet, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756, or call (727) 445-4176 Monday or Tuesday.