From John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington
Tennis great Arthur Ashe once gave centenarian Margaret Dell a black eye, but she doesn't hold a grudge against him.
It happened back in 1973. Ashe, the first black man to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, was competing in a major tennis tournament in Washington, D.C.
"I was sitting in a box way up high, and he served, and the ball came crashing in and hit me in the eye," Margaret remembers. "I was alright, but I did have a black eye.
"Arthur was awfully upset. He came over to see what had happened, and I said, 'Well, you hit me straight in the eye, and it looks like I'm going to have a lawsuit,' and he said, 'Call my lawyer,' and, of course, his lawyer was my son, so we had a lot of fun over that."
Margaret's son, Donald, was Ashe's friend and lawyer for 25 years.
"Oh, Arthur was just a great, great person," Margaret said. "He was a lot of fun to be with."
Ashe died in 1993 of AIDS. His widow Jeanne attended Margaret's 100th birthday celebration on July 14.
Another famous African-American, Rosa Parks, was considered the mother of the civil rights movement for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955.
Mrs. Parks was also related to centenarian Myria Dade of Floydada, Texas. She was Myria's late husband's aunt.
"Aunt Rosie did not give up her seat to that white man, and he should have known better," Myria said recently. "She told everybody, 'Don't ever give up your seat.'"
Myria said she's proud to be Mrs. Parks' relative.
"Aunt Rosie was interested in anybody that needed help," Myria said. "She was ready for it, and she tried to help everybody that she could."
Rosa Parks died in 2005. Myria turned 102 on Sept. 18.
Another centenarian who rubbed shoulders with the famous was 104-year-old Lloyd Harvey, who first met "Buffalo Bill" Cody, the famous cowboy and Wild West showman, around 1914 in Republican City, Neb. Buffalo Bill was about to perform at a local auditorium when he recognized Lloyd's uncle, who worked on Cody's ranch.
"Buffalo Bill came over, and he just really grasped my hand and shook it and patted me on the shoulder and roughed up my hair and talked to me at length," Lloyd, who was 10 at the time, remembers.
"Then he took me by the hand and said, 'You're going to have the best seat in the house,' and he took us down to the very front row to some special seats for his performance. That, of course, was an occasion I could never forget."
Years later, Lloyd visited Buffalo Bill's grave on top of Lookout Mountain near Denver.
"It was a cold, wintery day," Lloyd said, "and yet there were a lot of people looking at his grave, and the friend that took us said, 'This man here shook hands with Buffalo Bill,' and, golly, it really caused a stir, and then everybody surrounded me, and everybody had to shake my hand because I had shaken hands with Buffalo Bill."
Lloyd keeps a picture of Buffalo Bill on his wall and a bookcase filled with about 50 books on the famed showman.
"When we have company," Lloyd's daughter said, "the conversation in no time flat is, 'Would you like to come up to my room and see my bedroom?' And he'll take them upstairs and show them Buffalo Bill's picture and then come back down and have some coffee and start visiting, and he'll go into all his stories about Buffalo Bill."
Photos: Arthur Ashe at Wimbledon, 1969 (AP Photo); Rosa Parks being fingerprinted after arrest in 1955 (AP Photo); Lloyd Harvey as young man (Family photo)
Myria and Lloyd were two of the centenarians featured by Willard Scott on NBC's "Today" show. If you know of any centenarians who've had a brush with history over the past century, please tell us a little bit about them in the comments section below and be sure to fill in your return e-mail address so we can get back to you for more details.