Happy Birthday to the 100 Club


They’re from the North­east; they have 2,000 years of life ex­per­i­ence; and they were in South Phil­adelphia last Fri­day to party.

Every year, as it has been for 11 of them now, the may­or rents a hall and hires a band and a cater­er to fete the cit­izens of Phil­adelphia who have made it to 100 years or older. Last Fri­day, about 20 North­east res­id­ents were among al­most 100 Phil­adelphi­ans honored dur­ing the city’s Cen­ten­ari­ans’ Cel­eb­ra­tion Day at the Sheet Met­al Work­ers Uni­on Hall on Colum­bus Boulevard.

The old­est man, Laz­ar Ayz­man, was born in Rus­sia 105 years ago. City of­fi­cials wer­en’t sure if the dec­or­ated vet­er­an of two wars made it to the party on Fri­day. Al­though the event was well-or­gan­ized, not all cen­ten­ari­ans sat at their as­signed tables, so it was hard to say at times who was where.

The old­est wo­man, 111-year-old Anna Hende­r­son, who has 20 grand­chil­dren, is from West Phil­adelphia and is the city’s old­est res­id­ent. She’s about three years shy of the world re­cord, ac­cord­ing to in­form­a­tion provided by the city. The world’s old­est per­son is Besse Berry Cooper of Geor­gia, who is 114.

The city’s largest cen­ten­ari­an pop­u­la­tions are in the North­east and West Philly, city of­fi­cials said.

North­east res­id­ent Helen How­land is kind of a new­bie in this well-seasoned bunch. She just turned 100 on April 17. She was born in Cam­den.

Frank­ford res­id­ent Dav­id Taylor will be 101 in Au­gust. He’s ori­gin­ally from south­ern Vir­gin­ia.

Sarah Wey­land, who lives in Bustleton, has lived her 101 years in the city.

Frank Ber­man was born in Rus­sia and came to the United States in 1913. He’ll be 101 in late Septem­ber.

Al­bert Mari­ani was born in Italy and lives near Bell’s Corner. He’ll be 101 in Ju­ly.

Oth­er North­east res­id­ents sched­uled to at­tend last week’s party were Ecuador-born Ana Ar­re­aga, 101; Sally Dormer, 100, of Rhawn­hurst; Mary Ed­wards, 105; Aus­tria-born Madaline Fran­covich, who will turn 100 in Ju­ly; Her­man Kalk­stein, 100; Mary Kelly, 100; Irma Macho, 105; El­len Moore; 101; Eu­genia Neal­is, 102; Mary Oliv­er, 101; Mar­garet Palermo, 100; Stell Re­ut­linger, 100; Dolores Schmidt, who will turn 100 in Septem­ber; and Ida Schwalb, who was born in Ro­mania on May 23, 1911.

About 100 100-year-olds were slated to at­tend Fri­day’s event hos­ted by May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter, but there are more than 400 Phil­adelphi­ans who have lived a cen­tury or more, city of­fi­cials said.

Mari­ani, who still has a full head of hair, at­trib­uted his long life to rig­or­ous work — he was in con­struc­tion — and a lot of dan­cing since he re­tired. He misses his fam­ily most. His broth­er lives in Col­or­ado and his son lives in Flor­ida.

Wey­land, who lived on the 2100 block of Dis­ston St. be­fore mov­ing to a re­tire­ment home, was an of­fice work­er. She said she stayed healthy by eat­ing healthy. That means avoid­ing li­quor and junk food. Her fa­vor­ite is still chick­en soup, which was on the menu at the party.

But she nev­er did any­thing spe­cial, Wey­land in­sists. “I just went along,” she said, adding, “I nev­er dreamed of be­ing as old as I am.”

Taylor now lives in Frank­ford. He moved to Phil­adelphia from south­ern Vir­gin­ia about 75 years ago.

“He’s from South Hills, Vir­gin­ia,” said his daugh­ter Jeanne Mack­ie, 71, who ac­com­pan­ied Taylor with an­oth­er daugh­ter, 73-year-old Miri­am Jones. Be­cause their fath­er has lost his sight, the sis­ters take care of him these days.

Mack­ie said their fam­ily is large and that her dad misses go­ing back to South Hills as of­ten as he did when he was young­er. Jones said she and Mack­ie are two of Taylor’s five chil­dren, four of whom live in Frank­ford. She said Taylor’s 102-year-old sis­ter, Pearl Scott, died in April.

Helen How­land, who lives on the edge of the city in Pine Val­ley, said love and a health­ful diet con­trib­uted to her long life. She doesn’t avoid any­thing, but she be­lieves in mod­er­a­tion.

How­land is a re­tired teach­er who worked in Delaware County. She re­calls when baker­ies did not sell sliced bread and when people had ice de­livered to their homes. She was ac­com­pan­ied Fri­day by her 63-year-old son, John, and her 68-year-old daugh­ter, Jane.

“I have an­oth­er son who is 80,” she said, “but we didn’t bring him.”

Ber­man, who lives on the 12000 block of Bustleton Ave., likes a good time. One of his fa­vor­ite pas­times is shoot­ing craps. Asked how he does at the tables, he said well, but he ad­ded that it’s mostly luck.

That’s his ex­plan­a­tion of a long life, too.

“It’s just luck,” he said.


You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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