It was three o’clock at the Yonkers Home of the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind, and the sightless old men were sitting around and blinking into the ether yesterday. But Grandpa Finkelstein, oldest inmate, was sitting at a table and puffing contentedly on a brand new pipe crammed with fragrant tobacco.
For yesterday Grandpa Finkelstein had reached one hundred years.
Around the table were from forty to fifty men and women and children, all direct and indirect descendants and relatives of Grandpa Finkelstein, who had come from near and far to help the patriarch usher in the new century.
Blind and old was Grandpa Finkelstein, but nobody thought of sight or age as 101 candles were lighted on a massive cake on the center of the table.
Grandchildren and great grandchildren looked on with awe at the 101 candles. They realized Grandpa Finkelstein couldn’t see the cake, but that was all right, because soon the smoke from the patriarch’s new pipe settled such a cloud over the table that nobody else was able to see the cake either. The 101 candles stood out in the smoke fog like 101 lighthouses.
GRANDPA IS CONTENT
It was a birthday party for Grandpa Finkelstein, such as had never been “brailled” at the Yonkers Home. Wines and candy were pressed into Grandpa’s wrinkled hands. New clothes, shoes and ties were brought for Grandpa to touch and admire. But best of all he liked the pipes–two of them — and the cans of tobacco his doting relatives had brought him. For other inmates would have to take his word for it that he had a new suit and tie and pair of shoes, but they would smell that he had two new pipes and enough tobacco to last him into the early part of 1935.
This made Grandpa Finkelstein feel content. He stroked his white beard and his eyes began to water.
“How does it feel to be a hundred years and one day old?” he was asked.
“Ah, good tobacco,” said Grandpa Finkelstein.
“What are your thoughts as you turn the century and climb the perilous dark road of a new decade?” somebody else asked.
In response Grandpa Finkelstein drew harshly on his pipe, and the smoke of burning paint forced his interrogators to beat a hasty retreat.
Sightless and aged is Grandpa Finkelstein. And happy as a Spring songbird is he with his two new pipes and forty or fifty-odd relatives.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.