Celebrating Centenaries of the Amsterdam Nursing Home – West Side Rag
By Anna Mejorada
On Wednesday afternoon, at the corner of 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, a party that has been in the making for a century went off without a hitch.
“One hundred years is a very big party!” exclaimed Shlomo Katz, the administrator of the Amsterdam nursing home, where 14 residents have reached their centenary.
Modernly, as guests arrived they were led to a COVID self-testing station. The festivities began with a harpist performing classics and cultural favorites including “Las Mañanitas”, “Home On the Range” and “Hava Nagila”.
Even with a mask, it was clear that Ismael Bruno was smiling as he proudly declared, “I came from Puerto Rico in 1940.” His daughters were by his side, showing photos from the celebration they recently threw for their dad on the day he turned 100, including cupcakes baked and decorated by his granddaughter, and plenty of scratch off tickets – his favorite pastime!
“I just moved from Los Angeles,” said Hazel Baptist, 104, who lived independently on the West Coast and moved to New York in May to be closer to her family. Two of her daughters, Vanessa and Marta, were with her at the party. “It’s the first social thing she’s been involved with here,” Vanessa said.
At 105, Sylvia Zucker is the oldest of the centenarians. She’s a true New Yorker who grew up on the Upper East Side and raised her own family in Manhattan.
Each of the centenarians received a long-stemmed rose and certificate from the office of State Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, who represents the Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights and part of the Upper West Side. Finally, the crowd gathered to sing “Happy Birthday.”
The centenarians continued the party a little longer, posing for photos and sharing their gratitude as slices of cake, candies and fizzy juices were handed out.