Sixty-three year Merrick resident Mortimer Goldstein is celebrating his 100th birthday this weekend with birthday bashes, but started his centennial celebration at his favorite bank of over 60 years surrounded by two of his three daughters and a host of bank employees to wish him well.
Goldstein told this website he was pleasantly surprised that when he came in to the Chase Bank at the corner of Merrick Avenue and Smith Street on Friday there was cake, balloons and a festive atmosphere among the bank employees on the occasion of his 100th birthday.
Commenting on reaching this grand milestone, he said, “I’m feeling just a little bit slower these days, but that’s alright.”
Chase bank employees who celebrated Mort’s 100th birthday include, from left, Dunsa Miocic, Basem Shenoda, (Mort), Ernest Bonney, Angela Cottone, Justyna Mazewska, Chris Medina and Peter Katsigiorgis
Angela Cottone, branch manager of the Chase Bank at 2122 Merrick Avenue, said that Goldstein, or Mort as he likes to be called, had “extended” his daughters to the bank in recent times, and “we wanted to express our appreciation to him and his family” for his loyalty to the branch for all this time.
She said Mort has his routines when he comes into the bank, and they are glad to accommodate him. “We love when he tells us all the stories about where he’s been and what he’s done,” she added.
From left, daughters Jane Jackson of North Bellmore and Marcia Ratcliffe of Wantagh surround dad with love on his very special centennial birthday
Two of his three daughters were on hand for the bank’s celebration: Jane Jackson of North Bellmore, who graduated Kennedy High School in 1972; and Marcia Ratcliffe of Wantagh, who graduated Mepham in 1966. Mort’s middle daughter, Amy Goldstein, who was a member of Kennedy High School’s first graduating class in 1968, could not attend.
Cottone was spot on about Mort’s ability to recollect his earlier days, as he spoke like a true Merrick historian. “I moved into the ranges, and bought a Masciola house (the developer who first developed the Merrick Woods, building some 91 houses) in 1951” he said, making him an original Merrick homeowner.
“We looked at houses in Levittown and they were too small, and we looked at houses in North Merrick,” he said, before he and his wife settled on a Masciola house in “the ranges.”
He came from Flatbush, Brooklyn, with his wife Rita and two children at the time. “It was a great place for GIs to find a home to live in,” he said. Once in Merrick he opened an account at the bank on Merrick Avenue “because I worked as an insurance broker on John Street in Manhattan, and the firm banked at Chase [Manhattan] then.”
Rita died just last September at 94 years old, after a marriage that lasted 67 years. “It’s remarkable that dad continues with the energy he has, they were such companions to one another, and he misses her terribly,” said daughter Jane.
Mort had no problem blowing the candles out. First one, then …
Merrick was a small community, Mort remembered, where there was access to everything, from the transportation to the schools. He remembers the train station being at ground level, and there were no platforms to enter the train. The conductor would offer a step to climb up on, or travelers got on the steps themselves.
Both Jane and Marcia remember the 5&Dime store, the Bohack and Chatterton school, which they both went to. The school was then known as Merrick School. “The Chatterton superintendent lived around the block,” Marcia said.
“Mepham,” Mort said, had a good reputation then, as there was no middle school or Calhoun High School at the time.
“Sunrise Highway was a two-lane road, and everybody shopped in town on the weekends because there were no malls,” he continued.
According to daughter Jane, Mort spent four years in the Army building airstrips in Africa. “Oh, yeah, it was in Dakar, Senegal,” he recalls. He was also at Normandy the day after D-Day. “ ’D-plus-one’ it was called, the day after the invasion.”
“I was drafted into the Army at age 28,” before Pearl Harbor, he recalled. He also went to Officer Candidate’s School.
In addition to his 100th birthday being celebrated by his local bank and his daughters, he told this website he had been given a “Shoutout” by Fox News Channel 5 ,and had received birthday wishes from the President and First Lady at the White House.