Volume 16 • Issue 43 | March 26 - April 1, 2004

An estimated 100 years of living mostly Downtown

Barry Cohen, 72, a Southbridge Towers resident, went to his mother’s birthday party in the East Village last Monday and invited a reporter and a photographer from Downtown Express.

Rose Cohen doesn’t like to tell her age and when she came to New York from Poland as an infant with her mother and father back in 1904, they didn’t bring anything like a birth certificate, Barry said. “But the year she was naturalized in 1948, they recorded her age as 44, so that makes her 100,” he said.

Alert and sitting up straight in her wheelchair on March 15, she greeted visitors to her apartment in the Village View complex on First Ave. in the East Village.

“This is one of the best days I’ve ever had,” she said. True to form, she declined to say how old she was. “I’m 71,” said a visitor. “Ok, I’m 71 too –I wish I was,” Rose replied. She’s much more interested in the present than the past, but reluctantly reminisced a while.

When she was born, the subway was just built and horse-drawn vehicles were still common on the streets of New York.

“I lived in the Bronx but I was married in Brooklyn,” she said. “My father was a custom tailor. Before I was married I worked in a place where I did everything. I was even a model when the buyers came in. It was Lobel’s – they made blouses.”

It was there that she met her future husband, Abe Cohen, a truck driver for Lobel’s who eventually went into the trucking business for himself. They married on June 30, 1929, a few months before the Wall Street crash. Fortunately, Abe’s trucking businesses survived the Great Depression.

“We lived in Brighton Beach, but my husband had to get up at five o’clock in the morning to go to work, so we moved to New Jersey for a short time and then we moved here. I like Manhattan better. It’ll be 40 years in this apartment. We have everything here, what’s not to like,” she said.

Abe Cohen died in 1990 at the age of 87, said Barry. “If it weren’t for his smoking, he’d still be with her,” he added.

“When I was a kid I used to go to a lot of concerts,” said Rose, “Carnegie Hall – I loved that place.” Rose also remembers seeing the Dodgers play at Ebbets Field with her son during the years in Brooklyn. “It was terrible when they left, everybody was so mad at them,” she recalled.

Juana Mendez has been helping Rose get around for the past eight years. “She’s the best patient I ever had,” said Mendez.

—Albert Amateau


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