Volume 80, Number 27 | December 2 - 8, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Albert Amateau  

From left, Gerald Padawer, his mother, Rose Padawer, and Venice Daniel, Rose’s homecare attendant for the past eight and a half years, at Rose’s 105th birthday party three weeks ago.

A rose is a rose, but this Rose is 105 years young

By Albert Amateau

Rose Padawer was feeling just fine three weeks ago. At a gathering of family and neighbors in her E. Ninth St. apartment she told a reporter, “I’m a healthy young girl of 105.”

“On the first page!” she exclaimed when she was told that the reporter was going to write an article about her Nov. 10 birthday bash. “I can read big print,” she assured.

Her son, Gerald Padawer, a retired nuclear physicist from Roslyn, L.I., one of her daughters, Saralta (“call me Salty”) Loeb from Hartsdale, N.Y., and a granddaughter, Alisson Loeb, from Inwood were on hand for the event. Also at the party were Grace Main, who lives downstairs, and Linda Terry, from upstairs, who both have known Rose for more than 30 years.

“Last year she asked me when I was going to write my memoirs,” said Terry, a retired singer and emcee who toured with a troupe that entertained U.S. servicemen in bases around the world.

Rose, who is hard of hearing and has a little trouble making herself understood by strangers, introduced the reporter to Venice Daniel, her homecare attendant for the past eight and a half years.

“She’s my good girl,” Rose said, putting her arm around Daniel.

“My mother and Rose were first cousins,” said another guest, Judy Markowitz. “That makes us second cousins.”

Rose and her late husband, Lewis Padawer, who owned a carpet store on Fourth Ave. and E. 12th St., used to live in Flushing years ago, Markowitz said.

“Rose used to entertain there on a lavish scale. She was a lively hostess,” Markowitz recalled.

“I don’t dance anymore,” said Rose. “I can’t kick as high as I used to.”

Rose was born Rose Anolik in Trakai, near Vilnius in Lithuania, her son said. She came to the U.S. when she was 6 years old with an aunt.

“She had three brothers and two sisters who lived to maturity,” Gerald said. “I think there were other siblings who died as children,” he added.

Rose’s father, who owned a bathhouse in Pittsburgh, came over to the States a short time later.

“I’m from Pittsburgh, where people are nice. They smile, not like New York where everybody is grouchy and dull,” Rose said. “Don’t be dull,” she advised the reporter and suggested that he and Grace Main, the downstairs neighbor, might get together.

“Rose used to work in Kaufman’s Department Store in Pittsburgh,” Markowitz said. “My Uncle Jack and Lewis Padawer were best friends. They went to Pittsburgh to visit Rose’s family and that’s where they met,” Markowitz said.

“He stayed in Pittsburgh until Rose said ‘Yes,’ ” Gerald said.

Lewis Padawer was born in Memphis, Tenn., in a family that immigrated from Galicia in Eastern Europe. When Rose said, “Yes,” he brought her to New York where he was in the carpet business and where they raised three daughters and a son. Lewis died in 1977 at the age of 69.

Rose is a little uneasy about the future when she gets old.

“You’re going to have to find a good home for me,” she told her son and daughter. They assured her she could stay where she has lived for the past 35 years with Venice to take care of her.

“Oh it can’t last forever. But it [the ‘good home’] has to be Jewish. I’m a Jewish girl still,” she said.

Nevertheless, Rose values her independence.

“I’m not looking for a man. I want to be free,” she said.

 

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