Written by Patricia O’Brien Friday, 01 January 2010 00:00
Harold (Hal) Marchant, a resident of Manhasset since 1947, celebrated his 107th birthday at home on Dec. 4 with family and friends.
Hal’s son Dick, a Manhasset High School graduate, Dick’s wife Stephanie, and their daughter Debbie planned the festivities. When Hal moved with his family to Manhasset, the town still had a small farm in his neighborhood.
Marchant was born in London in 1902 and moved to New York City with his family in 1910. After living in Manhattan for a year, the family moved to Second Street and Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn. Hal recalled his part-time job in high school—delivering groceries using a horse and wagon. He would run up sometimes four flights of stairs, show a sample basket of fruits and vegetables to the customer, then go back to the wagon, pick out the products they had chosen, and run back upstairs again to make the delivery. He also worked on Sundays as a delivery boy for the local bakery. No wonder he still has so much energy!
After graduating from Commercial High School in 1920, Hal began working for Western Electric for $6.50 a week. Western Electric, a subsidiary of the Bell Telephone System, built the telephone switching stations for AT&T. By the age of 19, Marchant was made a team leader. Over the years, he rose through the ranks to supervisor. During World War II, he worked in their RADAR division. Hal worked for Western Electric until 1967, the year he reached 65, the mandatory age for retirement in New York City. Incredibly, Hal has been collecting either paychecks or retirement checks from the same company for 89 years. Hal just might be one of the main reasons for changing mandatory retirement regulations!
Hal Marchant was an avid Long Island fisherman until just a few seasons ago when it became more difficult to get in and out of boats. He’s been a frequent dancer in Port Washington, a gardener advising neighbors, and the occasional babysitter for nearby children. And everyone always loved to hear him play his ukulele.
He never really talks about having a secret to a long life. But we know that his mind is active, his attitude is always positive, his conversations are engaging, his taste in food is varied, his interests are far reaching, and he is a gentleman who is a pleasant and truly gentle man. Hal is a real sports enthusiast in all seasons but loves the traditional American pastime better than all others. His ear is never far from the radio when a baseball game is broadcast. And what other 107-year-old do you know who will discuss the pros and cons of Hofstra’s decision to drop football as soon as the news breaks?
Happy Birthday, Hal. You are an inspiration to us all and we wish you another year of health and happiness.