Huntington residents celebrate a milestone birthday despite pandemic

Huntington residents celebrate a milestone birthday despite pandemic

Alice Link, second from right, receives a proclamation from state Sen. Jim Gaughran, Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson. Photo from Cuthbertson's office

A pandemic wasn’t going to keep Huntington community members and elected officials from wishing one popular town resident a happy birthday.

Alice Link waves to cars driving by to wish her a happy birthday. Photo from Town of Huntington

On Feb. 4, cars holding dozens of passengers were lined up on Alice Link’s Huntington street for a drive-by parade, while others waited in her driveway, to wish her a happy 100th birthday. The centenarian, who was a docent with the Huntington Historical Society, a member of the town’s Senior Center and a former teacher, is well known in the area.

In a phone interview three days after the car parade, Link said it was overwhelming — in a good way — and she was happy to see everyone.

The historical society’s executive director, Tracy Pfaff-Smith, said after the car parade, about 30 members from the society stopped by with good wishes for the centenarian and chatted with her outside.

“She’s very funny,” Pfaff-Smith said. “She was just cracking joke after joke. She’s amazing.”

Link has lived in the town for 75 years. Born in Boston, she was raised in France, until her family left the country for the U.S. after the outbreak of World War II when the American Embassy told U.S. citizens to leave France.

“They didn’t help you in any shape or form,” she said. “They just said get out of there. They didn’t send you planes or anything at all to help you.”

Through the decades, Link has kept in touch with many people she knew in France, and has been able to visit with her family, even sometimes staying in castles.

“I always told them I have no money to leave you, but I’ll leave you the best memories,” she said.

Link and her husband moved to Huntington in 1946 where they raised five children, who have given her 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

In addition to being a mother, she also taught Spanish and French in the South Huntington school district. While she studied at Manhattan’s Parsons School of Interior Design before she was married, she returned to school in her 40s and received her bachelor’s degree, teaching certificate and a master’s of humanities from Hofstra University.

Alice Link receives birthday well wishes from Senior Center Director Julia Frangione, Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and Human Services Director Carmen Kasper. Photos from the Town of Huntington

She then went on to receive a master’s degree in Spanish in 1972 after studying at Guadalajara University, Mexico, and Valencia, Spain, which led to her 20-year career as a teacher.

After retiring at 65, Link said she continued to help students through tutoring until she was 85. Her volunteer work with the historical society spans over nearly 40 years, where she served as a docent and board member. As a docent, she would give tours of the historic Conklin and Kissam houses.

Link said she has memories of old Huntington such as when a police officer would be stationed at a stand at the crossroad of New York Avenue and Main Street, and a feed grain store would load its goods on a trolley that ran through the town.

“My children say they’re not surprised my legs have given out on me because they think that I probably walked hundreds of miles, pushing my babies around town,” she said.

When it comes to family history, Link said her daughter helped trace her ancestry, and this winter, the centenarian has been busy going through old photos and sharing copies she finds with relatives when she comes across multiples. She said she appreciates photo albums more than smartphones because she feels so many often lose all their photos and information stored on devices. Sharing photos and passing on family information is something she believes is important.

As for longevity and looking and feeling young, Link said she jokingly tells everyone who asks her secret the same thing.

“Pick your genes, pick your ancestors,” she said.