Edwin Pyser, of Greenlawn, a Community Care Home Health Services patient, recently achieved a milestone, turning 100 years young on Aug. 23.
Congratulatory messages poured in from near and far, including an official proclamation and certificates of recognition from the Town of Huntington, where he resides, along with an autographed photo from President Joe Biden.
One of Pyser’s most cherished gifts, however, was a blanket he received during his birthday party with family and friends. It highlights news and events from 1923, the year he was born, and harkens back to a world of 2-cent stamps, $500 automobiles and $5,000 homes.
Born in the Bronx, Pyser remembers the Great Depression and America’s entry into World War II. Just days after Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces at age 18 and became a mechanic on B-17 bombers based out of the Eccles Road Airfield in Norfolk, England.
“My parents hesitated to sign the paperwork [allowing him to enlist], but they finally did,” Pyser said. His family came to understand that it would be better for him to enlist and have some say in where he would serve, than to wait and get drafted and have no say at all.
During his service in England, he met his future wife, Edith, whom he called Edie, at an off-base dance. Their courtship led to marriage in 1945.
“In fact, we got back from our honeymoon in Bournemouth [a southern English seaside resort] on May 8, V-E Day, the day the war ended in Europe,” Pyser said.
Marital bliss, however, was put on hold as he sailed back to the U.S. on the RMS Queen Elizabeth to fight the continuing war in Japan. “That’s when we heard the news, over the loudspeakers, that we dropped the atomic bomb,” he said.
Pyser was then granted a 30-day furlough and stayed with his family in East New York, Brooklyn, while his newlywed bride remained in England. Edie’s father had been killed in the war, and the street next to her home had been destroyed by bombs.
“When you’re in a war, you never know if you’re coming home tomorrow,” Pyser reflected.
Thankfully, in 1946, the couple were finally reunited and settled in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Two sons, Harvey and Larry, would follow, and Edwin supported his family by working at Pyser & Brothers, his father’s diamond-setting shop in New York City’s diamond district.
After his wife died a few years ago, Pyser agreed with his son, Larry, that he should move to Long Island to be closer to family. Larry later arranged caregiving services through Community Care Home Health Services of Smithtown.
Even at 100 years of age, Pyser has much to look forward to. He’s about to be introduced to the newest addition to his growing family; Larry’s daughter, Danielle, recently welcomed a baby girl, Jordan.
As for his secret to a long life? Pyser paused and then declared with an impish grin, “It’s a secret, so I can’t tell you.”