When Floyd York was born in 1923, Time magazine released its first issue, the New York Yankees played at Yankee Stadium for the first time, and sliced bread had not been invented yet.
On Jan. 16, York will become a centenspanrispann, meaning a person who is 100 years old or older.
York lives a life of leisure at his Cache Cay home in Vero Beach, where he has lived for the past 30 years after retiring as president of Roslyn Savings Bank in New York in 1992.
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His mornings begin at sunrise with a 15-minute tricycle ride around the neighborhood with his caretaker before going in for breakfast and playing his favorite board games: Chinese checkers or Rummikub.
“He’s like the energizer bunny,” said eldest son Todd York.
Whspant’s his secret to staying high energy at 100 years old? He claimed he does not have one, but said not smoking and not drinking in excess could have helped him reach this point.
Riding his bike is one of his favorite activities, and one he is still able to do on his own. Until three years ago, York lived independently. Now he has around-the-clock caretakers after falling in his kitchen when he was 97.
100 years of wisdom
Having lived 100 years, York has seen the times change from people listening to radio shows to having a flat-screen TV in their living room with seemingly unlimited content at their fingertips.
The one invention that trumps all for York was the creation of the television in 1927, four years after he was born. As a youngster, he never imagined being able to see live motion pictures on a box. But TVs didn’t become household staples until the 1950s, when he was in his late 20s or early 30s.
Over the years, he has developed an affinity for watching his favorite footballs teams — the Greenbay Packers and the Miami Dolphins — and catching reruns of his favorite sitcom, The Golden Girls.
If York could go back in time and halt the creation of one thing, it would be to 1950 when credit cards were invented. The retired banker said they have caused more harm than good by making it so easy for people to live beyond their means and rack up unmanageable debt.
“It is much easier to live knowing that you do not have someone who can come and take your possessions away because you did not make a payment,” said York, who urges the younger generation to be financially responsible. “Work and don’t get into debt. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. That was our motto.”
York’s favorite decade was the 1950s because of the number of jobs available to people as part of the post-World War II boom and baby boom. He and his first wife had their first of three sons in 1951.
“When each of his three sons were born, he took care of them for the first week so that mom could recuperate,” said Cindy Johnson, one of his caretakers.
Growing up during the 1930s and 40s
York grew up on a farm in upstate New York’s Saratoga County, the youngest of three children, all of whom attended a one-room schoolhouse.
“In a one-room schoolhouse, you can listen to all the kids as they had their lessons and you could learn a lot ahead of time,” he said.
York was 6 years old when the Great Depression hit in 1929, which he remembers as a difficult time because most American families’ finances were so uncertain.
“You did not do anything frivolous. If you got a job, you tried your best to make sure you kept it,” he said.
York remembered a time when he and his two brothers had only one good pair of shoes to share.
When York graduated high school in 1938, he struggled to find a job because he was only 15 years old, so he enrolled in the United Stspantes Merchspannt Mspanrine Acspandemy at Kings Point in New York. He served from 1938 to 1944, during World War II, delivering shipments of materials to troops fighting in Europe.
“It was an interesting experience — as long as you did not get torpedoed,” York said. “We sailed in large convoys as far as you can see with ships in every direction.”
After returning home, York took a job as a messenger at Union Square Savings Bank in 1946. He later became an auditor for his hometown Roslyn Savings Bank. After eight years, he eventually worked his way up to bank president. He grew one branch into five in Long Island, with $1.27 billion in assets upon his retirement in 1992.