What's It Like to Work for the Same Company for 72 Years? Ask This 100-Year-Old Man

Hy Goldman turns 100 this weekend (Photo provided by Hy Goldman)

In today's fast-paced world, changing jobs multiple times throughout your career is the norm, and job-hopping is only becoming more frequent. According to a 2012 survey, the majority of Generation Y workers move on to a new gig an average of once every two years. Getting the under-30 set to wrap their heads around staying with one company for 5 or 10 years is tough enough … so how about 72 years? That's the milestone a 99-year-old New Jersey man hit recently.

This summer, Hy Goldman, a World War II Army vet, marked his 72nd anniversary working for the family-owned lighting retailer Capitol Lighting. Though his first job was chopping ice before school for the local "ice guy" when he was just 14, Goldman took a position selling goods as well as stocking and cleaning displays in 1941 at Capitol Lighting's first store, in Newark, New Jersey, at age 27, and has been with the company ever since. More than seven decades later, Goldman is still going strong, working at Capitol's East Hanover, New Jersey, location, just 15 miles from the Newark shop that kicked off his career.

Goldman shared some stories, his thoughts on the modern world, and a few secrets to longevity with Yahoo! Shine. (Rule #1: Learn math without a calculator.) He turns 100 on Saturday.

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Shine: What was the world like when you first started the job back in 1941?

HG: I started with Capitol when I came back from the war. I was all ready to work the day after I came home. That's what you did back then and I was happy to have a job. Everything was much cheaper. My first apartment was only $17 a month. You could get 10 pounds of potatoes for 25 cents and a quart of milk for 10 cents. There was a guy on the corner where you could get a suit with two pairs of pants for only $22.50. When I first moved to Newark, I bought my house for $8000. When I wasn't at work I would spend time working around the house fixing things up. I enjoyed spending time with family. We would take vacations – driving of course, no planes – on the East Coast. 

Goldman (fourth from left) back in the 1950s . (Photo courtesy of Hy Goldman)Shine: How do you spend your time these days?
HG: Today I enjoy going to work. It's what helps keep me in shape. When I am not working, I make sure I go to the gym in my building and walk on the treadmill. I also like to read the paper and books. These things keep my mind sharp and my body still moving. What are my options? Sit around and get old?

Shine: Describe the difference between working at Capitol Lighting 70 years ago as compared to now.
HG: There is a tremendous difference. It's just a different era. Back when I worked, we did everything from selling to sweeping the floors. You would have to unload trucks and set up displays. Boy, did we have some great displays. Today there is so much technology involved with the business; it's not as hands-on. Today you look at a computer to see if you have stock on something. Back then we used to just know what we had in inventory.

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Shine: What are your secrets to longevity?
HG: People ask me this all the time. It's funny. It's like they think I have a secret potion or something! I guess my secret is that I have always been content with my life. I had a wonderful, happy marriage for many years. We worked hard but were always thankful for everything and every day we had. I learned to work hard and appreciate things because we were poor and we came from the bottom up. I work today to keep myself active and moving. There's no real secret. Life can be hard but you have to just keep looking forward and moving on.  Be happy for what you have.

Shine: What are your plans for your 100th birthday?
HG: My family is coming out to visit, and we will all get together to celebrate my birthday. I didn't want anything big and fancy. That's just not me. I will be happy to be surrounded by my family on that day. I am also going to have a special birthday dinner with Capitol Lighting. I have known the family for four generations.
 
Shine: Anything you miss about your younger days?
HG: The truth is, I'm thankful I made it this far. I don't miss the younger years, to be honest. Some of those times were real hard. I just don't think back.

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