Ethel Weiss


This is Ethel Weiss, who just turned 100 this August. I ran into Ethel here at her small shop where she spends most of her days working, yes thats right, working. Ethel’s small shop consists of lots of small things, mostly kid stuff, but most noticeably is all the candy she is surrounded by. She told me everyday the kids line up after school to get some candy from her, she even still uses only cash and orders everything by phone. Ethel and her husband had turned the small bodega into a toy and card shop after he had lost his job in 1939 during the war, and she has now been there for 75 years. I told Ethel I was a photographer and a look of excitement of excitement came over her. “Let me show you pictures from my birthday party! My daughter took them.” She told me, and than she pulls out some of the photos to show me. After I had looked through them she said “Let me show you this, it’s a photo of me and my Dad, I dont know why I show people this but I just really love it.” Than she pulls out the photo of her and father, and I instantly understood why it was she loved the photograph so much, it was perfect. Her Dad stood there with her, holding her up on a little stool. She was looking at the camera, but he had his eyes fixed on her, smiling. And this was before I knew she was 100 (Because she really doesn’t look it) and I asked her, “How old is this photo?” Because the photo truly looked out of another realm, and she looks at me and says “Well, I was 2 in that so it was…98 years ago.” - “You’re 100?!” I exclaimed, I couldnt even help it from coming out. She smirked at me with a twinkle in her eye and replied with a short “Yep.” But the look on her face had said it all. In 1994, Ethel had written a small note called “Thoughts for a Happier Life”. I would post it all but it’s too long, so I’ll end this post with my favorite piece of advice from it. It’s short and sweet, and to me it encompasses everything that life is about, all in 3 simple words - “Enjoy being yourself.” // Sep. 19, 2014