Carl Berner was born in Stuttgart, Germany, on January 27, 1902, one hundred years ago. On January 27, 2002, a group of friends and his daughter Emily gathered at his home to celebrate his hundredth birthday. There was delicious black forest birthday cake, freshly brewed coffee, festive decor, and lively conversation for most of the afternoon. His one regret was that his wife Margaret and his sister Marie were not there to help him celebrate.
During a quiet moment, when I had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Berner, I asked him how he was feeling. “Today I am feeling just fine. I feel that time is moving by too fast,” he said. He continued, “many people ask me what I eat and how I keep in shape.” He responded that his answer was simple: “I still like my bowl of oatmeal in the morning. I inhale the good air that I breathe, as I am living in the highest point in Queens.” On a regular basis, he walks the streets of Middle Village for approximately seven miles, enjoying the scenery and talking with people he meets along the way. He helps his neighbors with odd jobs, as his hands are still supple, his mind sound, and his eyesight good.
Mr. Berner came to the United States in 1928, when he was 26. Despite the fact that these were the depression years, and he spoke only limited English, he sought employment immediately upon arrival. For five years, he worked as the night supervisor in the Chrysler Building in Manhattan. He remained gainfully employed throughout his life, until his retirement in the mid-eighties.
Carl and Margaret Berner moved to Queens in 1938 and bought their Middle Village home for $5,190.00. As community and civic-minded residents, they joined the Eliot Avenue Civic Association, which in 1942 merged with the Residents of Juniper Park Homes to become the Juniper Park Civic Association. We are proud to have Mr. Berner
as an active member of JPCA. If you want to meet this stately and gracious gentleman, come to any regular membership meeting and you will find him in the fourth row on the left, with his good friend Elio Bartole.
To conclude, I would like to paraphrase a salutation from Irving in Rip Van Winkle: Here’s to your good health and the good health of your family and friends. May we all live long and prosper.