After 73 Years At Macy's, Employee Retires

Guest host Linda Wertheimer speaks with Rose Syracuse, the longest-serving employee in the history of the Macy's Department Store. Syracuse worked for Macy's flagship store in New York City for 73 years before retiring last week.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Rose Syracuse has held one job - one job only - for her entire life. For 73 years, she worked mainly in the accounts department at the Macy's department store on 34th Street in Manhattan. She's worked for Macy's longer than anyone else - ever. And last week, after all those decades, she retired. Rose Syracuse joins us on the line from New York. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us.

ROSE SYRACUSE: Oh, that's fine. And Rose Syracuse would not have retired if she hadn't broken her hip.

WERTHEIMER: Oh, dear.

SYRACUSE: My son is not too happy. I want to go back to work and he says, I don't think so, mom. I think maybe it's time for you to stay home. But what are we going to do, right?

WERTHEIMER: Right. Let me ask you, what brought you to Macy's in the first place?

SYRACUSE: Well, at that time, it was hard to get a job. And that was 1939. So, when I graduated, that very same day, I went down to Macy's and I had an interview and they took me.

WERTHEIMER: Mrs. Syracuse, you're 92 years old now, right?

SYRACUSE: Yes, uh-huh.

WERTHEIMER: You've worked almost 30 years past the age at which most folks retire.

SYRACUSE: But it was good for me.

WERTHEIMER: Yes?

SYRACUSE: Yeah. I was happy and I went to work every day. It was great.

WERTHEIMER: Now, I assume there were lots of changes over that period of time.

SYRACUSE: Oh, absolutely. When I first started to work there, it was not even a third of what it is now. Now, it's absolutely gorgeous. I don't know whether you've been in there.

WERTHEIMER: Oh, yes, I have. Of course I have.

SYRACUSE: Do you live in New York?

WERTHEIMER: Nope. I live in Washington, but my in-laws live in New York.

SYRACUSE: Oh, OK. If you happen to be in New York, stop in Macy's. They're having a whole new renovation, which is gorgeous. Fifth Avenue shops have nothing on Macy's.

(LAUGHTER)

WERTHEIMER: So, you were working in accounts?

SYRACUSE: Yes.

WERTHEIMER: So, what did you do?

SYRACUSE: Well, I operated the NCR bookkeeping machine.

WERTHEIMER: National Cash Registers, that is.

SYRACUSE: Yes, that's right. And then the computer came into existence, so we learned to do the computer.

WERTHEIMER: How old were you when you learned to do the computer?

SYRACUSE: Ah, let's see. I'm 92. Yeah, I think I was in my 70s.

WERTHEIMER: Wow.

SYRACUSE: Yeah. It was really - we learned. (Laughing)

WERTHEIMER: So, do you have any plans for how you're going to spend your retirement?

SYRACUSE: Oh, no. It's day by day. How many plans can you make? It's day by day. I'm living here, so it's fine.

WERTHEIMER: Do you plan to keep shopping at Macy's?

SYRACUSE: Well, if my son takes me, yes. That's my store.

WERTHEIMER: Rose Syracuse worked for the Macy's department store for 73 years, and last week she finally retired. Ms. Syracuse, thank you.

SYRACUSE: Oh, not at all. Thank you very much for calling. It's your time too. Take care, OK?

WERTHEIMER: You too.

SYRACUSE: Anytime.

WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.

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