“My secret to longevity is good living” – Lindy Coco
The Chicago Cubs play their first game at Weeghman Park (now Wrigley Field) defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7-6 in eleven innings; Norman Rockwell’s first cover for The Saturday Evening Post is “Boy With Baby Carriage”; WWI is in full swing and the German’s use Zeppelins for the first time and Woodrow Wilson is President and creates the National Parks Service. The year is 1916 and these notable events are right up there with the birth of Olindo “Lindy” Coco.
Lindy was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts and is proud of his Sicilian heritage. His family ran a successful ice business that involved cutting large blocks of ice from nearby ponds and lakes, and storing them in sawdust until they could be delivered to families in the area to keep their food cold.
At the age of nine, Lindy’s family moved to the Bronx, New York and purchased a two family house. Lindy remembers growing up surrounded by family and sitting with his mother in the kitchen while she prepared delicious meals. Ironically, Lindy found the hard economic times of the Depression provided fond memories, especially around the holidays. Extended family would visit sharing what they had while enjoying a home cooked meal, conversation and laughter.
Lindy attended the New York City Textile High School. He excelled at drawing and in his senior year was offered after school work that eventually led to a full time position in a studio that designed fabrics to be used in clothing. One of the designers left to set up his own studio and invited Lindy to join him ultimately offering him a partnership.
As fate would have it, that was not to be.
WWII intervened and Lindy was drafted into the army in 1941 serving four years in the Intelligence Section in the Aleutian Islands. The majority of these islands are considered part of Alaska and are best known for the battles that took place there during the Aleutian Islands Campaign of WWII. Being volcanic there are mountains, and it’s cold so Lindy used his spare time to learn how to ski!
When his service ended, Lindy and his wife Jeanette relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas, and started a family – Jo Ann, Linda and Tommy. Lindy and Jeanette were married for 56 years and in addition to their three children have nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Lindy returned to the designer business joining the Warsaw Studio, a company that produced catalogues for Sears, JC Penney and Montgomery Ward. Lindy’s work ethic of “be fair, be honest” led to the privilege of working from home producing many of the drawings for the catalogue at night.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s “working from home” was an unusual concept but it gave Lindy the freedom to be with his children during the day, attend school events and participate fully in their lives; it also allowed him the pursuit of his lifelong passion – tennis! Sixty-eight years playing tennis just might be the golden key to longevity.
His daughter Linda told me her friends laughed about the fact that her dad was always wearing white shorts! Linda also explained the intricacy of the drawings Lindy produced. During this time cameras did not capture the detail necessary for the display in the catalogues. Lindy could draw the fine weave of a fabric, the etching on a cigarette case or the perfect dimensions of a car. An amazing gift that allowed him to be with his children and to play a sport he loved.
When Lindy Coco was born the life expectancy for a man was 48 years. Lindy has lived through the stock market crash, The Great Depression, two World Wars, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam and Desert Storm. Seventeen presidents have come and gone. In 1916 you could die from a tooth ache as antibiotics had not yet been discovered. The advances in medicine and technology alone that Lindy has witnessed are dizzying.
At the significant age of 100 Lindy looks handsome and fit. One of his secrets to longevity is a teaspoon of honey (never sugar) with his morning coffee along with eating in moderation, chewing thoroughly and pushing your dish away when you’re full. Of course all those years of tennis and never smoking have played their part.
When Lindy retired in 1978 he moved to this area to be nearer his two daughters, Jo Ann and Linda. After the death of his beloved wife Jeanette, they suggested he join New Fairfield Senior Citizens. Lindy was reluctant at first but now loves his time there with friends. Last Tuesday, under the guidance of Kathy Hull, his family and friends came together to celebrate his 100th birthday. Ken Gucker, who is running for the 24th Senate District, read a Congressional proclamation for Lindy from Elizabeth Esty, U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s 5th district. Kathy Hull presented Lindy with a memorial brick that will be used in the walkway around the Senior Center. There were many tributes but perhaps none as memorable as the vivacious Darlene Stevens popping out of a cardboard cake as the final strains of Happy Birthday rang out! I’m sure that is something Lindy will not forget.
A gentleman has been described as chivalrous, courteous and honorable. Many people describe Lindy Coco as the perfect gentleman. Having met Lindy at the Senior Center on the occasion of his birthday celebration I would have to agree. His daughter Linda shared with me the following – “What can I say about my dad? He’s a role model, kind, generous, never says no, and never gives up. He’s patient and does everything in moderation. He’s always kept fit and exercised.” Truly the mark of a man who lived a blessed life and shared his philosophy not only with his children but with everyone he met. Congratulations Lindy Coco on a life well lived.
Article and Photos by Mary Hembree