OSWEGO — For Howard Hall, there’s no secret.
The longtime Oswegonian is on the verge of turning 100 years old. Hall will reach the milestone birthday Jan. 12, and is expected to celebrate at Bridie Manor with family and friends.
When it comes to longevity, Hall says the key is staying active.
“When you’re living alone, you have to keep busy, that’s all it is,” Hall said. “There’s a lot of things that need to be done when you’re living alone — housekeeping, outside work and maintenance. It keeps you going. Then you get a game of golf in every once in a while.”
Hall’s typical day begins with going to mass, something he started when he was driving troops to services every night during World War II. Hall then either hikes — he used to ride his bike — gets coffee with friends at McDonalds and follows the typical pattern of eating and sleeping.
“You’ve got to get up in the morning, what else are you going to do?” Hall said. “You’ve got to get to church, take the mass, 20 minutes and take a hike. Walk or bicycle. I used to do both.”
“I didn’t do anything other than a normal life,” Hall continued. “I eat and sleep, eat and sleep, every day — that’s all.”
Hall has fit a lot into almost 100 years.
His adult life began with joining the work force and eventually the military, where he was involved in several battles in the Pacific Theater for the 32nd Infantry Division. His son was 30 days old when he left, and he didn’t see him for two years.
Hall went back to Sealright once he came back from overseas, and worked there until he retired in 1986.
“I went to work at Sealright when I was 21, and then I worked there three years before I was drafted into the service when I was 23,” Hall said. “I was one of the older ones. They said ‘The bottom of the barrel’ when they drafted me.”
Hall went on to have six kids with his wife, Susan. She passed in 2005 after 64 years of marriage, while one of their sons died a couple years ago.
In 2013, Hall made his first trip to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. through Honor Flight of Syracuse, a private, not-for-profit organization created to honor veterans by taking them to their respective monuments.
Four years later, Hall and his sons were honored for their service during a Yankees-Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium. Hall was surrounded by his children and grandchildren, each decked out with ‘Hall 97’ shirts to mark his age.
Earlier this year, he received an honorary high school diploma from Oswego, where he lettered in four sports in the 1930s.
“I can’t believe some of the things that happened, happened,” Hall said. “It’s just ordinary stuff and then you think ‘Look what happened. Look what I did.’”
Hall continues other hobbies, including camping and fishing, as well as golfing. He also snowmobiled well into his 80s.
This past year he only got out on the links a couple times due to the weather.
“When you play twice a week, you don’t feel like doing any manual labor after, but you have to cut the grass once a week … and in the winter time, you’re doing the snowblowing and you don’t feel like doing much after that,” Hall said.
John Hall, Howard’s son, called his father “healthy as a horse” and noted that Howard had only one extended stay in a hospital, and that was for yellow fever in New Guinea during the war. Besides that, the biggest injury was a broken toe at work.
John believes Howard’s proclivity to stay busy has been why he has continued to stay healthy.
“I think that’s the key. Every day he has something to look forward to,” John said. “He’s aways working on something and he keeps his feet moving. There’s never a negative thought that goes through his head.
“He’s living in the moment.”
Now Hall is less than two weeks away from a milestone birthday and a celebration with friends and family.
“They’re having a party for me. One century,” Hall said. “I’m working on a second century.”
Still, he is adamant that the key to his longevity is no secret.
“I can’t say it’s a secret. It’s not a secret,” Hall said. “It’s routines every day. That’s all. Nothing special.”