Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 02 September 2011 00:00
Many people like to look ahead, perhaps for setting a personal goal or maybe just for the thrill of a hypothetical scenario.
“Picture your life in 20 years” is a common expression.
“Picture your life at 106” is not.
That’s the story of Gene “The Bowling Machine” Scala, the bubbly and kind-hearted centenarian and testament to the adage, “Gets better with age.”
Scala was born in Naples, Italy in 1905 – think right around the time when Albert Einstein is publishing his works on quantum physics and the theory of relativity.
Around 1919 – think prohibition and women’s suffrage – Scala arrived in Brooklyn with five brothers and two sisters.
Scala learned the ways of barbers and tailors at a young age and was able to practice both trades later in life – think Aug. 22, 2011, when Scala is celebrating his 106th birthday at the Arbors in Westbury, sporting a shiny golden hat with matching beaded tie. Both are hand-made, of course.
“What’s your secret, Gene?” a family member asks.
“No secrets. Good things. Staying calm,” he smiles.
Bowling (he’s the oldest active bowler in the United States), music (he still plays the saxophone) and laughing are some of his good things.
Scala spent the majority of his life living in East Islip, where he worked as a beautician and musician. He was a practicing beautician for 90 years and musician for 70 years, citing his experience in a symphony orchestra and playing the clarinet and saxophone for several bands.
He’s been married three times and had three children and one grandchild – all of whom have since passed away.
According to a friend, Scala put a new roof on his house 10 years ago.
Since moving into the Arbors in early 2005, Scala bowls every Wednesday and wears a suit every day.
Decked out in his hand-made hat and tie, pressed suit and seemingly irremovable smile, Scala danced to a tune from the Shirelle’s and blew out his one, zero and six candles – proving age is only a number and good things can truly go a long way.