Navy veteran, musician, comedian and poet, Joseph Binder is a jack of all trades and still going strong at age 106.
A man of many talents, Binder started celebrating his remarkable milestone this past Friday, April 8 at parties held over a three-day span.
The festivities began with a pre-party held Thursday, April 7 at Providence Rest Nursing Home where he presently resides.
The bash featured a live band playing classic big band songs while the living legend was surrounded by his close friends and family wishing him well on his many years of success.
Bright eyed and with a warm, welcoming smile, Binder shared his five secrets to living a long, productive life: be good to others, never hold grudges, if you do something for others don’t expect anything in return, stay positive and do the best you can everyday of your life.
Mario’s Restaurant was the venue for a Friday, April 8 birthday luncheon for their former parking lot attendant, who was joined by his family and 15 of his friends, according to restaurant owner, Joseph Migliucci.
A cake donated by Morrone Pastry Shop and cookies from Madonia Brothers Bakery were provided for the afternoon soiree.
Migliucci said he first met Binder in 1946 when he serviced a Bronx soda route.
Prior to his employment with Mario’s, Binder worked in a coffee shop across the street from the restaurant where people played cards and enjoyed live music all day.
When the club closed 17 years ago, Binder was at Mario’s and told his friend the news. Migliucci informed him that his restaurant was looking for a new parking attendant and gave Binder the job.
He added that customers loved speaking with Binder and they were saddened to learn he was retiring in 2012 at the age of 102.
“He took care of everyone here and it was really a loss for all of us when Joe retired,” he said.
For the past 15 years, Binder said he has performed his music and comedy act at Pasquale’s Rigoletto Restaurant.
Vinny Spena, Pasquale’s Rigoletto Restaurant manager, said Binder is a regular at the eatery and after he finished his meal would get up and perform a few songs and jokes for the crowd.
“Joe is a kind, loving man with a good heart and he really serves as a great inspiration for everyone,” said Spena. “He brings a lot of energy to this place.”
“Laughter is the best medicine and I strongly believe in that notion,” said Binder. “If I make people laugh than I know I’m doing the best I can to help others.”
Pasquale’s Rigoletto Restaurant held a party for their favorite customer on Saturday, April 9. The birthday cake was provided by Gino’s Pastry Shop.
“It was a great night and we were all very happy to have celebrated Joe’s birthday with him and his family,” said Spena. “He deserves all of his success and he has done a lot of beautiful things in his life.”
Binder was born on April 8, 1910 in Brownsville, Brooklyn and as a youth in the 1930s, he worked with magician Paul Duke at the now defunct Leon and Eddie’s Nightclub in Manhattan.
During his time there, Binder set up props on the stage for Duke and would perform some comedy skits for the audience.
Binder married Jean Angelina Gallasso in November 1940. The couple never had children, however Binder has many nephews and grandnephews.
In 1944, Binder served as a cook in the Navy and returned home a year after World War II’s concluded.
Finding work as a Fox’s U-Bet deliveryman, Binder frequented the Bronx in his travels and settled down in the Belmont section in 1946.
In 1952, he moved to Rego Park, Queens before returning to the Bronx in 1978 to reside at Keith Plaza on Southern Boulevard.
Binder enjoys writing poetry and playing the banjo and ukulele.
He cites authors Robert Louis Stevenson and Edgar Allan Poe frequently and Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong are his many favorite singers.