AL HAMNIK: Even at 100 his attitude is worth a million

2013-12-03T17:45:00Z 2014-06-21T20:48:12Z AL HAMNIK: Even at 100 his attitude is worth a millionAl Hamnik Times Columnist
December 03, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

Enough of the bad news. Less clouds, more sun.

Derrick Rose's knee, Jay Cutler's ankle, an awful Bulls team, the Bears on playoff life support, Indiana and Purdue football, NCAA hypocrisy, the miserable Cubs and White Sox.

It's time for a feel-good story, so gather around.

Let me introduce you to Munster's Harold Koenig, who loves to bowl, play golf, lives by himself and still drives.

Harold recently celebrated his 100th birthday. Speak to him on the phone and his strong voice would have a stranger believing the man's in his late 60s.

"He has a lot of energy. He's physically active. He reads and does the puzzles in the paper every morning, so that's kept him mentally active," said Harold's daughter, Joan Chasanov, of Griffith.

"He's easy going. Everything rolls off his back. He doesn't get uptight like the rest of us."

That would be Joan, 74, and her brothers Russell, 70, and David, 65. Harold's wife of 68 years, Doris, passed away in 2005.

Spend 20 minutes with Harold Koenig and you leave feeling much younger. It's his attitude on life in general, his upbeat nature, his ability to smile easily.

Harold says he drinks a small martini five times a week, but agrees the key to his longevity is staying active.

You may have seen him pick up a split at Plaza Lanes in Highland, or tee off at Sherwood, Wicker Park or Turkey Creek golf courses. He sings in the Immanuel United Church of Christ choir and also plays the bells.

Harold is so popular, Joan recalled playing the organ at her church Sunday and said there were more people at his birthday party.

"Between 140 and 150," he said. "I didn't even think I knew that many people."

Harold doesn't own a personal computer, though he may soon have to because of Obamacare. He has a cell phone, only in case of emergency. All this hi-tech stuff frustrates the former accountant.

"I don't feel like I need anybody (watching over me)," Harold said. "I do my own cooking. I shop. I had somebody coming in here and cleaning and I couldn't stand that. I had to let her go. I could do it just as well."

Harold's spacious apartment still has several balloons from his 100th birthday, as well congratulatory signs, posters and photographs from the past.

There also is a detailed chart of prices from 1913, the year of his birth. It included 6 cents for a loaf of bread, 36 cents for a gallon of milk, 37 cents for a dozen eggs, 8 cents for a gallon of gas.

The average family income that year was $805. A new car cost $470. The average home sold for $6,837.

"I was lucky. My wife and I were married 68 years," Harold said. "I've had three sets of golf partners, the first two sets are all dead, so now I'm on the third set.

"I still am a White Sox fan. The last Bears game I saw was in Wrigley Field. The Bears and Detroit. Bronko Nagurski. They had a lineman, (George) Musso, who didn't even wear a helmet. Imagine that."

Imagine having a second-floor apartment and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. At 100 years old.

Harold's as independent as Switzerland, a feel-good story we can look to on the bleakest days.

Thank you, sir, for being you.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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